Knowing the sounds you have available, and when to use a certain sound are key.
This can be the hardest part of beatmaking..
An open hi-hat is amazing for bringing the loop back in, but you can’t just place the open hi-hat anywhere in the loop.
For best results, you place them in certain spots!
But how do you know where to place this if you’re not a drummer?
Well.. I often talk about a term called Safe Spots on this blog..
What are safe spots?:
Areas in your loop where you can place sounds for them to sound good, as well as in time, regardless of your one-hit sound choice.
I’ve written an E-Book on the topic of Safe Spots, and I’ve also created a course about it called Foundational Drum Loop Basics course.
So this post is a little tricky, because knowing your sounds available also goes hand-in-hand with where to place your sounds at the right time.
What You Will Learn
- One Hit Sounds vs. VSTs
- Knowing the Types of One Hit Sounds Available
- Sound Kits vs. Construction Kits/Loops
- Buying Sounds vs. Free Sounds
- Hardware vs. Digital
One Hit Sounds vs. VSTs
We use two types of sounds to create beats.
- One-Hit Sounds
- Instruments (VSTi’s) (Sampling would fall under here, too.)
One-hit sounds are typically .WAV files.
These sounds are printed to a file which can’t be changed except for techniques like using ADSR, or additional processing with plugins such as EQ and compression.
Then there are VSTi’s.
Side note: There are VSTi’s, but also VST’s. The i means instrument, whereas the VST is typically for effects for processing such as EQ’s, reverbs, delays, and other similar effects.
VSTi’s can be synthesizers, but they can also be pianos, guitars, or even orchestra sounds!
VSTi’s are programs which we install and can use as our instruments.
And since being digital software.. we have major flexibility, such as perfect pitch!
These instruments can come in multiple formats, and is confusing at first! (Will get a little technical for a second):
- VST (Also labeled VSTi) – This is your most common format. VST tends to be effects such as EQ, delays, and reverbs. VSTi tends to be for instruments; the i stands for instrument.
- AU – This stands for Audio Unit, and is a Mac only format.
- RTAS/AAX – are Pro Tools formats.
(To keep it simple, you will either want the VST2 or VST3 version of the plugin. VST3 is newer, and a more popular standard which allows developers to add newer features.)
For more info, you can read about VST3 here! Really interesting!
With VSTs, you have totally control of the sound. You can create, manipulate, and change the pitch with pristine quality!
Check out some of the industry’s most popular VSTi’s in my post:
For our drum loops, we tend to use one-hit samples.
Different sound kit vendors typically organize their sound kits into folders like so:
Some vendors definitely organize these better than others. When you get an organized sound kit, it gives you that minimal feel, and an enjoyable workflow.
Knowing the Types of One Hit Sounds Available
As mentioned, most vendors tend to release sound kits with my list above.
Some also go above and beyond my list going as far as having sub-folders in percussion as metallic, shakers, hand drums etc.
When companies put this type of effort into organization, it really shows the quality of care behind their product.
Here’s an overview of the types of sounds, and how to use them:
Drums and Claps/Snares
Drums and claps/snares are used to carry your drum loop.
There’s no limit to creativity here.
You can layer drums, use drums as fillers, or even pan certain snares/claps for a wider feeling.
Let’s be honest, drums/claps are always the most fun to program!
Hi-Hats create groove and filler to our drum loops!
If you feel your drums/claps are a bit boring, just wait until you start adding your hi-hats. It makes the difference, trust me!
I tend to use multiple hi-hats in my drum loops.
Whether this be layering, or just using a different hi-hat on different hits for a unique sound!
I’ll also mention open hi-hats here, too! – These are my bread and butter!
I love the sound of an open hi-hat used at the right time. This is a sound which takes a bit trial and error to place right.
In Foundational Drum Loop Basics, I show you how to program effective drum patterns, while using open hi-hats as a powerful filler!
Percussion is actually my favorite loop to program.
I always like the feeling of grabbing random sounds, mushing them together, and adding it to my drums to see the result.
Later-on I tend to effect these loops in the mixing stage with aggressive effects for a unique sound.
Sound Kits vs. Construction Kits/Loops
Okay, so we’ve covered sound kits.
They are products that sound vendors create which usually contain one-hit samples into folders such as drums, snares, claps, hi-hats, and percussion.
But you’ll also see the term construction kit on online sound kit stores.
I personally would stay away from these. They are pre-made songs, broken into loops for you to purchase and use in your productions.
I’m all about originality and creating my own music.
I actually had a family member super excited about getting into music production, and bought a sound kit without asking me first!
Turns out he bought a construction kit for $100, was really disappointed with his decision, and stopped making music!
One hit or one-shot samples sound kits are what you want for the most versatility and originality in your music.
Buying Sounds vs. Free Sounds
If you think a sound is just a sound, you are wrong!
There are different levels of quality out there, and when starting with high quality samples from the start, it allows you to create high quality beats much faster.
Sure, you could always torrent these premium samples from my favorite sound kit vendors, but do you know what? Eventually they’ll stop creating high quality samples for you to use!
Support these creators, as they are gifted in making truly industry standard high quality samples.
I used to run a popular sound kit website called SoundPackFlyer.com if you do not remember! I know a thing or two about quality sound kits!
If you want to know my favorite sound kits..
- Read: My Favorite Drum Kits
Hardware vs. Digital
When it comes to instruments, you may think about getting a hardware synthesizer.
In my opinion, it’s cool to have, but I wouldn’t recommend getting caught up in the hardware audio gear.
There are many reasons why I say this!
A major point is that when we use digital plugins, we can simply save a file and recall it at a later date.
When using hardware.. we have to remember our knob positions (or write them down) to get the exact same sound.
Hardware is also typically more expensive than digital, and it also takes up more space!
Some hardware for making music is required, but besides this hardware, I recommend staying away!
One hit sample packs are what you want.
Construction kits, in my opinion, are a big no-no! (I personally still don’t understand the concept of these..)
Support these premium sound kit creators by purchasing, not torrenting, so they continue to create amazing sounds for us!
Is there anything else you’d like to know about the sounds available to us as producers? Leave a comment and I will surely reply! 🙂