Dharma Worldwide has released KSHMR Essentials Kick, a free sound design plugin (VST/VST3/AU/AAX) that is suitable for enhancing the kick drum.
KSHMR Essentials Kick is the freeware “lite” edition of the popular KSHMR Essentials audio plugin. It is a set of eight sound design tools for processing bass drums. The software is available in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX plugin formats for compatible digital audio workstations on PC and Mac.
The plugin features a real-time frequency spectrum display and a set of eight macro controls. Each of the eight knobs affects a different portion of the kick drums. These are aspects of the bass drum that a mixing engineer would typically enhance using EQ, compression, saturation, and other techniques.
The idea behind KSHMR Essentials Kick was to provide a quick and easy tool for enhancing electronic kick drums. The whole concept was borrowed from the full edition of KSHMR Essentials (available as rent-to-own for $4.99/mo), a paid plugin that features additional modes for processing other types of sounds like synths and bass.
Constructed by the world-famous DJ, musician, and record producer KSHMR, this specially designed artist plugin puts an award-winning professional’s favorite signal chains at your fingertips. KSHMR knows what sounds great and keeps things simple with an essential plugin that can push out professional-grade audio with just a few clicks.
It’s worth noting that the plugin was developed by WA Production, following KSHMR’s guidelines and using his sound design presets.
Let’s take a closer look at the eight macro controls that are included with KSHMR Essentials Kick:
- Sub – boost the sub frequencies in the kick drum.
- Mid – enhance the mid-range frequencies and make the kick drum cut through a busy mix.
- Air – add air to the kick drum and enhance the “click” portion of the drum.
- Trans – a simple transient shaper.
- Tape – add tape saturation for enhanced dynamics and tone.
- Pressure – add some punch to the kick drum.
- Comp – kick drum compression.
- Width – control the stereo width of the kick drum.
The plugin doesn’t feature any additional features apart from the eight macro knobs and the audio analyzer. The analyzer can display the frequency spectrum and the waveform of the incoming audio signal.
Although the plugin is undeniably useful as a kick drum processing tool, it would be nice to have some simple additional features like a dry/wet mix knob, a volume control, an A/B testing option, and a preset manager. These are simple workflow enhancements that can significantly speed up the mixing process.
That said, minor caveats aside, KSHMR Essentials Kick is a useful mixing and sound design utility, especially for beginner producers who still haven’t mastered EQ, saturation, and compression. The macro controls are well-made, and the plugin is super intuitive. Although it does a lot of complex processing under the hood, the plugin is a breeze to use.
I tested KSHMR Essentials Kick on a few types of bass drums, including classic 808s and some modern layered kicks. The results sounded great, but the main takeaway that plugins like this one encourage you to “mix with your ears” and spend more time being creative.
KSHMR Essentials Kick is available for free download exclusively via Dharma Worldwide. To download your free copy of the plugin, you’ll need to sign up for a Dharma Worldwide user account first (a valid email address is required to verify your account). After signing up, the plugin can be downloaded directly from the website, and it does not require activation. The license will remain available in your user area for later access.
The plugin is compatible with all major DAW applications on PC and Mac. Both 32-bit and 64-bit plugin hosts are supported.
More info: KSHMR Essentials Kick (7.04 MB download size, ZIP archive containing EXE installer, 32-bit & 64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin formats for Windows & macOS)