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Designing Kick Drums in Bitwig Studio: Tips & Tricks

Tutorial | Jun 14, 2022

In this video, I shared how I use the e-kick in Bitwig Studio to create nice sounding kick drums. I showed how I use the pitch mod and decay setting to shape the sound, and how I use the FX2 to split the frequencies in the low and high end. I also explained how I use the EQ2 to cut the frequencies and how I use the distortion, frequency shifter and ADSR to bring out the best parts of the kick drum. Finally, I shared how I use the desk tone generator and a sampler to add flavor to the kick drum.

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Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

What tips and tricks do you use when designing kick drums in Bitwig Studio?

When designing kick drums in Bitwig Studio, I use a few tips and tricks. Firstly, I like to use the e-kick and set the pitch mod and decay settings to shape the sound. I also like to use the FX2 to split the frequencies into a high end and low end part. I then add distortion to the high end to bring out the click. Additionally, I may use an EQ2 to cut everything above 300hz, or a frequency shifter to add some interest to the sound. Lastly, I may use a delay, ADSR, or a tool to make the kick mono.

How do you use distortion to shape the sound of the kick drum?

I like to use distortion on the high end of the kick drum to bring out the click. I usually set the distortion to the minimum, with a low drive knob setting. If I want to add more distortion, I may use a distortion device in front of the FX2, or after the FX2, to get the desired sound.


This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.

[00:00.000] Hey folks, welcome back to another video.
[00:03.160] Initially I planned to make a longer video with small little tips and tricks on how I
[00:07.240] designed sounds in Bitwig Studio, how I changed my workflows from my recent videos or my older
[00:14.360] videos.
[00:15.360] But the first tip already became so long that I decided to make a video on each of these
[00:20.600] tips.
[00:21.600] So the first video or this video is about how I use the e-kick to make kick drums, how
[00:26.400] I shape the sounds, what kind of devices I use and there are some smaller tips and tricks
[00:31.360] here and there.
[00:32.360] So maybe you get something out of it, okay?
[00:34.960] So let's start.
[00:38.400] So sometimes I need some kick drums that sound nice and everyone needs nice sounding kick
[00:45.280] drums.
[00:46.960] So I'm still using the e-kick here from time to time or not from time to time, I'm using
[00:52.000] basically all the time.
[00:55.600] And to get some nice sounds out of it here, I'm usually going here, I tend to go to G0
[01:03.760] which you can see down below in the info bar, it's G0, because it's a sweet spot for me
[01:12.160] on how, yeah, the main frequency of a kick drum, of a nice sounding kick drum.
[01:19.480] And of course I'm using your pitch mod and usually I change only the pitch mod modulation
[01:25.760] here and also the decay setting to shape the kick drum to how I like it.
[01:42.640] So this is way too much, right?
[01:44.880] You have this pu sound in there which you don't want mostly, most of the times.
[01:50.800] So I'm going from maybe 12 which is one octave higher than the root note, which is G1 then
[01:59.160] and then pitching down to the main frequency, so something like this for drum bass I'm
[02:06.360] using usually pretty short decay times here because most of the drum bass drums are super
[02:13.760] short, they're just the attacks or the transients, so something like this when you put a lot
[02:20.360] of distortion on there and clipping and so on, it becomes much louder than in the end
[02:24.480] of course, but I usually tend to use here pretty short decay times.
[02:34.320] So sometimes I go up here with the amount to 19 or 20, so fiddle around until it fits
[02:46.280] with the bass sound of course, but that's what I usually do, then you have this click
[02:50.200] on top here and it's usually not enough for me most of the time, so I'm going straight
[03:00.640] for the FX for that.
[03:02.520] And what I do here is using the FX2 to split the frequencies in the low end and the high
[03:11.480] end part and I put on the high end part, most of the times I'm using distortion and I don't
[03:24.280] choose the saturator because I like how the distortion sounds, the initial settings here
[03:33.560] and there are not that many knobs I have to tweak until it sounds nice, so this is just
[03:40.160] with the bare bass here, there's nothing really changed, everything is at zero as you can
[03:47.080] see, when you're disabled you can hear it has a small effect and then you bring in the
[03:56.280] drive here a bit and already for me it sounds nicer because you amplify the click on top
[04:07.160] so it sounds more focused, more up front, so everything you change to the pitch mode
[04:19.200] here in the decay times and also the click knob or the click cutoff frequency brings
[04:25.640] out the high end a bit more, also you can use the EQ of course to bring out more of
[04:33.800] the high end, so you can shape the top end of the kick much more and just leave the rest
[04:50.800] the low end untouched which is probably fine, so it knocks pretty hard, so you can tweak
[05:00.840] it until you like it and then sometimes I put even an EQ2 on it and cut everything here
[05:10.600] and because this is a frequency splitter we only get here the frequencies in this box
[05:15.520] basically from 300 up to infinity or 20k, so it's only this part right and here I put
[05:25.600] on a low cut and cut basically everything above 300, so something like this, 600 right,
[05:35.960] so we have basically a gap from 300 which is the low end then where the low end box
[05:42.000] ends, 300 up to 651, we have basically a gap so there's nothing in there, but it still
[05:52.600] sounds nice when you put in the low end because the brain is basically bringing in all the
[05:58.480] missing parts here, but you gain a lot of free space, so you only have the top part
[06:10.120] or the clicky part which sounds sometimes pretty nice and yeah, you can put also distortion
[06:24.960] in front of that if you want to or after that and sometimes I use a frequency shifter which
[06:33.120] just shifts up the frequencies, it's not a pitch shifter, so I have to shift up to 100%
[06:43.240] and then I change the range, so this sounds too ringy, so something like this which brings
[06:59.160] out the top end a bit more and it sounds a bit special, a bit more interesting and with
[07:07.400] a distortion at the end then you can bring out the best parts, maybe something at 1k
[07:15.920] here, so this is width and this is pure just e-kick, so something like this, this is sometimes
[07:28.640] the chain I use and sometimes I too also use a distortion then at the end, also pretty
[07:36.120] minimum here with the drive knob, because this is way too hard, right, but maybe you
[07:49.440] do a hardcore, I don't know, maybe you want exactly that sound so you can do that, sometimes
[07:56.480] I also put a distortion in front just to saturate a small, by a small amount to gain
[08:06.000] some, to get some or create some upper harmonics just slightly, sometimes I use, let's say
[08:20.040] we can use the new delay plus here, some blurring
[08:38.920] and then because we have here a MIDI or a note clip, we can just use the ADSR and with
[08:48.440] the envelope here we just duck basically the max.
[09:08.040] So this is pretty stereo probably, so what you want to do is to put in the low end here
[09:14.280] maybe a tool device and yeah go with the zero which makes it mono and you can leave the
[09:25.800] high end even stereo if you want to or you can go with the tool here in front of the
[09:31.720] Fx2 and just make everything mono maybe we can also here leave this up and use a filter
[09:45.440] here and do the same here with the ADSR just to open up the filter for the attack phase
[09:57.840] get the spoomy sound and the reverb up tail is too long
[10:09.400] let's see in the low end
[10:39.320] you can shape the kick until you like it and that's what you could do and yeah maybe find
[10:49.480] out what kind of combination of this devices you like the most so I'm going for a chain
[10:57.400] as we can listen to how everything sounds without everything in there
[11:13.440] so yeah also Fx3 here again peak limiter in there
[11:34.800] and maybe a hard clip
[11:48.440] with a nice loud hard hitting kick drum which is probably nice for techno stuff like this
[12:02.800] maybe bring back
[12:14.480] and
[12:41.800] play around here with some delay times brings in some rhythmic effects but yeah there are
[12:50.800] many possibilities to shape the kick drum and make it interesting or fill in the space
[12:57.840] a bit more if you more into minimum music where you just have a kick drum and maybe
[13:03.480] a nice snare or rim shot or something like this and you want to fill the space in between
[13:08.880] without adding more instruments you can use delay effects here on the kick drum to make
[13:14.880] this happen
[13:15.880] while we are at it here with the Fx3 usually on drums or on the kick drum you can use an
[13:25.080] Fx3 device
[13:30.680] and go into mid band here and put on the mid band just a delay one and the delay one is
[13:38.400] here low cut all the way down high cut all the way up and the mix knob is 100% feedback
[13:46.840] is at zero this is my initial preset for the delay so there's no mixing between the dry
[13:53.040] and the bad signal you only get the bad signal and in this setup you basically just delay
[13:58.120] the whole audio signal by three beats I think it's three eight and eight notes and we only
[14:07.080] delay basically the mid band here so this sounds like this
[14:25.960] we basically delay only the mid band and also instead of going here for the full wet this
[14:35.480] also sounds pretty nice on just drum loops or the drum bus so you can also go instead
[14:42.760] of mix 100% you go maybe for 25 or something like this and then you pull down here the
[14:50.200] high and the low end so you end up with basically a band pass filter and a delay this is the
[15:05.800] dry signal the wet signal
[15:16.120] okay so let's remove this here for a moment and we go to another tip sometimes if you
[15:23.200] don't like the top end of your kick and you want to add a bit more of this or yeah white
[15:32.360] noise or distortion kind of noise on top you can go for desk tone generator here and switch
[15:42.600] this to white noise and we also have here as you can see which is a new option direct
[15:47.320] I actually never saw this direct which is kind of a sound you can use for sample convolution
[15:58.080] in pulse responses so you can use the signal to send it into a chain and then record what
[16:03.560] comes out of the chain and then again generate clean and impulse response but just yeah just
[16:11.160] to so you know that you can switch this here to white noise and gain you set to maybe 0dB
[16:20.680] and then we go with the mix to 0 and then we can add here also an ADSR just a envelope
[16:28.080] and we feed this of course also with the note from the note clip and then we modulate at
[16:44.160] 0dB so we get a bit of this on top of course also makes this here a bit not too much
[17:02.640] and then we let it go.
[17:21.720] I think that's right.
[17:41.800] So yeah, a lot of options to actually shape your kick drum and make it sound the way how
[17:56.560] you want it.
[17:58.480] So these are usually things I do on the kick drum, sometimes less, sometimes more.
[18:05.520] Just what the sound needs and what you are going for.
[18:09.080] There are a lot of different kick drum shapes and how kick drum sound in all kinds of different
[18:14.280] genres and even in the genre itself you have a lot of different things.
[18:20.000] And if you're not happy with this, you always can add some kind of sample on top as in flavor
[18:27.680] kind of.
[18:30.120] So this is always an option to go also for.
[18:33.080] So you put this here into an instrument layer and maybe just add a sampler.
[18:38.840] You know, and just put a kick drum in here that has the flavor you like.
[18:46.840] Don't feel like this, it sounds like a real drum set kick drum.
[18:58.640] So understand, rings in the top end you like, maybe you can high pass it here a bit.
[19:28.640] And then maybe also put this into the same limiter or maybe use a hard clip here at the
[19:34.680] end or maybe a soft clip.
[19:37.200] It's yeah, it depends on what kind of sound you're going for.
[19:41.880] Maybe you can make this super stereo, super wide, that's also a possibility.
[19:48.200] So yeah, a lot of things you can do inside of Bitwig Studio, a lot of options.
[19:53.360] And I think that's it for the first video for the kick drum and I hope you liked it.
[19:58.440] Please leave a like if you liked the video, of course, subscribe to the channel, maybe
[20:02.680] subscribe on Patreon, join the discord and ask some questions in the comments.
[20:09.080] Yeah, I think that's all.
[20:11.040] Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video.
[20:13.040] Bye.