Record Your Own Drums

Provided you have any kind of recording equipment you can record your own unique drum sounds. Of course a decent microphone will yield cleaner results, but high-quality field recorders have become more affordable recently, which makes the process of capturing found sound much easier and instant. Banging the palm of your hand on a table can make a half decent bass drum, have a few of you record hand claps – the slight timing differences between you should create a nice stacked clap, beatbox your own hi-hats, or search round the house for random objects that might make an interesting noise when banged together. Record your sounds with a decent amount of headroom so there’s no clipping on recording and then it’s all about the right editing techniques.

Found Sound Processing

Once you’ve captured your audio the correct editing and processing techniques will help shape your sounds, helping you enhance what you have already or completely transform the audio source into something completely new.

Normalize and truncate your sounds, if you’ve tried to capture the space and ambience with a recording be careful to not chop too much from the end of the recording. And then look to some processing techniques. An effective workflow for found sound drums would be to use your sampler’s envelope to control and shape the sound, a transient shaper to boost some attack, some distortion – Maschine’s native Distortion plugin features a Mulholland mode which is excellent for found sound bass drums, and then some EQ or reverb if necessary.

Noise Reduction

In some cases a little bit of noise on a recording can be exactly what you want for some added vibe or grit. However, having control over such imperfections is also desired at times. Especially when you consider your recording will be normalized, then maybe distorted, compressed, limited, and then when you mix and master your material the audio may be subjected to further dynamic processing. This means that little bit of noise on your recording that is only just audible on capture can become more and more prominent as you process. If this is the case look for some plugin that can cater for this for you, Izotope’s suite of RX Tools features an advanced Noise Reduction tool, the Elements version being more affordable than the full release, Acussonus’ Era-D features both De-Noise and De-Reverberation for cleaning up your audio, Waves do a Restoration bundle too, along with plenty of other noise reduction releases form various developers. You can get much more detailed control over noise in recordings if you have an isolated noise source, in order to create a profile from which you can effectively turn down (or up!) the noise.

Time Stretch

An old school technique employed in the late 90’s in many jungle and speed garage tracks, time stretched vocals contributed in some part to the DNA of those genres. Considered somewhat redundant since more advanced methods for stretching audio became more accessible, the time stretch still has it’s place in the studio. Maschine has a nice ‘Stretch’ option in the audio editing section. Not only is this a great technique for vocals, it can be employed on many an audio source. The Stretch on Maschine also features a Tune control, meaning you tune down a loop without changing the speed, excellent for some unique effects on drum loops.

Remix Yourself

A technique for creating some interesting melodic textures. Take your MIDI synth parts and export them as audio files, either ‘Bounce In Place’, ‘Freeze & Flatten’ or whatever the necessary process is in your DAW. Make sure you export your synth as a 1/2 bar, 1 bar, 2 bar, 4 bar, etc, loop. With the resulting audio use the relative audio editing tools to either stretch or shrink the audio. With Logic Pro you need to use the ‘Speed FX’ warp mode, provided you either half or double the length of the audio this will keep the pitch in key (either going up or down one octave). An excellent method for creating synth trills with arpeggio’s or to create some next level rhythmic textures with a modulated synth bass, even try this method with a vocal file for a completely different vibe.