Who wouldn’t agree that drums are like the backbone of a track? If you do properly mix the drums within a song, it makes a song to feel alive.
Most mix engineers will start working on the drums as the first thing they would do to a song because drums are so important that they drive the mood and vibe of the song.
With a few simple tips and tricks, I can guarantee that you can tight and punchy drums sitting properly in your mix.
So, let’s take a look at how to get the most out of your drums.
1. Panning for them to breath
As you are panning your drums, make sure to leave all the impactful drums like kick and snare at the centre of the mix. In my opinion, I like to pan drums which contain much higher frequency slightly to the right of the mix while panning some other percussions to the left. While for claps, I suggest that you layer 2 quiet claps below a main clap then hard pan one of them to the left and the other one to the left. You can do this trick on snares as well. However, it is important to keep a balance on your panning.
2. Sidechaining Cymbals
As in some trap beats for an example, you will hear those hi-hats creating the swing of the track. It is important to sidechain your kick to the hi-hats so that the kick can cut through them but not preventing the kick from doing that. You have to keep an eye on shakers and other cymbals as well just so the kick and breath within the mix. However, it is essential to sidechain every cymbal in the mix but just the ones which are competing with the kick and the snare.
3. Master Reverb
In most cases, we use drum kits from different packs to create a unique feeling to our track. However, we kind of forget that these drums might not be recorded in the same spaces. Therefore, we should apply a master reverb for each individual drum to create depth and space as in they are playing in the same room. Send all your drums to a same reverb except your kick (unless for creative purposes), and use the sends to balance the amount needed for each drum.
4. EQ Magic
Drums can sound on themselves but not when they are mixed together. To step up your drum game, there are 3 good EQ tips that I learnt from an article from Izotope. Cut the mids or the resonance frequency to clean it up. Boost the low end for some punchiness and power. Boost the high end for points or the attack transient. Creating space for every drum to have their own unique placement in the mix is what you want when you are ‘eq-ing’ your drums.
5. Parallel Processing for Punchiness
After you have done everything you can to mix your drums and they still lack a little punch, parallel compression is your best friend to solve that problem. First, you route every drums to a bus or a group track, then you apply heavy compression on them with just 30-50 % on the mix knob. Or you still want to thicken up your drums, parallel saturation process can lend you a hand on this one. But, you have to be careful on parallel processing because it can mess up your mix if you do not perform it correctly.
Lastly, have fun mixing your drums.
Do not forget share this article among your producer friends if it helps.
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