Processing Low End Kicks

Very cool techniques on how to process Low End kicks for a bigger sound!

Beat Construction

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Processing Low End Kicks video tutorial explains in detail how to use granular synthesis and a compressor to create new kick drums from an existing kick drum sample.

Whether you are using samples or triggering drum sounds via a sound module low-end kick drums sounds can be problematic to process. The problem with all kick sounds is that of duration. Kick drums tend to be very short in duration and that can be quite challenging when working with the envelope (shape).

Subtractive equalisation

When you use an equaliser to cut frequencies, as opposed to boosting, we refer to it as subtractive equalisation. This method of using equalisation really shines when working with short duration sounds. I tend to find that when I try to apply boosts on kick sounds it often encompasses the whole frequency range as opposed to a frequency band. The short duration makes it hard to pin-point the exact frequency to boost and sometimes boosting one small frequency range ends up boosting adjoining frequencies even if you select a steep gradient for the eq’s filter. However, with subtractive equalisation I am able to manage the frequencies a little better as a cut in one area pronounces another area and I can then concentrate on the whole kick sound as opposed to small frequency ranges. However, that is not to say you cannot apply eq boosts to a kick drum. Sometimes certain types of kick drums benefit more from boosts than cuts.


Processing Low End Kicks tutorial also delves deep into using compression for drum samples.

Compression is a wonderful dynamic and one that has so many uses. One such use is that of ‘shaping’. I often use compressors to shape drum sounds. The compressor affords me great tools to reshape the kick drum sound’s attack, body, and release. We can use a compressor to pronounce the kick’s attack transients or to make the body swell or even to add sustain to the decay of the sound. Additionally, we can use a whole host of compressor topologies (designs) to further shape the sound: for example, a FET compressor will respond much faster than an Opto compressor and that can work wonders with short sounds like a kick drum.

Granular synthesis

Granular synthesis is a method by which sounds are broken into tiny grains which are then redistributed and reorganised to form other sounds. Using a granular processor we can alter the behaviour of the kick sound and add both vibrancy and clarity to it or we can add crackle and static to make it dirty and focused. In fact, you can do so much with a granular processor that sometimes I use it instead of eq.

In the Processing Low End Kicks video, I create a sequence and trigger a drum beat using samples. I then show you how to use subtractive equalisation to alter the kick’s tonal character. Next on the list of processes is compression and I make sure to explore that in detail. The video ends with a granular process example showing you how we can add dirt and static to a kick sound.

Plugins used in this video:

Steinberg Compressor

Soundtoys Crystallizer

Topics covered in this video are:

  • Samples versus Instruments
  • Threshold and Ratio
  • Understanding Frequencies – Sub and Super/Hyper
  • Working with the Side-chain
  • Q and Bandwidth Control
  • Low-Frequency Interaction
  • Splicing
  • Granular
  • EQ Techniques

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