Make your bass drum sound fat tutorial - Track Spark's goody bags
in     by Track Spark 01-03-2016

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In this tutorial from January's goody bag, Rich takes you through the process of how to beef up the sound of your bass/kick drum.

Rich Lewis has 13 Years of professional experience in broadcast composition, production and sound design with his company He composed the current official podium music for Formula 1 and has been chosen to write FIFA's official music for the 2014 World Cup. He's written channel idents for ESPN, MTV and FOX among others. He's also composed extensively for BBC, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, Disney, and Warner Brothers among others and for brands such as Sony, Orange, Honda, Virgin Media, Nissan and Levi's. He is also a partner in Track Spark. 

Tutorial transcribed

Hi guys, it’s Rich again from Track Spark. I’ve got another little tutorial for you. This month it's on how to make your kick drum sound fat. I use this all the time, whether it's on live drums or sequenced live drums or dance drums, anything. I just find that adding a really nice of subby fatness is great and I never can never really get it from just the sample itself. Especially when you've got a live kit it always tends to lack that bottom end.

This is one of the Track Spark loops. Have a listen quickly. The bottom end is a little bit weak. What we’re going to do is take an oscillator and sidechain it to the kick drum. We’re going to put a gate on it and that way the kick drum will trigger a really fat subby oscillator sound. Here's a kick drum on its own. A standard kick drum. What you want to do is add either a group channel or an effects channel. Either way, anything that you can put an insert onto and then send your kick drum to. I'm going to do it as a group channel, either one will work. So I’ve added my group channel, here it is at the bottom, group 10. I’m going to drag it up and put it next to my kick drum. I’m going to colour it the same so that I know and then rename it kick sub. Then I'm going to get my control panel up. Here’s my kick sub control panel, we can see inserts down the left are all empty, all the sends down the right are empty. First thing we want to do is get our sound, our oscillator and there's a test generator in Cubase, you can do it using anything. You can create a sine wave using any synth that you have. It's just a sign wave, you can try out different waveforms but sine is the best for this I find. At the moment the frequency is set to 440. We want a nice deep frequency, I always like to start on around 50 kHz. Depending on the song and the style of song you’ll obviously play around with the frequency. Don't just set it to 50 or 45. Play around with it and see which frequency works best for the particular track you're working on as we all know that sometimes the bass sits underneath the kick drum or on top of the kick drum. We don't want things to start clashing.

We’ve got our really subby sine wave. Next in the insert chain we're going to add a gate. You can use any gate, anything that you can set it to sidechain. Here’s the little sidechain button, activate the sidechain. Now I can turn this back on. It’s still making a noise because the gate is open so I’ve got to make sure the gate’s shut until we trigger it. That is my kick sub channel set up, now I'm going to go to the kick itself. I’ll just go to the control panel here and in the sends I'm going to go to the sidechains. This is the only thing I've got as a sidechain. So it says sidechain, kick sub so click on that and then turn it on, so I’m sending the full signal to my kick sub. If I solo it you can see that the subs coming out, I’ll mute then no sub. Nice big fat kick drum.

The other thing you’ll want to play around with in your kick sub is your attack and release times. Make sure the gate opens at the right volume. I always leave the attack to either one or two milliseconds and then set the release time depending on the song, the tempo of the song and how tight you want your subby kick to sound. I’m going to turn it up a little bit, it’s set to -12. There you go. No sub, sub. Let’s listen to that in the whole loop. Big fat kick, nice one. I hope that was useful, I use it all the time. Cheers and have a good one.