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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > July 2019 > LAYERING KICKS IN PRO TOOLS


Why pick only one kick-drum sample, when two can bring more power to your mix? In our walkthrough, we show you how to layer your kick samples in Pro Tools for greater sonic power


There are hundreds of thousands of kick-drum samples to choose from and many, many more instruments capable of generating kicks. but scouring through all of the samples often isn’t enough. You might find one kick sample that has a deep, low-end weight you like, but doesn’t cut through the mix strongly enough, while another kick sample might cut through with plenty of energy, but not carry the low end. By layering multiple samples into a single sound it is possible to combine the relative strengths of two or more samples, to create your own, new sound, something unique to you, with the perfect characteristics for your mix.

The simplest way of doing this is simply to layer one kick on top of the other in the mix, aligning the start time of each, such that the two samples play at the same time – being very careful to check that the polarity of the two samples is aligned. This will give you something of the sound of the two signals. The only problem is that as well as giving you the best of both worlds, you’ll get the worst bits of both samples, too.


Instead, what we have to do here is to blend the two samples together, removing the parts of both that we don’t like, and leaving only the best of both. This can involve chopping the samples up a little, altering the amplitude envelope of each in the process; or it can be a simpler task of simply EQing the two samples to leave only the best parts.

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