I recently got a request for doing an article on “filters on samples”.
To be honest my filtering on samples is pretty basic but I will let you know what I do.
Every sample is different so there is no one way of filtering. Like everything else I do I always filter to be in service of the beat/song and not just to filter. Sometimes I don’t even use any filters at all.
But here is how I often use filters:
1. High Pass Filter (HPF)
I mostly use High Pass Filters when I sample a part of a full song. Let’s say I sample a part of an old soul joint where you hear a lot of instruments playing at the same time (Drums, bass, guitar, strings etc), then I probably want to filter out most of the kick and the bass to make room for my own drums and bass. I usually cut off around 100-200hz but that really depends on the sample, this is just a starting point. Sometimes I divide samples in multiple frequency bands but I will get to that in a little bit.
I also often use a HPF on kick samples in order to make them work with the bass. A lot of these digital kick samples got way too much bottom that just sits in the way of the bass. So I usually cut around 50hz on kick samples. Again this is a starting point, use your ears. And you don’t always need to do this on the kick, just listen to what sounds right and what works for the song.
Also I use HPF’s on snare’s, hihats, vocals etc to keep a lot room open for the kick and bass.
2. Low Pass Filter (LPF)
Again when I sample a part of a full song I often use a Low Pass Filter, especially when I pitched a sample up. Usually I will cut around 5Khz but of course this depends on how that sample sounds, what I think it needs and how I want it to work together with the other instruments/sounds in the song.
Sometimes I like to use a LPF to eliminate hiss or noise. Mostly I will start cutting off at 20Khz and then slowly move the cut off frequency down till the hiss or noise is gone without affecting the rest of the sound too much. This counts for every filter; always start at certain cut off frequency and then slowly move around till it sounds the way you want.
A cool effect you can create with LPF’s is to make stuff sound like it’s playing in the next room or that you are standing outside the club and the music is playing inside the club. Try to put a LPF on your master bus, cut off around 150hz and boost the low end a bit. You hear what happens?
3. Frequency Bands
Sometimes I like to divide a sample in multiple frequency bands. For example in case I want to threat the bass different than the rest of the sample. What I do is duplicate the signal (duplicate the channel where the sample is on) and put a LPF on signal 1 cutting off above around 150hz. On signal 2 I put a HPF cutting off below around 150hz. Then I usually pan the low freq signal (signal 1) to the center and put a compressor and RBass plugin on it to give it more bottom.
You can also use this technique to divide the signal in more than two frequency bands, maybe you want four or five different frequency bands to have full control over the sample.
The possibilities are endless. Be creative!