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5 Tips For Better EDM Buildups

Hey Ninjas

Today we will be discussing EDM Buildups and how you can use some of the techniques the top pros are using to make yours sound even better.

We will be discussing techniques as well as theory to help you transition from your breakdown to your drop.

I will leave out all the common stuff we know like using Downlifters/Uplifters as I'm sure we are all using them. I will however get into some tips and tricks that can make your build up sound full of tension and energy to achieve the perfect transition.

In this Article we will discuss

*Volume Automation

*Reverb Automation

*Delay Automation

*Stereo Imaging In The Build Up

*Frequency Automation

Tip 1: Volume Automation

1ST tip will be to automate the volume of your track as you go from the breakdown to the drop.

In EDM we are running mastering chains that are pushing our songs to the limits sonically. A super loud track can easily have the breakdown/buildup/drop sound equally loud, which results in a very stale track that lacks any sort of tension and power.

By automating volume in your build up, you are manually creating "dynamics" so that your breakdown and drop don't sound equally as loud.

This tip is easy to implement and will allow your drop to sound twice as strong by using volume automation.

Going from 100% Volume to 100% volume won't sound as strong, as going from 60% Volume to 100% in a few seconds.

If you are using Ableton I recommend you have a Utility Plugin In your master and you automate using the gain feature. The trick here is to automate the volume of your build up down and then go back up to 100& volume right when the drop hits.

If you take a look at this waveform right before the drop the volume is automated down a bit to make the drop sound bigger once it finally arrives.

Tip 2: Reverb Automation

Another dope trick I've learned over the years from House producers is to automate a bit of reverb into your build up.

Reverb is a 3 dimensional effect that can be used to increase depth in a song. When increasing depth a lot of sounds with heavy amounts of reverb get pushed to the pack of the mix. Being pushed to the back of the mix means the sound will not be upfront and as strong.

Knowing this we can use a Hall Type reverb during our build up to decrease the power of our song. As we approach the drop you want to reduce a bit until the drop hits and you get rid of the reverb.

This trick is useful as it will also give a ton of atmosphere to your build up.

To implement this trick just add your favorite reverb into your master and automate the WET up as you are in the build up and as soon as the fill/drop happens reduce back to 0 WET.

In this song you can hear the build up utilize reverb in the build up at 0:28

Tip 3: Delay Automation

This tip is useful for certain people that can implement it and want that delayed house build vibe in their track.

Delay will be similar to Reverb in the sense that it will reduce the power of your track.

Very hard to talk about this one so I will let this song do the talking.

Check The Build up from 2:07

Delay can help in adding so much atmopshere and tension to your track.

Now if you aren't making house music this tip might not be useful but you can still utilize it here and there in fills for more of the HANDS UP EDM we tend to be making nowadays.

It's about having enough that you don't make it obvious.

Tip 4: Cut Out Your DAMM LOWS

A huge mistake I see from producers who are just starting out is that they tend to leave all their sound with low frequency information in the build up. While it's not bad to do it does ruin the drop by making your build up sound equally as powerful as your drop.

If you must have your bass playing in the build up to lead into the drop smoothly I recommend automating a simple low end cut as you get closer to your drop in the build up.

This simple trick will make it so during the build we hear only mid/high frequencies and then when the drop happens we get all the low end back. This automation will make us perceive your drop being stronger and give us a successful Build up.

*You can use a cut with a very high resonance to get that releasing air sound we hear from a lot of build ups.*

Notice in this build up we still have a bass sound going but NO LOWS AT 1:01

Tip 5 Stereo Image Automation

The last tip is one I learned from Maurice West in one of his tutorials on youtube.

This technique involves automating the Stereo Width of our track in the build up.

We will be automating the width down as we are in the build up and as soon as the drop happens we will return our original width back,

Similar to the previous tips this will help in lowering power and creating a weaker perception so that when the drop finally comes we perceive stronger, wider, and louder than our breakdown/buildup.

Just think going 0 TO 100 real QUICK.


Notice how most of these tips dealt with automating an effect that will weaken and add atmosphere to our build up. This is done to create our perception of the drop to be more powerful. A good build up will bridge the breakdown and drop smoothly while making the drop sound stronger.

Don't be victim to have a strong build up and a equally as strong drop.



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