Kick Drum Layering Techniques
Old 8th February 2010
  #1
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Kick Drum Layering Techniques

Can we discuss Kick Drum layering techniques. For our dicussions sake, let's assume a 'generic' kick sound (besides the 808 stand alone). A few questions I have are in regards to the following:
1. Typically how many kicks do you layer to get that phat sound?
2. How do you manage the levels of each?. ie. Do you use a certain method in determing what typically takes precedence? assuming 3 samples, do you maybe use 50/25/25 or similar. I know you are going to give me the 'trust your ear' reasoning. I trust it. I just need validation..
3. This question is critical for me as well. Do you say typically have a sampler, virtual or hardware (mpc etc) and layer say 3 on top by playing it, OR placing it on the grid and doing the right amount of shifting the sample to make it punch through and also do the right amount of fades on each sample etc. If you layer all three just by hitting the right 3 keys, then do you make a stereo or mono stem of those and then do the right fading etc to get it 'right'... how much work do you do? Id love to know how far someone has pushed this way of working....
4. Who uses various rates of bitrates? I have tried 12/16 and 24 on top and it does sound cool. Im curious to know who else pushes these
5. Who places them or plays them so that they are not on top of each other and are slightly 'off' of each other, like a snare drum, but not that much off like a layered snare drum
6. Who uses 808s typically for the 'boom' as one of their layers?
7. Who prefers NOT to layer and why not?
8. Who uses other sounds for kicks or samples various sounds and chooses one of those and then layers other samples on it.
9. Who has sampled bouncin a Basketball on a brilliant wooden floor for the spread?
10. Last one... any other ways of getting that ideal kick drum besides layering?
THnaks and sorry about the number of questions.....just tryna work my way thru...
Old 8th February 2010
  #2
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Realziment's Avatar
 

Some good questions im interested to see the answers too also. I guess my answer to number 1 would be it depends on the individual sounds, i know people who can get really phat sounds with no layers. Today i decided to sample a kick from my friends band that was engineered and mixed incredible the kick is huge.
Old 8th February 2010
  #3
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Subscribing... except for question 9.
Old 8th February 2010
  #4
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1. it ranges from 2 to 20 kick sounds, it all depends on the first few sounds added, and obviously, the sound that you're after.
2. It has to be by ear, beyond the first three or four samples, the rest is subtle layering and should probably sit behind/ the others ( usually done by keeping their volume lower)
Generally speaking I like a gritty, quicker sample with either/ or both 808s and HPF'd boomy samples.
3. I use the MPC as a midi sequencer with Nuendo as a midi router /32 channel Instrument. ( 2 midi ports on MPC). Quantize can be useful, but I can't remember using it with kicks .Its something thats done after the fact. In another regard to layering, I use the MPC to automaticly combine kick sounds to one pad, and I add in the individual "weaker hits" in here and there for groove. so that gives me an incredible amount of flexibility, at least the most I've seen in any professional Hip hop/ electronic studio.
4. Very important tool!this is why so many people are attracted to the MachineDrum, it has great features for controlling aliasing and bit rate controls... For this function,I use this, and Kontakt sometimes.
5. Sure I layer them differently every time, depends on those first few sounds like I said.
6. Guilty as charged
7. Layering is very easily misused, and leads often to postponing critical sonic decisions, or commitments.
10. use a VARI MU, or TUBE TECH Cl1B... if you cant afford , get a couple DBX 160x. pass the final Bass drum track through this, and futz with it

.fuuck
Old 8th February 2010
  #5
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1. Typically how many kicks do you layer to get that phat sound?

depends, anywhere from 5 to 15

2. How do you manage the levels of each?. ie. Do you use a certain method in determing what typically takes precedence? assuming 3 samples, do you maybe use 50/25/25 or similar. I know you are going to give me the 'trust your ear' reasoning. I trust it. I just need validation..

just use my ears and a control surface

3. This question is critical for me as well. Do you say typically have a sampler, virtual or hardware (mpc etc) and layer say 3 on top by playing it, OR placing it on the grid and doing the right amount of shifting the sample to make it punch through and also do the right amount of fades on each sample etc. If you layer all three just by hitting the right 3 keys, then do you make a stereo or mono stem of those and then do the right fading etc to get it 'right'... how much work do you do? Id love to know how far someone has pushed this way of working....

i nudge stuff manually -- i think about how it will sound in my head and then go for it..

4. Who uses various rates of bitrates? I have tried 12/16 and 24 on top and it does sound cool. Im curious to know who else pushes these

i stay in 24 -- not too much of a difference tbh. i can always get the sound i want

5. Who places them or plays them so that they are not on top of each other and are slightly 'off' of each other, like a snare drum, but not that much off like a layered snare drum

all the time

6. Who uses 808s typically for the 'boom' as one of their layers?

not anymore, i prefer to use amped up and processed bassdrums ive recorded in a room

7. Who prefers NOT to layer and why not?

no comment

8. Who uses other sounds for kicks or samples various sounds and chooses one of those and then layers other samples on it.

ive stacked a few classic drum machine sounds here and there but i prefer to work from scratch; from the recording, to the processing, to the arranging of the actual final drum sound

9. Who has sampled bouncin a Basketball on a brilliant wooden floor for the spread?

i wouldnt call it brilliant...:D

10. Last one... any other ways of getting that ideal kick drum besides layering?

yeah -- be creative. know no boundaries.....record yourself slapping everything in your house.....now do it again with a glove...then do it again with everything
..you have to be good at processing.... i can take a horrible sounding bassdrum..and without importing anything else..I can make it shine.

SPLIT YOUR FREQS. I split into 3 or 4....this is a great technique and once you master it you will be able to control every facet of every layer you use!
Old 8th February 2010
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
1. Typically how many kicks do you layer to get that phat sound?
2. How do you manage the levels of each?. ie. Do you use a certain method in determing what typically takes precedence? assuming 3 samples, do you maybe use 50/25/25 or similar. I know you are going to give me the 'trust your ear' reasoning. I trust it. I just need validation..
3. This question is critical for me as well. Do you say typically have a sampler, virtual or hardware (mpc etc) and layer say 3 on top by playing it, OR placing it on the grid and doing the right amount of shifting the sample to make it punch through and also do the right amount of fades on each sample etc. If you layer all three just by hitting the right 3 keys, then do you make a stereo or mono stem of those and then do the right fading etc to get it 'right'... how much work do you do? Id love to know how far someone has pushed this way of working....
4. Who uses various rates of bitrates? I have tried 12/16 and 24 on top and it does sound cool. Im curious to know who else pushes these
5. Who places them or plays them so that they are not on top of each other and are slightly 'off' of each other, like a snare drum, but not that much off like a layered snare drum
6. Who uses 808s typically for the 'boom' as one of their layers?
7. Who prefers NOT to layer and why not?
8. Who uses other sounds for kicks or samples various sounds and chooses one of those and then layers other samples on it.
9. Who has sampled bouncin a Basketball on a brilliant wooden floor for the spread?
10. Last one... any other ways of getting that ideal kick drum besides layering?
THnaks and sorry about the number of questions.....just tryna work my way thru...
1: Usually 1 to 4. But when I use one, there's usually a lot of stuff done to it. Compression, expander, transient designer, EQ etc etc.
2: I just get enough of the click on the second kick to blend it in, usually with Compression.
3: Yes definitely, the kicks are faded differently depending on what I want, I usually go for maximum punch since I'm influenced by electro house. I don't like too much boom.
4: only 24, and if I want lo-fi I use a bitcrusher
5: More and more, I do this, it depends. I find for the most punch, I'd rather layer them exactly on top.
6: All the time
8: Always, I use so many things, from vox to low pitched snares to bass.
9: I play basketball, I don't sample the ball.
10: Yes, you need to compress the shit out of the kick and EQ it right! There are so many tricks... Compression then Reverb then compression. Transient designer for added punch.

Here's a little beat Most drum samples are from Magic Theater Audio High End Drums volume 1, Can't wait for volume two!

http://www.chrislago.com/Club Banger (Lago).mp3
Old 8th February 2010
  #7
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Damn Lago, that was decent. Nice track! How many kicks are layered there? Do you pan them at all? Do you EQ them all the same?

Chris
Old 8th February 2010
  #8
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i don't really layer.

pitch/tune, eq, adsr shaping.
Old 9th February 2010
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrislago View Post
Here's a little beat Most drum samples are from Magic Theater Audio High End Drums volume 1, Can't wait for volume two!
http://www.chrislago.com/Club Banger (Lago).mp3

Wow, lovin' it Chris. Great work.
We should be finished Vol.2 in a few weeks time, btw.
Old 9th February 2010
  #10
i always get the impression that layering is the new trend and the more layers you have the better, i mean the phatter your kick and snaredrum sounds like.
well, i dont know. layering is a cool technique and it really does help if you are trying to reach a certain sound but i dont force myself to layer my drums. if i have a good kick then thats all i need. the rest is done with compression, EQ, tuning, velocity and playing technique.
Old 9th February 2010
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Originally Posted by beat you down View Post
i don't really layer.

pitch/tune, eq, adsr shaping.
+1. I almost never have a compressor going when beatmaking.
Old 9th February 2010
  #12
Gear maniac
 

I almost never compress a boom boom until ive thrown a layer of that there crunkness on top. then i may fickle around with a shake shake tap until its got the right thud on her. maybe if im feelin reaaaal special ill find me another thumper to stack on her until the beat makes me feel like a real man. if i dont get her right with that, nothing a little bit of EQin cant fix'er'upper. after that u got yerself a real whooodie hoe rump shaker!
Old 22nd February 2010
  #13
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Critical Workflow Question

Ok guys. here is an important question. Say when you start a song and the process of 'sequencing' / producing begins..
Who prefers to layer by playing the sounds on an MPC or Keyboard (which to me gets the sequencing done alot quicker) and who actually just grabs a couple of .wav or .aiff sounds and places them on a grid? What would be the most common way. Ive noticed for 1 sound drums, its easier either way. But for layering, it's good to hear a few options by just slammin on the keypad, but then one doesnt get to individiually play with each wav and do cool fade outs on those on the grid itself when building a track. What is your typical workflow?
Old 22nd February 2010
  #14
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If you REALLY know your shit,all you really need is ONE kick drum sound.
All it takes is good engineering skills and the right SINGLE kick and ...voila!!!
Old 22nd February 2010
  #15
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people i know and famous people do it both ways layering on top of each other with keyboard/mpc or by placing them on a grid (i just read recently that ryan leslie places everything on the grid in PT - remix magazine)

with experience i generally know how many layers (if any) it's going to take to achieve the sound i want. a few basic examples:

acoustic kick (main) + 808 = "duhh" type sound
thud (main) + 808 = "buhh" type sound
808 (main) + "click" kick = "booom" type sound (need the click to shine through on the small speakers)

i rarely layer more than two/three...
Old 22nd February 2010
  #16
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why not stop layering? get the right kick first. just pick a good sound to start with.
Old 22nd February 2010
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Beatsmith View Post
why not stop layering? get the right kick first. just pick a good sound to start with.
Because sometimes the texture of the sound may sound like another song especially if it's used by another top gun producer.... and in HipHop/Pop these days, its a no no!!
Old 22nd February 2010
  #18
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
Can we discuss Kick Drum layering techniques. For our dicussions sake, let's assume a 'generic' kick sound (besides the 808 stand alone). A few questions I have are in regards to the following:
1. Typically how many kicks do you layer to get that phat sound?
2. How do you manage the levels of each?. ie. Do you use a certain method in determing what typically takes precedence? assuming 3 samples, do you maybe use 50/25/25 or similar. I know you are going to give me the 'trust your ear' reasoning. I trust it. I just need validation..
3. This question is critical for me as well. Do you say typically have a sampler, virtual or hardware (mpc etc) and layer say 3 on top by playing it, OR placing it on the grid and doing the right amount of shifting the sample to make it punch through and also do the right amount of fades on each sample etc. If you layer all three just by hitting the right 3 keys, then do you make a stereo or mono stem of those and then do the right fading etc to get it 'right'... how much work do you do? Id love to know how far someone has pushed this way of working....
4. Who uses various rates of bitrates? I have tried 12/16 and 24 on top and it does sound cool. Im curious to know who else pushes these
5. Who places them or plays them so that they are not on top of each other and are slightly 'off' of each other, like a snare drum, but not that much off like a layered snare drum
6. Who uses 808s typically for the 'boom' as one of their layers?
7. Who prefers NOT to layer and why not?
8. Who uses other sounds for kicks or samples various sounds and chooses one of those and then layers other samples on it.
9. Who has sampled bouncin a Basketball on a brilliant wooden floor for the spread?
10. Last one... any other ways of getting that ideal kick drum besides layering?
THnaks and sorry about the number of questions.....just tryna work my way thru...
1. I used to layer between 2-4. Since I upgraded my sound library, usually just one kick works. Sometimes 2. Never more than that

2. You got it, no formula, trust your ears.

3 + 4 . Always nudge the layers to cancel the effects of phasing. If nudging it too far makes the kicks sound disconnected (like 2 seperate kicks) then flip the polarity on one of the kicks and see if it works earlier.
Old 22nd February 2010
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhodesp04 View Post
people i know and famous people do it both ways layering on top of each other with keyboard/mpc or by placing them on a grid (i just read recently that ryan leslie places everything on the grid in PT - remix magazine)

with experience i generally know how many layers (if any) it's going to take to achieve the sound i want. a few basic examples:

acoustic kick (main) + 808 = "duhh" type sound
thud (main) + 808 = "buhh" type sound
808 (main) + "click" kick = "booom" type sound (need the click to shine through on the small speakers)

i rarely layer more than two/three...
Hi Thanks for that.
With the 808s you are choosing for each scenario, what type of 808 do you generally use? Is it something with a long sustain and you do a fadeout to make it shorter because the boom is better, or more a flat 808 that is shorter with a slight punch that you have more control over...
Cheers!
Old 22nd February 2010
  #20
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E.rOk.stA's Avatar
 

Honestly, I can't ever remember using more than 3 layers of kick. Now I use 1, 2 if it's just a kick attack snippet to make it knock.


#9, which nobody seemed to answer is yes. Jadakiss did a commercial for Reebok where the entire beat was made of basketball court sounds. Sneakers squeaking, hoops swishing and yes, basketballs dribbling (which on a real court sounds massive because of the reverb).


Ok, I just found it on youtube. Check it out...

YouTube - Jadakiss, Allen Iverson Reebok Commercial - A5
Old 22nd February 2010
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
Hi Thanks for that.
With the 808s you are choosing for each scenario, what type of 808 do you generally use? Is it something with a long sustain and you do a fadeout to make it shorter because the boom is better, or more a flat 808 that is shorter with a slight punch that you have more control over...
Cheers!
it's kind of one of those things that is hard to say because it's all about what you're going for. if i want to have long booooms then i increase the length (attack-decay-sustain-release). if i want it to blend and just have more bottom-end then i shorten it to match the length of the kick it's blending with.

you also want to consider what type (if any) bassline you are going to have in the song. if you have a lot of booooms going on it will be hard to fit a normal bass line in there unless you bring it up an octave (example Gucci Mane "Lemonade" has a live bass over the 808's but it's up an octave so you still here it). usually if my kick is not a "boooom" i'll have a bassline lower than the kick and if not i'll do the opposite, or you can tune the 808's to create a kick/bassline.
Old 22nd February 2010
  #22
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Infamous's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by phillysoulman View Post
If you REALLY know your shit,all you really need is ONE kick drum sound.
All it takes is good engineering skills and the right SINGLE kick and ...voila!!!
thumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
Old 22nd February 2010
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Technician View Post
Damn Lago, that was decent. Nice track! How many kicks are layered there? Do you pan them at all? Do you EQ them all the same?

Chris
There's only 1 kick in there (It's called Stereo FX by Magic Theatre Audio), no Eq, no compression, just the right sample at the right level. I don't pan my kicks ever, and I don't EQ them the same since all kicks are different. I think you only need 1 good kick if you know how to mix it in the track.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic Theatre View Post
Wow, lovin' it Chris. Great work.
We should be finished Vol.2 in a few weeks time, btw.
Thanks, I think I might hang on to this beat and record a tune I'm anxiously waiting for Vol 2, I like your samples a lot.

That Jada track is awesome, I think he might be my favorite rapper, along with Snoop. It's their rhymes, they sound really clever.
Old 22nd February 2010
  #24
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Yeah, Jada kills it. I would check out his last album "Last Kiss", and if you really like him, check out the older Lox stuff.
Old 22nd February 2010
  #25
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I just start off loading a bunch of kicks in Battery that I like for the song I want to make and if I end up using only one....so be it.
The way I mix drums (for hip-hop) the kick has to dominate so either way, like PSM said, it's just about getting your mix right.
HOWEVER...for hip-hop (and a lot of other dance music), I feel the kick has to have certain prerequisites, which can't always be found all in one kick sample....so yeah, between 2 and 4 kicks on an average perhaps for me.


What I don't understand is why people would want to compress a kick drum sample. Not from a live set; I can see if you've recorded it from scratch and processing is due but seriously, how many of us use samples? Whether you sample from vinyl or use packs, why compress? My (entire) drums go to a 2bus where they get sp*tted and sh*tted on, as a whole yeah...but a stand-alone fixed sample?
For instance the Goldbaby kicks are already processed to death, why on earth would I want to compress again?
Waste of cpu imo.
Old 22nd February 2010
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by the Set Surgeon View Post
Yeah, Jada kills it. I would check out his last album "Last Kiss", and if you really like him, check out the older Lox stuff.
Oh trust me, I know all about his music and the Lox. Still got "Kiss Tha Game Goobye" on rotation in my studio This album sounds huge. Other stuff I listen to a lot is Capone N Noreaga.
Old 22nd February 2010
  #27
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i basically never stack more than 2 kicks, if at all...when i do layer it's only to add boom or attack to a sound i like. don't like augmenting the central tone of a kick via layering...find a different kick.
Old 22nd February 2010
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dutch Master View Post
I just start off loading a bunch of kicks in Battery that I like for the song I want to make and if I end up using only one....so be it.
For instance the Goldbaby kicks are already processed to death, why on earth would I want to compress again?
Waste of cpu imo.
I agree on the Comp thing. NO need!! its what it is. However I wanted to know if you actually sequence or layer on the grids? ie. grab a kick and place it and do clean up of it etc Or sequence using an MPC or Keypad and find what feels and sounds right and play it in. The bounce a bar or two down and then copy in audio.. can you go into your work flow more.
Ive done both but still cant work out what is best...
Old 22nd February 2010
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phillysoulman View Post
If you REALLY know your shit,all you really need is ONE kick drum sound.
All it takes is good engineering skills and the right SINGLE kick and ...voila!!!
exactly
I don't layer kicks...
you could have phase issues, nulling
as philly said - ONE kick, some eq and compression, but in most cases
just proper sample and a hint of eq/comp
Old 23rd February 2010
  #30
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It all depends, I do agree with Bobby, in most cases one kick will do.
However, I also believe that it's OK to experiment and explore, believe it or not, recently I have been using maybe two or three kick in a song but not always' layered.
When I do layer a kick I pre plan it on two or three separate tracks with different EQ's and effects depending on the sound that I'm looking for.
I would then play them back simultaneously and bounce to one track, or sample some in stereo from DAW Sonar to the MPC1000.
It becomes fun and interesting to hear the final process, also you know that this is the only kick like this in the world because you created it, and that's is a good feeling.
I have a whole section of kicks that I've pre layered including marching shoe, church floor stomping, various kicks layered with mini moog subs, kick with Motif & Proteus synth pulses attacks and so on.
I always like to explore and alway's willing to try something different.
& blessings.
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