How to Make a Kick Drum From a Sine Wave 2022


Sounds are dynamic and can be made using any sorts of samples or synthesis methods. This tutorial uses a sinewave to design a kick drum. It is easiest to use a synthesizer with a pure sine tone, such as Operator in Ableton Live, however the principles used can be applied with any synthesizer or digital audio workstation.

Similar topics were more prolific before the advent of easy-to-find samples, going as far back as 2002, but the principles remain the same even with modern software.

This tutorial uses a method simpler than the ones presented in the article, with only a midi trigger, a sine oscillator (VCO), and a low pass filter (LPF), each with an envelope generator (AR contour generator).


1Create a new project and add an instance of the Operator preset"Sine Waveform"under"Components"  to a midi channel. Additionally, adding a Spectrum Analyzer helps visualize the sound.

2Create a midi pattern with evenly spaced notes to automatically play while designing the sound. It is a good idea to know the key of the song you are making the kick for and choose a root note in that will be in tune with the other elements.

3Adjust the pitch envelope. Once there is a tone playing at a steady interval, the pitch envelope can be adjusted to mimic the"thud"of a kick drum. Make sure that the envelope is active (the square should be blue) and is affecting operator A in the"Dest. A"setting. Adjusting the envelope is a matter of taste and will vary depending on the desired sound, but 18 to 24 semitones above the root note for the"Initial"and the"Peak"is a good place to start. The"Sustain"and"End"pitches can also be adjusted, but be careful not to deviate too far from the root note.

4Activate the filter once the desired results from the pitch envelope are achieved from the pitch envelope settings. Use the dropdown menu and select the low pass filter. Adjust the frequency and resonance to bring out the desired sound. The filter envelope can also be adjusted, but the frequency and resonance will affect the sound most dramatically.

5Add effects. Lastly, effects such as EQ and compression can be added, but the most effective way to shape the sound is to design it appropriately from the beginning. A limiter is still a good idea to normalize the sound and add some"punch."Make sure not push the limiter beyond 3 to 6 dB of reduction, indicated by the meter.