In the first part of this article we went through some of the primary effects every user should be aware of inside of Addictive Drums. To review, these effects were the Sampler, Pitch, Volume, and Snare sections of the EDIT section. Read Knowing Your Effects in Addictive Drums Part 1.
As I’ve stated in Part 1, Addictive Drums is a power-house when it comes to the amount of mixing options that are available within it’s mixing engine. Don’t let the small interface deceive you.
What is Compression?
Compression is a tool that has two main uses – controlling levels, and dynamically shaping the volume of a signal over time. Within Addictive Drums there is a compression section that outlines four basic parameters for compression: Threshold, Attack, Release, and Ratio.
This parameter is the first part of the compressor that the signal hits. Once the setting of the threshold is crossed, the actual compression kicks in. Threshold is inversely proportional to gain reduction – meaning the lower the threshold, the more gain reduction is applied to the passing signal.
Attack decides how fast the compression should begin applying gain reduction to the passing audio signal.
A fast attack settings immediately crushes the transient when it comes through the compressor. A lot of the high end gets lost when compression is used too much so applying an EQ after the compressor can make up for that. Fast attack settings can be used to control the level of a signal that is too hot.
A slow Attack setting delays the compressor from compressing. In this scenario, the Snare drum’s initial hit is emphasized because the compressor is delayed significantly from applying gain reduction. Using a compressor in this fashion can be a way to shape the dynamics of a passing audio signal.
Release sets how fast the compressor should stop applying gain reduction once the signal is no longer crossing the threshold.
Again, when paired with “Attack” the Release setting can either smooth out passing audio signals or drastically shape the sound to increase the perceived dynamics of the audio signal.
Ratio is a mathematical settings that decides how much gain should be attenuated once the signal crosses the threshold.
For example: Ratio of 4:1 (reads as “four to one”). In dynamic processors this reads as “for every 4 decibels above the set threshold, only 1 decibel will be outputted”
As you may assumed, the higher the ratio means drastic compression. You can “crush” signal here or simply add a touch of compression to lightly control the audio signal. Either way, experiment with your Ratio settings as you learn to mix and apply effects to your drum sounds.
Anything above 10:1 or 20:1 is considered “Limiting”. Within Addictive Drums there lies a “Sat” section after the EQ section. When this is activated it acts as a brick-wall limiter to make sure that none of the signals within Addictive Drums start distorting the output of the plugin. This is mostly useful on the Master or any other channels within Addictive Drums that sum more than 1 signal together.
EQ and Filter
Addictive Drums includes an EQ and Filter section within the mixing engine of the program. Most of the time Filters are included within an EQ but for Addictive Drums they have decided to separate the two.
EQ (Equalization) is an effect that allows users to shape and carve out the desired frequencies of an audio signal so that it fits better into a mix with other audio signals. It can be used for any instrument in any situation that calls for it. There is definitely an art to “shaping” sounds with an EQ.
Within an EQ there are a few different parameters to be aware of:
Frequency (f) – This parameter sets the center frequency of your EQ band. Some EQ bands can sweep across the entire frequency spectrum, while others stay within a limited range of frequencies.
Bandwidth (q) – Each EQ band within an Parametric EQ comes with a bandwidth setting. This adjustment allows for very precise EQ adjustments. Technically it adjusts the number of octaves over the amount of signal that is boosted or cut. When adjusting the Q you can see how the EQ band can become very wide, or very narrow.
Gain (db) – Gain refers to the decibel level of the selected frequency. This is where you actually boost or reduce the frequency that you have selected for the “f” setting.
Lastly, a Filter typically relates to either a High Pass Filter(HPF) or a Low Pass Filter(LPF). A HPF attenuates signals in the lower half of the frequency spectrum while a LPF attenuates signals in the higher half of the frequency spectrum. These do not allow any frequencies above or below their given settings. Filters do not have adjustments for Gain or Bandwidth(Q). The only parameter that they have is a Frequency Cutoff setting.
If you want to learn more about proper uses of EQ then check out this article on Subtractive EQ Techniques
Distortion for Drums?
The word distortion is often associated with Electric Guitar, but in Addictive Drums we have it available for all of the instruments. Distortion introduces overdrive to the audio signal and within Addictive Drums you can choose between four different algorithms. In a way Distortion is a form of compression and flattens out the level of the passing audio signal.
Crunch is the least drastic of the 4 algorithms. It’s meant to add a conservative amount of distortion without completely annihilating the fidelity of the signal. Here is a decent amount of this effect:
It’s just enough to change the sound of the Snare without eliminating it’s true sound.
To the ear, heavy sounds like a more intense version of “Crunch”. This has a much more noticeable color to it and would probably sounds great in passages where the “distortion on the snare” is the main attraction. This could also be great if layered with other drum samples to help dirty up the body of a Snare drum.
The Zap distortion does not have as much of a full bodied effect as the two previous settings. It’s main use here is to increase the initial attack of the snare drum. Some users like to boost a frequency to make the attack more noticeable. Another method is to apply distortion to the Snare to make it more saturated. Addictive Drums features this Zap to specifically help users make the attack of their Snare samples more discernible.
When it comes to Drum Destruction or emulating 1980’s chiptune music, a bit crusher is the way to go. Bitcrushing reduces the bit resolution of the passing audio signal. An audio signal can go from 24bit down to a 4bit resolution with the turn of a knob. It’s effect is highly invasive for the tone of the Snare, so use it at your own risk.
Within this section there is a “Range” adjustment. This is a filter for the type of distortion so that you can choose to roll off the low or high end of the saturated signal. This is especially useful when trying lock in a certain area of your snare signal that is just not cutting correctly.
Why Should I use Distortion when mixing?
When mixing something very dense, distortion can be used as a way to cause certain frequencies to stick out in your mix. Like with the “Zap” distortion, general distortion will amplify a signal’s overtones and harmonic series. It colors the sound so that the source signal is clearer and more defined.
No drum sound is complete without the addition of reverb. Addictive Drums contain two identical reverb units for adding depth and character to your drums. Within Addictive Drums simply click on the “FX” section you’ll be presented with two solid Reverbs.
Addictive Drums includes multiple Reverbs because (I would assume) just about any drum sound, modern or vintage, has always used different reverbs for different parts of the kit. Sometimes a mix engineer will create a general ambient room for the entire kit and then apply a specific reverb to the Snare only. This creates a level of depth so that the drums are set back and slightly behind the rest of the mix.
Types of Reverb
Starting from the left, there is a choice of 4 different reverb algorithms: Room, Hall, Plate, and Ambience.
- Rooms pertain to treated studios, sound booths, and other more controlled environments for recording.
- Halls tend to emulate large churches, symphony halls, and generally larger spaces.
- Plates are modelled after large metal sheets that create a type of reverberation when a sound source is sent through it.
- Ambience isn’t a specific type of Reverb like Rooms and Plates. This most likely pertains to a general digital reverb like a 480L.
- PreDelay controls the amount of time between when the audio signal initially hits the reverb and when the effect is applied. The longer the pre-delay, the more of an unconventional sound.
- Reverb Time is usually measured in seconds and sets the length of the Reverb. This can be set anywhere from 10 seconds all the way down to .250 second depending on the style of Reverb.
- Damping controls the sound of the reverb in it’s given space. Usually it attenuates the harshness of a the reverb so that it is not as clangorous in sound.
Both Reverb units have a selected EQ, Pan, and Level control for even more options for mixing. You can place the reverb in your stereo image to come from the center, right, left, or even reversed.
For some more insight on the use of Reverb and check on the following article on mixing with Reverb.
Addictive Drums contains all the necessary effects and tools you need to get your drums to the right place in your mix. So go off and start sequencing with this great plugin and use this plugin to your advantage.