Six ways to get bigger beats

Who doesn’t want bigger beats?

Well, maybe your neighbours. But maybe you don’t like your neighbours. Who am I to judge? I just supply the tools. It’s up to you to use them ethically.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Depth. Separate your drums into two groups – main foreground drums (kick and snare) and secondary background drums (hats and other percussion). Keep the rhythm of the main foreground drums simple, but make the secondary background drums a bit more complex. Make sure the foreground drums are MUCH louder than the background drums!
  • Tone. Big sounds occupy a wide frequency range. Use EQ to make your foreground drums tall. Pay particular attention to snares – they can have energy ranging from the lower mids all the way up to the highest audible frequencies. Making sure your main snare drum has energy across a wide frequency range is an important part of making your drums sound huge overall.
  • Compression. Yes, drums love compression. Everywhere else has written about this, and there’s no need to repeat it all here. Try out a bunch of compressors and see which ones you like the best.
  • Dynamics. This is not about compression. Of course you’ve read elsewhere about using compression on drums. Of course compression is important, but dynamics is more than just compression. Dynamics is the difference and changes between quiet and loud. Making sure you’ve got a good balance of quiet and loud sections in your song is key – when the loud sections come in, they’ll be very effective. If everything is loud all the time, it will be much less effective.
  • Reverb. It’s not just for pushing sounds to the background. Use a programmable reverb and set it up with the biggest size, but shortest length. This will give you a great giant sized reverb that doesn’t muddy up the mix. You won’t need to add much to the drums – just enough to give them some space. If your reverb processor is particularly good, use more of it and compress the lot – use a reverb->compression chain on a kick&snare group.
  • Space. Make sure the drums aren’t competing for space against the rest of the mix. A few huge instruments (such as a bass and lead) are ok, but if everything in your mix is big the drums simply won’t cut through with enough power. Remember – if everything is huge, nothing is huge.

There’s really not much more to it. If you can abide by these guidelines, you’ll have beats as big as you want – every time. Sucks to live next to you.

-Kim.

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    • Simon
    • August 10th, 2011

    Hey.
    I like to know what tools i should use for makeing the beat with forground main Ground secundground and so on? Is it EQ and reverb maybe?

  1. @Simon
    It’s a combination of tools and approaches. I suggest reading this post:

    https://kimlajoie.wordpress.com/2007/07/17/how-to-push-sounds-to-the-background/

    And more generally, these:

    https://kimlajoie.wordpress.com/tag/depth/

    -Kim.

    • simon
    • August 10th, 2011

    thanks alot! im trying to understands it, he! its hard when you not know exatly how to setup the sounds in the secund bagground, foreground and mainground. but when you say tools, is that the audio effects ect. in ableton you mean?

  2. @simon
    “Tools” usually refers to anything that alters the sound or the flow of the audio – as simple as gain (volume control) and tone (EQ), or as complex as … well, your imagination, really.

    -Kim.

    • Simon
    • August 11th, 2011

    Okay, i see. So its accually a hearing thing when you setting up the sounds as foreground, main Ground, background and secund Ground? Its not a speccefic Tool there says : now the Sound is in the background ect?

  3. @Simon
    That’s right.

    -Kim.

    • Simon
    • August 15th, 2011

    Okay. Thanks alot for the fast reply to My post. Was helpfull :).

    Simon

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