Why Use Plugins?
Going through extreme and creative measures to record instruments and produce original sounds is still something practiced today. But this style of sound creation is becoming less practiced as digital audio workstations (DAWs) make it easier than ever to create unique sounds.
Sound Different, Stand Out
Make Creating Easier
Be More Professional
How to Use Kick Shaping Plugins
Follow these tips to learn a few tools that will make your kick drum sound great. And after that, we explore a few free plugin options that tie these tools into one place and help you get the job done.
Dial-in the EQ
When mixing a kick drum, you will typically want to remove the higher frequencies with a high cut (low-pass) filter (try around 15500 Hz) and a low cut (high-pass) filter (20 Hz).
Dial-in your EQ first to avoid the frequencies that lead to ear fatigue.
ADSR, Compression, and Transient Shaping
the amount of time it takes for the sound to decrescendo from the sustained level back to silence (no sound).
If you don’t have access to a recording studio or real instrument sounds, mastering ADSR will allow you to take basic MIDI instrument sounds and give them some of the richness you desire from your instruments. And if you do have access to high-quality instrument packs and sounds, using ADSR will allow you to improve on those sounds more.
Try adding a longer attack and release time to your kick drum sound to give it more body. In pop music, it is sometimes desirable for your kick drum to “click” – adjust your attack until you can hear the clipping just a little bit, then back it off slightly.
Compression vs. Transient Shaping
Compressors and transient shapers are two different tools for controlling the ADSR of a sound. While the concept of transient shaping is not new, it is not a processor commonly offered by many DAWs. The solution to this is downloading and installing an additional plugin for transient-shaping to use within your DAW.
So what is the difference between a compressor and a transient shaper? The easiest way to explain the difference between the two is compressors are threshold-dependent, and transient-shapers are threshold-independent. Or in other terms, compressors are triggered based on specific parameters, and transient-shapers act more like filters. To achieve the best mix, you will use both of these tools depending on the audio and the sounds you have.
Mix your kick drum compression on the heavier side, as this will give you the ability to make the “volume” of the “sound” louder when you are finished (if you want to).
It is not just a feature you may find in a kick shaping plugin – parallel processing is an advanced mixing technique that takes time to study and master. We will likely cover this topic in more depth in future articles.
KSHMR Essentials Kick – Free Kick Shaping Plugin
The free KSHMR Essentials Kick Plugin, offered by Dharma Worldwide, lets you manipulate the sub, mids, pressure, air, and more, giving you the ability to shape the sound of the kick drum in your tracks from one window inside the DAW.
You will have to purchase the KSHMR Essentials package to make all of your instruments sound amazing, but Dharma Worldwide offers their Kick Drum Plugin for free when you create an account on their website.
Transient Shaper by Bittersweet
Another free tool for shaping kick drum sounds is the Transient Designer plugin by BitterSweet. While the KSHMR plugin has its’ own transient parameter knob, this plugin is dedicated entirely to transient shaping. As mentioned previously in this article, transient shapers control the transient response and envelope curve of an audio (or wave) signal and are used to help shape the sound of a recorded drum.
Other Tips for Making Your Kick Stand Out
- Use the highest quality sounds and samples you can. These are often not free, but you can find some pretty awesome ones on the internet, like the ones offered here from Bedroom Producers.
- Invest in a pair of high-quality headphones or studio monitors so that you can hear the difference between a good mix and a bad one.
- Listen to other artists and producers and practice replicating their sounds.