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Creating Drum Sounds

FabFilter One can create a whole range of different percussive sounds, like bass drums, snares, toms and hihats. The keys to success are extreme peak values and modulating the cut-off frequency of the filter.

  1. The Oscillator
    The wave form you need really depends on the type of drum sound you would like to create. For instance, tom sounds or snare sounds could use any of the first three waveforms (triangle, sawtooth or square). To get a good hihat or brush sound, the noise type would do the trick.
    Creating bass drums works differently. Because great bass drum sounds heavily depend on the self-oscillation of the filter, you can experiment using any of the four wave forms. But the noise wave form usually gives the most solid results.
  2. The Envelope Generator
    Most drum sounds, like bass drums and snares, are short and have a really strong attack. To get this effect, you can set the attack (almost) to 0, use fairly short decay and low sustain values and use a short release. Especially with bass drum sounds, the sustain level can have a huge effect on the sound. Just experiment with this value in combination with the filter modulation to get the results you're after.
  3. The Cut-off Filter
    The cut-off filter really is the key component in the process of creating drum sounds, especially for bass drums. To create the fattest kick sounds, use the self-oscillation that occurs with the highest peak values, in combination with extreme cut-off frequency modulation by the envelope generator (turn up the EG knob in the filter section).
  4. Modulation
    As mentioned before, modulating the cut-off frequency with the EG is what you want to do here. For a good bass drum, start with maximum EG filter modulation and fine-tune if needed, adjusting the sustain value as well. For other percussive sounds, most of the time just a bit of EG modulation is enough.
  5. The Finishing Touch
    A great trick for giving snare drums that little extra kick, is adding some white or pink noise to the signal (using the oscillator's noise knob and noise type switch). Also inverting the EG cut-off frequency modulation can give great effects.
    Try to experiment with the envelope generator, expecially when creating bass drum sounds. For example, using higher release values and slightly higher sustain values will give you great results.

Next: Creating Sound Effects

See Also
Creating sounds
Using FabFilter One

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