Exploring Sonic Academy’s Kick by Nicky Romero

Sonic Academy has teamed up with veteran producer Nicky Romero to craft Kick, an instrument that’s arguably one of the finest drum synthesizers available. At its core, Sonic Academy’s Kick is a straightforward click sampler paired with a quality sub-oscillator that together will provide you with everything you need to create kick sounds that have plenty of bite and presence but also have plenty of warmth, bass, and body. A great kick drum is integral to the rhythmic foundation of any track, and Kick provides you with everything you need to design custom tailored kicks that compliment your mixes and deliver maximum sonic clarity and impact. Let’s dive in and explore Sonic Academy Kick’s features so that you can go ahead and check out our featured Splice projects (below) and begin using Kick in your own productions.


All of Sonic Academy Kick’s functionality controls are presented front and center in a slick interface so that you can get results quickly and with minimal effort. At the top of the unit you have a PRESET BROWSER that allows you to explore the available factory presets as well as save your own designs for future use. Kick comes with over 200 presets, grouped in to categories such as ANALOG, BASS, HOUSE, TECHNO, and of course a ROMERO category for Kick presets developed by Nicky Romero himself. All of your saved presets go directly to the USER KICKS category, so it’s always easy to access your own Kick creations.

Main Window

Main Window

The MAIN WINDOW of Sonic Academy’s Kick provides you with the means to draw pitch and amplitude envelopes using unlimited node points. You can also create Bezier curves by clicking and holding between any two nodes and then dragging in either direction. There are three graphs available: PITCH, which allows you to shape the pitch envelope of Kick’s sub-oscillator over time; AMP, which allows you to shape the overall amplitude envelope of Kick over time; and CLICK, which allows you to adjust the amplitude envelope of the currently selected click sample. You can cycle through the available sub-windows by simply selecting the desired window button below the graph. To create a node, double click anywhere on the main window and drag it to the desired position. If you’d like to reset any of the sub-windows, click the RESET button to return the envelope to its default position and start from scratch. You can optionally adjust these parameters globally through use of the PITCH SLIDER or LENGTH SLIDER macro controls located at the left and bottom of the main window.

Click Selection


A proper click is an important element of any great kick because it adds a sense of attack and presence to the overall sound. To choose a click sound, cycle through samples by using the left/right arrows or click on the down arrow to see a list of all available click samples. Sonic Academy’s Kick contains over 150 built-in click samples and even allows you to import your own click samples through the use of the LOAD switch. Once you’ve selected a click sound, you can adjust the volume via the VOL knob and the pitch via the PITCH knob, as well as SOLO or MUTE the click to make further adjustments.



Sonic Academy’s Kick features a simple equalization module that allows you to boost a specific frequency in the frequency spectrum. This provides you with an easy way to further establish its place in your mix and give it more presence. To activate the module, simply sweep to the desired frequency by using the EQ FREQ knob and then boost that frequency’s amplitude to taste by adjusting the EQ GAIN knob.

Sub Oscillator


Kick contains a powerful SUB-OSCILLATOR module that is specifically designed to give your sound maximum low-end bandwidth and presence. You can adjust the amplitude of the sub oscillator by adjusting the SUB VOL knob. It’s here that you can also increase its amount of drive via the DRIVE knob, which will push the amplitude past its maximum and create saturated characteristics with minimal artifacts. You can push this as far as you’d like – Sonic Academy’s Kick also has an invisible built-in LIMITER, so you’ll never need to worry about over-driving or digitally clipping your signal.



Kick’s DISTORTION module takes this one step further and allows you to purposefully add distorted and over-driven qualities to your sound. This is great for creating dirty kick sounds that cut through your mix and contain loads of saturated upper harmonics. Sonic Acaemy’s Kick provides you with a DIST knob for adjusting the amount of distortion; a TONE knob, for determining where the distortion will occur in the sound’s frequency spectrum; and a MIX knob, for controlling how much of the distorted signal will be introduced to the final sound. Also included is a CLICK POST DIST switch, which gives you the option of distorting the bottom end of the signal while allowing the click sample to remain intact.

MIDI Controls


Below the MAIN WINDOW, Sonic Academy’s Kick provides you with several options for determining the way in which it will react to incoming MIDI information. At the bottom of the unit are toggle switches for GATE and KEYTRACK. With the GATE switch deactivated, Kick is only sensitive to MIDI ON signals. With the GATE activated, Kick is sensitive to both MIDI ON and MIDI OFF signals, meaning that it will stop producing sound the moment that the MIDI note has ended or until you let off of your controller. The KEYTRACK switch is used for determining Sonic Academy Kick’s behavior regarding note information. With KEYTRACK deactivated, Kick will play the same sound regardless of the note being played; with KEYTRACK activated, Kick’s pitch will fluctuate depending on the note value being played. It’s here that you also have a TAGS switch, which will toggle the visibility of note and frequency information in the main window, and a SNAP switch, which will snap all frequency values to notes as they correspond to the chromatic tuning scale.

Sonic Academy’s Kick is a popular plugin among Splice users because it’s one of the simplest ways to create great sounding and custom tailored kick drum sounds that fit your tracks perfectly. Be sure to check out some of our many featured Splice projects that put Sonic Academy’s Kick through its paces and get an idea of what it can add to your projects.

Sonic Academy’s Kick by Nicky Romero is available for 32 and 64 bit systems in both AU and VST plugin formats.

You can purchase Sonic Academy’s Kick for $39.95 right here at their webstore.

October 15, 2014