From Timbaland's MasterClass

Making a Beat: Tweaking and Layering Drums

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

Topics include: EQ Drums for Headphones • Fine Tuning the EQ With Chris • Weave Rhythms Together • Stay True to Your Bounce


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

Topics include: EQ Drums for Headphones • Fine Tuning the EQ With Chris • Weave Rhythms Together • Stay True to Your Bounce


Teaches Producing and Beatmaking

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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.

Awesome class!!! I learned as a beginner the essence of combining different sound effects together and using all sorts of sounds for inspiration!

Thank you for this class. Seeing Tim working and sharing all this at his studio is extremely motivational and inspirational. Once again, great job MC.

There are no words to express the level of value that has been given through this course. I can only say Thank You to MASTERCLASS for seeing the power of Timbaland and selecting him to drop this knowledge to make us better. Thank You Timbo for still being the reining Champion 25 years later. I'll see you soon King.

Dope behind the scene stuff. His methodology in unorthodox and seeing that he's been one of the greats just reminds me i could still be one of the greats. Even if I'm making golf music and movies ;-)


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

A fellow student

The ones of us who do not have an ensemble, have to do it all for themselves. Including mixing. The engineering section should have direct sound on standard volume + mono vocal of engineer describing changes. Would be much clearer as to what he is doing. Otherwise a source of inspiration :D

Jay C.

Enjoying these lessons and hearing Timbaland's thoughts on writing and production. The definition of "Ghost Notes" in lesson 7 was was, in my opinion as a drummer, a bit off. "A musical note with a rhythmic value but no discernible pitch when played" is a decent description of a ghost note on a string or wind instrument, but not so much for a percussion or drum ghost note. Percussion notes don't really have discernible absolute pitches, and the pitch wouldn't change between a regular note and a ghost note, anyway. I imagine you just pulled this definition from the Wikipedia page, but if you scroll down further on the page, there is a better definition for percussion ghost notes, which is what Tim is talking about: "In popular music drumming, (ghost) notes are played, 'very softly between the 'main' notes,' (off the beat on the sixteenth notes) most often on the snare drum in a drum kit." (Wikipedia) I think it matters only because if someone had never heard the term ghost note before and was trying to mimic what Tim is doing as a producer, they would need to create "very soft notes between the main notes off the beat on the sixteenth notes" to achieve this. Trying to make a percussion note with "a rhythmic value but no discernible pitch when played" has no meaning in this context, and doesn't help your viewers out. Sorry to nitpick, just my teacher side coming out! Thanks for your work.