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KVRist
 
55 posts since 12 Jun, 2009
 

Postby Codehook; Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:49 am Tutorial: How to Make a Madeon Kick & Snare (by Hi Def)

OK so I thought it'd be best to make a new thread for the tutorial. If anything seems unclear just ask, and I'll try to clarify. My alias in the production community is "Hi Def", I've done remix work for Alex Stan, Inna, Skepta and some others. I'm constantly trying to improve my production, and I enjoy sharing ideas with others, so here you go!

Contents:

- Making the Kick
- Making the Snare
- Mixing the Kick & Snare


1. Making the Kick

Madeon's kicks seems to have quite a soft 'click' to them, have short tails, and are bulky around the 60hz -> 100hz region. They're also complemented by the hi-hats he puts on top of them, he never uses 'sharp' hi-hats (i.e. very tinny). Instead, he seems to use hats that are quite noisy and softer.

Here's a little loop of the kick I used in my Katy Perry mix. It has some other instruments in, because I don't really like just giving away samples as the whole point in this tutorial is to learn how to make it, and not to just copy/paste. But anyhow:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/14923346/Kick_loop1.mp3

If you listen closely, you'll be able to hear a subtle but effective closed hi-hat on top of the kick. For those that really wish to know, I sampled this hi-hat from "VES2 Loops 044" in the Vengeance Electro Shock Vol 2 library. For some reason I sample most of my hats from the loops in those libraries, I guess because I can hear how they're working better in a loop rather than by themselves.

So how did I make the kick? Well, I ended up using 3 kick layers.

I found a kick that was 'punchy' and 'clicky' as a basis. This was "VEC4 Electro Kicks 62". I shortened it so all you could really hear was the click and a tiny bit of the tail (so mainly the only bass in it was around 80hz). I probably shortened it like this after I'd added the other kick layers, because really you don't know what tail you want from which kick layer until later on.

The kick I was looking for, for the second layer was one that had a much softer top to it. At this point I thought I'd probably be ok with just layering 2 kicks together to get what I wanted...but that didn't pan out. Anyhow, this second kick was "VES2 Bassdrums 199". I also shorted this kick to only contain a tiny bit of the tail. Now what should happen when you layer 2 kicks together? You should get some kind of horrible peaking in the bass region, right? Not necessarily. This is where phase comes in...bass frequencies phase with each other very easily because the wavelengths are longer. Anyhow, these 2 kicks didn't really clash and cause any bad peaks, but I did think they could sound nicer together. What I did, then, was to experiment with some distortion. At this point I wouldn't like to reveal exactly what I did, as it's somewhat of a production secret I accidentally stumbled upon that I'd like to keep to myself. In essence, though, it's really subtle distortion. The distortion plug-in I use for this also ends up inverting the phase of the sound (something I only found out a couple of months ago). Anyway I figured out that the first kick drum sounded better with the second kick when I put the distortion on it, and I didn't bother phase inverting the sound back because it actually ended up phasing out a lot of the bass of both kicks when I did.

To clarify, at this point I now had the following:

- Kick 1 (shortened, subtle distortion and phase inverted)
- Kick 2 (as it comes, but shortened)


So now for the third kick. I didn't necessarily need a third kick, I could've extended the tails of one of the other kicks but I figured what the hell. So anyway, the third kick was "VES1 Bassdrums 029". This kick had a nice, soft top to it and was also very punchy, it was essentially a similar kick to what I was looking for with the second kick. Again, I didn't need to phase invert as it didn't clash, but once again I did think it could sound better. So I ended up putting a bit of subtle distortion on this kick as well. I then had to phase invert it back, though, because it started clashing and sounding horrible. I used slightly more of the tail of this kick as well because I felt it had a nice one compared to the others. I also EQ'd it slightly with a cut at 155hz with a small Q. This was for the purposes of the snare, as the snare dominates the 155hz frequency, and whilst the technique I use to mix them won't make it peak when they both play, it still sounds nicer if there's room for the snare in the first place (you're able to hear the 155hz punch much clearer).

So, finally:

- Kick 1 (shortened, subtle distortion and phase inverted)
- Kick 2 (as it comes, but shortened)
- Kick 3 (slightly longer, subtle distortion, phase inverted back to the original phase and EQ'd with a 4db cut at 155hz)


When I layered the closed hi-hat on top of this kick, I actually phase inverted the hi-hat. I always listen to whether things sound better phase inverted or not, sometimes the difference is very subtle but noticeable enough to sound better.

--------------------------------------------------------

2. Making the Snare

As I posted in the other thread, here's a spectral analysis of one of Madeon's snares:

Image

As you can see, it's predominately bassy. However, please note that the lower bass frequencies may actually be a quietly layered kick. I sampled this from a Madeon track and it was a snare that hit just before the drop, so may have had a layered kick. Don't be too concerned with those lowest bass frequencies.

In and around the 155hz region is very strong in particular. It doesn't just peak at 155hz and everything around it is quiet, but the whole frequency region is loud, and the peak is in the middle of that region. This is what gives it the more rounded and natural sound. It tails off at 500hz and peaks again at around 5k.

The higher freqs are probably just a layered clap of some sort, really even some sort of EQ'd/filtered white noise will do the trick as well.

Here's a loop of the snare I made:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/14923346/Snare_Loop1.mp3

So how did I make a similar snare? I used 5 snare layers to achieve it.

I managed to find the first layer via my ears, I guess my ears must be quite good nowadays because I found a snare that peaked almost exactly at 155hz! It's "VES1 Snare 113". This is a very solid foundation for a Madeon snare.

The second snare I layered with it, was a snare that peaked in and around 155hz, and so covered that whole region. This was actually a snare I'd made myself a while ago. I'm not too bothered about giving it away so here you go:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/14923346/Massive%20Snare.zip

However, these snares clashed and canceled each other out a bit (phase issue again). So I phase inverted it and it sounded much better, both snares complementing each other nicely. However, I used some subtle distortion on the second snare (which, in turn, phase inverted the sound as previously mentioned about the plug-in), phase inverted it back and it sounded much better.

For the third snare layer, I wanted a nice, punchy click. So I found a clap that would do the trick. That was "VES1 Claps 017", which I shorted to only have the initial click, and which really sounded fine with the other 2 layers no matter which way round the phase was. Again, though, I added some subtle distortion just to make it a bit grittier and punchier.

The fourth layer was actually the top of the sampled Madeon kick itself. I guess I was a bit lazy in trying to find a nice white-noise based clap to put on the top so I just resorted to using his. I EQ'd it to roll off at about 2k and lower. All I then had was a small click and a lot of air. Again, no phase inversion needed and I didn't put any distortion on this one as I liked it the way it was.

The final layer was the initial click of a cowbell, which came from "VES1 Percussion 016". I did a lot of processing to this sound, though. I rolled it off from 2k downwards in the EQ, then I put 2 separate plug-ins with subtle distortion on it, and another overdrive distortion with some fairly weak settings. I also phase inverted it.

Phew...but that wasn't all!

I routed all of those layers to a new group channel that I appropriately named "Snare". On that group channel, I used the Dada Life Sausage Fattener (made sure input gain was on 0db, fatness 1% and color 40%). Then I put some EQ on it to boost the 155hz by around 3db with a small Q, and the 300hz region by around 6db with a slightly bigger Q. I was just trying to bulk out the region around 155hz to round off the sound of the snare like Madeon's. I also then used a transient shaping tool to give the snare a bigger attack, but I'm not really sure this was needed after having listened back to it with it on and off.

--------------------------------------------------------

3. Mixing the Kick & Snare

OK so here comes the fun part!

How do you mix the Kick with the Snare, without some horrible peaking? Do you EQ out the peaks of the snare in the Kick? Will phase inversion solve the problem? Well, somewhat, but it's not as simple as that.

Here comes another production secret that I stumbled upon, but which I'm actually willing to share. I group both the kick and the snare into one channel, and put a compressor on it. But it's not just any old compressor, most will sound terrible and destroy frequencies that you want to retain. What I use is a mastering plug-in called "Slate Digital FG-X".

This plug-in is revolutionary in that it will preserve your waveform transients with some kind of special magic. I won't question how it works, it just does. I use the compressor and the transient-based gain to keep whatever is routed to the channel sounding as much like the original sound as possible. You will then get no peaks, and retain the sound of both the kick and the snare, even though they occupy much of the same frequencies. Easy, right? Yes!

Just make sure you play around with the phase of the snare, and find out which phase is best. Also, the EQ I took out of one of the kick layers earlier on is for the precise purpose of letting the 155hz shine through even more nicely on the snare when it hits. I eventually decided not to even route this kick to the kick/snare group channel, and just sent it straight to output. The notch I'd taken out of it made sure it didn't really cause any peaks. I won't be ignorant enough to say I've done this all perfectly though, in fact I'd love the snare to hit even better. Madeon seems to have this nailed, and it's the most important part for sure.

Also, as another important note...I would strongly advise against the kick that has the longest tail being phase inverted. I would always have the bass of a kick the correct way round, in terms of phase. Having it the other way round seems to cause mix issues, from experience. I'm not one of those technological gurus who could tell you why, but it just does.

--------------------------------------------------------

That's about it! I haven't mentioned anything about the relative volume of each of the layers because I really think that's something you should try yourself. If I'd written out exactly what all my channel settings were then there really wouldn't be much point in the tutorial as people would just go and copy it. I've tried to be as detailed as possible, whilst trying to preserve your desires to be creative with the knowledge.

I hope this has been a good read, and any questions are welcome as long as they're not probing for me to reveal the distortion secret. Just play around with some different distortion plug-ins, but make the settings as subtle as you possibly can.

And if you have been helped by this, please please please support me on the following pages:

Twitter @hidefremix @djmikewalker
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hidefremix
SoundCloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/highdefinition
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/hidefremixes


Thanks KVR!
KVRAF
 
3049 posts since 25 Jun, 2004
 

Postby highkoo; Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:56 am

Wow very detailed tut!
Your distortion/phase trick sounds like a good one. I will be toying with that this weekend.
Thanks!
Image
KVRist
 
412 posts since 7 Mar, 2009, from MerseySide/Stockholm

Postby TIMT; Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:29 am

I stopped reading at the point when he first mentioned "production secret" :roll:
It's all about the chef not about the kitchen
KVRian
 
670 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Postby JD Gaffe; Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:48 am

I like the thought that this tutorial was made to recreate the sounds that was produced by a 16 year old. Nothing against him, I love Madeon, but the thought is just humorous to me.
User avatar
KVRian
 
790 posts since 9 Apr, 2011
 

Postby nineofkings; Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:51 am

age =/= skill level
18 year-old "musician."
Land of the free albums: http://nineofkings.bandcamp.com
KVRian
 
670 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Postby JD Gaffe; Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:55 am

nineofkings wrote:age =/= skill level

I didn't say that, I said I just found it humorous! :hihi:
KVRer
 
2 posts since 15 Apr, 2012

Postby Merk&Kremont; Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:28 pm

Very nice tutorial!
Signature blocked until 5 posts made
KVRist
 
36 posts since 2 Jun, 2011

Postby taraN; Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:49 pm

TIMT wrote:I stopped reading at the point when he first mentioned "production secret" :roll:


I agree - why make a tutorial in the first place if you feel this way.
KVRist
 
55 posts since 12 Jun, 2009
 

Postby Codehook; Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:04 am

taraN wrote:
TIMT wrote:I stopped reading at the point when he first mentioned "production secret" :roll:


I agree - why make a tutorial in the first place if you feel this way.

If you feel the rest of the tutorial is completely useless just because I won't reveal one thing, then that's absolutely fine. I do, however, think that attitude would be a little silly.

And I did describe what the 'secret' was, but just didn't say which plug-in I use. I think that's more than acceptable, personally. Again, it's fine if you don't think so, but I don't think it's right to say that the tutorial is useless because of that.
KVRist
 
61 posts since 16 Dec, 2010

Postby juansep; Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:37 am

What I find funny, no offense Codehook, is wanting to know the reason why you wont share it, I mean what is it that you're looking for, getting to be famous and let guys like the rest of this forum wondering what you do? Like if other people knowing some distortion stuff would make them better than you and stealing your shot at being the next Madeon.

I mean, I appreciate the effort but I have to say you basically described simple layering which most of the guys here already know, the only interesting detail, you kept it as a "production secret", and lets face it, its not like if the "production secret" would be revealing how to make you're signature sound on a specific vst synth, its just a tip to make phases fit.

Whatever.
KVRist
 
55 posts since 12 Jun, 2009
 

Postby Codehook; Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:03 am

juansep wrote:I mean, I appreciate the effort but I have to say you basically described simple layering which most of the guys here already know, the only interesting detail, you kept it as a "production secret", and lets face it, its not like if the "production secret" would be revealing how to make you're signature sound on a specific vst synth, its just a tip to make phases fit.

Whatever.

I think you're missing the point of the tutorial, certainly true if you think the 'secret' is anything to do with how to "make phases fit."

This tutorial wasn't "How To: Layer Kick Drums" and if all you got from the tutorial was that then I'm afraid you haven't read it properly. I spoke a lot about appropriate phase (something that is always overlooked, seemingly), specific compression using a mastering tool that preserves transients, picking appropriate sounds and when and how to shorten or lengthen what you are layering, using distortion subtly, amongst many other techniques. The point of the tutorial, however, was how to use these techniques to develop kicks/snares similar to Madeon.

juansep wrote:What I find funny, no offense Codehook, is wanting to know the reason why you wont share it, I mean what is it that you're looking for, getting to be famous and let guys like the rest of this forum wondering what you do? Like if other people knowing some distortion stuff would make them better than you and stealing your shot at being the next Madeon.

I won't reveal it for the same reason any other producer won't reveal any secrets they have. Firstly, we don't wish to spoon feed others (it's hardly promoting creativity, is it?) and secondly, we wish to keep our own sound unique. I don't produce like Madeon, nothing I've produced has ever sounded like him and I don't wish to sound like him either. Others may wish to, and I went through this process as a way for me to learn more about how he creates his sounds. I've done the same for Wolfgang Gartner, Sub Focus and some others. It's a great way to learn about different techniques, and eventually you can use the techniques you've learned to carve out your own, unique sound.

So this time, I wanted to share what I'd learned in a tutorial. I actually posted a previous thread wondering whether people would be interested in this tutorial, before I posted it. If it wasn't of interest, I would not have posted it. So considering all of that, criticism of me posting this seems rather unjustified, the criticisms are superficial at best, and they've only come from people who don't seem to have actually understood the tutorial.

If anyone needs any part of the tutorial clearing up, I'm happy to do so. For example, your believe that my distortion technique "makes the phase fit", actually has nothing to do with phasing (apart from the fact that the plug-in I use happens to flip the phase and so I usually flip it back again to the original). The actual point in the distortion is to subtly texture the sound, or beef it up the tiniest bit.
KVRist
 
412 posts since 7 Mar, 2009, from MerseySide/Stockholm

Postby TIMT; Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:19 am

taraN wrote:
TIMT wrote:I stopped reading at the point when he first mentioned "production secret" :roll:


I agree - why make a tutorial in the first place if you feel this way.


My comment was nothing to do with him not revealing on what he considers to be "secrets"it was more directed at his naivety to presume there is such a thing as a "production secret"
It's all about the chef not about the kitchen
KVRAF
 
3049 posts since 25 Jun, 2004
 

Postby highkoo; Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:10 pm

lol
dicks on both sides of the fence.
Image
KVRist
 
55 posts since 12 Jun, 2009
 

Postby Codehook; Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:53 am

TIMT wrote:
taraN wrote:
TIMT wrote:I stopped reading at the point when he first mentioned "production secret" :roll:


I agree - why make a tutorial in the first place if you feel this way.


My comment was nothing to do with him not revealing on what he considers to be "secrets"it was more directed at his naivety to presume there is such a thing as a "production secret"

It's naive to think there's not.
KVRian
 
670 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Postby JD Gaffe; Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:36 am

Codehook wrote:It's naive to think there's not.

Ehh.. :?
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