A boring sounding mono drum loop doesn’t have to sound like a boring sounding mono drum loop. Here’s a scaled down version of a technique used by the pros made very simple:
Let the drum loop play as is but also route the loop to a bus that has isolated the frequency range of the snare, panned it to one side and added (lots of) reverb. That may sound a little complicated but it’s just a couple of knob tweaks.
Most mixing software have the ability to route tracks to a “bus” and in case you were wondering what those thing were good for here’s a great example. Some software call it a “Send” or “Universal Send,” it’s all the same thing.
In some software like ACID you have to “Insert BUS” to see them in action, in others there is a fixed number of busses (Live has two, FL Studio has four). Typically Send/Bus tracks are numbered (1, 2, 3…) or lettered (A, B, C…).
Here’s a rough outline of the steps involved:
- Put the loop on a track
- Turn up the “Send 1” or “Send A” volume
- On the Bus/Send track add an EQ effect and a Reverb (in that order)
- Setup the EQ so that the snare is isolated. (It will help a lot if you can solo the Bus/Send track you are working with. In Live this means setting the Send track to ‘Pre’ before soloing.)
- Pan the Send/Bus track to one side
Here are some project files with a loop embedded that do this:
Click on Vincent to stream or download a somewhat extreme rendered version of the ACID Pro project. What you will hear is the following:
- Bar 1: The raw, mono drum loop with no effects
- Bar 2: The same loop as it comes through the Bus with effects
- Bar 3: The original loop with the bass boosted a few db
- Bar 4/5: The whole thing combined
I boosted the bass in the original to illustrate a point: the signal going through the Bus is shaving off the bottom. That means that even in the final mix the bass drum is still “up front” and not subject to the reverb which is concentrating on the snare and lower end of the hi-hats. By boosting the bass frequency on the original track I enhance the bass beat without really affecting what’s happening on the Bus.
Keep in mind that as better as the beat sounds after applying this technique I’m using perhaps the shitiest reverb on the planet (the ones that come with ACID, FL and Live) because I wanted to make sure the projects loaded on your machine without hassle.
When you’re doing this for real you want to replace the reverb with a decent reverb plug-in. The EQ is also pretty Neanderthal but we’re not doing anything too subtle so that’s less of a priority. Click on the Vincent on the left to hear what the result can be when expensive reverb (Waves TrueVerb) is applied instead. In case we can afford a little more subtlety and professional texture.