A Hi-Hat is a short rhythmic drum element. It can be either deriving from sampled media or can be generated via Subtractive Synthesis.

Hi-Hat Synthesis

The Synthesis of a simple HiHat is fairly straight forward. For the most basic HiHat,  all you need is a Noise Generator. Apply an Amplifier Envelope to the generated noise signal. The envelope should have no sustain, short decay, no or very little attack, and no or a short Release. To refine the timbre you can also add a Filter envelope. Furthermore, you can change the character with distortion effects or differently colored noise signals. You can also mix the noise with other waveforms such as for example a sine wave to give the high-hat more body.

HiHat Synthesis Filter, Filter Envelope, and Amp Envelope settings example:

Hi-Hat Purpose

Hi-Hats are mostly used for the rhythmic block section of modern electronic music. They are a strictly rhythmic element and are seldomly used for other purposes other than creating rhythmic accentuations in music.


Hi-Hats can come in different forms. Most commonly the “Open Hi-Hat” and “Closed Hi-Hat”. Closed HiHats are very short (often below the 100ms mark). Open HiHats are longer and the decay is much more open. Open HiHats also often feature an emphasized mid-frequency spectrum.


Hi-Hats are also often called High-Hats, HH, Hi-Hats, Hihats. They all refer to the same electronic music element.


Example of a closed Hi-Hat:

Example of an Open Hi-Hat:

Those Sounds are provided by: Parandroid

Wiki Page written by Samuel Zimmermann aka Parandroid  from Noise Poison Records