ElectroHatDemo is a universal binary Audio Unit plugin on a mission: it intends to take the place of samples and vintage drum machines, turning any old rhythmic sound into a crisp synthetic and very electronic hi-hat!

It will also do a decent snare if you like bright 606-style snares (look into Noise if you’re interested in something darker). The real heart of ElectroHat, however, is the hi-hats. This plugin gives you a huge variety (literally, 3000) of synthetic hat sounds each of which are adjustable for extra brightness. Pick between Syn Hat, Electro Hat, and Dense Hat and use the Trim to dial in the sound—pay attention to the nodes where the algorithm gets weird, as those can produce unique percussive sounds too—and use Brighten to control just how trebly the hat will be. Output Pad starts you off with a nicely attenuated volume. Don’t crank your hat too hard, it’s got a ton of sweet top end that should be treated with respect and can cut through any mix without getting in the way!

If you have trouble getting a track or software instrument trigger to work with ElectroHat, remember that you want to be feeding it the volume envelope of a hi-hat, as a source sound. For soft-attacked things you may want to increase the definition of the stick attack. Do that by using the free DigitalBlack2 plugin to gate your guide sound (route a sound to an aux to process it without altering the original tone if it’s audible in your mix) and then use the free Point transient designer plugin to add ‘pop’ to the attack. The video will show you how to do that, on even a muted synth bass playing psytrance 16ths! If you don’t like the way ElectroHat extends right up into the supersonic range, you can use the free Slew2 plugin to whack off the very top to your taste. This one takes amazing advantage of the broad range of Airwindows freebies to extend its usefulness.

Why trigger from audio tracks, rather than sequence stuff in DAW MIDI and softsynths? Because if your audio track is tighter than DAW MIDI because it’s recorded off a synth or drumkit using hardware sequencing (an analog drum machine, a vintage 808, an Atari computer, my Kawai Q-80 sequencer) then ElectroHat will be triggered off that tighter-than-DAW recording. DAWs hiccup at times, don’t always trigger stuff as perfectly as we’d like. ElectroHat can hit with sub-sample accuracy if the underlying track has that. There’s nothing else that can produce an ‘organic’, evolving hihat tone that is also totally electronic-sounding for modern music and tracks the groove that tightly. You can use this capacity to ‘sequence’ all kinds of things using just delays and echos from a simple guide track, all with hardware-sequencer tightness—the video shows you that, too.

ElectroHat can be the new go-to electronic sizzle! Its tones have huge variation within a range of crisp and bright synthetic tonalities with more character and smoothness than simple noise, it sounds a world apart from even round-robined sample triggering, and best of all it can groove like hardware because it literally inherits the exact timing of whatever you’re driving it with! Whether that’s recordings of a classic groovebox, or just you slapping your pant leg and micing it, the groove is perfect: and nothing is more important.

ElectroHat is $50.