How to clean up and get your drum loops working better with your bass
This is a simple but very effective way of cleaning up your drum loops and at the same time getting them working better with your bass. All you need is a standard audio gate effect.
In this example I have made a percussion loop by chopping up a few existing drum loops. It sounds okay but it kind of blends into the bass slightly. It would sound better in this instance if some of the tails were removed from the snare and hi-hats so that the loop interweaves with the bass better.
Before applying the gate
I have both audio loop channels routed to a separate audio channel (a sub mix) so that the gate can be applied to both channels at the same time. Once the gate is added it’s just a simple case of adjusting the threshold control to find what works best. You can also try adjusting the other gate controls for fine tuning. Using this technique only takes a few seconds and instantly makes for a cleaner drum loop.
In some musical genres reverb is applied to percussion (chillout for example) using this gate technique is a great way of ensuring that the percussion doesn’t get swamped with too much reverb.
I’m using the gate effect in Ableton Live 9 which has a new visual display which makes it easier to set the threshold, but the gate from previous versions and other DAWs works just as well.
After applying the gate
I’m using the gate without a sidechain input. You could try setting the sidechain input to use your bass drum, this will result in the popular ‘pumping’ effect. If your percussion loop contains a bass drum you would need to put it on a separate channel or make a separate sidechain trigger channel. I show how to make a trigger channel in this article, although I’m making a gated pad, the principle is the same when making a sidechain trigger.
Audio gate effects were developed years ago to clean up analogue recordings. Audio below a defined threshold is removed, this was useful for removing low level hiss and other audio artefacts. Today the gate effect has many other creative uses but it is still the perfect tool for doing what it was originally designed for.