Choosing the Right Kick Drum Sample for your Song

First off for all of those who don't already know a kick drum is simply a sine wave that shifts down in pitch over the length of the sample this create the bass that follows the initial attack of the kick. A common characteristic of a kick is also to have a short spike at the beginning to give more punch to the attack of the kick drum sample.

Now you know the basics lets go over some of the most common problems with kick drums in a song. The first and most important rule is that when your kick is at full amplitude it should read either 0db on you channel fader if using a software mixer, or +3db on an analogue mixer. Now if you render out your kick drum and base line you'll notice that its starting to sound as powerful as some of the mp3's you download from your favorite professional artists.

There are still a few more things we can do to improve the kick. Eqing the sample is very important many believe that this should be the last thing done in the mix but I like to hear the kick as close as it will be to the final product, and then make a few last final adjustments at the end.

Mixing Tip: A Kick drum can also be reversed and trim the end spike with a vol envelope, this will give you that whoomph sub sound found in many popular electronic tracks today.

Layering kicks can be a very tricky thing to do. This is done by layering two kicks and using the the prominent complimenting characteristics of each kick with proper equing to assemble a new fresh sound. The trouble with doing this is if you don't know what your doing you can end up having one kick cancel frequencies out of the other, leaving you with a very dull sounding piece of unusable sound. You can always use a spectrum analyzer to see the end result of the combined kicks to ensure you still have a good strong sample filling in the frequency range you are trying to achieve.

If at the end of the mix you cant get the kick drum to sit right, change it. This may seem like a lot of work especially in the final stages of the song, You would be surprised how much lift a new kick can give a slightly lacking track.