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Monday, 14 July 2014

Drum Polishing Tips

I've talked extensively before about tuning your drums to achieve a more polished sound. Recently i've been experimenting with a few other techniques that i'd like to share with you.

Tip #1: Add an Additional Pitch Envelope to Your Drums

I was recently messing around with this technique and was surprised by the results. Drums have a naturally decaying pitch envelope, and it's not uncommon for a drum hit to start at between five and ten kHz then decay down to say one hundred Hz. By accentuating the natural pitch decay of the drum you can add body and character to your kick or snare. The way I do this is quite simple. I start by rendering down the audio file and loading it into a sampler. Then I activate the sampler's pitch envelope as shown below.

By playing with the amount (bottom left hand corner) I can determine how far, in semitones, the transient's pitch will start from where it will eventually decay to. By placing the start of the sample two or even three octaves above the sustain value, I will get the aforementioned body and character. You'll need to adjust the decay time and the decay slope to match the sound you're after.

Tip #2: Using FM Synthesis to Add Bite

In the above image, we can also use the sampler's OSC envelope (the one located above the pitch envelope) to add a burst of high end harmonics to a snare drum or other transient. This will make the transient sound in the sampler punch really hard and add some bite to the sound. So how do we do this? After we've activated the OSC section (this is the modulation oscillator) then we need to tweak the settings. Leave it in FM mode, change the type to sine 4 bit or sine 8 bit, i've experimented with a few of these types and the results are always interesting. Now play with the coarse value, somewhere between the minimum value and 4 usually works well. Next you'll again need to adjust your decay to taste, I usually have somewhere between 25ms and 100ms but this can vary greatly. You should end up with something looking like the below image.



  1. Awesome ideas!

    1. Glad you like this, definitely helped me a lot :-)