Meer Power
Boring synth stuff

Making Your Own Cheesy Robot Drums

A lot of people use drum machine samples for drums in their music (TR-909, 808…) and stress out because their 808 kicks aren’t phat enough and stuff. But really (really!), everyone has heard these sounds, and it might be fun to make your own new and unique drum cheese sounds. If being new and unique scares you, feel free to keep searching for the phattest 808’s evar.

Making your own cheesy drum machine sounds is easy, and you can use pretty much any synthesizer if you have a grasp of how it works. Pitch envelopes are used a lot to make drum sounds, so a synth with nice envelopes will be good. I’m going to use Sytrus, because that’s what I use for everything and its envelopes are amazing.  Let’s break from the usual large blocks of rambling text and break this up into sections on each drum sound. Looking at the waveforms of drum sounds and their frequency spectrums is useful to figure out what’s going on.

Bass Drums

A bass drum sound is just a low-pitched ‘peeeww’ sound. A sine wave quickly descending in pitch pretty much does it. Messing with waveforms and filters and stuff will change the sound, as will the slope of the envelope and stuff.

Snare Drums

Snare drums are trickier to make, but they’re pretty much made of just two parts. One ‘peew’ sound, higher pitched than a bass drum, is layered on top of a ‘pshht’ white noise sound, both of them quickly decaying in volume. Filtering the white noise is helpful, but generally a nice snare sound takes a million years of tweaking to make.

Clap Sounds

I hate drum machine clap sounds, but they’re interesting if you look at their waveforms. Claps are pretty much the same as snares, but they’re all stuttery, which makes them sound ‘clappy’. White noise with a stuttery volume envelope will make a pretty clap-esque sound, and it can be useful to put sounds like this in snares and stuff.

Hi hats

Hi hats are pretty much just white noise with a really quickly decaying volume envelope and some filtering. Open hi hats decay a lot slower and might need some tweaking with an envelope on the filter’s cutoff frequency.

If you try this out, the sounds you make will probably sound dumb, but that’s the entire point. A whole bunch of distortion will make them sound uber haaaardcore, so don’t worry too much about it.

A look at some cheesy drum sounds

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One Response to “Making Your Own Cheesy Robot Drums”

  1. I remember trying this out with my MicroKorg when I first got it. But I never knew about the clap. Maybe I’ll try that out.


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