In this quick How To lesson, we are focusing on these huge-sounding drums you’ve heard so many times in various movie trailers and epic scores of high paced action movies.
The point here is not to use any of ‘ready’ sounds libraries or VST instruments, but to create the parts ourselves.
Step 1: Create Your Track
A simple Drum Kit will do. You can use any dry sounding Drum Kit you want, just make sure you are using tom (or tom-tom) drum sound. Now record, or input the sounds in the piano roll of your DAW.
I have already created a simple drum track, which sounds like this (dry):
Step 2: Add Bus Sends and Effects
To increase the sounds palette of your main sound, we need to send the signal to various buses in our mixer. I have sent the signal to the buses no. 1, 4, 5 and 6; but you can send them to any buses you have available (keep it clean, though). I did that, because the rest of my buses were busy at the time.
Insert new instances of effects in each of the bus (see the picture below). You can use any reverb effect available, as long as you know how to handle it properly (also, the reverb send should be set to pre-fader – right click in Logic).
The effects structure looks like this:
Send 1 > Bus 1 – Reverb (around -10 send value)
Send 2 > Bus 4 (2) – Pitch Shifter (around -0.3 send value)
Send 3 > Bus 5 (3) – Pitch Shifter (around -0.3 send value)
Send 4 > Bus 6 (4) – Pitch Shifter, Sample Delay (around -0.7 send value)
Step 3: Setup the Effects
First, setup the Reverb effect to your liking. This should be fitted to the overall mix of your piece. Do you know why we are using the send with a pre-fader setup? Learn more in about Pre and Post-Fader Sends here.
Pitch Shifter Bus 2 settings:
Semi Tones: 7
Pitch Shifter Bus 3 settings:
Semi Tones: -5
Pitch Shifter Bus 4 settings:
Semi Tones: 5
Depending on the drum sound you use, you should experiment with various algorithms presets available in Pitch Shifter. For my sound I have chosen ‘Vocals’ as it presented less ‘other noise’ and stuttering than the other two.
In the last Bus I have also used a Sample Delay effect, which basically widens (and doubles) the drum effect overall (this is what the listener perceives). It gains more space and feels like there are more drum instruments (or players) out there by delaying the sound a little bit off-time adding more ‘human feel’ to the overall mix.
For the Sample Delay FX I have Linked the L&R channels and moved the Delay sliders to 1538 sam (samples) value.
Step 4: Adjust Your Instrument Mix
Now you are able to adjust the overall sound of your drum. It is also quite important to adjust your EQ, Sends amounts and fine tune your drums to fit your mix. Also, you can create many sounds in one track, and run them through the process described above. The final sound will be even bigger than when using only one drum. Try, experiment and have fun with it.
Here’s the wet mix of my drums:
And here are the drums used in a context with other instruments.
I hope you’ve found this quick tutorial helpful. Maybe you are using some different technique to create bigger-than-life sounding drums? Please leave your comments and questions below and share this post amongst your friends.
Effects Used (Logic):
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