3 Saturation Tips For Your Mixes

Introduction In this article I will be explaining how to use saturation in your mix. I will be explaining how to get warmth and punch out of your instruments, putting saturation on the master fader, how to use saturation on drums and the benefit of using different types of saturation and multiple saturation plugins along…

Introduction
In this article I will be explaining how to use saturation in your mix. I will be explaining how to get warmth and punch out of your instruments, putting saturation on the master fader, how to use saturation on drums and the benefit of using different types of saturation and multiple saturation plugins along your mix.

Warmth And Punch
Saturation is an awesome tool for achieving warmth and punch in a mix. Sometimes a saturation plugin does what an EQ could not do in a million years. I usually add a little saturation a lot. So I add very subtitled saturation along my mixes elements and it all builds up and creates a lush sounding colorful feeling mix.

I always add generous saturation to my bass guitar if it is weal sounding in my mix. I throw on a nice saturation plugin, dial it up until the signal is destroyed, then play it along with the rest of the song and dial back the wet / dry knob until it fits nicely put retains power in the mix.

I sometimes put very light tape saturation on the master fader. This can be dangerous in some ways but it does spice up your mix and makes everything sound a lot more potent. To do this, I put a saturation plugin on the master fader, dial in the knots until I really hear crispiness and warmth, but very subtle, then I dial the wet / dry knob to about 50% – 60%. This makes sure that warmth is still there but at the same time it makes sure it does not overpower the mix.

How I Use Saturation On Drums
For drums, saturation is such an awesome tool. It can really depend on what kind of drum sound your going for rather than the sonic greatness of the mix. Sometimes I may compress the living sh * t out of my drum overheads and add loads of compression to get a nice old Beatles sounding drum vibe.

For snare sounds, I almost always use a good bit of saturation. It just makes the snare jump out and drive your whole mix forward. First I throw on a saturation plugin, (Camel Phat is a great free one that I always use on snares) then I dial in the knots until I get a really low fi sounding sound, almost like an electro tom sound. And I fiddle around until I get a lot of body on the snare too, then I dial back the mix knob until I have a great balance of the processed and original snare sound. It's always great to do this while the snare is playing along with the rest of the track.

Using Multiple Types Of Saturation And Multiple Plugins
Although I am a firm believer that you can get a great mix with just stock plugins, it is great to own a few saturation plugins and I'll tell you why.

Each plugin will have it's very own sonic signature. So sometimes it is good to use multiple plugins in your mix so each element has its own unique sonic imprint that separates it from the rest of the mix.

Thankfully, a lot of DAWs these days may come with multiple stock saturation plugins for free. Also, some saturation plugins have different types of saturation algorithms you can choose, so make the most of that.

Conclusion
So in conclusion I hope this article has expanded your knowledge of using saturation in a mix. Always remember to use my tips as guidelines and to use your ears to get the sound you want to get in your mix.

Thanks for reading.
Look forward to more mixing tips soon.
Have a nice day.

Evan.

3 Ways To Clean Up Your Mix With EQ

Introduction In this article I will be showing you 3 simple and effective ways to clean up your mixes with an EQ. The equalizer is such a great tool for creating space in your mix. The Muddiness Area Around 250 Hz – 600 Hz is a generally muddy area. cleaning up this area with most…

Introduction
In this article I will be showing you 3 simple and effective ways to clean up your mixes with an EQ. The equalizer is such a great tool for creating space in your mix.

The Muddiness Area
Around 250 Hz – 600 Hz is a generally muddy area. cleaning up this area with most instruments can seriously make your own mix a lot cleaner. It also frees up a ton of headroom to cut away at this region.

I usually make a narrow Q boost and sweep it around this area until I hear that really annoying mud sound, then I turn that boost into a wider Q cut, removing the mud from the mix. I usually do this twice.

Now, do not jump to conclusions. A lot of people just automatically cut away at this area because they feel that is right. Always trust your ears and see what it actually does to the sound. In fact, sometimes this 'muddiness' sounds absolutely brilliant on things like snares and organs, so experiment to see what works well in your mix.

High Pass And Low Pass Filters
I always high pass what I do not need out of my instruments. But I always do it quite subtly. Using steep cuts can lead you to creating an unnatural processed sound.

If you cut away everything you do not need out of the bottom end with all your instruments, except for kick drum and bass guitar, you'll instantly get more clarity in your mix and free up so much headroom. If you feel like you are getting an unnatural processed sound from high passing, try using a low shelf instead and cut away fairly what you do not need.

While everyone is using high pass filters, do not forget about low pass filters. Filtering out unneeded highs can really clean up your mix and let things like cymbals and the high end of acoustic guitars shine through the mix.

While using high pass and low pass filters, be very careful you do not remove too much from your original signal.

The Annoying 3000 Hz Area
Around the 3000 Hz area, there's this really annoying tone. It kind of makes the sound harsh and unpleasing. I usually do a pretty wide Q cut of a couple of dB around this area, to just remove this tone, usually on guitars and snares. Also, sometimes saturation can help smooth this area out a good bit. When I use saturation, I tweak the knobs until this area has smoothed over and rounded a bit, then I use light EQ to remove it a bit.

Conclusion
So in conclusion, EQ is the best tool for making space in your mix. I hope these tips have helped you out a bit. Use these tips as guidelines toward making decisions in your mix and remember to always mix with your ears, not your eyes.

Thanks for reading.
Look forward to more mixing tips soon.
Have a nice day.

Evan.

5 Effective Places To Use Compression In Your Mix

Introduction Compression is a very important tool in mixing and it's important that you know how and when to use it, so today I will show you 5 common uses for compression in a mix. Compressing Room Mics Compressing the room mics can make your rooms sound huge and add a lot to your mix.…

Introduction

Compression is a very important tool in mixing and it's important that you know how and when to use it, so today I will show you 5 common uses for compression in a mix.

Compressing Room Mics

Compressing the room mics can make your rooms sound huge and add a lot to your mix. Some heavy compression can sound quite interesting as long as your not making it too noticeable. Combining this compression to some moderate saturation can make your mixes jump out. Also, some long decaying reverb can sound interesting. Ultimately it makes the room sound bigger and more acoustically pleasing.

Controlling Guitar Dynamics

When recording lead guitar I almost always have a few notes here and there really jumping out, a lot louder than the rest of the guitar track. I usually compress with a ratio of about 5: 1, then turn the threshold down until I can hear the audio being squeezed a bit. Then I set the attack time so the transients are shining through unaffected and the rest of the signal is getting compressed, extremely making the audio more consistent dynamically. I then mess around with the release settings until it fits the song.

Compressing Reverb And Delay

Using a compressor on a reverb bus can really tighten up the mix if the reverb tend to be getting too loud and out of control dynamically. Some heavy compression can sound pretty nice but be careful not to over do it and remove the life.

The same goes for delay busses, compression can really tame the sound and stop anything from going too out of control.
Also, using EQ on a reverb or delay bus is a great tool for removing any potential muddiness that may be happening.

Making The Toms Punch

Compression on toms can create some amazing results. Using heavy enough compression along with a gate can make your tom drums seriously punchy. Even if you do not have individual tom mics and just an overhead pair, or just a single overhead mic, compression can really make the toms punch out. Think of songs like Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd. The compression on the toms make them really punchy and beefy, really adding to the mix.

Make Your Drum Overheads Sound Amazing

Compressing the drum overheads is a great way to make your drums pop. You can tame any unwanted transients with the attack and release times. U can really smooth out and make the drums more consistent and make your drums sound a lot better.

If your going for a heavier drum sound, you can really brick wall compress the drum overheads and get a really juicy sounding drum sound. Really harsh ratio and threshold setting can make the cymbals ring out for ages combined with a long release time. Sidechaining the overheads to the kick drum can really make the drums pump and breath, giving your mix a lot of life and energy.

Conclusion

So I hope article has given you some direction on when to use compression to get a great sounding mix.

Thanks for reading.

Look forward to more mixing articles soon.

Evan.

Factors to Consider If You Want to Be a Successful Musician

Music is a soothing element in everyone's lives, and the calming effect that it provides is a welcome change for everyone who suffers under huge work pressure every day. Since the beginning of times, music has always been there but like everything else, it has evolved a lot over the years. Music has never been…

Music is a soothing element in everyone's lives, and the calming effect that it provides is a welcome change for everyone who suffers under huge work pressure every day. Since the beginning of times, music has always been there but like everything else, it has evolved a lot over the years. Music has never been a rocket science, and it is this simplicity that makes it one of the most fascinating art forms ever.

The prominence of music as a profession

Over the decades, music has really evolved into a fine and successful profession. Not everyone is blessed with a penchant and talent for music. Those who do possess the skills have learnt to cash in on it effectively. The industry of music is extremely extensive, and you can not deny the fact that it is continuously growing at a rapid pace. Some of the key elements of this industry are:

• Singers: They are the ultimate final output of any musical creation. Sure the demand for instrumental music is huge but in the mainstream, the presence of a singer to lend his or her voice is essential.

• Lyrics: Baring instrumental sound, a song will most definitely need words. Without words, there will be nothing for the singers to sing. Also, maintaining relevancy and meaning of those words is essential.

• Composers: What will the singers sing and lyricists write if there is no tune to match it? Here, the role of composers can not be denied.

If you have the talent for any of the field as mentioned above, you should not waste it. There are numerous individuals who crave to be successful in this business only to find they do not have the talent to match them. If you are in a privileged position where you are a good singer or a composer, take the necessary steps in showcasing it to the world. Fail to do so and you might live to regret it through your life.

As said earlier, this industry has evolved, and if you are thinking of pursuing a career in it, you will need to be passionate about it. Like practicing any other art form, music is all about passion and dedication. If you are pursuing it just for the sake of it, you will not achieve anything. As you might very well know some of the most eminent artists like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Justin Timberlake, all made their name through pop and an independent album. It is a reminiscence of the fact that you do not have to be a mainstream singer to be renamed. Pop Culture is much more attractive now than it was a few decades ago and one of the perks of it is that you can reach out to a wider audience through the digital media.

V-Picks Euro and Euro II Review

V-Picks is a pick manufacturing company based in Nashville, Tennessee, that produces cast acrylic guitar, mandolin, and bass picks at a starting price point that I would classify as the so called “boutique” level of guitar picks. All of the V-Picks that I have had the pleasure of trying have been very well made, and…

V-Picks is a pick manufacturing company based in Nashville, Tennessee, that produces cast acrylic guitar, mandolin, and bass picks at a starting price point that I would classify as the so called “boutique” level of guitar picks. All of the V-Picks that I have had the pleasure of trying have been very well made, and are nice to look at.

I emailed Vinni Smith, the company's owner, for some information on how their picks are made and this is what he had to say.

The Euro and Euro II picks are made of cast acrylic. Cut out with a laser machine and then hand buffed on a bench grinder. Then heat treated, heat tempered, and buffed with a flame. A lot of hand work is done as with all of our picks. I designed the Euro for the Jazz III players, so they would have another option. Small, yet a huge tone and fast action. I think much faster action than the Jazz III.

The V-Pick Euro and Euro II are two different sizes, but the same thickness and relative shape. The Euro II is the larger of the two. They are made of clear acrylic with seven holes drilled through the picks. The holes are a feature I really like, as they do help with gripping the pick more securely with your fingers. I did not have any problem with dropping these picks or having them fly out of my fingers while playing.

Euro Pick Specs:

  • Gauge: 1.5 mm (from my measurements the pick I have is a hair thicker than 1.5 mm)
  • Material: Cast Acrylic
  • Dimensions: 15/16 “wide x 1” long
  • Shape: In-between a Jazz III and a Regular Fender 351 pick
  • Tip: Rounded and Smooth Beveled
  • Price: $ 4.00 Each

Euro II Pick Specs:

  • Gauge: 1.5 mm
  • Material: Cast Acrylic
  • Dimensions: 1 “wide x 1 1/8” long
  • Shape: Close to a Regular Fender 351 pick but a tad shorter
  • Tip: Rounded and Smooth Beveled
  • Price: $ 4.00 Each

I initially chose the Euro and Euro II to try first because I really liked the tone these picks produced (yes other V-Picks do sound different than these) especially when using a clean tone or light overdrive while playing electric guitar.

From my experience the Euro and the Euro II do allow you to play faster cleaner lines without any additional practice than what you can do with your favorite Jazz III pick. Some of you may notice some acrylic pick chirp with these picks, but I found a slight change in picking technique / angle mitigated this issue. Did I mention you can play faster without any additional practice? I did! That should get plenty of people excited about trying these picks just for that added feature alone.

I used both the Euro and Euro II picks for my electric guitar practice at home and in a few band situations for live performance. I found I really liked the big fat tone of the Euro II when I practiced at home, but when playing in a band situation with two electric guitars, acoustic guitar, keyboard, bass and drums I quickly found the Euro II to be too much pick for the job. The sound was too big and thick for what I wanted to hear, so I switched to the smaller Euro V-Pick whichave me the more focused sound I was looking for. It is interesting to find what works at home does not always work with a full band.

I have found V-Picks do not wear down very quickly, so you can plan on using the Euro or Euro II for a long time without you misplace or lose them.

For playing Jazz music I do not think there is a better pick out there than the Euro. At least not one that I have tried to date, and I have tried quite a few. For softer rock music the Euro is a good pick as well. For harder rock the Euro II is a good choice if you want a heavy, thick pick attack. For speed picking these picks do well, but I have found some other picks to be better, which I will reveal in forthcoming pick reviews.

Give the Euro and Euro II a try if you currently like the Dunlop Jazz III. You may just find your next favorite pick.

Tips On Processing Acoustic Guitar

Introduction So it's likely you have encountered an acoustic guitar at least once as a mixer and it's very likely that you will come across some again. Read this article and pick up some tips and bring your acoustic guitar to the next level in your mixes. I will show you how to achieve a…

Introduction

So it's likely you have encountered an acoustic guitar at least once as a mixer and it's very likely that you will come across some again. Read this article and pick up some tips and bring your acoustic guitar to the next level in your mixes. I will show you how to achieve a great sound with the use of EQ, compression and saturation.

Let The Bass Shine Though

The acoustic guitar is a very natural sounding instrument so do not be too harsh when it comes to rolling off the low end. I usually roll of below 50 Hz just to remove and extreme lows and rumbleness that may be causing problems. But the low end on an acoustic is very beautiful, let it shine through. In many songs I have worked on, the intro or other part of the song may have just an acoustic on it's own, so it's not colliding with any other instruments. In this case I may actually boost the bass! Do not be afraid of letting the bass of a guitar shine through just because you are so used to cutting all the low end out.

The 'Ugly' Low Mids

The 250 Hz – 500 Hz region is usually referred to as muddy and ugly. I have agreed to this, but I have also mentioned that it can sound amazing on some instruments. The acoustic guitar can sound amazing around this area. Do not jump to conclusion and carve away this area straight away, listen and see how the guitar sounds around that area. It's a very nice resonating sound.

Compression Techniques

Acoustic guitar tends to be very transient heavy, and also very dynamic with both low and high parts. With a compressor, I usually do a 4: 1 ratio, then set the attack time to about 160 ms. This lets the transient shine through uncompressed before the rest of the sound gets compressed and louder, making the overall sound more even. I then tweak the release until it sounds good with that particular mix, but it's usually about 400 ms.

Saturation

The acoustic guitar is already a very harmonic instrument. Adding some saturation can really make it bulkier and fuller. For me, I use a distortion or saturation plug in, then dial it in until I hear great distortion but at the same time lots of warmth. Then I dial back slowly until the signal is not completely destroyed but it still has that warmth. This can really beef up the low end and make the highs shine without any major EQ work that may make it sound over processed.

Conclusion

So I hope this article has equipped you with the knowledge you need to make pro sounding acoustic guitars in your mix. Use these techniques as a guideline and find the right sound for your mix.

Thanks for reading.

Look forward to more mixing tips soon.

Have a great day.

Evan.

How to Create Better Songs

I'm reading Futurehit.DNA by Jay Frank and I want to give you 5 gems from his book. 1. Grab the listener in the first 7 seconds Jay, who was a Senior Vice President of Music Strategy for CMT, explains very thoroughly (somewhat overkill if you're a songwriter) that you have 7 seconds to capture the…

I'm reading Futurehit.DNA by Jay Frank and I want to give you 5 gems from his book.

1. Grab the listener in the first 7 seconds

Jay, who was a Senior Vice President of Music Strategy for CMT, explains very thoroughly (somewhat overkill if you're a songwriter) that you have 7 seconds to capture the modern listener's attention. If you do not, you've lost them forever. His advice: after a short 4 second intro, start with the chorus.

2. Short songs start the relationship, Long songs make it last

This was an interesting point. In the modern era of on-demand streaming (Spotify and our new friend Apple Music, for example), songs that not only get played the most frequently but also for the longest length of time, earn the most royalties. So, with that in mind, Jay suggests bringing a listener to your house with something short and catchy, then wooing them with longer songs that might not have gotten their attention.

3. Avoid BOREDOM!

Like the author points out, we all have shorter attention spans then ever before. But with long songs bringing in more royalties, how can you record something that's over 4 minutes w / o losing the listener? Here are a couple of things:

-> More chord changes, especially around the 2 min. mark, when most listeners tune out. Also, try a modulation during the 2nd chorus (example is Thong Song by Sisqo).
-> Use more dynamics! They do not have to be in the range of 1-10, but try putting the chorus at 10 and everything else at a 6-7.

4. False Endings

Remember the Spice Girls hit, “Wannabe”. I think it's still stuck in my head! Jay explains there's a reason for that: the song ends on the beginning of the chorus. You're left wanting to hear it resolve and because it does not, you replay the song in your head over and over again. But you also play the song a lot more because you want to satisfy your memory of it. And again, with on-demand capability, you can which means more royalties for the Spice Girls. Try leaving a hit song unresolved and you may get the same results.

5. Albums vs. Singles

This was a really important point. A lot of music-lovers are mourning the bygone days of the album. Ironically, the album was an invention of the record labels during the 70's as a way to make $ 10-15 for a hit single or two. By and large, the modern fan will not listen to an album anymore. So it's more important than ever to record and release. Do not make your fans wait because they will move on!

Those are the hottest takeaways I gathered from Futurehit.DNA. Jay did an awesome job researching the book, filling it with examples and data. But it's not that helpful when it comes to providing techniques. And that's what you really need.

Summing it Up, AKA BONUS!

So if Futurehit.DNA is not the answer, what is? Anthony Ceseri was a lot like you not too long ago. Incredibly passionate about songwriting, but not sure where to begin. Through working with great songwriters like Berklee College of Music's Pat Pattison, he began to understand what great songs had in common versus those just were not. Anthony decided to share his discovery of specific techniques.

Make Instruments Sound Wide In Your Mixes

Introduction So we all want wide tracks every now and then. It can give your mixes that professional feel. Just remember, if all your tracks are super wide, you are not leaving space for anything to breath and you are in fact making that feeling of wideness go away. Another tip, forget stereo wideners if…

Introduction

So we all want wide tracks every now and then. It can give your mixes that professional feel. Just remember, if all your tracks are super wide, you are not leaving space for anything to breath and you are in fact making that feeling of wideness go away. Another tip, forget stereo wideners if you want a good sound.

Do A Second Take

So just say you have a song, and the beginning of the song has a guitar intro, just a guitar on its own. And you decide, hey it would be nice if that was a really wide stereo guitar to fill in the stereo field a bit at the beginning.

One way to get a wide track is to overdub a second guitar take, played the exact same way, so you are essentially double tracking. Then pan the first take hard left, and the second take hard right. The end product looks like one really wide stereo guitar track when you play it back.

Problems You May Encounter

Sometimes you may get a chorusy effect that you do not want. This can be fixed by setting slightly different tones for the second guitar take. This problem can also be fixed by playing the second guitar part loosely and not trying to duplicate the original take too much. A lot of engineers think that the phaser / chorus effect is being caused by the second part not being played as tightly, but in fact it is the likeness of the original take that gives it that sound.

If you are in a position where you already have your second take done and you can not turn back, and your having this chorusy sound problem, then you can try this:

I grab an EQ first. Then I make a boost of about 6 dB and move around the spectrum until I find a spot where the boost sounds pleasing on the first guitar take. So for instance, if I made the boost at 3000 Hz, I would get another EQ on my second take and make a 6 dB cut at 3000 Hz.

This technique can remove that sound you do not want. Mess around with this technique and see what works best in your mix. Also, try doing a few more of these boosts / cuts and see if you can remove that sound you do not want.

Conclusion

So I hope this article has enlightened you on how to get super wide tracks and how to fix the few bumps you hit along the way.

Thanks for reading.

Look forward to more mixing tips soon.

Have a nice day.

Evan.

Get A Good Sounding Snare Drum With EQ And Compression

Introduction Pulling off a great snare drum sound can be tricky but once you know what to do, you can let it make your mix rather than break it. I will show you how to get the sounds you want with the use of EQ and compression, with some starting points if you're new to…

Introduction

Pulling off a great snare drum sound can be tricky but once you know what to do, you can let it make your mix rather than break it. I will show you how to get the sounds you want with the use of EQ and compression, with some starting points if you're new to it all.

EQ

Usually, if the kick and snare are not being played at the same time by the drummer, I do a pretty big boost to the snare drum around the 90 Hz – 150 Hz region. Maybe 5 dB with a wide enough Q. This adds body to the snare drum and gives it some serious beef.

Sometimes if I feel the snare track is a bit muddy and boxy, I will make a cut of up to 10 dB around the 300 Hz – 500 Hz area. I usually do a narrow Q so I'm not taking away to much of the life of the snare drum. I sometimes do a very narrow Q cut of maybe 7 dB around 250 Hz to remove the annoying resonance, but then again sometimes this area makes the snare sound beefy and full.

For more attack on the snare and for extra bite, try doing a 3 dB boost with a wide Q around the 1700 Hz – 2700 Hz area. Sweep around and find where the boost should be. Do not boost too much as the air will make the snare sound really sparkly and give it an overly processed sound without you noticing at first. Sometimes a high shelf above 8000 Hz with a boost of about 3 dB can add lots of air to your snare, but then again when lots of people do this, they end up getting an over processed sparkly sound which can kill your mix.

Use these guidelines and experiment and see if you can find the snare sound you want.

Compression

If you are not too sure what to do with your compressor, follow these guidelines as a starting point.

For a beefy full sound that really brings out the snare, I start by setting a ratio of 5: 1. I may do 6: 1 or 4: 1 at times. It depends on what sound I want. Doing a ratio of 9: 1 may be a bit too aggressive, but hey try it out anyways and see what sound you achieve.

I then slowly decrease the threshold until I can feel the compression kicking it, making the snare pop out a bit. You will be able to see the GR or Gain Reduction meter showing you how much the compressor is compressing, but try trust your ears instead. Other times I would turn my threshold down as far as it goes, then dial it back up until I get the sound I want.

As for attack and release times, start with a slow attack and fast release. Then, do the opposite. See what works best. It really does depend on the snare and the song. The attack and release times can be the reason for a clicky sound at the start of the snare. The attack and release can also remove this click if you do not want it there. I personally mess around until there is a bit of a transient but not too much in my snare drum.

Then we have the make-up gain to dial in. For me, I always look at how much gain reduction is going on. So if I have -6 dB gain reduction, I add 6 dB of make-up gain. This is because I always have my sounds all balanced in my mix before processing, so doing this makes the snare go back to its original level, bringing the compression that I just added with it.

Again, use these as a guideline to get the sound you want as every snare and every song is different.

Conclusion

So use these guidelines I have given you as a starting point to getting the snare sound you want in your mix. Try turning some knobs to the extreme every now and then to see what happens. It's all about experimenting and learning.

Thanks for reading.

Look forward to more mixing tips soon.

Have an awesome day.

Evan.

How Did Recording To Tape Sound Better? How Can I Emulate It?

In a lot of ways people say that analog recording sounds better than digital recording. Is this the equipment? The tape being used? I will teach you in this article how it wasn’t about the vintage gear, but it was more about the playing.

In a lot of ways people say that analog recording sounds better than digital recording. Is this the equipment? The tape being used? I will teach you in this article how it wasn’t about the vintage gear, but it was more about the playing.

Processing The Drum Overheads Tips

In this article I will be giving you some tips on processing the overhead mics on a live drum kit. Some people say that the overheads make up 80% of your final drum sound. The overheads are what give your drums life and air. In this article I will be showing you my traditional way…

In this article I will be giving you some tips on processing the overhead mics on a live drum kit. Some people say that the overheads make up 80% of your final drum sound. The overheads are what give your drums life and air. In this article I will be showing you my traditional way of mixing the overheads and the ‘Beatles’ way of processing the drum overheads.

Get Punchy Kick And Snare Sounds In Your Mix With These Few Tips

The bass drum and snare are the king and queen of the drum set in my opinion, and some of the most important and loudest parts of most songs. It is important to get the kick and snare sounding really punchy to get a good sounding overall mix. In this article I will be sharing…

The bass drum and snare are the king and queen of the drum set in my opinion, and some of the most important and loudest parts of most songs. It is important to get the kick and snare sounding really punchy to get a good sounding overall mix. In this article I will be sharing my knowledge on how to get this punchy professional sounding kick and snare.

The Kick Drum

To start of the kick drum or bass drum, I use a gate. I especially use a gate for live drums as there may be bleed of the other drums getting picked up by the bass drum mic. I do sometimes use a gate when I am mixing drum machines as I may want the drum to be slightly tighter or if the recording I have some noise that I do not need. The gate is a good way to achieve tightness and punch in a drum sound. If you gate a live recorded drum heavyly, it may sound unnatural, so be sure to blend it in with the rest of the kit, especially the overhead mic (s) to get a natural sound while still retaining the quick punch.

I usually use a saturation plugin next. I use saturation when I feel that the bass drum does not feel quite warm or round enough. I also use saturation to bring out the top end of the drum sound. I use saturation to do this rather than an EQ as drastic EQ changes can sound unnatural. Saturation can add a nice thump and punch that EQ and compression can not quite achieve.

Next on the chain, I usually use a compressor. I ask myself first what exactly I want the compressor to do. In most rock and pop nowadays you really want consistency in your kick drum. Try using a ratio of about 6: 1 or 8: 1. Try a medium attack or short attack time, depending on what sound you want. Next I would typically play the rest of the mix and tweak the release time until the bass drum sound exactly how I want it. Not all kick drums are the same so mess around with these setting and see what works well in your mix.

Next I use an EQ. I start of by cutting away 6-8 dB around the 250 Hz – 500 Hz area. This move really cleans up the drum and makes it sound fuller and less muddy. In some cases I will use a low shelf to remove the extreme low end that lies around the 20 Hz – 30 Hz range. This gives me a lot more headroom and removes the unwashed rumble that may be picked up. In a lot of my mixes I want the beater of the kick to punch through, you can slowly boost around the 1500 Hz – 4000 Hz area to bring this top end out. Do not boost it too much as this is where a lot of people make there kick sound unnatural. I usually use a good old R & B trick that is usually used in a lot if hip hop and R & B songs. I get a band with a narrow Q and boost around 4 or 5 dB around the 50 Hz area. Then I get a second narrow Q band and boost it around 80 Hz another few dB. This makes the bass drum just really hit you right in the chest. It's an R & B trick but it works in every genre. Be careful that this move does not make your kick and bass guitar collide too much in the mix. An alternative to this is to make a wide Q boost of about 4 dB around the general 40 Hz – 70 Hz range. Experiment with your drum to see what works best.

That's typically as far as I go with the kick drum.

Snare Drum

Once again I start with a gate. This probably is the key to a punchy snare sound. Also, once again, it removes the bleed from the other drums going into your mic. Just remember, sometimes bleed coming into your mic is not necessarily a bad thing. It can really glue a mix together. Use a quick attack setting and mess around with the release and hold settings until you get the sound you want. Again, if it sounds gated and unnatural on its own, blend it in with the rest of the drum set until it sound both natural and punchy.

Saturation is usually my next move. Saturation on snare drum can lead to some really awesome results. I dial in a good bit of saturation till I hear the snare doing that familiar nearly squealing distortion sound. Then I dial back the saturation to about two thirds that amount. Let me just tell you, not many people do this, but saturation on a snare can lead to some serious punch.

I then use a compressor. I usually have a ratio of 3: 1 set. Then I do a medium to slow attack. Then I play the song while tweaking the release time to taste. This brings out the body of the snare drum and adds a certain thump that I really like.

I then use an EQ. With a snare, I like a good bit of low end, so I usually remove some of the 250 Hz – 450 Hz for added lows and to clean up any muddiness. I then do a high shelf to remove extreme brightness. A lot of the time people tend to add too much high end to a snare so it pops out more. This added brightness is just a temporary illusion and actually will sound really harsh and overly bright in the mix, as well as not leaving enough space for the rest of the snare to shine through. Then I do a low shelf and remove a good bit of the low end below 70 Hz. Maybe 10 dB. This cleans up the lows I do not need without destroying the signal. I then add a wide Q boost of around 4 dB to around 100 Hz. This just makes the snare sound so awesome. It gives it all the weight and punch it needs. If in the mix, the kick and snare are being hit at the same time, I am usually more careful of this move.

Sometimes, when people are mixing the snare, and they have a top and bottom mic, they are slowly pan both left and right for some separation.

So in conclusion, I hope this article has helped you get a punchier and better sounding kick and snare drum in your mix.

Thanks for reading.

Look forward to more mixing tips soon.

Have a nice day.

Evan.

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