From Cab Calloway to Doo Wop to The Beatles to today’s big hits, handclaps have always been a tool to create excitement and move a track along. I will show you some techniques I like to use to create some really great sounding ones from ones that sound small and unspectacular. I will be doing this in Logic Pro X, but it can be done in any DAW.
In Audio Example 1, you can hear some mono handclaps I recorded. Because it was not several people doing this, they are kind of thin and not very powerful:
Time to change that for the better!
First, I will copy the audio file to make a duplicate of it and add it to my project. I now have two audio tracks with the two claps audio files.
I then rename the two audio files Claps Left and Claps Right and pan them -30 and + 30 respectively. (You can be more or less extreme with the panning if you like, though.)
In Pic 1, you can see the progress. And if you do this, you will already hear that the claps sound louder and wider.
I use Logic’s Delay parameter in the Region Inspector to set the left claps to +1/192 and the right claps to +1/64. Big difference already, as you can hear in Audio Example 2:
Time to add some processing with parallel compression aka New York compression.
I then assign the output of the two audio tracks to a buss. Logic Pro X creates an aux for me with that bus as its input, which I then rename Claps Dry.
I then open a send on those two audio tracks, which creates another aux with that bus as its input, which I rename Comp. See Pic 2.
On the Comp aux I open a compressor. (I like the McDSP Retro Comp for this but any decent one will do.) In Pic 3. you can see the settings I am choosing.
Now I can mix the dry aux with the aux with the compressor on it to my taste. In Audio Example 3, it has really come a long way in my opinion.
(Insert Audio Example 3):
And now, there is more I want to do. ☺
I open another send on the two audio tracks, which creates a third aux with the new bus as its input, and I add a chorus and some delay and reverb to send to. (I used a UAD Roland CE-1 chorus and a PSP 2445 for delay and reverb. Again, any similar plug-ins will produce similar results.)
I can then revisit the delay settings on each track and tweak to my heart’s content. In Audio Example 4, you hear my finished claps:
Lots of fun and I am digging the sound!