So, we’ve been working on a little industrial tune lately. Everything is pretty much finished, except the drums sound a little dry and plain in their current state – time to change that! For this we reach for a real ‘Swiss Army Knife’ kind of plugin: the saturation and dynamics shaper Grasso! Grasso provides various tools for in-depth tone shaping, and goes far beyond your usual compressor or saturator. We will use it to add more bite and strength to our drums, as well as giving them more depth and space. So, without further ado, let’s get to it!

Industrial Standard

We kick things off by opening an instance of Grasso on the drum bus. The first thing we do after that is to increase the (input) GAIN to about ten o’clock and turning up the BODY-control just a tiny bit, to a value of ten. Next up is the PRE-EQ-section, where we do some general tone shaping. A strong boost of 6dB at 50Hz lends the drums some deep low end energy, while a small dip at around 2kHz takes out unnecessary boxyness.

The COLOR-control does just that: color the source signal. We set it to two o’clock, for we don’t want the effect to be overtly obvious. We then set TIME to 0, and choose the DRIVE B-algorithm from the drop-down menu below. What comes next is the dynamics section. The ATTACK-time is set to maximum in our case, because we want to preserve all the transients of the drums. We also set SNAP to 100. The RELEASE-time should be rather high, around two o’clock, to pronounce the tail of the individual hits, and to bring out some of the ambience.

Setting the SPANK-knob to 100 will bring out the hits and their tails even more. Since the overall loudness of the source signal has increased we lower the (output) VOLUME to compensate for that. Finally, we also lower the POWER-control a bit. This control is pretty special and peculiar, since it emulates a virtual power supply: the more you turn it to the left, the more the sound gets unpredictable and edgy. Used with care, as in our case, it can bring some subtle roughness to the audio.

The interface of Grasso should now look something like this:

Grasso Industrial Drums Interface

The Result

Time to do an A/B comparison. Here’s what the drums sounded before our session:

And here’s what the track sounds like with Grasso engaged:

You can download the preset for Grasso here: Grasso Industrial Drums Preset.FXP