This week I explored something I have never done before – making kick drums with synthesizers. It is a very rewarding process that will generate a lot of content that you can use over and over again. The boiler-plate PATCH for synth kicks uses just a few modules. It sounds like this.
If you’re interested in making kicks like this, you’ll want to get comfortable with these 5 important techniques in Massive.
- Using quick, dramatic pitch envelopes.
- This is perhaps the most identifiable characteristic of today’s synthetic kicks. It creates a clean “bite” and gives it a commanding presence across a large range of the spectrum.
- Using the “Performer” instead of the default volume envelope.
- The attack time in Massive‘s envelopes is not fast enough to make kick noises with. The first few milliseconds of the kick are critical, so we need to “mute” ENV 4 (making the envelope a gate shape) and use the Performer to inversely modulate the amplitude of the oscillator – to smooth out the release.
- Achieving a consistent start phase of the oscillator.
- A “Restart” option in the synth will make the attack sound equally clean each time it triggers.
- Adding noise and distortion.
- Modulating the wavetable and position of your oscillator with the envelopes you used for pitch modulation will introduce the majority of variations in timbre.
- Using parametric EQ with respect to your song.
- Kicks designed this way produce a very wide range of frequency content. You will need to make room in them for a good balance when other instruments are introduced.
HOW TO RE-CREATE THE PATCH
- Make OSC 1 a Sine by selecting the Sin-Squ wave and moving Wt-pos all the way to the left.
- Right click on the “4” next to the pan knob to “Mute” the amp envelope.
- Go to the OSC tab.
- Enable “Restart via Gate”.
- Open the Performer (7 Perf).
- Make sure “XFade Seq” is all the way up.
- Click “Load Curve”.
- Draw this shape with the curves provided.
- Click “Load Curve” again to go back to the rate control.
- Turn the rate up to about 4 o’clock .
- Modulate the entire range of OSC 1 Amp with the performer.
- Drag the pitch of OSC 1 all the way to 64.00 (WARNING: LOUD)
- Make these shapes in ENV 2 and 3. You’ll need to turn the first “level” parameter all the way down and the second “level” parameter all the way up.
- Modulate the pitch of OSC 1 down 40 semitones with ENV 2
- Modulate the range of that control down 30 semitones with ENV 3.
Now that you have your boiler-plate synth kick, experiment with the settings below to create variations like these.
- OSC Waveform
- Wavetable Position
- Envelope Decay
- Envelope Destination
- The Noise Oscillator
- Ranges of pitch modulation
- Performer steps
- EQ and FX