Music & Entertainment

Making a Beat: Tweaking and Layering Drums


Lesson time 09:45 min

Tim’s drum sounds are legendary. Learn how careful audio engineering can turn dry drums into something that thunders through headphones.

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Everybody listen to music on headphones, earpods, earbuds. 9 out of 10, nobody listens to music, these days, in big speakers. So the drums have to sound big in my earpods and in my headphones. I want 'em to sound big. So I just kinda take my time in how I sample 'em in. I really, like, deal with the compressors and the EQs and make sure it's right. And then I make a whole drum kit. But I just take a kick and just kinda, like, make sure it sounds great in my headphones. And then I put it on a drum rack. And there it is. That's why it sounds so fat. I don't have to layer anything. Only thing I layer is maybe a rhythm off a kick, like a ba-boom, like a boom, boom. So it's like two different tones of a kick. But I don't really-- I don't have to layer the kick because I make sure the kick is hitting at the capacity that I want it to hit, so I don't have to layer it. If I have a kick drum that's not hitting-- [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] --like that. You know, it's hitting. But I'm like, um, it could hit harder. So I just, you know, just add a EQ. [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] So I'll go find it. There. [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] This is with drum-- let's take that drum. So I'll take-- that's this drum. This is cool. But we want to lift it up a little bit. So you put-- I'll put a EQ on it right quick. So-- [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] Let's fatten it up a little bit. See? I just-- but it didn't sound like that. This is how it sounded regular. [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] Beefs it up. What snares really like-- uh, I think snares-- you don't really-- you don't want them to be just as hard as the kick. So you just-- you don't-- [PLAYING SNARE NOTE] That's cool enough. [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] A snare is-- [PLAYING SNARE NOTES] You know, it's all about the texture of the snare, you know? [PLAYING DRUM NOTES] It's all about texture or which snare you want. It's not about raising it up. For a snare, for me, I just raise the volume because the texture is there. I don't want it to be nothing else. it's a matter of getting the kick drum to match the snare, for me. And it should be for you. [DRUM BEATS] - Tim is a unique case. He, uh, he's got a thing, and his software. And, you know, he's processing his drums pretty well before they even come to me. So when I get a track from Tim, I'm just trying to kinda keep it what he did, and then make it a little bit better. So, like, right here, he gave me that drum loop and the snare was kinda part of it. So I went in, and looked at the track as he put it in here, and was able to pull that snare onto a different track. So I could kinda level the snare a little bit and give it a little more knock and punch apart from where it originally came in. I mean, most people kinda track their drums out and, like, you know, this drum, and this drum, and this drum. But the way Tim works in his computer, he really likes to make his drums hit a certain way before they come out. And h...

Find your beat

Grammy-winning music producer Timbaland takes you behind the boards to teach you his process for creating iconic tracks with artists like Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, and Aaliyah. In his first-ever online class, learn how to collaborate with vocalists, layer new tracks, and create hooks that stick. Step into Timbaland’s studio and learn from one of the industry’s most innovative hit makers.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Amazing content, entertainment and enjoyment from one of the greatest producers and music makers of all time.

Thanks so much for a wonderful look into your process. Being so open, free, funny and honest is refreshing. Thanks for keeping the light on for all of us.

There's tons of technical production videos for free out there, but getting to hear the mindset of someone who shares that love for music is something else.

Timbaland is a master. Amazing to watch him drop pearls about both music and life. So humble and focused and funny. Great offering, thank you!


A fellow student

I remember when I first watched this part of the series it didn’t help much since I would export my drum sequences right out the mpc and do minor tweaks in Cubasis. Now that I’ve learned about the importance of mixing and mastering, coming back to this 6 months later is a whole new video than before.

A fellow student

It is really annoying that you just run the musicsound thru the mic when it is played. Especially when the mix engineer is explaining. The adjustments he shows means nothing if we can not hear it.

A fellow student

This was great but hearing more about eq'ing the different layers and avoiding phasing issues would have been more informative.

DJ Peak Performer

Because I will buy a new headphone, I would like to know a model number of audoi-technica headphone which Mr Tim use in this lecture. ATH-M60X, ATH-M70X or etc.....???

A fellow student

Would've been helpful to have the direct audio (at least the same quality as during Tim's sessions) for Chris the engineer's session.

Savaunn K.

Interesting I've always layered my drums kicks and snares to make them hit add EQ then panning left right and center I also at times use parallel compression, great class

Travis C.

This information is very helpful. I've been trying to understand how to mix my drums so that they sound right.

Daan G.

Awesome video yet again. I have a question tho. Is there a simple way you can figure out "your" bounce? For me, it may have become so natural I don't feel it anymore and thus can't identify it.


I don't get why he says he doesn't layer his drums he clearly does, I would have like to see him get more into that even Angel says he layers under the kick and he does. As for snares he has said in past interviews he creates them himself I do like what he says about the space he uses with percussion and ghost notes and polyrhythms.

Nu E.

Hi, I cant download PDFs for this class nor the previous.... gives an error as it tries to go to download