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[Must-Read for Club Track Creators!!] How to Make a Hardstyle Kick

2019-12-17

Theme:Software

Have you heard of the music genre, "Hardstyle"? It's a bit like intense EDM, but it's a hot genre for me right now. Please listen to the song first, recently released by top artists Da Tweekaz & Sound Rush.

Da Tweekaz & Sound Rush – Take Me Away

Da Tweekaz makes rather melodic Hardstyle songs, and many people start DAW wishing to make such songs like these. However, this genre is very difficult to compose!! The most difficult part is making the kick drum sound. If you just make it distorted, the sound will be blurry and muffled. Actually, when you type "Hardstyle" on search engine, autocomplete suggests "Hardstyle kick how to." That's how serious a concern it is.

This is where the plug-in software comes in!

iZotope / Trash 2 Expanded +2

iZotope / Trash2 Expanded +2

With an abundance of presets, it's well worth the money, and it can also give different types of distortion for each frequency band. It's too awesome... The reason why this plug-in can be used to make Hardstyle kick drums is that it's precisely this function, that you can add distortion to individually to the kick drum and finely adjust the distortion in detail, and pre/post filter cutoff is available! It's literally a monster-class distortion plug-in.

So, this time, I asked my acquaintance, Hardstyle artist "kamui.com" who uses Trash 2, about how to make Hardstyle kick drums!

Speaking of Hardstyle kick drums, the main feature that it is a distorted sound with a knocking attack... but how do you actually create the track?

In my case, I first make a simple base track using a kick-specific synthesizer. It's a fairly straightforward sound like the one used in trance music like "rat-a-tat." I then add distortion to it using Trash 2, and then use FabFilter / Pro-Q3 to adjust the sound. In this way, I create several types of sounds individually, such as attack sounds and release sounds, just like layers in digital art.
Sometimes I edit from Hardstyle kick samples on the market without using a kick synth.

FabFilter / Pro-Q3

FabFilter / Pro-Q3

What kind of process do you use to add sounds?

I split the tok sound (the punchy mid to high frequency attack sound in a Hardstyle kick) into "to" & "k" and keep just the "to" bass sound. The bass also overlaps for each band like low + mid + high. When I'm like, "I want to use this frequency band," I cut other parts. I also make about 7 kinds of punchy sounds and overlap them, so my project file is exploding...... lol

You overlap 7 kinds just for a second of sound!? Wow! Could you tell me more about overlapping the basses?

I cut quite a bit of the low range because sub-basses such as sine waves can compensate for it. I often use volume automation to make it like a sidechain when separating the kick and the bass. Then I lightly apply distortion, cut highs that hurt your ears, and put it all together with a compressor to prevent sound from breaking up.
After that, I completely cut the lows of the high bass sound. I slightly cut where your ears hurt from the highs so that the mids are not too weak. When I think "this noise is good after all," I boost it and apply reverb.

Reverb?

When the space is filled up, the kick becomes powerful. Even if you listen to it in the production stage, you can’t feel the difference, but when it comes out from the speakers in the club, it’s surprisingly different. It also has a role of supplementing the space of the song such as when dropping in Rawstyle (a genre derived from Hardstyle with more aggressive kick). Since it is a reverb intended for reverberating in a club, it’s ok if you just apply a Dry/Wet ratio of about 20:80.
Then I put in an EQ into the bass created to boost the mids and highs. Also, I put limiter because otherwise the sound breaks up. Compressor is fine, but I suck at adjusting details, so I do it all at once lol. When I insert a limiter, I use Fabfilter / Pro-L2. Aside from the intuitive controls, it's very useful to be able to "see" the loudness with just the right sound pressure at a glance.

FabFilter / Pro-L2

FabFilter / Pro-L2

Now it’s all done!

No, actually it’s just the beginning. I export the attack and release parts of the kick separately, and process them further from here.
More specifically, I apply EQ to the "tok". I cut out anything below 20Hz because the lows overlaps the sub basses. I also cut out anything above 20kHz because it hurts your ears. This is the same as before. I insert Ozone to gain sound pressure only with the punch of the attack, and again apply a limiter to prevent clipping. The important thing here is to use an oscilloscope.

iZotope / Ozone 9 Advanced

iZotope / Ozone 9 Advanced

Is it that the same as the oscilloscope we see in science classes?

Yes, because it's easy to see if there is clip noise. I use the default oscilloscope at the top of the screen of FL Studio, as well as free downloadable ones from Ozone. If you can see in the waveform, basically anything is ok.
Another key point for Rawstyle is to make the bass sound louder than the punch.

Now, it's completed?

"The material" is completed. I export the material into Native Instruments / BATTERY and listen to it. I insert a limiter, EQ, and an imager, and intentionally widen the low range.

Native Instruments / BATTERY (includes KOMPLETE 12, except for SELECT)

Native Instruments / BATTERY (includes KOMPLETE 12, except for SELECT)

When creating club music, I think it's normal to use an imager to narrow down the lows to make the attack clearer......

I narrow the lows down when I’m mastering. By doing this, the low frequency range doesn’t swell too much…it’s just right…so that you can shake your audience’s drinks when it is played in the club. In addition to what I've explained so far, I add more EQs, but also I cut out other sounds. However, basically, the kick plays the lead role in Hardstyle -- I try not to forget that.
I created the kicks in my new song in this same way. Please check it out so you can hear how it turns out.

How was Tora no Maki’s production of a Hardstyle kick drum? Please refer to this and try to produce your own!

Nishida

少年時代エレクトーンに明け暮れていたにもかかわらず、高校時代は、友達が居なかったためにDTMの道に入り、大学時代は、作曲研究会が無かったためにジャズ研に所属していた異色の音楽歴を持つキーボーディスト。硬いキックと激しいシンセと速いテンポがあれば生きていける男です。

iZotope / Ozone 9 Advanced

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