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Cymbal swell?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Toronto Bassist, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. Toronto Bassist

    Toronto Bassist

    Jan 9, 2008
    So based on another thread I posted (and thanks to forumites here for their suggestions), I decided on using Toontracks EZDrummer, which is pretty cool so far. One thing, however, is that there doesn't seem to be any way to do a cymbal swell. I check some of the pdf's and even the Toontrack forums, but no real luck. Putting in something like a bunch of 32nd notes with a rise in volume gets the predictable result of each cymbal attack being audible instead of a smooth swell. Is there maybe a vst out there that can do this effect? Should I have settled on a different program?
  2. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    The cymbal samples in most virtual kits have a nice, sticky, attack-y sound. They sound like well-articulated cymbal strikes on mid-bow. Drummers don't roll and swell with well-articulated hits, however. Most that I've seen tend to swell using sidestick hits right on the edge of the cymbal. It's hard to recreate this, seeing as we don't have samples of those kinds of hits, but you can fudge the stick sound in the mix a little bit if you really need to.

    First, the further a mic is from the source, the less powerful transients and attacks are. Luckily for us, EZ has a set of room mics that are quite a bit further away than the O/H mics. Rely on the room mics if you want washy cymbals, rely on the O/H if you want attack. We want wash, so you might just want to mute the O/H to see if that works for you.

    Second, you can mellow out the intensity of the attack and increase wash with some compression. A compressor with the attack set really quick will grab that stick sound and clamp down on it, then you set the release so the compressor lets go when the sustain begins. A lot of gain reduction and compensation will make for a REALLY over-emphasized sustain period.

    Last, you can sweep a parametric EQ to find the most prominent frequency of the stick attack, then pull it out. Throw your swell on loop, put a para EQ on the track, put a band up 6 or 9dB, and sweep the frequency until you find the one that really clanks on the stick attack. Pull the gain down until the stick becomes unobtrusive. I don't like doing this, because you can lose other pretty stuff happening in that frequency range of the cymbal, but if you must, you must.

    If you want to get really crazy, you can set up a sidechain compressor that triggers off of the frequency you found on the parametric EQ. This is basically the same thing as a de-esser, but for stick sounds instead of sibilant esses.

    If you just need a swell-like effect and don't really mind if it sounds unrealistic, you can take one of the samples you already have (something with a big, washy sustain off of a hard initial hit), and throw it in reverse. It'll still swell, but it'll sound rather odd in comparison to a real swell.
  3. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Many orchestra sample libs have swells.
    The Garritan libs have a good swell. You use the mod wheel to adjust the swell playing live. Same for snare and some other rolls that shift sound when playing louder.
  4. I've got a bunch of recorded swell's if you are interested. I use BFD2 and adding my recorded swells works best. Let me know if you are interested.

  5. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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