Pitch shifting is a relevant tool when processing drum sounds. Electronic musicians frequently argue drum samples sound better when pitched down. This is generally done using the sampler’s or DAW’s built-in pitch control, but it can also be accomplished with plugins in a more efficient way. In the next tutorial, we’ll show you another method to pitch shift or tune your drum sounds. 

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

This is a screenshot of my mix before processing the hi-hat with LittleAlterBoy.
~Full Mix – Hi-Hat (Unprocessed)

Tune your drum sounds with Soundtoys

The full mix sounds good, but the hi-hat is flat and dull. We can use pitch automation to fix this. In this case, we will load a plugin that provides formant shifting in addition to standard pitching: LittleAlterBoy by Sound Toys. Let’s load a fresh instance of it on the hi-hat’s effect rack.

This is a screenshot of my mix and LittleAlterBoy interface with its default settings.

We want to make the hi-hat sound more lo-fi by lowering its tone. The Pitch control doesn’t quite give the desired effect, but the Formant control does great in this sense. With the built-in Drive control, we can now add character and homogenize the dynamics with distortion. If we want this to sound more natural, we may mix in some of the original hi-hat signal. In our case, however, the mix is set to 100%.

Since we want to alter the formant at certain points in the hi-hat sequence, we’ve automated this parameter, as shown below. Let’s hear how our hi-hat sequence sounds before and after LittleAlterBoy’s processing.

This is a screenshot of my mix and LittleAlterBoy interface with its final settings.
~Hi-Hat – Unprocessed
~Hi-Hat – Processed With LittleAlterBoy

This technique works well with electro kicks, snares, and even acoustic drums.

Lastly, let’s hear how our processed hi-hat sound in the context of the full mix.

~Full Mix – Hi-Hat (Processed With LittleAlterBoy)

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