Create the Classic 80s Drum Sound with Gated Reverb

Have you ever wondered what gives that iconic 80s drum sound its distinctiveness? It’s called Gated Reverb, and in this article, we’ll teach you how to create it.

What Is Gated Reverb?

Gated reverb works by applying a generous amount of reverb to an audio track and then abruptly cutting off the reverb using a noise gate. While commonly used on snare recordings, it can also be applied to other instruments like toms, kicks, and more. Unlike traditional reverb, gated reverb provides less sustain, allowing you to maintain a clean mix while still preserving the punch and spaciousness of your drums.

To better understand the effect we’re trying to achieve, let’s watch a video where Phil Collins explains the iconic Gated Reverb sound:

Phil Collins explains Gated Reverb

Now that we have a grasp of the effect, let’s dive into the process of creating gated reverb.

How to Create Gated Reverb

Step 1: Open a New or Existing Session in Your DAW of Choice

To get started, open a new or existing session in your preferred Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Whether you have a full multitrack session or just a single audio or MIDI drum track, you’re good to go.

For our example, we’ll be using a pre-made Logic Pro Dry Drums Multitrack Session. This template includes 13 different drum tracks with pre-applied effects and buses, making it a great starting point for learning. If you don’t have the means to record a full drum kit or simply want a quick way to get started, check out the template!

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Logic Pro Dry Drums Multitrack Session

Step 2: Add Reverb to the Snare

Since the snare drum is the most popular instrument for gated reverb, let’s start there.

Once you have a prepared snare track, open up your DAW’s mixer. Locate the snare track within the mixer and add a reverb audio effect. You can use Logic’s ChromaVerb or any other reverb plugin of your choice.

Reverb Effects

For now, set the wetness to 100% and the dryness to 0%. This will exaggerate the reverb effect and help us hear the gated reverb sound we’re aiming for. We’ll adjust these settings later to fit in our mix.

Step 3: Gate the Reverb

Next, apply a noise gate audio effect to the snare track. Remember, the gate is used to cut off the audio and reverb at a certain threshold.

In Logic, go to Dynamics and select the Noise Gate plugin.

Gated Reverb: Create the Classic 80s Drum Sound

Congratulations! You’ve technically created your first Gated Reverb.

Step 4: Blend It All Together

Now that we have all the effects needed to achieve gated reverb, it’s time for the fun part: mixing.

Within the Noise Gate and Reverb plugin settings, there are a few key settings to pay attention to. Keep in mind that every snare recording and mix will be slightly different, so feel free to experiment and get creative with these settings.

Reverb Settings

  • Dryness
  • Wetness

Noise Gate Settings

  • Threshold
  • Reduction
  • Attack
  • Hold
  • Release

Interested in a Professionally Made 80s Sounding Drum Bundle?

If you’re looking for a professionally made 80s sounding drum bundle, look no further. ProgramMatek offers the 80s & 90s Drum Pack, a collection loaded with authentic 80s grooves in both MIDI and Audio formats. With this pack, you’ll have everything you need to start creating your next 80s inspired hit.

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Remember, with Gated Reverb, you can capture the essence of that classic 80s drum sound and add a unique touch to your music. So go ahead, experiment, and have fun creating your own sonic masterpieces!