To get better results drum layering can be a little more complex than just playing two or three sounds at the same time. Here are 5 quick tips that will help you improve your drum layering skills.
When layering the drum samples sometimes it´s more convenient to just take the attack, decay, sustain or release of certain samples. Let´s say you really like the attack of Kick 1 and the decay, sustain and release of Kick 2, but when you just layer them together it doesn´t sound right or like you thought it would sound. So what you do is edit the envelope of both samples; cut off the decay, sustain and release of Kick 1 so you only got the attack left and cut off the attack of Kick 2 so you only got the sustain and release left. Now layer them. There are limitless possibilities with this technique (you can get attack, decay, sustain and release of four different samples, you can layer that again with other samples etc etc) so use your ears and be creative.
Always check the phase relationships between samples you’re layering. One way to do that is put an EQ plugin on one of the samples and simply just press the phase button and listen if it sounds better with or without the phase button pressed. When layering more than two samples make sure you start with just one sample and mute the other ones. Then unmute and check the phase of the samples one by one.
3. Time shifting
Sometimes when you play two samples exactly at the same time it just doesn’t sound right, but when you timeshift one them a few samples it suddenly sounds great. So always play around with shifting the sample back and forth till it sounds right to you.
Another technique that can help when you layering samples is filtering out certain frequency bands of certain samples. For example you like the bottom of Kick 1 and higher and mid frequencies of Kick 2. Just filter out everything above around let’s say 200hz on Kick 1 and everything below around 200hz on Kick 2. This is just a starting point, play around with it till you get it right.
5. Kicks and Toms
Sometimes when you want a “big” sounding kick it sounds dope to layer your kick with a low tom.
All of these techniques are just starting points to help you improve your drum sample layering. Play around with it, use your ears and be creative!