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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:

MIDI Screengrab

Step 1

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.

Step 1

Step 2

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.

Step 2

Step 3

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.

Step 3.1

Step 3.2

Step 4

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.

Step 4.1 Step 4.2

Step 5

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.

Step 5

20th December, 2015

Tutorials is sponsored by

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Roland Cloud is your creative hub for Roland hardware and software. Access legendary recreations of Roland Classics, find new sounds for your favorite products, and download updates and companion apps to make music fast and easy.


  • Christmas just arrives for me ! Thanks a lot for all this tutorials !

  • 10 essential drum techniques??? 10 tutorials on how to do this or that using very particular DAWS and Plugins. Total waste of time.

  • I do like Attack and despite me mainly being into underground hip hop I play disco and some nu disco (which is house haha) and still love techno as in the minimalist Detroit sound, not bloody tech house. I DJ and come from a great position clubwise. Growing up in South London in the 80’s there was the soul scene then the warehouse, hip-hop, funk, Boogie, disco anthems, Kiss FM when it was a pirate was our Bible and on a Tuesday night there were prob 5 good clubs to go to, on a Saturday, 25 maybe. who knows. Then I lived and loved through 88- to about 93 when the original Balearic, anything went, all about the tunes was starting to go slowly and it was about the DJs and had split into 1000 genres. Boys Own, Slam, and others still kept a more undergrounf scene going away from momeymakers like MOS. (only time I went there I lost my mates within about 20 mins and looked in vain for a few hours. That wasn’t what it was about. I was in Brighton then anyway and we had the wonderful Zap. Now what we got? A weekly decent hip hop night on a Tuesday, once a month clubs like Russ Dewbury’s terrific Soulful Strut where I do the odd slot.. All the sefront clubs which were once cool are now for the geezer and hen night crowd.Then there’s patterns. If there is a decent DJ it;s worth it. If not it;s the usual kid playing his perfect and completely broring seamless tech house set. The crowd don’t actuyally seem like they are having a particularly great time and most people in their 20’s just go to the pub and I’m not surprised. Your ‘What makes a great DJ’ was terrific as it so backed up what had happened. Itl;s turned on it’s head so instead of buying tunes as u knew they would be bangers I can tell that tracks are downloaded ‘cos they fit in with other tracks, I call it anti-DJing and it’s nice to see Attack interview some of the greats like Derrick May etc. You would think that the kids who think they are DJs now (despite there not being many places to DJ) would respect people like that. Indie kids in bands worship those who went before but no…they think they know best, they DJs who shock horror mixed with vinyl and would drop lots of banging tunes on the One as we punters couldn’t have cared less about the mixing really. It was all about the tunes, Depressing really. Good that the drum and bass scene and a few others have kept going by not becoming commercial. Sad thing is in Brighton there are loads of us that want to put proper small nights on with little risk like u used to be able to but there’s no where to hire out now.

    Anyway I think all that was saying that you seem to be taking a more mature approach instead of articles like one I saw online which was “Is it possible to mix without using your EQ?” I just stared at it tbh in horror. The only time I tounch my EQ is when I turn the bass down for scratching. Oh couple of requests. How about a few more Beat Dissected on hip hop. The Underground has all kinds of leftfield beats and talented producers, and more minimalist techno. We of a certain age could make a house beat in our sleep. And can you please not make your tutorials so expensive plugin specific? We donl;t all use or can afford Ableton, Pro Tools, etc. I use Reaper, MPC Element and the best free plugins and synths that I have found. I’m sure Variety of Sound and Tokyo Dawn plugins could give a lot of commerial ones a run for their money. And making hip hop TyrellN6, Firebird and SQ8L certainly do the job. The only plugins I’be bought are the DopeVST Hip Hop romplers. And how about some tips on leftfield hip hop? Do people really still actually make ‘House Leads?’ I have about 50 in various presets that sound alright. Andy

  • Thanks for all these tips, great article!

  • This seems to be an advert for various (expensive) plugins rather than a tutorial on essential drum techniques. This should have been done using a DAW’s native plugins.


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