Propellerhead Record: Mixer Tips & Tricks #1: Sine Wave Sub Kick

By Line6Piper

Line6Piper (aka Matt Piper) teaches you how to add a sub-bass sine wave to each kick of the bass drum in an acoustic drum track. Matt is the in-house Propellerhead Product Specialist at Line 6, and the author of the acclaimed instructional guide, Reason 4 Ignite.

A feature in Propellerhead Record that really makes the software stand out from the crowd is its mixer. A sonically spot-on emulation of the famous SSL (Solid State Logic) 9000K analog mixing desk, the combination of killer EQ, compression and gate on every track plus the fabulous sounding Master Bus Compressor makes Record a truly powerful and pleasurable mixing environment.

Provided that you have captured a reasonably good recording to begin with, you can usually get the sounds you need by using EQ. If the kick drum doesn't have enough low bass, you can find the lacking frequency and boost it a bit. If the snare is too muddy, you can find the proper frequencies to boost or cut. However, there are situations where EQ alone may not achieve the effect you are looking for. For instance, if the mic (or mic placement) you used really failed to capture some frequencies you needed to hear, EQ cannot create those frequencies. EQ can only boost or cut frequencies already present in the recording. Furthermore, you may wish to produce a more extreme effect than can easily be produced with EQ.

In the following video, instead of boosting a low bass frequency on the kick drum track, the signal from the kick drum track is used to open the gate on another track on which a low-frequency sine wave is constantly playing. The gate stays closed (so you don't hear the sine wave), except when the kick drum is played. Then the gate opens for the duration of the kick drum tone, adding a low bass sine wave signal to the sound of the kick drum.

Though not shown in the video, a similar technique can be used to add sizzle to a snare drum. In fact, the snares can be simulated even if the drum was played with the snares off. Instead of using a sine wave, a white noise generator can be used, gate-triggered with each snare hit. In both cases, the original drum sound is still heard as the dominant sound, with the synth signal mixed in. (Though in the example I am not very subtle, because I want you to be able to clearly hear the sine wave distinct from the acoustic kick drum.)

A great thing about Propellerhead Record and Propellerhead Reason is that since the audio connections and signal flow (as well as the control voltage connections) in the software are the same as in "real life," the techniques you will learn in the video can be used with a real hardware mixing desk and a hardware synth as well. The skills you learn in Record and Reason transfer to hardware, and vice-versa.

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