1. Resample

Resampling opens up whole new realms of sound design. Create a sound you like, layer on the reverb, add LFO modulation, distortion, and other FX to taste. When it’s sounding good bounce it down as a 24-bit Wav and load it into your sampler. Now introduce additional modulation and filtering to the bounced sound for an ‘effects on effects’ stacked sound that opens up ever wilder sonic possibilities. Rinse and repeat.

2. Save FX

Remember to save your FX stacks and sound presets to save time and speed up workflow. It’s pointless spending a couple of hours getting a sound perfect only to use it once. Instead, refine a killer stack of FX and save the channel strip so you can use it on future sounds to bring your own unique sound to mixes and remixes. Use the same FX stack on unlikely sources – like synths, or on a drum bus – to give unexpected, but occasionally great, results.

3. Recreation

Put aside a few hours to recreate some of your favourite FX sounds as an exercise. If it takes you two hours to do it the first time it will take your less second time around. There are a few tried and tested golden rules to making massive FX: learn the rules from the masters, then break them.

4. Get sliced!

If one of the fills works well in the context of your track, great! But don’t forget that in most cases every quarter, eighth, and sixteenth measure of the loop is unique. Use the Rex slices or get busy with an audio editor to extract a goldmine of hits, shuffles and stabs.

5. Crashes

Crashes – whether they’re live samples or synthetic white-noise style hits – should be edited with reference to the track’s bpm. The length – and timbre – of a crash tail must work in the context of the wider mix, rather than fade away randomly. Use reverb and delays to control the length of the tail. For even greater control bounce down the effected crash and micro-edit the length of the tail in an audio editor.

6. Sidechained tails

Add pump and a rhythmic quality to the tails of crashes, white noise hits and tonal stabs by sending them through a reverb / delay and then strapping a kick-drum driven sidechain compressor across the effect return. Light compression will help pull a wayward tail into the mix and add a gently breathing quality to a transition. Heavy compression delivers the classic fidget / electro sound.

7.  All in the detail

Texture loops are great for breakdowns, building tension, or just spicing up your main rhythmic groove. Play with the pitch and loop point settings: reverse them or try automating the sample offset for unique variations.

8. Automate

Effects cry out for automation. Everything from LFOs through pitch to filter cutoff point should be automated to rack up the pressure approaching a drop / breakdown. If you think of FX in terms of pressure, then your aim – for dancefloor mayhem – should be ratcheting up that pressure as key points of a track approach. That means increasing the speed of LFOs, rising the pitch and opening the filter cutoff point (rise, rise, rise). In contrast, you should do the opposite for falls – winding down the LFO speed and pitch while closing the cutoff point.

9. Keep it real

Effects in particular can suffer from an overkill of digital processes. Layering synthetic sound over synthetic sound and passing them through digital FX can feel uninspired and can bore the ears. Try layering digital waveforms with real life field recordings or mangled analogue recordings (how about a massively stretched and degraded bass guitar rise?) for the best of both worlds.

10. The verb trick

The latest FX trick in town is the now familiar ‘reverb build’ that cuts away when the track kicks back in. It’s easy to create: simply bounce down the full track for the section you want to create the verb build across, then place it on a new track. Open a reverb unit (it can be an expensive one or a nasty tinny sounding one for a lo-fi feel) and automate the wet/dry mix from 100% dry to 100% wet (or thereabouts) across the course of, say, a 16 bar section. This will give the impression of the track fading into the distance before the verb is bypassed again and the track kicks back in with all its in-yer-face energy.

What some instant dancefloor-ready FX? Check out our full range of FX loops and hits here.