Big Kick by PlugInBoutique
“As many of you will already know, the trick to making a good kick is to layer drum samples together.” – Rob Jones (Plugin Boutique)
One of the most important aspects (if not THE most important part) of any electronic piece of music is the good old kick drum. For decades, producers of all genre’s have spent countless hours sculpting and fine tuning this particular instrument to meet the needs of their finest creations. Get it right, and you will be praised by many for your glorious bottom end. Get it wrong, and you could find yourself introducing your fist to the computer screen in front of you. All in all, the kick drum is what drives your track through out the duration of its existence and gives your bass instrument a partner in crime when it comes to violating audio systems across the world.
Plugin Boutique – an online retailer of the world’s most respected software instruments – have decided to release an instrument of their own. Rather then diving into some complex, multi oscillator, mega death synth machine, they opted for a less complicated music production solution by addressing the area of the kick drum. An area that until now, has been occupied by sound designer and sample pack distributors. Since we’ve created a rhythm generation program – Liquid Rhythm – it only made sense for us to try out this new tool and start pumping out new bass drum rhythms.
For me, GUI design is everything. If the controls of a particular software are too close together or if there is an overwhelming amount of functionality, my excitement and interest starts to turn green with frustration. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Big Kick though. The colour design and layout are easy to navigate, and the basic controls make me feel right at home with the types of adjustments you would find on a traditional drum machine or sampler (Attack, Decay, Pitch etc.). The waveform display is a great way to visualize your Kick and you can even see the changes happening to your sample as you make adjustments. If you are happy with the sample you created you can click and hold on the waveform display and drag the audio to an audio track, or into a sampler of your choice.
Cycling through samples is a breeze and the preset library is neatly organized. A refreshing change to constantly cycling through sample folders on your hard drive to find the kick you want. Building on the library point, you can even create folders and import your own samples for safe keep which means all of your favourite kicks can be accessed through Big Kick for further tonal shaping and processing! NICE!
Big Kick has two main areas when it comes to working on kick drum sounds. There is the “ATTACK” area at the top which allows you to add samples for layering, and the “BODY” section below it which acts as a synth engine for creating your own kick sounds. Both of these areas can be toggled on and off if you want to fine tune the elements on their own. Which ever way you choose to use it, Big Kick will become your go too Plug In each time you start up a new project.
Each time I load up Big Kick i usually turn the Attack section off as I like to work on the body of my kicks first. This allows me to address the low end with my bass instruments to make sure things are sitting nicely. When I am happy with my settings, I turn the ATTACK section back on to add in a layered sample to give the kick drum some more presence. While designing my kick drum in the Body section, I almost always take advantage the “NOTE” feature located just above the “END” knob. This area allows you to to set a specific note value for your kick drum so you can set the key of your track. This small but effective feature makes it much more easier when it comes time to add more instruments to your production and allows you to keep everything in key.
• Kick drum synthesis — can replicate the majority of today’s and yesterday’s kick sounds*.
• Factory library includes 300+ attack types and 110 presets
• Tuned kick drums
• Easily integrates with your existing sample libraries
• Easier to use than any previous kick drum design tool
• Drag-and-drop sample creation
• Auto-play mode for instant start and jamming
• No phase shift free sound shaping
• High pass filter again, phase shift free, avoid nasty surprises in the bottom end.
Overall, this small but extremely effective plug in has won my heart. It has addressed so many issues that I’ve had before (and dreaded) when it came to kick drum processing. Not only does Big Kick speed up my workflow, but it allows me to create new layers and tones all in one place. The sample library is an added bonus and the onboard preset samples offer more samples then you will ever need, and cover a number of genres from house to rock. For their first plugin, Plugin Boutique have definitely addressed a common issue that many of us producers have and created an exceptional solution for it. It’s simple, elegant, and extremely effective. You’d be silly not to pick this up!
Review by: Markos Polydorou