Gates, Signal Generators, and Drums

Creative Use of Gates and Signal Generators on Drums

In this pair of videos we go over a rather fun and creative trick. We use a kick drum track to trigger a sine wave in a signal generator to beef up the low end of the kick. Then we take a snare track and use it to trigger white noise in the signal generator to supplement the snare. 

From this point, we have a lot of flexibility and creative possibilities. We can use the sine wave just as a low end supplement, we can use it a bit more prominent like in an 808 drum sound. We could distort or do any number of processing on both the sine wave and kick. 

With the snare we could use the white noise as a fake cymbal, a bottom snare mic simulation, help the snare attack, or as an effect of its own. 

The Process

This is all based on very specific routing. It is pretty simple if you are comfortable and familiar with the terminology and how to get around the routing in Pro Tools. We are taking a kick drum routed out of a VI (BFD3 in this scenario) and routing it into an aux track. On this aux track, you will setup a mono buss send. 

Then you will create another aux track (stereo in this scenario). On this track you will insert a signal generator followed by a gate. Then on the gate, you will set the key input to accept the buss send on the previous aux track.

On the signal generator, you will turn on the sine wave (set it to 60Hz in this scenario)

When the gate is properly setup, The signal generator will not be able to pass through the gate. The key input on the gate will be triggered by the send on the preceding aux track to open and close it.  

You can then route these 2 tracks (kick drum and the sine wave) into an aux track for "single fader" control and the ability to do processing. You could also group them and process-route them individually, or any number of different ways. The preference is up to you. 

In the pictures below, I am showing the gate settings for the kick on the top and the snare below it. 

kick gate and signal generator settings
Snare gate and signal generator

To Wrap it Up

There are 2 videos included. The first video we go over the settings and routing details. In the second video we go over the audio examples and experimenting with gate settings and processing experimentation. 

Have fun and experiment! 

Video 1

Video 2


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