To make slappy Slap House, Tiesto-style, consider how he approaches effects, the techniques in bass production, and how to get a lead sound. Let’s dive in for a detailed look at how Tiesto slaps hard.
Breaking Down the Break
When using an original track, like Tiesto’s “The Motto”, start by extracting the vocal from it. It’s made from the acapella which gives it a harmonious sound. By adding saturation, you can make it sound fuller. Add reverb to give it space, then filter it to avoid clashing with the vocal. Finally compress it to keep it controlled. For the Rhythm, drop the percussion sample adding the clock ‘Tick Tock’, and a crackle sound for the ambience of the break.
Lastly, filter all the elements in the rhythm loop so they fit better in the mix and add a room reverb to put the loop in its own space in the mix.
Focusing on The Build Up
There’s this fat drum beat combined with the hat loop from the drop, add heavy room reverb for a cool dreamy atmosphere. Now add a kick filter out the high end and you’re left with a deep kick. Combine this with a rim shot, and of course, some room reverb, to make the transition from build up to drop smoother.
Now use serum to automate the pitch of the tonal riser. Add small details to fill the track, now throw in a respace which is perfect to fill the low end.
Take a listen and notice how fat it sounds. For processing, add saturation, equalize to remove higher frequencies, so it functions as a base, and add a dynamic EQ to clean up the track, removing muddy frequencies with a limiter to catch the peaks, and that’s the build up.
Dropping the Drop
To start, only a kick and a clap, and then on the first beat, use a short white noise shot to give it that impact. Think about this in two layers. First the low end kick, and of course the top high end kick. That’s what punches and cuts through the mix like a beast.
Use hi-hats and downlifters out of a slap house sample pack. Now an important note, link all the drums to a bus with the exception of the kick, because the Kick is King and can be treated separately.
In the bus, give the drums some air, making them brighter by boosting the frequencies around 20 kilohertz. The harsh frequencies reduce around four kilohertz and others boost around 2 kilohertz just to keep them snappy, a bus compressor glues all the drum elements together. Use a multi-band compressor to control the high end that might be overpowering.
At some points, you want warmer drums. Add warm tape saturation to remove that digital edge. (Heads up on the stock plug-in as it can compete with the famous soothe plug-in). Now room reverb gives drums space. To clean up the drum, remove those low end sub frequencies.
Time for the Bass
The bass space consists of multiple layers each with its own purpose. In slap house, bass can be wider since it’s one of the few elements in the drop.
A note on Layers in the drop:
- Layer 1 gives sub frequencies to all the others
- Layer 2 is used for width
- Layer 3 is even wider and one octave higher for harmonics.
- Layer 4 is for warmth and a simple saw bass
Now one single bus to rule them all and process them as one.
- Ott to make the base in your face.
- Saturation adds nice warm feeling
- Multi-band compressor evens out the low end
- Slow attack so the low end of the plucky bass still pops out.
- EQ reduces muddiness, which makes room for the vocals to hang out with the bass.
If there is too much attack, use a compressor to reduce some of it making it sound more like Tiesto’s. Use serum effects to add distortion to give it fullness. Add porous to make it wider, but if it still doesn’t sound like Tiesto’s. Why? Because you need to glue the layers with a compressor and a limiter to catch the peaks.
If the vocals still sound harsh, or some annoying frequencies that sound hard popped up, to remove them, first use a compressor to remove some of the peaks and clicks. This way the golf ball slugging can do its magic and remove unwanted frequencies. Now use this tame knob to tame the frequencies even more. If the vocals still don’t sound right, reduce the brightness parameter to get them sounding right.
Lastly, a little reverb, a touch of delay and acapella flows into the mix.
Now to focus on the final Master to adjust the shape and tonal balance a bit, and of course, to get that industry level loudness.
First, whip out the multiband compressor to the master chain to control the low end. Now, another band for the high end frequency range. Remove annoying high frequencies that are too present at some points in the track but be subtle. Use a lower ratio. EQ on the linear phase and shape the sound a bit more. Remove extreme high and low end frequencies because humans can’t hear them and put all your low end in mono. Use another compressor to glue the track together.
Now use a clipper to catch those peaks. It reduces them by a few decibels, which means the final limiter can be pushed further giving the track more loudness. Do that last push to get the loudness to a level that you’re happy with, without clipping too much and that’s it!
That’s how Tiesto makes Slap House!
The Final Note on How Tiesto Slaps Hard
Now, after digesting all of this, it’s your turn to go and practice. Make your own track and see how it ends up. It’s always good to use sample packs that have the sounds you want, like the Infinity slap house sample pack with 470 samples and Loops 150 serum presets and four project files so you can produce better and faster There’s even a handy FLP in the tutorial this article was based on. Go check it out!