Tips for synthesizing an EDM kick drum with open source tools?

Hiya! I’m still relatively new to electronic music production, and recently I’ve been looking into what plugin options I have at my disposal in the Free Software realm. While there’s several decent synths and a bunch of effects I can use, making a good kick is still a topic I’m a little hazy on. I’ve used sampled kicks in the past, but I’d like to get a feel for synthesized kicks as well. The kick is, after all, one of the most important parts of a dance track…

So with that in mind, I’m looking for any good synthesizer recommendations, presets, or tutorials that you folks might have, or know of, specifically for making powerful EDM/trance style kick drums!

There’s a relatively new plugin dedicated to this:

other than that, zynaddsubfx/zyn-fusion. Check out some of unfa’s videos e.g.

I hadn’t encountered Geonkick before, it looks interesting… but is it possible to currently make it work as a plugin? The documentation is somewhat lacking, but I tried building the 1.1 release source I downloaded from github with the LV2 option enabled. (It does warn that this isn’t recommended…) Ardour loads the plugin I compiled, but there’s no UI and all I get out of it is a sine wave. I have little experience building LV2 plugins, so not sure if I’m missing something obvious, or if the LV2 support is just broken.

And yeah, I have Zyn installed and have already been checking out some of unfa’s videos… It’s just… a lot to wrap one’s head around :slight_smile:

It’s just… a lot to wrap one’s head around :slight_smile:

Ha! No argument there, but if you’re going to do EDM on Linux, you should probably get comfortable using Zyn as one of your primary tools.

Should try zyn also. Haven’t tried yet with the new fusion UI.

I’ll repeat the recommendations for Zyn & Unfa’s tutorials.

In fact, I wrote a quickstart and 3 tutorials for the new Zyn documentation (kick, snare, hi-hat) using Ardour & ZynFusion, loosely based on Unfa’s videos.

I’m still pretty new to all this as well, so the docs probably won’t create a perfect sound but you can hear a small loop here of what the resulting sounds sound like here.


Hi! Here I have released the version 1.5 of Geonkick percussion synthesizer that now is based on Redkite GUI toolkit I have developed. It is free software released under GPLv3.

Version 1.5 includes the following new features:

LV2 plugin
multi-layers (3 layers)
oscillators phase modification


using Redkite GUI toolkit instead of Qt, thus, enabling proper LV2 support
non-blocking audio thread, using atomic operations and kind of ring buffers
on modifying parameters no glitches
non blocking GUI when using long kicks, times like 4 seconds

Source code:

Here also a quick track I composed the last two days using Geonkick for percussion:

Now I’ll start the next cycle to continue the development of VST3/Windows, maybe after a month or two to release VST3.
Hope you’ll find it useful… and hope it works for you.


I tested it very briefly, and it does appear to work in Ardour now as a plugin. Thanks for the update!

I’m still terrible at designing drum sounds, though. I wish there were more presets. :smiley:

I have plans to make several videos as a tutorial how to synthesize basic elements like kick, snare, hit-hat, claps with Geonkick, but I have a very little experience in editing videos. Anyway, there are videos made by producers (ex unfa or SeamlessR) from whom I learned how to synthesize these elements, and I would say the principles at the end are the same, so I have tried so summarize some of these tactics in Geonkick. For example, unfa suggested me to implement more noise generators in order to be able to make better snares, I added even layers with one noise per layer… and the result was that I was able to generate a better snare with Geonkick. Now someone suggested to add envelope for filters cut-off, and I think this will improve things more, I’ll release this it in v1.6. If guys with experience have other suggestions, than I’ll be happy to implement.

Also I I’ve forgot to thank Robin that suggested me the right directions regarding some technical things regarding real-time audio and GUI problems for plugins.


Asked by @unfa to explain why I have abandoned the Geonkick development.

It was fun to develop this project but taking into account technical aspects I felt that the software is not really helpful for musicians. One can create a drumkit and percussive sounds by using a DAW with its powerful plugins, automation and routing and create high quality drumkits and export them to formats like sfz, play samplers with sfizz or DrumGizmo.

Even if Geonkick synthesizes the sound at the end it saves the sound into the memory buffers, which are played by the sampler module (a simplified sampler). In this way Geonkick can’t have velocity expression for parameters like other synthesizers or can’t map different samples for different velocity range like sampler players (sfizz or liquidsfz). To enable this I wanted to develop layers to velocity mapping but it would make a Geonkick plugin instance to take a lot of memory. In samplers because they usually are not synthesizing in real time, the samples can be shared between instances, also buffers can be of different size and this makes memory consumption less. Geonkick is not the case because every instance synthesize its own samples in real time, and needs a fixed preallocated memory for every instance.
To overcome this problem there can be moved the synthesis into the audio thread an synthesize on the fly, thus, taking more CPU and almost no memory. But if there will be say two instances with 16 instruments… than I don’t know, maybe this is not much CPU. Anyway, this requires rewriting of the core synth to work differently.

Redkite that is used by Geonkick and the interface of which is made very close to Qt I haven’t seen being used by someone, and there are similar projects like plugl or JUCE that have more features probably.

For now these are my conclusion and I have decided to freeze both projects. If my mind will change, than maybe I’ll restart the development.
Thank you for all who contributed to Geonkick project.


Thank you for stating your reasons.

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