How to make your 808s sound great – Five Steps for Success

How to make your 808's sound great

Are you tired of guessing how to make your 808’s sound great? Then you’ve come to the right place. In this article I will give 5 essential steps for mixing down 808’s in a trap track. Apply these 5 simple rules and your trap 808’s will go from amateur to pro! The first two rules create the right basis. The last three will teach you how to make your 808s sound great!

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Step #1 – Select the right key and 808 to make it sound great

This is the absolute basis of the basis of producing a track in general.

When starting a new track, choose a key and make the instruments fit into that key. (Here’s a blog about that)

Nothing can ruin your mix more if your sounds are not all in the same key.

Make sure to have pre pitched 808s available to you.

That way you never can go wrong if you know the key in which you are producing.

Step #2 NEVER, EVER let your 808 overlap itself.

Something that can happen especially if your using a piano roll to program your 808’s.

Making the 808’s overlap it self.

That means that one 808 note hasn’t stop playing yet, and the next note already starts.

When two notes (and especially 808’s) are starting to overlap each other, they will distort in the mix.

Wrong

Good

Step #3 – Make your 808 audible to make your 808 sound great

In trap the 808 is probably the genre defining element.

A lot of producers don’t process the 808 at all which is a big mistake.

Lots of unprocessed 808s aren’t audible on anything but a subwoofer.

Why?

Because the frequencies are centered around 40/50 Hz, and those frequencies can only be produced by sub woofers.

The easiest way to fix this is to use a saturation plugin.

A saturation plugins adds frequencies to the mix.

There are plenty good, free saturation plugins available on the web. (Bedroom producers blog made a great list)

Use the saturation to add frequencies around the 200/300 Hz area. That will make the 808’s audible on most speakers.

Using saturation on a 808 to make it sound great

Before Saturation

Using saturation on a 808 to make it sound great - After

After Saturation

Step #4: Keep your 808 down.

I know this sounds unnatural, but you don’t want your 808 to be the loudest instrument in your mix.

If you have your 808 too loud in the mix, you’ll find that it overpowers your mix as a whole.

Your mix will sound distorted and messy.

To fix this, you want to keep the 808 volume down.

A good reference is to mix down your drums (top kicks, claps, snares and percussion) down first, and softly bring up the 808 in volume.

Try to find the sweet spot.

In this case that means that 808 is audible, but not overpowering the mix.

Mixing an 808 slowly in to make it sound great in the mix

Step #5: Always use a top kick on the 808

An 808 is a drum that almost consists of only bass frequencies.

If you used step 1,2,3 and 4 the right way, your 808 is now audible and sounds pleasantly in the ears.

A great finishing touch is to use a top kick.

A top kick is a kick used to layer on top of bass sounds to give some extra punch.

Because the 808 is so bass heavy already, an ideal top kick in this scenario contains no or almost no bass.

If you find a top kick that you like, and it still contains bass, make sure to apply a high pass filter by at least 200/300 Hz, and preferably even further.

Then use the same technique as you’ve used in rule 2.

But now, let only the 808 play and gently mix in the top kick.

If you are looking for free top kicks by the way.

The Producers Jumpstart free sample pack has 25 great top kicks.

Conclusion

If you’ve followed these five steps you’ll have a great sounding 808. If you want to have a set of great sounding 808’s make to sure to check out the Producers Jumpstart Boom Trap sample pack. The 808s in that pack are pre pitched and processed with saturation to make them sound great.

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