Who here doesn’t want them? Show me some hands… anyone? Bigger, fatter, phatter, huge, dance-floor destroying whatever, were all talking the same thing here. When it comes to writing dance-floor electronic stuff you need good solid beats. Ain’t no different for drum n bass production. No doubt. No discussion. No excuses. So how do you turn your limp, flaccid and thin beats in powerhouses rhythms? Read on.
Breaking it down
I’ll lay on the info in point style as I think it works really well in this case. There is a tonne of stuff to go through though, so I’ll probably put together a more detailed article a bit later on but for now let’s get cracking.
1. Sample selection. You have to have to learn to pick the right samples when it comes to drum n bass production. No questions about it, from picking the right kick drum or the perfect crunchy break to layer. Sample selection is huge and will save you a mountain of time and headaches if you get it right. Be critical here!
2. Make sure you Edit your hits properly. You only want to use whats needed. Badly edited samples can lead to phase problems and flaming etc. Make sure to zoom in and cut at zero crossing.
3. Using the Stereo Field properly. Kicks and snares are all good in mono but its okay to use a bit of pan on some shakers/tambourines etc. This makes more room in the middle of the mix some of the other elements of your tune. Waves S1 is great but Cubase has a nice Spatial plugin as well.
4. Use a little Distortion on your beats to rough stuff up. Its okay. Just a little okay. The warmth setting on the Sonnox dynamics plug is awesome and the Ohmforce Predatohm is great as well. Oh wait.. so is the Cubase overdrive.
5. Use an Envelop Shaper to get rid of/enhance attacks on samples. Great for shortening the tail on a snare or bringing out the crack on a snare. UAD SPL Transient Designer or Cubase plugins are great. There are other great free options available.
6. Use a Gate. Cubase has a great built in gate plugin but I tend to use the Sonnox Dynamics.
7. Group different elements of the drums together on a bus/aux. This way you can gel the sounds together using compression/eq and limiting etc.
8. Limiting. If you want phat breaks you is going to have to limit the break at some point. Sonnox Limiter is awesome. Very transparent and now widely used by most of the pro’s.
9. A/B your drums with some artists tunes you admire. This is a massive ego check but I love it.
10. NY compression (parallel compression) is great as well. The UAD 1176 is great at this as well but most plugins can achieve the desired result.
11. Use a spectrum analyzer to help out when you start making beats. An analyzer can help you pick sounds properly. I love Voxengo Span and best of all its free!
12. Compression. Now don’t be scared of this word. Compressors are great for bringing out detail and gelling beats together and making stuff louder! You just have to learn to use them right!
Well this is only a small list of ways to make phatter beats and get better results in your drum n bass production. I’ll go in a bit more deeper in the coming weeks.
Hope to see you on the dancefloor.
No Frills Locus Crew Sydney