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Layering kick sounds

Stack up the thumps, clicks and thwacks

So far we've been looking at processing one kick sound. With a bit of care and attention, it's possible to take a number of kick sounds chosen for their different characters – you might like theattack of one sound, the body of another and the weight and decay of another, for example – and layer them to make one sound.

You can hone the character of each sound and lose bits that youdon't like. For example, to keep just the front clicky attack you can use a high pass filter to shave off the weight and a gate to lose the decay. And once you like each element you can balancethem up and either sub-group or bounce to a single sample.

layer kicks 1

1. We've chosen four kicks and the first job is to make sure they all start at the same time and are roughly in phase. We need to micro-edit the bottom two so that theyline up with the top two. We move them both earlier and invert the purple one so that the first wave movement is always a positive one.

layer kicks 2

2. Zoom in and individually move each waveform so the first divergence is exactly at your start point. Phase alignment is always rough, so zoom out and check for obvious low frequency misalignments and, using your DAW's inversion tool, experiment by flipping the phase of one against another.

Layer kicks 3

3. Find a good balance between the sounds by soloing in different combinations and listening to how they interact. Experiment by altering pitches and try other processing. We've added a Low Pass Filter to kick 3 to tone down the click. Bounce them down and sample or map the finished article.

Audio examples embedded above on Soundcloud

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