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How to create sci-fi percussion sounds using white noise

(Image credit: Future)

Filtered white noise is a staple in dance music for good reason – it works! – but here we’ll show you how to go beyond rudimentary filter sweeps and craft sci-fi effects that are suitable for retro-inspired percussion and transitions.

Click here to download the files you need to complete this tutorial.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 1: Enkl CM, free in CM Plugins, is perfect for making sci-fi-style white noise effects. Create a new 120bpm project in your DAW and load Scifi drums.wav and Scifi bassline.wav. Trigger an instance of Enkl CM with Scifi percussion.mid. Change the Osc to Noise and extend amp release. Hey presto… noise snares!

(Image credit: Future)

Step 2: Let’s add some motion to our percussion sound. Activate amplitude modulation by pressing the AM button. Switch the LFO to a sine wave and turn up its Gain. Increase Frequency to taste. Our noise is a little bright, so use the synth’s onboard EQ to dirty up the mids.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 3: Next, let’s make a filter sweep. Flip the modulation back to FM (which has no effect on noise), turn up Resonance to about 10 o’clock, and automate the High Cut parameter to low-pass-filter the noise. Crank Resonance up even further for a more pronounced effect.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 4: We haven’t engaged the Delay yet, so switch that on and up the Feedback to about two thirds. This gives us a long, springy tail of repeats. Lower the High Cut all the way, then automate it up and down for a noisy, echoey ‘blast’. Again, adjust Resonance to taste.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 5: Lastly, we can use the Arpeggiator at extreme speeds for a metallic ‘buzz’. Mute the bassline and load the Scifi white noise arp.mid file, turn on Arpeggio, and set the Arp Speed dial fully right. Turn the Delay Time down for a metallic sound. Crank up the Feedback and automate the High Cut for weird effects.