Modulation is Key

Rhythmic Modulation

To start lets talk about the failing point of a lot of electronic music. That is the lack of humanization and groove. a 4/4 beat with everything on the grid gets really repetitive. To add a realistic point and a more engaging sound you should modulate your drums. This can be achieved by having some notes, like high hats, hit louder and softer at points to create motion. Also having the rhythm change up once an while is really import as well. A simple thing like a fill goes a long way.

Some tips to create this modulation can be to also add a little LFO that comes and goes on an element or a subtle phaser to make it sound like the tone is changing a little.

Also having more then one sample to go back and forth from helps a lot as well.

Put some Verb on it!

Lexicon VintagePlate Verb

If you are using sample hits or a drum kit to make your groove it is really important to use a good verb on the final drum channel. This will help glue the sounds together and make them sound like they were recorded in the same room. I use Lexicon Reverbs for this. I often use the drum room or a wooden room sound.

Compress it and Crunch it

Ozone Izotope screenshot
The last step I take in my drum channel is a nice compression. Or sometimes a bad compression. You can really make your drums glue together by adding a little grit. Best program I have seen out there is Izotope Trash. You have to buy it, but it is a really solid and nice VST.

A good free alternative that adds some nice crunch is Sumo. It can also be used to color other things like bass to give a good crush.

Another amazing tool is by Brainworx. Their Bx_Boom plug in is a really simple way to add a nice crunch to your kick.

In short…

If you are building your own grooves for electronic music then following these simple steps will go a long way. Modulate it, verb it, and crush it. This will give you a realistic and fitting drum mix.