PreSonus Blog

Create Authentic, Customizable EDM Pumping with X-Trem

But first, some breaking news: Version 1.5 of The Huge Book of Studio One Tips and Tricks is now available from the PreSonus shop. Like previous versions, it’s a free update to those who already own the book. V1.5 includes 743 pages with over 280 innovative tips, 156 free presets, 175 audio examples, and incorporates the latest changes in Studio One 6. Many previous tips have been updated, and the audio examples are better categorized. For new owners, the price is $19.95. Okay…on to the tip!

The EDM “pumping” effect has been popular for over a quarter-century. Traditionally, this effect inserts a compressor in the channel with the audio you want to pump. Then, the kick or another rhythmic element feeds the compressor’s sidechain and triggers compression. The tip Pump Your Pads and Power Chords describes how to create this effect. In this audio example, you can hear the pad in the back pumping behind a Mai Tai solo. A more limited option was presented in a tip that didn’t require a sidechain.

Setting X-Trem to a positive-going sawtooth eliminates the need for the sidechain+compressor combination. However, it doesn’t produce an authentic pumping sound. With traditional pumping, the waveform that does the pumping depends on the compressor’s setting. Typically, an exponential attack settles into a sustained section (fig. 1).

Figure 1: Studio One’s (vastly underrated) Scope plugin shows the amplitude of the pumping curve created by a compressor/sidechain combination.

The X-Trem’s sawtooth has a linear rise time (fig. 2). This doesn’t sound like traditional pumping.

Figure 2: The X-Trem’s Sawtooth waveform.

Although you can use a single X-Trem’s step waveform to create an LFO shape that resembles compressor/sidechain-based pumping, you can hear the transition between the 16 steps. Fortunately, using two X-Trems in series can create an authentic pumping sound. The first X-Trem generates a sawtooth wave, while the second X-Trem shapes the sawtooth into a smoother, more accurate modulation waveform (fig. 3). You can even customize the pumping’s shape, like you would by altering a compressor’s controls.

Figure 3: The secret to X-Trem-based pumping is using two in series.

This creates a waveform like fig. 4. The ultimate shape depends on how you set the levels of the 16 steps in the second X-Trem. For example, in my ideal world the pumping would start from a minimum level—so that’s what it does.

Figure 4: The waveform created by two X-Trems in series emulates the shape of sidechain+compressor-based pumping.

To make using the EDM Pumper even easier for Studio One Professional users, there’s a download link to a Pumper FX Chain. Fig. 5 shows the control panel.

Furthermore, users of Studio One Artist or Professional can download five X-Trem presets. These create pumping curves with five different shapes (Pumper Wave 1.preset is the one I use the most.) So, now it’s easier than ever to pump anything—without needing a complex sidechain+compressor setup.

Download the EDM Pumper.multipreset FX Chain here.

Download the folder with five X-Trem Presets here.