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Drum sounds in RnB music
Old 19th August 2004
Lives for gear

Drum sounds in RnB music

Hi Dave,

since these songs appeared a few years ago, I was wondering how these great drum sounds in today's RnB music were created.

On "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child, for example, the drum samples have this dryly clipped punchyness while lacking the hardness inevitably introduced by clipping.

How is it done (if it's not top secret, of course :-))?

Also, in a more general way, how have all of those great sounding snare samples been made, e.g. on "Stripped"? Do you layer various snare samples to achieve this? Is there a certain trick how to puzzle them together?

Old 21st August 2004
Lives for gear
good question, I would like to learn some more about this as well. If they are using old drum machines, what are they doing to those sounds in the mix stage to make them sound so tight yet big?

Old 28th September 2004
Guest Moderator - September 08
Dave Pensado's Avatar

what I have seen... the MPC3000, or 2000 is the machine of choice. Most guys just pick samples from anywhere. I keep samples that I like the sound of, and give them to my good clients. Most of the producers seem to have a DJ background, so they have quite a record collection (those 12" round black things), and they usually have some favorite records that they sample from. I am constantly amazed at how they can remember every detail of every record in their collections. I have never seen a producer that I work with do much to the samples except layer them. They get one they like, then add another for punch, another for lo end, etc. Most if not all of the processing takes place in the mix. The above describes Rockwilder, Kanye, Storch, Rodney and Damon E.

A lot of guys ask me to re-sample their drums after the mix, and then re-use them. Most guys only have 4 or 5 samples that they use a lot, but have thousands that they have never used.

I think there is also very good information in this thread. I have already explained how to process drum sounds. As always, if I didn't fully answer the question, please let me know.
Old 28th September 2004
Lives for gear

Thanks alot Dave, the advise you gave in one of the other threads concerning kickdrums was very valuable and already answered a great deal of my questions.

But I've still got a few (sorry for that :-)):

What can I do do to make RnB snares shine? Is there any special gear you use, any compressor settings etc.? I love the snare sounds on Christina Aguilera's album 'Stripped'.

Also, do you have any advise on how to get the bass (the instrument) right, making it sound huge and tight yet not boomy?

Is there much tube/tape/solidstate distortion involved in creating this kind of music?

Thank you very much again, it's great to have you around, I think I've already learned more in this one month than in the whole year before!
Old 29th September 2004

Are you doing mults of each component within the layer or do you just mult the layered/mixed version?

Old 29th September 2004
Lives for gear

Jesse, I'm multing single tracks only. That's what Dave does, too, at least that is what he suggested in some of his other posts.
Old 1st October 2004
Gear Nut

I think what Dave said was spot on - the majority of stuff is sampled off vinyl. If you sample 500 snares, and then spend a could of weeks doing sound design, then the law of averages says that you will get a certain number of sweet sounds. At least this is how i work. Iv been doing loads of this stuff lately, be more for d&b and nu skool sounds. Sometimes you can get three very uninspiring drum sounds, layer them and realise you've hit the jack pot!

It really is more pot luck than any kind of method or judgement. Ofcourse you get a feel for what might and might not work, but the best hits are often a supprise.

Im sure if you get a load of nice hits together, then incorporate some of Daves mixing techniques, you'll get the results you're after.
Old 1st October 2004
Guest Moderator - September 08
Dave Pensado's Avatar

easier than you think

One of the more disappointing days in my life was when I finally saw one of my engineering heroes work. I heard these awful drum and vocal sounds he was given, then I blinked and they sounded amazing. I looked to see what gear was blinking so I could figure out what he had done (without being obvious), and I couldn't figure it out. I finally asked him, and he wasn't doing anything special, he just did some basic compression and a little EQ. I was pissed. I realized it was TALENT and NOT gear! This meant I had to go work even harder, instead of finding the magic equipment chain that would make me sound like him. Yeah, yeah, I know I am starting to sound like a broken record, but I can't impress on you enough that it is the person's taste and determination, combined with experience that determines the sound. NOT GEAR.

OK. Whew, now that we have established that, let's discuss some gear which is better than others at certain tasks. On Christina's album I added some samples to the snares and kiks. I tried to be respectful of the original sound, but added a hi end thin snare or stick to get the pop or shine. If there wasn't enough bottom, I would add an old reworked Clearmountain snare I pinched from an old (springsteen I think) album. The stick sound I used I made about 15 years ago by taking a 1/2" steel rod and using it like a regular drum stick by hitting the snare head and rim at the same time. I did the mult thing. I put the EXACT same snare (I was given) through: 1) chan 1-board EQ, and comp. 2) chan 2-a 160xt (see other posts for settings) and out of that to a tube EQ, either Pultec or VacRack. 3) chan 3-any compressor that has attack/release and ratio control ( I used a Lacy Thompson CLX) but any newer compressor will work). That's pretty much it. Check out some of the mixes by Jean Marie Horvatz. He does pretty much the same thing, as he showed me some of these tricks (along with learning some from the AMAZING Bob Power).

For the Bass I used the 120xds by DBX sometimes, also an old Roland Dimension D, along with a MOOG parametric EQ. I also like preset #35 on the Sony M7. Every once in a while I will use Tile Room from the PCM70 on a ballad.

Did I answer everything, if not let me know? Also, again, let me add that the answers/ideas by the other guys on this thread are VERY cool. Some I already do, and some I will try very soon.
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