Layering Drum Sounds using Multiple Layers

Learn how to layer drum sounds by using multiple layers and with parallel processing.


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Layering drum sounds is a great way to create new and unique drum textures and the process helps aspiring producers to carve out a reputation as a sound designer. Although it could be termed as a production process layering drum sounds borders on the edge of sound design as many of the processes used are shared by both crafts.

Layering two drum sounds can yield a whole new world of sound design possibilities but throw in a third sound and you are afforded limitless possibilities in designing new unique sound sets. However, the introduction of a third sound can result in complicating issues as summing, masking and clashing of frequencies can rear their heads. Understanding these three problematic areas and how best to address them can only help in achieving quality results.

Once the three drum sounds have been layered successfully further processing is required to shape the overall resultant sound.

In the video I import three different drum sounds into the DAW and start the layering process. I make sure to explain how to manage the gains of each layer so summing does not result in clipping at the output. I explain how to use the DAW’s Envelope Shaper tool to shape each drum layer so that all three layers marry nicely with each other. I show you how to use FabFilter’s Saturn to add different distortion and saturation textures to each layer. I end by gluing all the layers together by using Boz Digital’s Manic Compressor. I show you what settings to use to achieve different drum textures.

Plugins used in this video:

Boz Digital’s Manic Compressor

FabFilter’s Saturn

Steinberg EnvelopeShaper

Topics covered in this video are:

  • Understanding the pitfalls of layering drum sounds
  • What is summing, clashing, cancellation and smearing
  • Using Envelope Shapers with Sample Nudge
  • Using Saturation and Distortion for Layering
  • Parallel Compression Techniques using various Topologies