Studio Advice

5 Tips for Drum Mixing You Need to Know

One of the most challenging and desirable facets of any audio engineer’s mixdown skillset is creating excellent drum mixes. Let’s go through some helpful tips for improving the drum-mixing workflow.

5 Ways to Get Better Drum Mixing Results

1. Make the atmosphere more pleasant.

In a perfect world, microphone distortion and noise will be absent from drum records. Both are present and popular in nearly any drum kit recording in the modern world. When choosing how to process the drum kit, consider leakage and noise. They flow through your dynamics processors, causing them to behave erratically, distorting stereo image information, and raising the noise floor of your compact final mixdown. There are, thankfully, resources available to assist you in dealing with those annoyances. Start using them before you even begin importing audio tracks into your project, and you’ll feel a lot more secure and in charge when you start summing it up to further compress/EQ the bus route. Not only will your song sound better, but playing the drums will also be a lot simpler.

2. Beware of phase problems

There is often a rivalry among the drum sounds for low-frequency energy dominance, particularly at the low end of the frequency spectrum. This is often exacerbated by an out-of-tune drum kit or a poor microphone technique. However, the first thing you can do is check the process. When you play your kick with the bassline, it sounds bad, but when you play it alone, it sounds great. Inverting the process normally fixes this and puts all components in the mix in the same place. And if you think anything in the low-end sounds off, it’s worth flipping the step of the low-end components to see if things improve.

3. Matching the levels

In your drum mix, you can use EQs, parallel compression, saturators, and other effects to maximize or decrease the volume. Since your ears still interpret louder as stronger, this noise difference will immediately make the results sound more or less good than they are. By comparing the levels before and after each effect, you can assess the efficiency of your processing chain.

4. Relative settings for compression

Many engineers claim to work best with multiple compression levels and presets — it’s a no-brainer when mixing drums. However, the sound of the drum needs various settings. The amount of the drum elements on which you add compression is entirely related to threshold and make-up gains. Time conditions such as attack and release are really linked to the song’s speed and the drummer’s efficiency. You should still strive to make sure that the signal compression is negligible before the next transient reaches the entry point.

5. Breakbeats and rhythm loops can be chopped up to rearrange, re-groove, and layer your drum kit

The trick to a great-sounding drum kit is stacking various layers of drum sounds. This technique works well on both acoustic and electronic drum sets, and many practitioners employ it. Most industrial sample libraries provide a set of single hit sounds as well as a number of pre-made groove loops that are ready for you to cut up and use in your productions. If individual sounds are playing on their own, you can take them out of the audio file, or use Regroover to remove and recreate sounds even if they clash with other components in the source file. Layering drum sounds effectively necessitates additional care and effort so you must EQ specific frequency areas for each layer to ensure there are no overlaps. It is, however, well worth the effort!

That’s all for now; hopefully, we’ve assisted you in defining your drum-mixing goals!