SuperKick—Tune and Enhance Your Kick Drum
If you do hip-hop or EDM, you’re in the right place.
This tip turns wimpy kicks into superkicks, using a different technique compared to drum replacement (see the Friday Tip for February 9, 2018). Listen to the audio example, and you’ll hear why this is cool.
Audio Example: The second four measures add the SuperKick effect to the loop in the first four measures. The added kick is 40 Hz…so don’t expect to hear anything on laptop speakers!
The basic concept is to add another track with a low-frequency sine wave, tuned to your pitch of choice. This can be a WAV file, but this example uses the highly-underrated, and extremely useful, Tone Generator plug-in set to a floor-shaking 40 Hz sine wave. A Bus “listens” to the loop, and uses EQ to filter out everything except the kick; you don’t hear this audio, but it gates the Tone Generator’s sine wave so that it tracks the kick. Fig. 1 shows the setup.
Figure 1: Setup to tune and enhance the kick in an existing loop.
- Track 1 is your drum loop; the audio example uses the Warehouse Tech Musicloop included in Studio One. Insert a pre-fader Send that goes to a Bus (named “EQ Bus” in this example). The reason for a pre-fader send is you’ll want to turn the Track fader down when tweaking the EQ and Gate responses covered later.
- Insert the Pro EQ into the EQ Bus. Tweak the response to filter out everything but the kick. The High Cut’s 48 dB/octave slope will probably do the job, although if there’s a lot of other bass action (like floor toms or bass) you may need to add an additional Peaking stage. Zero in on the kick’s lowest audible frequency, and apply a narrow boost.
- Add a Track, and insert the Tone Generator. Turn it on, then set it to produce a constant, low-frequency sine wave. Follow the tone Generator with a Gate.
- Add a pre-fader send from the EQ Bus to the Gate’s sidechain.
- To produce the most reliable triggering, the Gate settings and the Send level going to the Gate’s sidechain are crucial. Set the Threshold Close just slightly lower than the Open setting. Release determines how long the kick will last; 5 to 10 ms of hold minimizes “chattering.” Start by setting the Open and Threshold controls as shown, and adjust the Send to the sidechain for the most reliable triggering. If the kick tone doesn’t trigger, even with the Send to the sidechain turned up, lower the Open and Threshold close controls. If the kick tone stays on all the time, lower the Send level.
With the loop fader down so you’re not distracted, play with the Tone Generator frequency, EQ frequency to isolate the kick sound, and Gate settings until there’s reliable kick triggering. How you set the gate provides various options: extend the Release for a “hum drum” effect, or for more expressiveness, automate the release time. Increasing the Hold time alters the character as well.=
And after everything is set up…stand back while the floors shake!
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