Making Sub Bass Kick Drum Reinforcement with a Noise Gate Sidechain

There are a lot of ways to make your sub bass elements to reinforce your kick drums, but one very easy and innovative way is to simply use a sidechain noise gate method, and this tutorial will show you how to do it in just a couple of steps.

[aside title=”Bigger, Easier!“] Getting your sub bass set up to make your kick drum bigger does not need to be a difficult process![/aside] Sub bass is one of those things that you use to not only make your kick sound bigger, but also to add some physical impact to your beat. This is one of the things that sets music apart in the club or in a live concert situation. Having too much, too little or allowing it to get out of sync can all lead to problems. So this method is not only a very easy way to set up your sub bass and match your timing, but it’s also guaranteed to only be triggered by your kick drum, no matter how many other sounds you may have in your mix.

To start with, you will need to have your kick drum on it’s own channel. It doesn’t matter if the drum is a MIDI track or an audio sample. (If you do a MIDI kick, you can simply use the same MIDI data to control your sub bass, if you like.) You want to change the output from stereo or mono out, to a bus. In this case I have used Bus 1. This will allow you to use it as a sidechain trigger and also keeps the sound from being doubled, which can happen if you set it up as a send and forget to reduce the volume on the main kick channel.


Now you want to set up a channel with a basic synth on it. Go ahead and get a basic sine wave loaded, drop the pitch an octave and insert a single midi note the length of your kick drum track (or at least the places in which you want the sub bass present) and make sure it is in a lower octave. In this example I have used a C1 note.

Now insert a Noise Gate onto your synth channel. Set up a sidechain with Bus 1 as the trigger. Now the noise gate will allow sound to pass through it whenever a signal comes through from the kick drum channel. All that is left to do is make a couple of minor adjustment to make sure your attack, sustain and release are all in line with the kick drum and style of music. Increasing the lookahead value will help ensure precision.

As with any sounds used for just about anything at all, it is a best practice for you to now EQ each sound in the mix. This allows space for each one and lets each come through clearer. You can hear the bigger kick with some simple hi-hats together in the audio sample below.

[audio:|titles=Sub Kick]

That’s all it takes to set up a simple sine sub bass to reinforce your kick drums! You can now take this process one step further and compress the kick and the sub bass together to help them gel. Often times, parallel compression is a good technique to help you maintain more of the punch in your bass and allow it to come to the front of your mix. Remember to make room for your bigger kick by clearing out space in the low end frequencies when you EQ the rest of the instruments in your music.

We will discuss using different waves, other then just sine waves, for your sub bass instruments, as well adding distortion, saturation and other effects to give your sub bass presence a harder edge and more character.If you have a request for a specific sound, process or technique for a future Trance music production tutorial, just send us a message now and let us know. Thanks for stopping by!


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