7 Ways To Improve Your Drops

Music Production Tips: 7 Ways To Improve Your Drops!

Ever wondered why your drop lacks the punch that your reference tracks have? Or why it just doesn’t stand out from the rest of your track as much as you’d like? Well fear not. this is one of the most common issues for music producers of all genres and in this blog entry I intend to offer you some helpful methods to help make your drops sound bigger, more interesting and generally just better!

Remember, I am also available for one-to-one music production tuition at DJ Gym Oxford, UK but also online! You can learn with me from anywhere in the world. Just contact us to arrange a lesson.

Please note that some of these methods will work better for certain genres than others but with that being said let’s get into the good stuff!

1. Layer Your Drums

Whether it’s kicks, snares or whatever you’re planning to put in your drop - layering drums is a massive way to help add weight to your music. Take the kick drum for example. We can break the kick down into three layers. The sub layer (that is the layer consisting of the lowest frequencies and therefore the layer we ‘feel’ during playback); the mid layer (the body of the kick) and then the top layer (the high frequency click sound that will help the mix cut through). By breaking down the kick into these layers we can gain further control over the frequency range that the kick will cover, and by covering a larger frequency range, the kick will sound bigger. This technique can be applied to other drums too, for example the snares.

Here you can see my Kick is divided into three layers: Sub, Main and Top. Here I am working on Logic Pro X.

2. Automate The Gain Of Your Buildups

Maybe the easiest way to make your drop hit harder is to make it the loudest part of your track - I know who would have thought it?
To do this what you need to do is get a gain plugin (I suggest using this over just automating the master output level) and put it on the master. From there, reduce the gain of your verses, buildups etc. (for example to -3dB) and then have your drops hit at -0.1dB on the gain plugin using automation. This technique is used a lot in EDM so if you want to give it a go be my guest - you won’t regret it!

Here I have automated the gain so the buildup is at -3dB and the drop hits at -0.1dB.

3. Reverse Reverbs In-Between Phrases

Do you sometimes find that your drops seem a little empty? Well, one way to fill up this space is by automating your reverb on the lead channel. This method has become increasingly popular and I’ll explain briefly how to do it.
Firstly, you need to have a reverb on the channel you want to use. Then, you need to set the parameters of your reverb to the desired settings you would like - bear in mind that the reverb needs to be long enough for us to automate it!
Once you are happy with the parameters, all you need to do is automate either the reverb volume, or the mix (sometimes labelled Dry/Wet), so that when the melody stops playing you can then increase the mix/volume in that gap between the phrases. Remember then to automate the mix/volume back down once the melody starts playing again - just to keep your mix nice and clean.

4. Add Fills

Following on from the drum layering, it can also be worth exploring different fill options for your drops. We often deploy fills as a way to keep the drops interesting and in turn maintain our listener’s attention. We often use at the end of 4 to 8 bar phrases. There are lots of different ways to go about making fills and if you want to have a go at making one quickly why not try out the following?
Take the kick out of your drums for the last bar of an 8 bar phrase, and leave the melody and bass in. Then re-introduce the kick at the start of the next 8 bar phrase and leave the drums in for the duration of the drop.

5. Add Extra Percussion Hits

You may have noticed a trend here - and that is that maintaining interest is key. Another way of doing this is by adding different drum hits throughout your original drum loop. Not only will this make your drop more interesting, but it will also give you a unique drum-beat and help keep the rhythm nice and groovy. For example, on the 4th clap of every 2 bar phrase, add another clap with more reverb; or add a hi-hat and shaker every 1/2 beat after the original 8 bar phrase. Never be afraid to add extra percussive sounds - just make sure they fall in the right place!

6. Use White Noise And Exhausts

When looking at making drops bigger, one of the first suggestions I make is to add more white noise effects. Whether it be simple noise stabs (usually around 1/2 a beat in length) or full on exhaust one shots, I find that white noise can really help make the drop stand out. I would highly recommend giving this a go.

7. Add A Riser In The Second Half

As well making a drop stand out, it is also important to try as best as you can to keep the energy going. How can you do this I hear you ask? Well, as well as introducing extra percussion and hats/rides etc. as previously mentioned in point 5, we can also add a riser in the second half of our drop. Not only will this provide variation to help keep our drop interesting, it will also provide that extra energy we desperately need!

There you have it. Here are 7 ways to help improve your drops. I hope you enjoyed reading this entry and feel free to give these a go yourself and let me know how you got on.

Have a great day!

Learn How To Produce With Paul

If you would like to learn how to produce with the author of this article you can! Sign up for one-to-one music production classes with Paul in his Oxford studio or contact us to arrange one-to-one online lessons!

Paul Dempsey


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