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How can I achieve subtle but energetic kick drum bliss???
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author How can I achieve subtle but energetic kick drum bliss???
My samples libraries are exhausted,
my volca beats a bore
I sit a home wondering
how to move the floor

i try to create a subtle kick
something elegant and raw
but with each attempt i hear a thud
ive heard too many times before

how can i achieve kick drum bliss ? Is there certain drum machines that are known for smooth elegant kick sounds that still cut through and carry a track?

Do YOU use sample pads or gear? Please link me to any machines or pad sounds you think might help .. I will post some examples underneath. w00t
I use one of these hihi

I will say, though, that a proper mixdown is crucial for what I think you are aiming at...
Ambient Kicks Presented by AK
Sample collection in the Splice library has some great kicks along these lines.
layering, layering, layering.


sample of real acoustic kit drum eq'd to be a punchy mid hit,
an electronic drum-machiney low slightly distorted big hitter - 909 style
sub made of near pure sinewave or filtered 808 or similar

compress together to glue into one beautiful killer drum...
All depends on what you are searching. If something techno or dancefloor, the best results i had by taking two drum machines and layer the kicks out of them together shaping tuning, applying heavy distortion and eq in a way when one was a huge low end part and another character.
Even when you don't use any type of modular synth this gives good advice about how to create kicks. It always helps when you know the roots and build on them.

How To Make An Analog Kick with Tobi Neumann
the relationship between the bass and kick are paramount to achieving a big sound. proper eq and compression will get you far.

another important technique is layering. layer different samples based on the sound you are trying to achieve. eq and compress

i often "mult" kicks and basses. i split the signal into different eq bands and process each band differently. some verb or delay on the top can help you gain space without muddying things up!
1. Analog source if possible, or high res quality sample if not.

2. Layer to taste with EQ/Compression.

3. Sidechain compression so it will sit in the mix with your bassline, and they won't cancel each other out. e.g. FabFilter Pro C.
Isn't it all about context?

Find the kick drum after all the other parts are in place.
I think the key to why the kick drums in your first two examples cut through the mix is sidechain compression. The third one is a much more complex sounding kick, and there might be a little sidechaining going on with it, but I think its sophistication makes it naturally stand out in the mix a bit more.
a recently found out that attack is crucial. i building all my percussion by my self trough synths, samplers and so on. sold all my drum computers.
i'm with analoque, digital and modular synths.

i'll try to share my ideas when you let us know the soundsources you can access and/or if you'r willing to spend some cash.

the sound should stand out without eq and compression imho but still some exiter strategies are cool for the mixdown. but first you need the sound you really are looking for otherwise you wont find peace there.
What Navs said. And Metasonix.
MBase 11 and Sherman/Rodec Restyler. Never looked back since.

Never could get with sidechaining when eqing and awareness of bass+kick frequencies did the same without the side effects.
eq and compression and gates!!!!!!!!!!
I love making kicks with filters, resonance to the max, cutoff set low, a envelope to control the filter cutoff (no attack, no sustain, no release and a very short decay) Then preferably another envelope to control the amplitude so you can have the kick as short/long you want/need.

Overdrive or saturate and Eq to taste, I usually go heavy in removing around 400-500 hz in kicks I hate those frequencies smile
Navs wrote:
Isn't it all about context?


Find the kick drum after all the other parts are in place.

Alternatively, you can build all the other parts around the kick drum.

To the OP:

Think about what makes up a kick drum. (Fundamental) pitch, length, amplitude and pitch envelope shape, the transient, harmonic structure, texture (noise, clicks, bleed), spatial information. All these ingredients are entangled with the other elements of the music. They could even stem from another other track, leaking through and becoming part of what you perceive to be the kick drum.

Make deliberate choices and identify how they affect your music. Especially in your case, where it's about subtlety, I'd wonder if it's really about the kick drum, or the elements surrounding it. Or maybe it's just about texture. Try recording animated noises in your environment, loop and layer them onto your kick drum. Add little clicks and artefacts. Always play around with pitch and phase when layering.

I think the most common obstacle here is that the kick drum is considered a black box. Dive in there and create your own by using synthesizers, recording sounds, layering, processing. Or make a sample your own by understanding how it is composed, and how it interacts with the other elements of the music. Find interesting ways to alter all the individual ingredients. Use non-linear processing – saturation, distortion. Add effects and feedback loops, record the result, edit and filter it, layer it back onto the original sound.
Don't sit so close to your monitors when you're working with kick sounds. If they're 2ft from your ears how you're trying to mix now, set up your main bus for mono, turn one speaker off and then move back with the track playing until you can actually feel the kick instead of just listening.

If you're mixing only on headphones, the magical gear you need is a decent pair of studio monitors. I recommend 3 way monitors meaning Low, Mid and High frequency ranges each have their own speaker cone.
Press rec. Let your mic fall on the floor, on a thick carpet.

(That’s not a joke.)
The examples you shared feature rather delicate kicks that have deep tonal fundamentals and a higher-frequency beater click, and all of them feature very, very fast amplitude envelopes for each of those components. In other words, the kick sounds are extremely short. Even a booming 808 can sound like that with very short decay times, EQing, and/or filtering. You need to find a drum machine that gives you speed and timbral control over the click, the more tonal bass fundamental. Many units have this, from the 808 to the Nord Drum to the Volca Kick...too many options to list.

This is where the art of arrangement comes in perfect sync with the art of sound design. For example, the idea of selecting the kick sound/tone last is a supremely wise one from Navs. However, if you don't, you need to select bass notes that aren't the same. With the rich sounds that synths can make, it can be harder than it sounds. Just decide, consciously and with purpose, which will be a higher pitch: the kick fundamental or the bass fundamental. Many issues solve themselves at that point. (Examples - Dub: Bass is usually lower. Acid: Kick is usually lower.) I find that if the bassline can sit in a pocket between the kick click and its sub-bass component, that can be great, but it doesn't always work in a given arrangement. If you listen to acts like Emptyset, their kick layers are pretty easy to hear tease apart sonically; worthy of study even if you don't dig their music. Ditto with Rhythm and Sound or other electronic dub acts with lots of space to hear each hit.

But there's still stuff you can do with drum machines without much control. Hainbach and I both have the Roland TR-606, for example, has a short, clicky kick with little body and zero tone control. But, three things: On a club PA, it's shockingly effective; you can use a high-Q high pass filter set to 56Hz or so and it'll boom like the dickens (while leaving the rest of the drum output mix largely untouched); and if you compress it, it sounds beefier. And it has a short decay that doesn't overwhelm a mix. And that's just one example of one drum machine with zero tonal control.

My final note, to build on Nav's thought: My arrangements and audio production improved 200% once I composed, arranged, and sound-designed the drum parts LAST, even with drum-heavy pieces. Your mileage may vary.
My kicks started to sound much softer and more elegant after I realized they don't need to be most prominent element in the mix. Cutting off a some dbs in the region between 300-600Hz also seems to help.
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