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KICK DRUM Compression with Fabfilter Pro-C 2

Next, we’ll take a look at some individual drum hit compression techniques on kick drums.

Step 1

Snap compression can be used to reduce the boom and sub of a kick and increase the perceived transient. Here’s the drum loop we’re starting with. The kick is quite boomy, which would be fine if it was the only low end element in our track, but in order to fit a bass or sub bass in between the kicks we’ll need to clean up the kick a bit.

Step 2

To begin, load up an instance of Fabfilter Pro-C 2, if you don’t have Pro-C, your host DAW’s native compressor should be able to achieve similar effects. The idea of this type of compression is to leave the attack portion of the sound unprocessed and flatten the sustain, so we start by backing the attack control off all the way, and increasing the release to the fastest time possible.

Step 2

Step 3

Currently there is only around 1 dB of compression being applied. Pro-C 2 has various different compression styles available depending on the type of effect you’re going for. We’ll click the Style menu and select Pumping from the list. This instantly creates a much more aggressive type of compression, almost reducing the tail of the kick completely.

Next, we back off the threshold to around -16 dB to soften this effect slightly (the exact threshold will depend on the level of the sound you’re feeding in to your own compressor – go by sound rather than numbers here). Now you can hear a much more punchy kick, with space in between the drums for a bass sound.

Step 3

Step 4

We could also reverse this technique to increase sustain in a drum sound, by using a faster attack and slower release. Here’s how that could sound:

Step 5

Using compression, we can also increase the sustain portion of this kick drum. We’ll load up a compressor on another version of the same kick channel, but this time we’ll use a fast attack, fast release, a ratio of 7:1, and bring the threshold to -12 dB, so that we have around 7-8 dB of compression being applied. These settings are squashing the transient of the kick a bit, but also bringing up the body and sustain.

To match the original signal level, we’ll boost the output level of Pro-C by 3.84 dB. Here are pre and post compression examples of this kick drum:

Step 5

20th December, 2015

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  • 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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