So I'm stuck on a VU Meter Kick technique and wondering if it makes sense? (Kick & 808)

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KVRer
9 posts since 4 Mar, 2021

Post Tue May 04, 2021 3:32 pm

First off so that what I'm saying makes sense I mainly deal in hip-hop/trap so I'm discussing mainly a punch kick and its relation to a SINE wave type bass or a boomy 808 kick.

So like a lot of you have probably seen there is this VU Meter trick regarding bass and kicks where you have your kick hit around -3 on a VU meter (calibrated at -18?) and then the trick is to bring in the bass until the VU meter is around 0.

So I started running with this; however, for me, this never really worked all that great in HipHop because it always seemed to depend on the 808/bass and what the meter needed which changes drastically depending on the bass (grimy saturated one or smooth sine) or the style of 808 (with click/no click, etc).

I then decided to increase my VU meter requirement to +1 on VU meter on a single hit for the punch kick (when solo). It's specifically on a single hit as a quick double hit will def go over +1. So my baseline is +1 for the kick.

As the VU meter trick wasn't working too well for me I decided on a rule that the 808/bass must MAX out at +1 on the VU meter (when solo) — so if it's dynamic it doesn't matter where it is as long as the MAX peak is +1 on the VU.

Anyway, with the above approach I felt that the "bass/808" part of my approach didn't always hit correctly — sometimes too big or sometimes just right (never lacking). But it definitely felt stronger (when it hit right) than any commercial track I would AB it with — while that may sound good, in reality, that's the point of AB-ing so I took it as a bad thing, because if my stuff sounds so much stronger than commercial music then I'm probably doing something wrong... with that being said I decided to drop that 808 +1 rule and just play it by ear by bringing in the 808 from silence until it sat right in context.

I am still using the +1 for the kicks and things seem okay for the most part. There are times I may think the 808 is a bit weak (compared to what I'm used to) but the mix still sounds right.

I'm wondering if it makes sense to have a consistent numerical baseline value that all else is based around — in my case +1 on a VU Meter for the Kick. The only thing is I can't get down with is going off of the peak on a db meter as that metering gives such different results depending on the kick.

Are there any new approaches you can suggest? Or a VU meter reading that makes more sense?

adl
KVRian
1242 posts since 26 Jun, 2005

Post Wed May 05, 2021 5:55 am

I also started with that rule but it also never quite worked for me. I guess as kicks are short a VU meter isn't actually the best choice, as it reacts very slowly.
Doing Trap music myself I now level the 808 around -6 to -4 (peak) on the 808 channel and the kick around -3 to +1 (peak) on the kick channel. I group all my drums including the 808 and use a softclipper (Gainstation in my case) to limit all to 0dB. I also use
sidechain compression on the 808 to duck it using the kick. I was struggling a long time to get this sound, which I always liked but never could get my head around how to achieve it. I don't use any compression or parallel compression anymore, just try to get samples which work nicely together and process em the way I described above.

Let me add, if I feel the 808 is too subby I saturate it frequency specific using Plugin Alliance Black Box HG-2 MS.
proud to produce warezless!
Like Techhouse? Listen to my tracks here:
https://www.facebook.com/mister.adl

KVRer

Topic Starter

9 posts since 4 Mar, 2021

Post Wed May 05, 2021 11:20 am

adl wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 5:55 am
I also started with that rule but it also never quite worked for me. I guess as kicks are short a VU meter isn't actually the best choice, as it reacts very slowly.
Doing Trap music myself I now level the 808 around -6 to -4 (peak) on the 808 channel and the kick around -3 to +1 (peak) on the kick channel. I group all my drums including the 808 and use a softclipper (Gainstation in my case) to limit all to 0dB. I also use
sidechain compression on the 808 to duck it using the kick. I was struggling a long time to get this sound, which I always liked but never could get my head around how to achieve it. I don't use any compression or parallel compression anymore, just try to get samples which work nicely together and process em the way I described above.

Let me add, if I feel the 808 is too subby I saturate it frequency specific using Plugin Alliance Black Box HG-2 MS.
Very cool. I ended up going with a more digital VU meter from Hornet so it's really easy to dial in my expected VU meter volume/reading. Do you ever feel like the kick volume (even though you're clipping it) varies wildly from one sample to another? That's been my issue with the punchy-type kicks and the DB meter.
It seems like I can load in 3 different kicks from the same sample pack and they can all read -9db but some are just audible louder/lower than others. Do you find that the clipping helps with that or is it just something you understand happens depending on the kick sample and just run with it regardless?

adl
KVRian
1242 posts since 26 Jun, 2005

Post Wed May 05, 2021 12:04 pm

saltbeatz wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 11:20 am
adl wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 5:55 am
I also started with that rule but it also never quite worked for me. I guess as kicks are short a VU meter isn't actually the best choice, as it reacts very slowly.
Doing Trap music myself I now level the 808 around -6 to -4 (peak) on the 808 channel and the kick around -3 to +1 (peak) on the kick channel. I group all my drums including the 808 and use a softclipper (Gainstation in my case) to limit all to 0dB. I also use
sidechain compression on the 808 to duck it using the kick. I was struggling a long time to get this sound, which I always liked but never could get my head around how to achieve it. I don't use any compression or parallel compression anymore, just try to get samples which work nicely together and process em the way I described above.

Let me add, if I feel the 808 is too subby I saturate it frequency specific using Plugin Alliance Black Box HG-2 MS.
Very cool. I ended up going with a more digital VU meter from Hornet so it's really easy to dial in my expected VU meter volume/reading. Do you ever feel like the kick volume (even though you're clipping it) varies wildly from one sample to another? That's been my issue with the punchy-type kicks and the DB meter.
It seems like I can load in 3 different kicks from the same sample pack and they can all read -9db but some are just audible louder/lower than others. Do you find that the clipping helps with that or is it just something you understand happens depending on the kick sample and just run with it regardless?
The perceived loudness might be due to how much higher frequency content there is in the specific sample. Still, the number I wrote above are usually where I land for kick and 808 hitting the Gainstation Plugin. If it's still to weak sounding I turn up the input knob on Gainstation another dB or turn up the kick a dB of I feel that the kick could hit harder.
proud to produce warezless!
Like Techhouse? Listen to my tracks here:
https://www.facebook.com/mister.adl

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