PreSonus Blog

A Slick Trick for Thick Kicks

Imagine if you had a mold for sound, the same way you can have a mold for Jell-O—and whatever you poured into your “sonic mold” took on those particular characteristics. Well, that’s pretty much what convolution processors do. When they load their “mold,” which is called an impulse response, it shapes whatever sound they’re processing. 

 

Studio One has two convolution processors. Ampire uses one to load speaker cabinet impulse responses. For example, when Ampire wants to sound like it’s going through a 2 x 12 speaker cabinet, it loads a 2 x 12 cabinet impulse response. The other convolution processor, Open Air, is optimized for creating acoustic spaces. So if the impulse is of a concert hall, sound processed through Open Air sounds like it’s in a concert hall. If the impulse is a blues club, the the sound takes on the characteristics of being in a blues club.

 

What’s perhaps not as well known is that you can load pretty much any WAV file into Open Air and use that as your sonic mold. So, this month’s tip is for the  EDM and hip-hop crowd, because we’re going to load big-sounding kick drums into Open Air. Then, we’ll use them as molds to turn wimpy kicks into giant, thick kicks that smash through a mix, while leaving a trail of sophisticated destruction in their wake. But don’t take my word for it—check out the audio example, which has no EQ or compression. 

 

 

 

There are five two-measure examples. The first example is from a kick track. The second, third, and fourth examples process the kick using this technique. The fifth example repeats the first example, as a reminder of how the sound started. 

 

The secret is processing the kick track through the Open Air reverb, using a kick drum sample as the impulse (Fig. 1). Just like how a cabinet impulse response imparts the sound of a cabinet onto a guitar amp, these kick drum impulses shape the kick track to have an entirely different character.

Figure 1: The Open Air reverb has a kick impulse loaded, and imparts that sound to the kick track.

 

Studio One’s Sound Sets have lots of kick drum samples. Here are the ones I used for the second, third, and fourth two-measure examples. The Open Air Mix control hovered around 30% for these.

 

Acoustic Drum Kits and Loops > Samples > TM Pop Rock Kit > DW 20.24 Pop Rock Kick  > DW 20.24 Pop Rock Kick 1.wav

 

Acoustic Drum Kits and Loops > Samples > TM Thuddy 70’s Kit > Gretsch 14×22 Vintage Thuddy Kick > Gretsch 14×22 Vintage Thuddy Kick 1.wav

 

909 Day Studio One Kits > Samples > F9 909 Detroit Kick.wav

 

So What’s the Catch?

 

Kick drum impulses can overload the Open Air pretty easily. The first two examples used the softest-velocity kick, but the F9 909 Detroit Kick was way too loud (well, unless you like horrific distortion). Most convolution reverbs are happiest with impulses that peak at around -12 dB.

 

So, the solution is simple. Drag the kick drum impulse into a Studio One track, use the gain envelope to cut the gain to about -12 dB peak, hit ctrl+B to make the change permanent, and then you can drag this impulse from the Studio One track right into the Open Air reverb.

 

Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to kick, but it does seem kicks are where this technique shines the brightest. I also fooled around with using a floor tom as an impulse, and open hi-hat impulses on closed hi-hat tracks. The results aren’t always predictable…but that’s what makes it fun, right?

  • roberta blanca

    these reverb boosted kicks in the above example are sounding muddy/thumping imo and are not convincing me, sorry.
    A really impressing example for fattening a kick: https://youtu.be/XAi3VTSdTxU?t=161

  • Terry Miller

    Excellent, thanks Craig!

  • David Groeneveld

    Exactly, especially with the low end it can cause for some unpleasant surprises, but overall it’s usually very inspiring

  • Craig Anderton

    Agreed! I kind of like that you never quite know what’s going to come out. I’m doing experiments with treating it like a phrase sampler. And of course, I use shaped noise all the time for reverb.

  • David Groeneveld

    There are so many other uses for this, I can’t advocate it enough! Loading a drum loop for example, or a chord played by some airy sound, Or a noise with a filter with high resonance going down. Or up of course. Then experiment with having different sounds go through them. It’s pretty much a rabbit hole once you start, thinking about what a goat would sound like, or a speech sample. But it’s so much fun!

  • Craig Anderton

    I’ll have to give that a try, thanks for the tip!

  • Jesse Fortner

    I got some cool results putting a kick drum impulse on a snare as well.