Transients, impacts, smack sounds, hard hits, clicks

I am working on some white noise snares … added pink noise, even a little green noise but whats missing is the hard hitting transient at the start of that snare. No matter how low you turn down the attack you cannot generate that classic snare first impact transient.

I tried to create this by making oscillators go into the clicking mode you get from too much resonance and gain, but I can’t create this noise on demand when I need it i.e. exactly at the start of the snare.

Ideas appreciated, thank you!

Have you tried scoping/frequency analyzing a sample of the sound you’re aiming for, to gain any insight?

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Patman, thanks for the quick reply. Yes I have scoped it out and it looks like your typical transient… (time vs. amplitude) and its got nothing special about it. i just have an issue replicating it in VCV. I read this and tried to create my own

I’m looking for the “short pitched tone with sharp attack with a burst of noise” mentioned in the write up. I can’t seem to sort out the adsr to get that first hit, i came close with the VULT envelope in hard mode but still no classic ‘crack’ at the start.

In terms of comparing A vs B though?

Also, holding Control while you adjust your ADSR (or DAHD, or whatever envelope you use) gives you even finer control over parameters. That might be the edge you need.

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Very interesting!

To help a noob out, what is the most basic procedure to make a hard snap or click sound?

  1. Oscillator setting
  2. ADSR setup
  3. Filter setup

Learning a ton as I go however damn its almost Monday again and my fun research gets turned into work research that isn’t nearly as fun.

I don’t think I really understand your problem, but my method to make some synth snares is to add parallel to the white noise a simple sine with the same envelope as the noise. The envelope is just fast attack and medium decay and both the noise and the oscillator go through some filters.

Like this:

Changing the different elements of the patch the sound can be controlled either via the noise generator, the sine pitch, the filters or the amplitude.

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Vult’s Slap envelope has a “hard” selection that is super fast. When applied to normal oscillators at min attack time it produces a digital click/blip. I assume Vult’s Spank is similar but I haven’t used it yet.


thanks for the feedback guys. i did get the audible click also from the hard mode especially w attack at minimum.

i was watching an interview with Dan Wahlbeck the synth guru he clearly states that you need to explore the clipping action of a signal (i.e. level limiters) that put a hard wall or in DPW’s case a rounded stop to the signal that creates a nice transient.

and then to fill out the back end Gortz Ozolins of Erica Synths not only let the cat out of the bag that you need wavetable oscillating to get drum sounds but the Kodec put on a short demo that’s got some of the best non sampled (i assume?) Amen break drums i’ve ever heard in modular.

So. what do you recommend for a wavetable oscillator in vcv rack? and what’s the best way to capture the hard clipping as a transient?

like does a certain secret wave shape make for a great snare body sound and a clipped wave the attacking transient?

VCV rack got some good mentions on Sonic State but they were more saying it was for hardcore guys and the new stuff from softube or who ever was easier cause it had amazing instructions. Lame! VCV is obviously the king of virtual modular. ask anyone who uses all three. Nothing gives you the experience of VCV.

one more thing on this hard hits. Dave Mech on youtube talking about the best rules for digitakt brought up another great idea. use an LFO to change the white noise at the start of the hit so that it has a lot of bit crushing for that first attack. then have a fast slope down on your lfo wave and envelope it down fast with no sustain and quick release. use a saw tooth as the wave form so it’s 100% spiking on first

Not sure about the drum component, but @synthi’s NYSTHI::SevenSeas is amazeballs levels of powerful as a wavetable oscillator.

and while SevenSeas might (currently) be a module with only changelog documentation, we’re working on it (and the rest of them as well)!


You don’t need to use wavetables to make drums. The 808, for instance, is an analog synth and all of its sounds are made with oscillators, filters, noise, and ring modulation for the cymbals. Likewise, you could explore wave shapers, wave folders, and distortions to get different sorts of clipping behavior that you can then use to make interesting transients for your drum sounds.

One flexible approach to synthesized drum sounds is with four FM operators in two parallel chains. A modulates B with a fast envelope and high mod index to get a clicky sound, and C modulates D with slower envelopes to get a resonance.

Incidentally, I’m quite sure the Amen breaks are in that video are either a sampled loop or a drum sampler. You are definitely correct that that performance is dope as hell.

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