Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Big Bottom Kick Drum


Need to fatten up the bottom end of an existing bass drum track? This method DOES NOT rely on using EQ to boost the bottom end of the kick. It DOES NOT require you to purchase a new plugin. Everything you need is available in most versions of Pro Tools.


How To Add Bottom End To A Kick Drum Track:

  1. Create a new mono aux input track (press and hold Ctrl then SHIFT + n). Name it "Kick Sub" and position it below your Kick track within the Edit window. If you use a dedicated Drum bus you may want to route the output of this track to it.
  2. Lower the volume fader of the new kick Sub track to 15.
  3. Press the solo (S) button on both the kick and Kick Sub tracks.
  4. Insert the Pro Tools "Signal Generator" on the new aux input track you created. The signal generator is located in plug-in > Other > Signal Generator (mono).

Pro Tools Signal Generator

  1. Drag the FREQUENCY slider to the left stopping at 50 Hz. You can also left click inside the FREQUENCY box and type 50. Can you hear the 50 Hz tone? If not, slowly turn up the volume fader of the Kick Sub track. Still can't hear it?? You may need to buy better quality headphones or monitor speakers that are capable of reproducing a 50 Hz tone.
  2. Raise the volume fader of the new kick Sub track to 0.
  3. Insert a D3 EXPANDER / GATE (included with Pro Tools) on the Kick Sub track AFTER the Signal Generator (in the Edit window).
  4. Decrease the ATTACK time to it's fastest (turn the ATTACK control fully counter clockwise).
  5. Enable the EXPANDER / GATE "side chain":
    • Left click on the small key to the right of the word SIDE-CHAIN in the side chain section. I've circled it in red in the image below. It should turn blue when enabled.

      Pro Tools Signal Generator

    • Left click on the dropdown arrow to the right of the small key toward the top left side of the EXPANDER / GATE plug-in. Outlined in red in the image below.

      Pro Tools D3 Expander Gate Side Chain

    • Left click on an unused bus to select it from the menu. An unused bus will be shown in white text. For this tutorial we used Bus 26. Any unused bus can be utilized.

      Pro Tools Bus Menu

  6. Create a send on the kick / bass drum track and choose to send to the same bus you selected in the previous step. We used Bus 26 for this tutorial. The send should be set to 0.
  7. Press the play button (green arrow) on the Pro Tools Transport and listen to the combination of both the Kick and Kick Sub tracks.

Lower the volume fader of the kick Sub track then slowly raise it to blend the level of the kick sub track with the kick track. Use the solo button on the Kick Sub track to listen to the sound of the kicks both with and without the added low end of the Kick Sub Track. Experiment, listen, test on different listening devices.

Quick Overview

The EXPANDER / GATE should now open every time the kick drum hits. When the EXPANDER / GATE opens it will let the 50 Hz tone of the Signal Generator through.

We determine how long the 50 Hz tone is audible by adjusting the HOLD and RELEASE parameters of the EXPANDER / GATE. Adjusting the HOLD and RELEASE times will enable you to sync the sound of the 50 Hz tone with the kick drum. It's the 50 Hz tone that adds the bottom end to the kick drum sound.


  • Experiment with the THRESH (threshold) setting. The EXPANDER / GATE should fully open each time the kick hits. You will know the EXPANDER / GATE is fully opening if the GR (gain reduction) meter level (yellow line) moves upward to the top of it's travel with each kick hit.
  • Experiment with the RELEASE setting. A slower setting lets more of the 50 Hz tone through creating a longer sustaining low end Kick Sub. Set a faster release time (turn the RELEASE control to the left) for a shorter, punchy sound.
  • If you don't seem to get enough bottom end from the Kick Sub track increase the LEVEL on the signal generator plug-in.
  • Not getting any added bottom end using this method?? Make sure you are using the same unused bus on the:
    • Send from the kick drum
    • The key input of the EXPANDER / GATE
  • Ensure the SIDE-CHAIN of the EXPANDER / GATE is enabled (blue)
  • The kick track send should be set to 0.
  • Clean the kick drum track using Pro Tools Strip Silence if the gate is triggered and opening with drums also recorded (bleed) on the kick drum track.

NOTE: If the release setting is to fast you may hear unwanted noise (distortion) from the sub kick track with each kick hit.

You can experiment with the frequency the tone generator is set to. If you choose a frequency that is to low some speakers, headphones, earbuds will NOT be able to reproduce the frequency. Choose a frequency that is to high and it could compete with the sound of the bass guitar.