Making analog claps
from scratch in Serum
How To Make TR808 Inspired Claps in Xfer Serum
Feb 22nd 2020
Creating a custom clap from scratch can set you apart from other producers
We've all heard the Roland TR808 and 909 clap used in thousands of songs. Both of those drum machines have been a mainstay in electronic music for decades now, and to this day sample pack creators still repurpose those samples.
There's only so many ways you can process a clap sample though.
That's why we wanted to peel back the curtain a little bit and reveal one of the ways we make clap samples for soundsets and sample packs. We do make a lot of them from scratch in synths like Serum, Alchemy, and dedicated drum synths.
Getting Started Making Analog Claps In Serum
I think it's helpful to have a basic understanding about the history of the TR808 clap and how it was created. Because lets be honest, any synthesized clap is going to be compared to the iconic 808 sound or even the 909.
You need a noise source (think white noise, or bright noise), customizable envelope or LFO, filter, VCA and a VCO. You run the noise source into a filter and modulate the amp of the synth using the MSEG envelope or LFO. You can use the VCO to add more body to the sound. Sine waves and triable waves usually work best.
This is a slight oversimplification of how it's done, but it covers the basic signal flow. From a sound design perspective, synthesizing a clap is a unique endeavor because it involves some psychoacoustic wizardry.
When we hear clapping, it's almost always in a group setting. Not many people are out there clapping by themselves in a room. Roland knew this when they created the iconic TR808 clap. If you look at the waveform of the sound, it has 3 distinct transients. These multiple transients help make it sound less like a snare and more like a clap. We explore this at the beginning of the video. If you're synthesizing claps from scratch you have to find a way replicate the multiple pre-transients.
After you have that set up, it's up to you to process and style it to your liking.