Putting together a basic drum rhythm is a simple procedure, thanks to the high-quality software and sounds available nowadays. After that, a common challenge is to skillfully manipulate those drums in order to create a tight and attractive groove. This will be done with fades, editing, compression, and EQ mostly, but there are many ways to do it. In the following tutorial, we will show you an alternative method for tightening your drum groove.

As usual, we prepared a short sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW. It includes most of the drum elements of a full mix. Let’s take listen to it.

This is a screenshot of my mix taken before processing of "Drums High" group.

~Full Mix – Drums (Unprocessed)

The drums, particularly the shakers and hi-hats, sound a bit unbalanced and loose, as illustrated in the audio sample above. We could fix it by processing with a compressor, EQ, or similar tools, but a transient shaper will be our alternative tool for the job this time. We covered the use of transient shapers in some of our previous tutorials. In this case, this alternative processing method will give us more control over the dynamics of the drums.

Tightening your drum groove with a transient shaper

Let’s start by grouping the hi-hats and shakers and listening to them separately. We’ll add an instance of LFOTool by Xfer to this “Drums High” group track. The initial effect may be familiar to that of our previous tutorial, where we used it as a go-to side chain tool. We’ll use it in a different way this time.

This is a screenshot of my mix and LFOTool interface applied on "Drums High" group with its default settings.
~Drums High Group – Unprocessed

Since we want to apply a process different from the classic “ducking effect,” we need to draw a different kind of curve on LFOTool’s interface. To control the tail of the signal, the curve must decrease in time, and the rate should be set to 1/16 beat, to begin with. Additionally, to avoid any unwanted click sound, we will increase the “Smooth” slider, which is highlighted in the picture below.

This is a screenshot of my mix and LFOTool interface applied on "Drums High" group with its final settings.
~Drums High Group – Processed (Wet 100%)

The audio example above is set to 100% wet mix, which is the most extreme setting. In our case, we don’t need such an effect, so let’s set it to 60%.

Now, let’s hear our “Drums High” group solo and then in the context of the full mix.

~Drums High Group – Processed (Wet 60%)
~Full Mix – Drums High Group (Processed)

If you liked this article on guitar processing, here are some more on the same subject: