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How To Mix Drum: Best Essential Skills You Need To Learn 2022

How To Mix Drum Best Essential Skills You Need To Learn 2022
  • Max Kuehn

Drum mixing is an essential skill for any music producer. In this article, we’ll show you how to mix drum like a pro. We’ll cover everything from EQing to compression to reverb. Read on for more information!

Should You Start With The Drums?

Many engineers prefer to start with the drums, beginning with the granularity of the kick and working their way up.

Others use various techniques, such as mixing with all instruments, getting the vocal first and setting it against the bass, kick drum, snare drum, and so on.

Mixing is such a unique art form. I would not dare to prescribe because there is no “one size fits all” solution. I can only describe how I approach a mix that includes drums.

I start my mix by staging each track for my chain, which includes both digital and physical operations. After that, I put together a kind of overall static mix.

I set the static mix to my choice if the band, producer, or artist trusts me above their inclinations—or if the music is acoustic and not excessively automated.

Producers frequently have a favorite rough mix, and in this case, my static mix matches their rough with gain staging and routing.

I’ll have a solid notion of how the music will feel and sound when that’s done. Everything save the percussion and bass is muted, and I work from there.

The song sometimes tempts me to start mixing from the overheads and work my way back to the kick drum. Sometimes I start with the bass and then add the kick.

Should You Start With The Drums

How To Mix A Drum Kit

Balance

Finding the appropriate balance between each element of the kit and between the drums and the other instruments is the first step to producing a strong drum sound.

Begin by listening to the drum kit and ensuring that you can hear each component. The snare drum is usually the loudest part of the set, followed by the kick drum and toms.

Make all of the near mics sound coherent by using the overhead and room mics to create a space for the drumming.

Even when you know what to listen for, determining when you’ve achieved the proper balance can be difficult. I usually use reference mixes to keep track of my progress.

REFERENCE makes comparing your track to your favorite mixes a breeze. Drag your reference mixes into the Wave Transport, turn on Level Match, then hit play.

Toggle between your mix and the references, paying close attention to the balance of each element in the mix. Then adjust the levels of each drum until you achieve the desired balance.

You may also use the Trinity Display at the bottom to compare your track’s frequency balance, stereo breadth, and punch to the reference. Please note any problems and address them as you progress through the mix, beginning with EQ.

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Finding the appropriate balance

EQ

It’s critical to listen to drums in context while EQing them. While it may seem like a good idea to use the solo button to hear an instrument more clearly, you will not be receiving the entire image.

For example, you could be tempted to boost a frequency that’s already prominent in the overhead mics.

Of course, each drum mix is different, but there are a few crucial frequencies that I pay close attention to for each drum.

Kick

  • Use a high-pass filter to remove any low-end rumble, up to 50 Hz depending on the mix.
  • Boost the kick’s fundamental frequency, which should be between 60 and 120 Hz (or cut if it’s too high).
  • Remove any muck from the low-mids, which is usually about 250 Hz.
  • In the midrange, between 250 Hz and 1 kHz, remove any boxiness or excessive room tone.
  • Boost the 1 – 5 kHz range to bring out the beater’s snap and attack (if needed)

Snare

  • Use a high-pass filter to remove any low-end rumble, up to 100 Hz depending on the mix.
  • Boost the snare’s fundamental frequency, which should be between 150 and 250 Hz (or cut if it’s too high).
  • Remove any muddiness or boxiness in the low-mids, which usually occurs between 250 and 500 Hz.
  • With a narrow band, often between 500 Hz and 1.5 kHz, remove any ringing in the snare drum.
  • If needed, boost 3–5 kHz to increase snap and attack.
  • To enhance sizzle and air, boost 8 kHz and above with a high shelf.

Toms

  • Use a high-pass filter to remove any low-end rumble, up to 100 Hz depending on the mix.
  • Boost the tom’s fundamental frequency, which should be between 80 and 200 Hz (or lower if it’s too high).
  • Remove any muck from the low-mids, which is usually about 250 Hz.
  • In the midrange, between 250 Hz and 1 kHz, remove any boxiness or excessive room tone.
  • To increase snap and attack, boost the 1 – 5 kHz range (if needed)

Overheads and Cymbals

  • Close-mic’d cymbals that are high-passing up to 300 Hz make room for other low-end instruments.
  • Remove any muck from the low-mids, which is usually about 250 Hz.
  • In the midrange, between 250 Hz and 1 kHz, remove any boxiness or excessive room tone.
  • If necessary, do a tiny reduction around 5 kHz to make room for the vocal.
  • To add shine and glimmer, boost above 8 kHz with a high-shelf.

Add BASS ROOM to the drum bus after dialing in your drum mix and utilize the target settings to ensure your low-end is in order. This is an excellent technique to improve your drum mix rapidly without adjusting the EQ on each track.

Use EQ

Utilize the Compressor

When learning how to mix drums, a compressor comes in handy because it allows you to manage the dynamic range of your sound.

It’s usually used to make sure that no sounds in the mix are too quiet.

Compressors can be used to alter your drum sound in various ways.

For example, if you want a punchy and tight snare drum, a 4:1 ratio of attack and release time can be used.

Use a slow attack and release time with a tiny ratio of 1.2:1 if you want a soft and circular kick drum.

The compressor takes a sound and reduces its volume if it exceeds a specified threshold, allowing you to lower the track’s overall loudness while ensuring that nothing is lost.

The first method is to employ a long assault time.

The attack time of a compressor refers to how long it takes to start compressing a signal or how long it waits before compressing it.

With a slow attack time, you allow those low, booming noises to get through before compressing them.

This allows those enormous bass hits to sound full and rich while compressing everything else, ensuring that the volume of your song remains consistent throughout.

Compressors can also be used on drums with fast attack times. When you want a more punchy-sounding kick drum or snare drum, this gives that bottom sounds less room to breathe.

Utilize reverb

Reverb is a popular effect for a variety of instruments, but it’s especially useful if you’re learning how to mix drums.

It adds fake reflections to the signal, which helps to generate depth in the sound.

This can assist your drum sounds to appear to be in a much larger space than they are. It’s vital to remember that you should apply reverb after the drum sound has been handled with EQ and compression to avoid mistakenly changing any of these settings.

You can use a variety of reverbs when mixing drums:

  • Room reverb gives drums the idea of being recorded in a room, giving them a more natural sound. If you want a natural-sounding, non-electronic reverb for your music, Chamber Reverb is a fantastic option.
  • Hall Reverb creates a massive and epic sound, ideal if you want your music to have a stadium or “live concert” atmosphere.
  • Give your tune an “old school” atmosphere by using plate reverb.

Transient Enhancement / Noise Gate

Noise bleed or sound picked up by several microphones is a problem with live percussion recordings. This makes mixing difficult, but it may also make your drum recordings sound sloppy.

Many engineers utilize noise gates to eliminate drum bleed from the kick, snare, and tom mics. Of course, this only works with close microphones.

Noise gates on the overhead mics provide the impression that someone is constantly opening and closing the recording studio door.

Add a noise gate to your drum track and set the threshold to close the gate anytime the drum isn’t being played.

The gate is then opened when the drum is struck, and the signal reaches the threshold, allowing you to hear the drum once more. The gate is closed as soon as the signal drops below the threshold, eliminating any undesired drum bleed.

However, this method can make drum recordings sound sterile or choppy.

Use PUNCH for a more natural-sounding solution. PUNCH is a dynamic transient enhancement plug-in that may be used to amplify a drum’s attack without muting the ambient tone for a more natural sound.

FAQs

FAQs About How To Mix Drums

In A Mix, How Can You Make Drums Stand Out?

The volume of the drums will be determined by your objectives.

Turn it up if you want them to be loud and aggressive.

If you want them to be more subtle, turn down the volume.

Here are some tips to make your drums stand out a little more:

  • To taste, EQ the drums.
  • If other instruments in your mix compete with the kick drum, lower their bottom end.
  • Install a compressor on the kick drum and set it to -4 dB to begin pumping. Then, without sounding unnatural or “squishy,” lower the threshold as much as feasible. The kick drum will last a little longer and sound louder due to this compression.

What Is The Best Way To Combine Powerful Drums?

Drums can be abrasive and can overpower sound.

Here are some pointers on how to mix drums with a strong sound.

  • Begin with a slow attack and a quick release for a natural tone.
  • When the attack time is slow, more of the initial transient passes through the unit without being compressed.
  • Gradually increase the attack time until you find the perfect blend of tight and punchy. Quick release times are perfect for rapid drums.

In A Mix, How Loud Should The Drums Be?

  • The first step is to ensure that your drums sound decent by themselves.
  • Turn off all of your faders and listen to the drums again.
  • Don’t overlook the snare drum!
  • The snare drum has a tendency to get lost in the mix.
  • Make sure it cuts through and blends in with the rest.
  • The next step is to analyze different songs to see if there are any similarities in terms of how loud the drums are in comparison to everything else.
  • Doing this at several different volume levels is a smart idea.

Conclusion

Mixing drums can be complicated for those without knowledge of music production. However, if you decide to learn how to mix drums, start with the main elements such as mix bus, balance, EQ, compressor, reverb noise gate, and transient. Fidlar hope you found this article beneficial, and let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below.

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