Advanced Kick Drum Synthesis with Native Instruments TRK-01
We’ve previously touched on some basic elements for kick drum synthesis, today’s music production tutorial takes things a step further.
Native Instruments recently released TRK-01 which is a plugin designed to handle synthesising both kicks and basslines in a single plugin.
While the plugin is fantastic for both operations, I personally prefer loading the elements on separate plugins for easier post-processing – so you can only imagine how happy I was when Native Instruments announced free versions of the singular components of TRK-01 as a festive season promotion.
For those who didn’t get the promotion, TRK-01 is still available for purchase and the following tips can be applied to plugins such as Sonic Academy Kick 2 – another popular option.
I like to build my kick drums around various parts, a transient or “punch” of the sound and the tail, we’ve covered using an audio sample as the transient – and that’s how you would do it with Sonic Academy Kick 2, however TRK-01 allows you to use two synth elements, adding an element of control to the transient part that you don’t get with an audio sample.
Creating a kick drum using a reference…
If you’re wanting to accurately replicate a certain kick drum sound that you may have a reference of, using an oscilloscope to compare the waveform of your synthesized kick alongside your reference. xFer’s LFOtool has a very handy oscilloscope built in, and due to the fact that the envelope control in TRK-01 is not as precisional as something like Sonic Academy Kick 2, it can also help to create an amplitude envelope for your kick using LFOtool.
Once I have the desired kick drum sound, I like to use Voxengo’s CurveEQ (which is included in later versions of Cubase) to analyse and reference the frequency content of my synthesized kick and compare it to the reference. I’ll then adjust the EQ to fine-tune the frequency response, and maybe apply some compression to even out the amplitude of the overall sample. I’ll export a couple of variations at different keys and also play with the crossfade between the two layers, sweeping from more “boomy” to more “clicky” and export a bunch of variations of those.
For an in-depth walkthrough of the advanced kick drum synthesis procedure check out the video tutorial here: