Liven­ing up dig­i­tal drums with bus treat­ments

Here’s how to get a force­ful, char­ac­ter­ful drum sound us­ing as­sertive group pro­cess­ing

Future Music - - FEATURE -

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While many con­sider drum bus pro­cess­ing to be a sub­tle act, it can be a great way to im­part your beats with bags of char­ac­ter. In this ex­am­ple, our drum group is com­prised of a sam­pled break­beat and drum ma­chine hits.

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First up, to unify our bare-sound­ing drum groove, we’ve ap­plied an over­all drum re­verb ef­fect to all the drum sig­nals via an aux re­turn. Do­ing this in­stantly adds am­bi­ent ‘wash’, and fills in the gaps be­tween hits.

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Next, we group all the drums to one sin­gle group out­put for col­lec­tive pro­cess­ing, and dial in a healthy dose of par­al­lel com­pres­sion. This pulls up the drums’ sus­tain and helps cre­ate a sense of as­sertive ‘pump’.

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Af­ter the com­pres­sion, we’ve strapped this vibey lim­iter over the en­tire drum group. Rather than sim­ply tam­ing er­ro­neous peaks, this de­vice is slam­ming the in­di­vid­ual sounds to­gether for a slightly sat­u­rated ’90s flavour.

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Now our drum pro­cess­ing is set up, it’s time to go back and tweak the in­di­vid­ual el­e­ments to suit. For a touch more fat­ness, we boost the fun­da­men­tal fre­quen­cies of the kick and snare with EQ. The clap layer is a bit dull, so we brighten it with a high-shelf EQ boost, and widen it with room re­verb.


Our drums are com­plete, so we can now plan ahead to the ar­range­ment stage and pre­pare some cre­ative bus pro­cess­ing for break­downs, in­tros and ed­its. We’re us­ing Bitwig Stu­dio’s stock Flanger de­vice to switch the beats into a ring­ing, chip­tune-like wash of metal­lic feed­back.

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