Welcome to the MTC blog, today we’re focusing on Ableton’s Drum Buss Device!
With the ability to work as a Compressor, Transient Designer, Saturator, and Drum tuner-enhancer put together in a multi-effect device. Drum Buss is probably going to be on every literal Drum Bus or Group you have available. It's capable of tightening up your sounds, as well as increasing and reducing your drums decay and reverb. It can add warmth and character to make your drums sound alive. Promising a one-stop shop for drums, with the ability to completely bend and push kicks and snares. It also works flawlessly on other elements that aren’t just specifically percussive.
Let's start by loading a Drum Buss Device.
The signal first goes through the compressor section, activated through the Comp button located at the bottom. From there its routed into the Drive section.
In total there are three Drive modes to choose from including a Soft waveshaping distortion, a Medium limiting distortion, and a Hard clipping distortion. This Drive is based on the inputs signal, use the trim parameter to adjust input levels if necessary.
As we progress through DB’s routing once thing to keep in mind is that the signal is split into three frequency bands.
The Low frequencies of the signal are routed into the Boom section, which is a resonant high-pass filter. Turn Boom up to add new sub-bass content. You can tune the Frequency of this filter with the Freq parameter.
To help tune the low end that’s being improved harmonically, the device displays the nearest MIDI note in the Force To Note button area. When you enable this, it will lock to that note in the frequency domain. Definitely essential to making sure all your drums are in key with your track.
The sub added can have a long tail, you’ll have to be careful not to overdo the low end with too much Sub, we can modify and adjust this using the decay parameter.
After the post-Drive crossover, the midrange part of the signal goes into the Crunch stage, so distortion can be applied to only the high-mid frequencies. Great tool for adding presence to anything that needs to cut through a little more.
The output of Crunch flows into a combined Mid and Hi crossover stage. The unprocessed high signal also feeds into that Midrange and High-frequency Mix. The overall Midrange and High Mix signal can then be filtered back with the Damp parameter, which can be useful if you’re finding these processes are bringing out too much top-end.
That Midrange and High-end Mix signal then route to a Transients processor. Turning the knob up enhances transients, as well as sustain pulling the knob back will have a gating type of effect that diminishes transients and shortens sustain.
Drum Buss seems to be most effective when using all of the parameters in conjunction. As the processing can be very heavy, it’s a good rule of thumb to mix the effect in with a Dry/Wet mix amount. Its great not just on drums, it also favours other instruments like vocals, synths, guitar and pads.
That concludes this portion on Advanced tips with Ableton, Tune in next week for more in-depth tutorials and advanced production tips.