Monday, 16 April 2012

Patch 005 - ADK Kick

The first patch of the Analog Drum Kit (ADK) Series is a kick drum. Not knowing where to start I did what I usually do and turned to my synth bible, Gordon Reid's Synth Secrets series first published in Sound on Sound Magazine and now available online. Rather than regurgitate the relevant articles on bass (i.e. kick) drums, I will instead point you in the direction of the following links:

Synthesizing Drums: The Bass Drum
Practical Bass Drum Synthesis

Other sources of information I turned to in preparing this kick drum patch included Programming Drum Sounds, a PDF guide to how the classic drum machine sounds were synthesized (provided with the Attack Percussion Synthesizer by the great German synth company Waldorf) and the Fast Guide to Propellerhead Reason by Debbie Poyser and Derek Johnson which includes tutorials on how to program kicks and snares using noise in the Subtractor synth which is available in hard copy only (I have a rather well thumbed volume).

From my research I learned that just as there are many ways to skin a cat, there are many ways to program a kick drum. Start by selecting a monophonic voice. Next I selected a sine wave in Osc 1 and a triangle wave in Osc 2 (dropped an octave) in equal measure which provided the low end rumble to the sound together with some noise, which provided the initial shorter sound of the beater striking the drum. I introduced a very short (but not instant) attack to the amp envelope together with no sustain and moderate decay and release. I closed the low pass filter almost completely and added a reasonable amount of resonance. A very short filter envelope controlled the short click like sound of the beater, provided by the noise.

I wanted to turn keyboard tracking to the pitch off (since this is meant to be an untuned instrument) but I couldn't really work out how to do this satisfactorily - I ended up routing keyboard tracking to the pitch by -48. This had the effect of increasing the pitch however and for some reason I can't quite fathom editing the pitch transpose value had no effect (I would welcome any suggestions!). In the end I routed the mod wheel to pitch as well in order to drop the pitch further (you need to remember to do fully apply the modulation via the mod wheel once you load the patch). Finally I added a little low end boost via EQ.

Further editing would be possible (for example adding distortion, introducing some cross or ring modulation, tweaking the envelopes and filter settings further, etc) but you have to stop somewhere and I am actually rather pleased with this first attempt. Hopefully it suits the other analog drum sounds I will shortly be creating!

Here are the settings (starting from init, shift+3):

Voice: SYT, SGL, MON, ---, ---
Pitch: 0, 0, 0, 2, 0
Osc 1: SIN, 0, 0, ---, ---
Osc 2: TRI, OFF, -12, 0, ---
Mixer: 127, 127, 50, ---, ---
Filter: 12L, 10, 68, 7, 0
Filter EG: 0, 2, 14, 5, ON
Amp: 127, CNT, OFF, 0, --- (unchanged)
Amp EG: 1, 60, 0, 50, ON
LFO 1: TRI, OFF, OFF, 10, --- (unchanged)
LFO 2: SIN, OFF, OFF, 70, --- (unchanged)

Patch 1: TRC, PTC, -48, ---, ---
Patch 2: MOD, PTC, -63, ---, ---
Patch 3: LF1, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 4: LF2, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Mod FX: FLG, 20, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Delay: STR, OFF, 40, 0, --- (unchanged)
EQ: 320, 5, 6.0, 0, ---
Arpeg. A: 120, 1.16, 80, UP, 1 (unchanged)
Arpeg. B: OFF, 0, ON, 8, --- (unchanged)
[NOTE - Always remember to push the mod wheel fully away from you prior to playing the patch, otherwise the bass drum will be an octave too high.]


  1. Hi

    nice series you are offering here.

    From my point of view it would be even better if you could attach the patches as files directly to each post - but i guess you considered that already and skipped the idea ...or am i wrong?


  2. Hi el, thanks for taking the time to read the blog. I will probably post the files at some stage when I have time, maybe in an extra post one of these days. The reasons I don't post the files with each patch are twofold - my synth is rarely connected to my computer and posting the settings should in theory get more people understanding the process of editing patches, instead of just dialing up presents. g

  3. Oops, I meant presets obviously! g

  4. hehe ... somehow the second part is exactly the expected reason ;)
    makes sense no doubt - while the motivation to use a synth might differ from user to user - which again might make that argument not valid for some of us.

    anyway keep the good work up and i hope you'll keep yourself motivated with that project.


  5. Hey, I really like your patches, great work!
    But somehow I have problem setting up some of those, like in this particular one I can't change the value of filter and amp EQ's release. It just blinks '0'. Any ideas what might be the reason for this?