Proper tuning is fundamental to getting a good drum tone. As with any instrument, it can take years to develop an ear for what a properly tuned bass, tom, or snare drum should sound like. Tuning your drums is an essential practice, just like tuning your guitar before you record any serious material with it. It’s important to understand that drum tuning should be a routine for the sake of musicality in your songs. Today, there are several options you can use to tune the electronic drum samples. This is why we decided to show you a not so common technique which will allow your hi-hats to sound and sit better in the mix.


Tune Your Hi-Hats!


As usual, we have previously made a project in the SoundBridge: DAW. As you can see, this project contains essential elements of the full mix of kind of Progressive House beat. Let’s hear it.


~Full Mix – Without Hi-Hat 


The next step would be to choose an appropriate Hi-Hat loop, which makes our overall drum section sound richer. Let’s hear how it sounds solo and then in context with everything else in the mix.


~Hi Hat – Unprocessed

~Full Mix – Hi-Hat Unprocessed


Frequency Shifter Processing


The tool which we have chosen to tune our hi-hat loop is essentially a Frequency Shifter effect. Frequency Shifter is a device that raises or lowers the frequency of an input signal. It does this using a complex amplitude modulation like technique. Unlike the pitch shifter, the frequency shifter does not preserve the harmonic relationships between the various tones and harmonics in the input signal. Because of this, sounds processed by a frequency shifter start to sound very unnatural with only a small amount of shift. However, unlike the pitch shifter, it is feasible to implement a frequency shifter with all-analog circuitry. You can use frequency shifting to tune your drum sounds. If you use it in small amounts, the frequency shifting can make an excellent alternative to pitch shifting when tuning drums.


MFreqShifter by Melda Productions


For the sake of this tutorial, we have selected a plugin called MFreqShifter designed by Melda Productions. So let us introduce you to its interface and functions.



The Interface


As you can see, we have a pretty straight forward interface in front of us. The upper part of the interface contains control parameters on which we will concentrate on the task of Hi-Hat loop tuning.

From left to right, we can see several parameters:

  • DRY/WET – controls the amount of the processed signal
  • SHIFT –  Defines the amount of each frequencies shifting. The more you move each frequency, the more they will lose the harmonic relationship and start sounding dirty and distorted.
  • WIDTH – Width controls the frequency shift between channels. It works as a multiplicative coefficient, which means that if S shifts the first channel, then the second channel is shifted by S*Width. If you are using a multichannel setup, then the next channel will be S*Width*Width, etc. For example, if you set to shift to 100Hz and width to -100% in a stereo set up, then the left channel is shifted by +100Hz and right one by -100Hz. Any value other than 100% makes each channel shifted by a different amount, which can provide more sound width.
  • FEEDBACK – Feedback controls how much of the output signal is sent back with some delay. As a result, such a signal is shifted every time it is fed back. This results in sequences with a constantly changing spectrum.
  • DELAY – Delay determines the feedback delay. You can also use synchronization below to make the delay adjust dynamically to the song’s tempo.


Audio Examples


After a brief description of the parameters mentioned above, we can move to a practical example. As you can see from the picture above, the processed signal is set all the way to the maximum, shift value at 1756 Hz, width around 100%, while feedback is increased up to 80% in order to induce a sense of space in the stereo field. Lastly, the delay is set to 10ms, and this is affecting the feedback amount.

Let us hear how our Hi-Hat loop sounds now processed with MFreqShifter. First, we will listen to it solo and then in context with other elements in the mix.


~Hi Hat – Processed With MFreqShifter

~Full Mix – Hi-Hat Processed With MFreqShifter


Feel free to download the project file here.