Synthesised Claps & Hi-Hats with Alchemy & White Noise
White noise is great for synthesising your own clap and hi-hat sounds, and Alchemy’s various noise sources provide great scope for creating customised drum sounds. Here’s an audio example of the clap and hi-hat we’ll be creating, playing alongside a kick drum and percussion sound:
And here’s the MIDI we’ve used to program these hits. The clap is on C2 and the hi-hat is on C3:
Let’s begin with the clap. Load an instance of Alchemy, go to the File menu on the top panel and select Clear to initialise the preset. Now click on the Advanced tab, then click on A underneath Global to bring up section A’s detailed controls.
Over to the right, you’ll see the Oscillator and Noise sections. Turn the oscillator off by clicking the On button so it goes grey, then turn on the noise section. Now, click where it says White to bring up the various different noise sources we can use. Select Radio from the list, turn the volume up to full and bring down the High Cut to around 2600 Hz to roll off some of the top end.
Having such an extended list of different noise types is what makes a synth like Alchemy so great for creating drum sounds, as most synths tend to just have a white noise source.
Now let’s add another noise source to brighten this up. Click on section B, turn it on by clicking the On button in the top left, then over to the right turn off the oscillator and turn on the noise.
Bring down the volume to half way, and take up the low cut filter to about half way, sweeping away any low frequency from the white noise.
In the centre panel of Alchemy you should see the AHDSR envelope. Bring the sustain down to zero, and tweak the decay to taste. Shorter decay times are best for something more snappy and longer for a bigger impact. We’ve gone for a decay of around 6s.
By default, there’s some stereo width to the sound, which loses some of the focus and impact. Remedy this by collapsing both sections A and B to mono. This button is found in the top left of each section, next to the Solo button.
Now for some effects. Click on the Effects tab at the bottom left of the synth, and in the first effects slot load a distortion. Take the Bitcrush setting up to 33%, the Mech up to 40%, the Tube to 50% and the Xcite to 45%. This drives the sound quite heavily.
In the second effects slot, load the Vintage Compressor, back off the attack all the way and set the release to the fastest time, the threshold to -26db, the ratio to 3:1, and take up the input and make up gain to around 3.5 dB. This adds snap compression, giving the clap a stronger transient.
Finally, in the third effects slot, load the 3-Band EQ, and add some top-end presence by pushing F3 up to 4.5 dB.
To finish off the clap sound, we’ve added Logic’s Enveloper effect to the channel, boosted the attack gain to 70%, and changed the attack time to 26.0ms. We’ve boosted the release gain to 30% and increased the time to 370.0ms. This further adds transient snap and body.
We’ve also added some reverb via a bus send and used Valhalla’s Vintage Verb, set with a mix of 100% and a decay time of 1.66s.
In order to create the hi-hat, duplicate the clap channel and program the hi-hat MIDI with some velocity variation.
On this new instance of Alchemy, turn off section A so it’s only the white noise triggering. In section B, towards the right where we select our noise source, right-click on the noise volume control and add a velocity modulation, found in the Note Property folder. This makes the sound velocity sensitive, giving our hi-hat sound a more human feel.
Now change the AHDSR envelope. Back off the attack to 0.0044 s and bring down the decay to 0.019 s. Finally, turn off the enveloper effect that would have copied over when we duplicated the channel.