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Q. How can I rescue my kick drum sound?

By Mike Senior
Published November 2003

SPL Transient Designer front panel.The SPL Transient Designer is a useful tool for restoring definition and punch to lifeless drum sounds.

I'm trying to rescue a fairly limp kick drum sound, which is the result of poor mic placement when it was recorded. What's the best way to turn a dull thud into a tight, clicky thrash/black metal kick sound? I'd rather avoid using the original recording to trigger a sample, and, so far, I've been using Sound Forge to multi-band-compress the sound, then EQ'ing it. Can you suggest any other ideas?

SOS Forum post

Reviews Editor Mike Senior replies: My secret weapon for all such cases is the SPL Transient Designer. This unit can increase the attack and release phases of drum sounds pretty much independently of the level of each hit. Feed the kick signal to two (or more) desk channels and Transient Design the hell out of the additional channels to get the attack you need — in your case you might need to dial the Attack control up to maximum. Next, EQ (and even distort) the hell out of the multiple processed signals to concentrate the attack elements in the frequency areas you need, and then mix them back in with the main sound. This technique gives any drum sound attitude. 

If you haven't got a Transient Designer, then try Emagic Logic's Enveloper plug-in (see this month's Logic Notes for more on how), the Wave Designer patch in Behringer's Virtualiser, or the Envelope mode in the TC Electronic Triple*C as other potential options, although matching the phase between the original sound and the mults when you mix them back together may be a headache in these cases.