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FutureGarageForum.com • View topic - Drum layering techniques?

Drum layering techniques?

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Drum layering techniques?

Postby Deep Theory » Thu May 09, 2013 5:04 am

Sup FGF


Im really getting back into layering drum hits for unique sounds and textures. Ive done a little research discussing the different elements of a kick, how the beater affects the sound, etc. But I was wondering how some of you guys apply this stuff to layering drums?

Or is it just simply, "oh well, I like everything under 400Hz on this kick sample and everything above 400Hz on this sample"?


In my layering adventures Ive managed to make some good sounds but I feel mostly blind to what I am doing, kind of really hit or miss. I was hoping maybe some of the more experienced layer-ers could shine some light on how to make this process...maybe a little less time consuming?

What tells you, "Hey when I take that sample, EQ, combine it with this one and compress I'll get that deep sound I'm after" ? Thanks!
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Re: Drum layering techniques?

Postby blnd! » Fri May 10, 2013 2:27 pm

Deep Theory wrote:In my layering adventures Ive managed to make some good sounds but I feel mostly blind to what I am doing
and that is good because all u need is to use is your ears! :D

Deep Theory wrote:What tells you, "Hey when I take that sample, EQ, combine it with this one and compress I'll get that deep sound I'm after" ?

my ears tells me

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Re: Drum layering techniques?

Postby Deep Theory » Fri May 10, 2013 7:52 pm

Lol whut

Theres got to be some tricks to making this less time consuming
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Re: Drum layering techniques?

Postby neuformat » Sat May 11, 2013 9:32 am

I've got the best trick in the book: practice. Sorry if it sounds snarky but you just have to develop your ear and make the sounds you want. Dunno what you're expecting from this thread but the only technique to drum layering is to layer drums. The other things (compression, eq) come from experience and understanding of the effects themselves outside of drum layering.. not the other way around. I guess I would suggest tho, when you have a kick for example, get a high punchy one and a low bassy one.Make sure your hits are complimentary to each other rather than canceling each other out. Other than that.. keep practicing!
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Re: Drum layering techniques?

Postby backstroke. » Tue May 14, 2013 4:41 pm

neuformat wrote:I've got the best trick in the book: practice. Sorry if it sounds snarky but you just have to develop your ear and make the sounds you want. Dunno what you're expecting from this thread but the only technique to drum layering is to layer drums. The other things (compression, eq) come from experience and understanding of the effects themselves outside of drum layering.. not the other way around. I guess I would suggest tho, when you have a kick for example, get a high punchy one and a low bassy one.Make sure your hits are complimentary to each other rather than canceling each other out. Other than that.. keep practicing!


Agreed. There are no magic frequencies to cut out or anything, and no magic settings for compressors. Lately I just try to find a high punchy kick that I really like, and a low subby kick that I really like. Sometimes I cut out the lows of the high, punchy kick, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I cut out the highs of the low subby kick and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I dramatically lower the volume of the higher punchy kick and sometimes I don't. It really all depends on how they sound together, and I guess that's what mixing is about, right?

To the OP, I'd steer clear of trying to save time with things like this. Especially something as important as a kick. That's the anchor of your track, you are supposed to spend a considerable amount of time making it sound right because if it doesn't, your whole track will sound off. If you want to skip the drum processing and go straight to grooving, use a preset drum rack and come back to the processing later.

Speeding up workflow is sometimes overvalued. Some things just take time.
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Re: Drum layering techniques?

Postby Deep Theory » Wed May 15, 2013 2:50 pm

Some good advice in the last post.

Like I said before I'm not wondering about presets, settings, etc... talking general philosophies here
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Re: Drum layering techniques?

Postby charlux » Thu May 16, 2013 10:48 am

All I do is open a folder and start flicking through.But... There are two main things to consider, the general frequency content of it, where the transient lies and all that and also the attack on the kick. It's something you probably won't even hear until you match a kick with a short/no attack to kick with a long attack, it sounds like crap. I only discovered this by trying to layer machine kicks under a break, long attacks are somewhat common in organic kicks.

Heres a pic, the last one is from some hiphop pack, so it's organicy, the Vengeance kick has no attack what so ever, and the two classic machine kicks have a verrrrry slight attack.
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Re: Drum layering techniques?

Postby Deep Theory » Wed May 22, 2013 2:56 pm

Sup Charlux, that was a great post. Exactly the type of info I was looking for...


I've seen videos of people working in Ableton where you can "combine" the transients of two samples directly. I don't think there's anything that direct in Logic, and the way the transients are visualized doesn't help much either

Anyone got tips or a vid on how to do that in Ableton? New to using it. Thanks
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Re: Drum layering techniques?

Postby vrmclt » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:42 am

when i'm layering, it's for a purpose, and thus the layering depends on what the purpose i'm working towards is.
i think that's what people mean by "use your ears" - if you hear a problem you can fix with layering, then layer away using whatever techniques you need!

for example, i don't just start layering up kicks. instead I layer when i think "damn this kick sounds not cutting it in x-way".
then, i layer with samples in a lot of ways: different samples unfiltered, filtered, the same sample processed 2 different ways, parallel processing with different fx like distortion or different eq/filtering/compression, whatever works, etc. etc.

like today, i was mixing an indie rock track (read: normally don't think of layered sounds) where the acoustic kick was big and weighty (most of the sound came from a 12-inch speaker i wired as a subkick, combined with an SM57 on the beater) but didn't have enough attack/bite to cut through the mix when things got messy. so, duplicated the track, filtered out the low end, added an eq bump around 2k, hitting an 1176ln limiter in all-buttons mode pretty hard to really squish and distort the "click" of the kick sound. bring the fader on the new layer all the way down down, play whole mix, slowly bring up fader of new layer until the kick had enough definition.

just an example of how i generally layer from a problem/solution approach.
"Never easy, but never complicated."
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Re: Drum layering techniques?

Postby blnd! » Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:28 pm

vrmclt wrote:like today, i was mixing an indie rock track (read: normally don't think of layered sounds) where the acoustic kick was big and weighty (most of the sound came from a 12-inch speaker i wired as a subkick, combined with an SM57 on the beater) but didn't have enough attack/bite to cut through the mix when things got messy. so, duplicated the track, filtered out the low end, added an eq bump around 2k, hitting an 1176ln limiter in all-buttons mode pretty hard to really squish and distort the "click" of the kick sound. bring the fader on the new layer all the way down down, play whole mix, slowly bring up fader of new layer until the kick had enough definition.

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Re: Drum layering techniques?

Postby lowlandnz » Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:41 am

i know this is quite old now, but hopefully will be useful to some peeps out there. I think its important to have at least a vague idea what it is you need in each element. Don't just go "that isnt phat enough" and keep chucking stuff in there.

I normally start with a certain sound and just listen - does it need more low end? does it need more "clack" or whatever. I heard from a relatively well known dubstep producer ( distance-y kinda dubstep) here in nz (NOT MT EDEN) that they normally use a low end kinda snare for the punch, a mid rangey one for the pop, and nearly always a clap sample, for that click.

Play with the envelopes a lot.. i find with garage you want that hi-end kind of snare sound, so be very careful with low end sounds, i normally find that if it needs a low end boost, a machine drum snare with a very short decay will give it a certain amount of weight..

Obv filter a bit as well - sometimes you can have a quiet snare/kik mixed in with a hi-resonance filter on a certain freq - this is done a lot in heavier dnb and techno.. gives it a real tone.

Most important is not to get lost in it.. take lots of breaks because your ears will get confused very very quickly..

Thats my 2 cents :)
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Re: Drum layering techniques?

Postby mongrelbeats » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:54 pm

just adding in a bit myself.....

breaks definitely help with drum layering and building. since I tend to make the drums first I like to get a drum rack built or a couple samples together and get a little loop going, then I'll grab a cup of coffee or something to let my ears have a quick breath and then come back to see if it still grooves well.

Obviously editing the start times will create some "realness" and not have things sounding so clumped together. Sometimes producers can get really into eq-ing and compressing things together but at least in my experience I've found getting better samples and making good choices when building drums makes things a lot easier and better sounding.

Also try having different layers of the same hit strike at different times during your loop or drum part. say if you have a snare hitting around the 2 and 4 beat in a loop you can have certain layers only striking once in 8 bars or maybe one hitting on every shot except one. that coupled with velocity changes amongst the individual layers really adds some interesting textures and changes.
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