The techniques for tuning, mixing and overall processing of the kick drum represent a form of “audio science” in the realm of today’s electronic music. There are countless methods used in order to achieve a perfect sounding kick drum. Compressors, EQ`s or distortion effects are just some of the tools we use daily. On the other hand, there are some experimental tools that, when used properly, can really boost up the quality of the kick drum in an unexpected way. One of those tools that I came across recently is the Ice reverb. This effect can be found among the default effects in Maschine 2 by Native Instruments. In the next tutorial, I will guide you thru Maschine`s 2 interfaces and show you a trick with the Ice reverb that I use frequently on my kick drums.
Maschine 2 by NI
As usual, we can start by selecting a kick drum. After that, I’ll load it to a newly created audio channel within SoundBridge. Next, I will load a fresh instance of Maschine 2 FX plugin to the audio channels plugin rack. Please bear in mind that when you first load the Maschine 2 FX plugin to the rack, there will be no sound when you press play in the sequencer. This is because you need to set the output routing within the Maschine 2 plugin. I will show you how to do this step by step with the help of the following screenshots.
Parameters and Settings
As you can see in the picture below, the full interface of the Maschine 2 FX plugin looks pretty slick. This tutorial will not be dedicated to the full capacities of this awesome plugin (although there are really advanced). Instead, I will concentrate on routing and parameter settings of the Ice reverb effect within Maschine 2. The first step would be to navigate to the upper part of the interface where we can find an icon represented as mix console faders. I marked it with a red circle.
Routing and Mixing
After clicking on this icon we are shifted to another routing and mixing menu. In this menu, we can see different channels and group tracks. Again, by clicking on the next icons, we are can see the drop-down menus which are spread below all available channels.
Input and Output
The first icon (IO) stand for input and output. By clicking on this icon, the new line will appear which has “Audio IN” written on it. This is crucial because after clicking on this icon, the pop-up menu will appear. Inside, we can select the desired output. This needs to be set so that the actual sound can be heard.
The icon below, presented as a power chord, opens a new line which lets us select the Maschine 2 internal FX effects, as well as other plugins that you have installed on your system. From the internal effect menu, I will select the Ice reverb which we will use for further processing of the kick drum.
By selecting the Ice reverb from the plugin list, we can notice a small interface that appears in the lower part of the overall Maschine 2 FX interface. This effect is rather simple and consists of just a few parameters. In its essence, it delivers really resonant sound so its suitable for this kind of processing. The first parameters named ”Color” controls the tone of the reverb, from bright to dark. Next parameter controls the amount of the actual “Ice” effect. The mixing parameter is set next to it and I think it doesn’t need any special explanation. The last parameter called “Size”, located at the lower part of the effects interface controls the size of the reverb room.
The key for altering the kick drum is to add individual parameters in small amounts. That being said, you can see that I have set the “Color” at 3%, “Ice” to 27%, “Mix” to 25% and the “Size” parameter to 15%. This setting is set because the kick drum is a more-less constant element in the track, so the coloration by this effect should be short and subtle.
Let’s now hear the difference between unprocessed and the kick drum processed with the Ice reverb.
~Kick Drum – Unprocessed
~Kick Drum – Processed with Ice reverb
New low-frequency dimension
I suggest using studio monitors or good quality headphones so you could hear the full effect of Ice reverb processing. You will hear a whole new dimension in the low-frequency spectrum that the kick drum gained by this processing. Although most of the sound engineers claim that the kick drum should stay in mono, this plugin adds a bit of stereo image to it. If it’s too much for your liking you can always add a stereo imaging plugin, after this effect where you will decrease the spreading of the stereo image a bit.
~Kick Drum – Processed with Ice reverb and Stereo Imaging plugin