Creating and fitting the 808 kick drum and other drum sounds in the mix can be a hard task. This is because the 808 kick drum is competing for the same frequency range with the bass, and other drum sounds, so it can be rather challenging to blend everything in the mix together. Fortunately, kick drum processing evolved a lot since the birth of the Roland 808 drum machine, so now we have various tools that allow us to shape it in the way we want. Check out the next five tips which will be of great help if you want to make your 808 kick drum sound to be big, clear and punchy.
1. The choice of the right sample is essential
There is no point in trying to process something if it has very bad quality from the start. Just like with an excellent cooking recipe, you should start with the right ingredients. Try to look for the samples that are clean and punchy from the start. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of unnecessary time trying to shape them and fit them with the rest elements in the mix. Today, there are numerous good sounding samples in various sample packs, which are a good investment for your money.
2. Make some space for the kick drum
Adding insane amounts of low end, distortion or tape saturation to your 808 kick drum will often make your work even harder, so remember – less is more. You should concentrate on shaping the surrounding sounds around your 808 kick drum. In this way, you will find it easier to cut thru the mix and to dominate the sound image in the right way. By doing this, you will give your 808 kick drum room to breathe.
The kick drum sound usually consists mainly of low frequencies, and therefore, it’s a bit tricky to mix it. You can hear it properly on the big speakers and feel it`s power from the subwoofer, but when it comes to laptop speakers or small earbuds, all that low-end power disappears. Here is where distortion, a trusty ally, jumps in. With this effect, you will be able to add harmonics that can be heard on small speakers. Consequently, it will also sound good on a massive sound system. However, being reasonable with the amount of distortion it is the key.
4. Pay attention to the length
In many cases, 808 kick drum samples are too long. This results in a muddy mix since the low frequency of the kick is swallowing the whole spectrum. If you are dealing with the 808 kick drum in the sampler as MIDI, pay attention to the decay and release parameters. On the other hand, if you use it as an audio sample simply size its length by using fade out or even try to automate the volume.
If you are layering 808 kick drum with some other kick drum sound like many producers do, pay special attention to the relation of these two sounds. For example, if your standard kick drum has a sharp transient, there is no need for the 808 kick drum to have the same. The first sample will be in charge of the initial punch while the 808 will tend to have body and sustain. To make a good mix between these two try to use some of the transient shaper plugins that are widely available. The best option would be to use the one that is offering multi-band controls. Therefore, you will be able to carve it in the best possible way precisely.