I like the drums I’ve programmed for this remix I’m working on, but they just sound too polite. One of my favorite ways to add some nasty to the drums is with a little amp and cabinet action. In the past, I’ve used actual re-amping and NI Guitar Rig to handle this chore. Today, it’s all about the new Ableton effects.

The technique I’m going to use also involves parallel compression which works really nicely with amp effects. Parallel compression means compression that is blended with the original signal, instead of inserted directly on it. This allows you to do some radical sound shaping with the compressor without completely throwing away the transients and dynamics of the original part.

So, to get started, I’ve dropped a Rough Rider into Return A and cranked up Send A on the drum Group…

Picture 1

On the Rough Rider, I’ve set the Attack and Release both pretty fast. This emphasizes the body of the drum sound, rather than the transients. The level of Send A determines how hard you are hitting the compressor and has a big impact on the sound.

Picture 2

(tip continued below)


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Now, to make the signal sound a bit junky, I’ve dropped Cabinet into Return A, after the Rough Rider…

Picture 3

The Speaker and Microphone settings are made by ear. I found that this combination gives me the right midrange chunk I’m looking for, without to much low end boom. (The drums already have plenty of low end.)

Output is set to Dual because I want to preserve the stereo image of the drums as much as possible. There are cases where you’ll want just the opposite – you have a nice wide drum sound, and you do parallel processing in mono to thicken up the middle.

Already, things are sounding less polite – but I’ve got a few tricks to show you in the next tip. (Still gotta get Amp into the picture!)