Bitwig Studio has incorporated some nice features that really help with drum editing. These tools can be used to shape and color your drums. Let’s take a look at some of these features and how they can be used.
Tip 1 – Adding Punch to Your Drums with Transient Control
Bitwig Studio comes bundled with a nifty transient control plug-in. This is a great way to add some extra punch to your drums. It boosts and enhances the transients, which really makes them punch through in the mix. You can also control the sustain or release of the transient. Try this out on your kick and snare tracks. Insert the Transient Control plug-in, and then start increasing the Attack to hear the drum hit get punchier, and if you want this drum to ring out for longer increase the release as well.
You can also use the Transient Control to tame transients on drums. Maybe you don’t want your toms sounding too punchy in the mix. Then decrease the attack and hear how this smoothes off the edginess of the toms.
Tip 2 – Saturate your Drums
To really give your drums some color, try adding some saturation to them. Insert the Distortion plug-in and dial in some slight Drive say about +20 dB. Also reduce the Slew parameter to further saturate the sounds. Try about +70 dB. Then use the Mix parameter to dial in how much of the saturation you want to apply to your dry drums. Start off at 0% and then slowly increase it till you get where you like the mix between the dry and saturated sound.
You could even bitcrush your drums. Insert the Bit-8 on your drum track. The default preset works really well on imparting an old school analog dirty ’80s sound to your drums. Increase the Quantize parameter to add more bitcrushing and to introduce more harmonics into the sound.
Tip 3 – Using Parallel Compression
Compression is an amazing tool to use on your drums to even out the dynamics and give the drums character and drive. But what really works well is to use parallel compression. With parallel compression you can retain the dynamics of your uncompressed drum sound, plus introduce a heavy compressed drum sound with it to get the best of both worlds. It’s very easy to setup. First add an FX layer from the Containers menu to your drums track.
Then add a compressor to the FX Layer. Dial in a high ratio and drop the threshold down to 0. You can also set the attack and release to zero. You’ll probably also need to increase the Output gain, as these heavy compression settings will drop the audio level of your drums. This is quite a drastic compressor setting. You wouldn’t normally use such intense settings, but you’ll see now why they’re used. Start increasing the mix and hear how this heavily compressed sound is getting blended with your uncompressed drum sound. A great way to really push out your drums, but still mixing in an element of their dry, unprocessed sound.
You can try this parallel processing trick with other plug-ins as well like distortion or even modulation effects. Try it out and see what results you get.
Tip 4 – Drum Busses
Let’s take a look at how to create a drum group. By grouping the drum parts together, you can apply processing to the drums as a whole to gel the different elements together. To do this go to the Mix window and create a new audio track. Rename it to Drums so that you can easy distinguish it from the rest of your tracks.
On each of the drum tracks, choose the newly created Drums track as the output. Now this is the dedicated output track for your drums. You can use the volume fader on this track to control the volume of the drums.
And you can add effects onto this buss to apply to the drums as a whole, such as adding a compressor to gel the drum tracks together and to control the overall dynamic.
Tip 5 – Using Hybrid Tracks
Normally you get audio tracks, and then you get MIDI/Instrument tracks. But Bitwig Studio has found a way to work with both these types of tracks together in what they call Hybrid tracks. This means that audio and MIDI track can now coexist together on the same track.
Use the selection tool to make a selection on a MIDI event on a MIDI track, then right-click on the selection and choose ‘Bounce in Place’. This will render the MIDI selection as an audio selection on the MIDI track.
Now you can go in and use audio editing techniques on this audio piece on the MIDI track. For example you could reverse the part. Double-click the audio part to bring up the Audio Editor and choose to reverse the part from the Arrange clip properties panel.
It’s great working with MIDI, but being able to render a selection to audio gives you more flexibility by working with the audio as well within the MIDI track.
You can also drag and drop audio tracks straight onto a MIDI tracks. For example I like to see the audio shape of crash cymbals instead of looking at the MIDI notes. So I can drag my crash cymbal audio samples straight onto my MIDI tracks so the track can include programmed hi-hat patterns plus my audio crash cymbal hits.
That’s how to use Bitwig Studio’s tools to edit your drums. Try incorporating these features into your future music productions, and see and hear how they improve your drums. The processing effects and techniques can be used to tonally shape and color your drums. Working with MIDI and audio on the same track really gives you some flexibility on how you work with your drums.
For further Bitwig Studio tips and techniques check out the following tutorials: