Layering kicks and snares...

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breakspeare
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Layering kicks and snares...

Post by breakspeare » Fri May 15, 2009 3:46 am

I had always heard people saying to layer up kicks and snares to get an original and well sculpted sound, but never had any luck doing it until the other day when someone showed me their technique. it's only a tiny bit of advice (although it takes up lots of words :oops: ) and now seems rather obvious, but it has helped me tremendously so i thought i would explain for those who have also struggled..

all they did was to go through a load of kicks and pick out maybe 8 different ones, making sure that there were some heavy ones there for bass (all straightforward so far). the rest however were made up of all sorts of samples that (because they sounded nothing like what i wanted to end up with or just plain sounded shit) i probably wouldnt have chosen. however the main thing was that there were plenty to play about with and that each was different from the others <-- important point number one. the next step is to choose one of your samples (usually the one with the biggest low end - fairly obvious as that's what a kick is for, but works for snares as well as it will make the next part easier) to be the foundation for your overall sound. get a midi loop playing all samples together but just listen to your main one.

next, get all your samples in phase with each other by doing the following for each of them individually: play it at the same time as your main sample and decide whether or not the lowest tone of your main sample has got louder or quieter. you might need to flick it on and off a few times to hear what's happening. if it got louder that's good because your samples are reinforcing each other, rather than cancelling out. if it got quieter then use something like ableton's Utility to flip the phase of your secondary sample and listen again to the lowest part of the sound. there should, with most samples, be a fairly obvious difference to the bass end when you do this. you always want to leave your sample so it's reinforcing the main one, and dont ever flip the phase of your main one - this is your reference point for all the other samples. if you change the phase of this halfway through, half you samples will cancel out the main one leaving you with a :supergay: kick. no more women for you, sonny.

^^^ this whole paragraph is important point number two: this is the bit nobody mentioned, i never thought about, and now seems to have had the biggest impact.

sometimes you might get two sounds that dont really cancel or reinforce, or just seem to cancel each other whichever way the phase is flipped. if you have your heart set on using both of them you could stick them in a sample editor, move them in phase with each by delaying the start or some shit like that but i think life is too short and there are plenty more samples out there you could be trying out :p

by this point you should have a number of samples that all have quite a big impact together but still sound like 8 samples being played at the same time. now is probably a good time to play with some levels between them and some envelopes on individual samples so that this tail isnt too long, or those two attacks dont step on each other's toes, etc. the only thing i would say here is to always reference your main sample, and consider each secondary sample in turn as to what you like about it, how loud you want it to be, where it fits with the others, and so on. you might end up with three fairly obvious parts to your sound but then six other samples that are very quiet or short but just add a little something at the right point in the hit. having done the phase part and with a good idea of what you want in your head, this bit should be fairly easy.

as a further point for a more realistic/organic kind of sound, set different samples so that they react to midi velocity more or less sensitively - this way if you have a velocity of 1 only your main sample plays quietly, but as velocity increases more of the other samples come in. with 8 samples all set differently you can make some really nice sounds. ableton's drum rack seems to be made for this whole thing as well.

im sure some people would suggest some compression over all your samples to gel them together but i dont know about such things and have written a lot so i'll leave that to someone else. i hope this helps someone!
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by Iknowuknow » Fri May 15, 2009 4:24 am

fuckit i'll just let somebody else do the work.

Nice tips though thanks 8)
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by Number2onU » Fri May 15, 2009 4:48 am

Seems like you could get the same result by layering, eq, and compressing two or three fat samples that you like rather than 8 that you don't?
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by BLista » Fri May 15, 2009 7:48 am

^^^two, three maximum

one for weight

one for timbre

one for the attack/snap.

any more is a waste of time IMO

personally I never use more than 2 = one for the weight, one for the snap/timbre.
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by inaudible » Fri May 15, 2009 8:23 am

8 does seem well excessive, pretty much strict 3 man here.

Never thought about reversing the polarity to make samples fit though, i just automatically reach for another kick, nice tip.
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by El Huracan » Fri May 15, 2009 8:35 am

16 snares ftw
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by Audio Tsunami » Fri May 15, 2009 8:37 am

2 or 3 at most.....play the 1 you really like the body of first, add a second (usually for snap) and tune until you find the sweet spot then add the third, I usually spend about half an hour toying with things like the length of each. Bouncedown to create one sample (saved as mono) then add compression eq......seems to work for me....I find layering my kick a hell of alot easier than snares. With the snare I do the same thing (starting with the fave then adding more) but theres alot more toying and fiddling involved, such as gating/reverb.....I do this to only selected samples rather than adding the same effect value to all (some I leave effect free) its alot of fookin about and I've yet to construct a final snare sample that I lurve......but at least you can say its a unique snare/kick all the same!
Last edited by Audio Tsunami on Fri May 15, 2009 8:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by Ali Baba » Fri May 15, 2009 8:43 am

we tend to use 3, certainly wouldnt go higher than that. The third in our case is a very tightly eq'd bit that we always use (something shown to us by Lynx n Jarmin) anyway tho so 2 for the main sound tbh
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by Coyote » Fri May 15, 2009 8:50 am

cool that bit about getting the samples in phase in interesting. i've never thought of it like that before. i normaly reach for a filter. i'll give it a blast tonight.
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by breakspeare » Fri May 15, 2009 9:53 am

yeh the main point was more about giving yourself lots of options and being open minded about what might go into a kick or snare. i'd def agree that using more different samples works better for snares than kicks though. and the phase cancellation thing i thought was brilliant - never really got things to gel before doing that..
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by djjd » Fri May 15, 2009 10:03 am

Lots of ways to skin a snare, eh?

Ace when you learn something and get all excited 8)
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by foxington » Fri May 15, 2009 11:28 am

Ali Baba wrote:we tend to use 3, certainly wouldnt go higher than that. The third in our case is a very tightly eq'd bit that we always use (something shown to us by Lynx n Jarmin) anyway tho so 2 for the main sound tbh
care to expand on this a little? i'm guessing that you mean using a sound that makes your kicks recognisable as your own...
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by alex_virr » Fri May 15, 2009 11:32 am

james fox wrote:
Ali Baba wrote:we tend to use 3, certainly wouldnt go higher than that. The third in our case is a very tightly eq'd bit that we always use (something shown to us by Lynx n Jarmin) anyway tho so 2 for the main sound tbh
care to expand on this a little? i'm guessing that you mean using a sound that makes your kicks recognisable as your own...
white noise innit.

snappedy.

this subject is a contender for most repeated after "will using compression make me famous and good looking?''
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by Ali Baba » Fri May 15, 2009 11:35 am

youthful_implants wrote:
james fox wrote:
Ali Baba wrote:we tend to use 3, certainly wouldnt go higher than that. The third in our case is a very tightly eq'd bit that we always use (something shown to us by Lynx n Jarmin) anyway tho so 2 for the main sound tbh
care to expand on this a little? i'm guessing that you mean using a sound that makes your kicks recognisable as your own...
white noise innit.

snappedy.

this subject is a contender for most repeated after "will using compression make me famous and good looking?''
^^^ yeah this
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by foxington » Fri May 15, 2009 11:40 am

a bit of white noise so it cuts through :chin:

will try that.
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by foxington » Fri May 15, 2009 11:41 am

incidentally i'm going to put this thread in the FAQ as although it has been covered before, i've never heard the technique described at the top before :)
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by djjd » Fri May 15, 2009 11:43 am

:( FAQ access denied who's been posting scat then noiseboy?
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by BLista » Sun May 17, 2009 1:30 am

james fox wrote:incidentally i'm going to put this thread in the FAQ as although it has been covered before, i've never heard the technique described at the top before :)
are you sure?

i have to say it's pretty bad advice in my very honest opinion.

8 fuckin samples?
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by Iknowuknow » Sun May 17, 2009 1:41 am

Deano wrote:
james fox wrote:incidentally i'm going to put this thread in the FAQ as although it has been covered before, i've never heard the technique described at the top before :)
are you sure?

i have to say it's pretty bad advice in my very honest opinion.

8 fuckin samples?

Agree with this, anyway there is enough kick drums in the world.
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Re: Layering kicks and snares...

Post by Refracture » Sun May 17, 2009 9:28 am

Yeh i personally think 8 is a bit excessive. Nice idea but imo too much effort for what its worth, i always use 2...sub and top and if you have decent samples this is easily enough i think. Simplicity is not always a bad thing :P
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