EQ and Compression Techniques For Drums in Mixing

Even though the drummer plays the whole kit as a single instrument, the miking of individual drums and cymbals could create for a pretty complicated blend situation. Why I reference nation and rock music especially has to do with all the truth that in these genres the sounds of the individual drums and cymbals are not just singled out by individual microphones located on each of them and their sounds are exaggerated to create an a lot more dramatic impact.

Consider, for illustration, the tom fills in Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.” By comparison, jazz drums are usually treated as a more cohesive, unified sound and it’s not unusual to utilize a easy pair of overhead mics to capture the sound of the whole jazz drum kit.

In this short article, I’m going to go drum by drum providing EQ and compression settings that may, hopefully, offer a bouncing off point for you to get superb drum sounds in your blend. Because of its all-in-one mixing board channel approach, I’ll be utilizing Metric Halo’s Channel Strip plug-in with its EQ, compression and noise-gate to illustrate my comments about many EQ and compression settings.

Kick Drum

As the heartbeat of the modern drum kit, the kick drum sound we’ve grown accustomed to hearing is both boomy and round found on the bottom and has a good, bright click in the significant mid range. It’s the balancing act between EQ and compression that provides the kick drum its ability to stand out in a blend. Starting with EQ, how to highlight the lows and highs is to eliminate some low-mids. I’m a big believer in cutting as opposed to improving EQ to achieve a desired impact. As a happen, I tend to pull someplace between 2 to 4db at between 350hz-450hz.

Then, after removing a few of this low-mid mud within the sound, I could enhance the clicking sound of the beater hitting the head of the kick drum by improving around 2db in the 2k-3k range. I’m providing approximate dB and frequency range settings because depending found on the kick drum, mic location and, naturally the drummer, all these settings might differ. Use these general ranges as a bouncing off point and then trust your ears.

As far as compression settings go, the trick is to maintain the transient attack of the kick drum with a quick but not too quick attack time (9ms in this instance) and then a rapid launch (11ms) so the compressor is prepared to reply to the upcoming kick drum hit. The ratio I utilize is a reasonably light 2.5:1 and I adjust the threshold until I hear the kick sound I’m looking for. Finally, in purchase to provide the kick drum sound some separation within the rest of the kit, I utilize a sound gate and adjust the threshold to permit the kick sound to come through while basically muting most the alternative drum/cymbal sounds. Also, while setting the attack to the Channel Strip’s quickest “auto” setting, I let for a lengthy (400ms) launch.

Sub Kick

This certain miking trick is 1 that is chosen to bring wonderful low-end presence to the kick drum. By technique of explanation, a brief stand carrying basically the woofer of the speaker is located in front of the kick drum and picks up predominantly the low frequencies. When mixed with all the kick drum mic, the sub-kick generates ideal force in the lowest piece of the frequency.

In purchase to highlight the most crucial ingredients of the sub kick’s sound, I tend to employ a low pass filter approach to my EQ that removes all frequencies above 500hz and drops off more dramatically below 100hz. This really is to ensure that just the important components of the sub kick’s sound come through. The sub kick ought to be felt over it is very heard. In terms of compression, a ratio of around 5:1, a comparatively slow attack (120ms) and medium quick launch (57ms) let the sub kick’s tone to remain present and full underneath the sound of the kick drum’s normal miked sound. Next, I’ll employ a sound gate with a quick attack (20ms) and slower launch (200ms) to keep out any different kit sounds that could otherwise bleed into the sub kick sound.


Along with all the kick drum, the snare drum is necessary for driving a rhythm track. Poor EQ and compression techniques will leave it sounding thin, dull and usually uninspired. In purchase to highlight the greatest components of the snare sound with EQ, I’ll boost the low end of the snare by 2-3dB at around 80hz, cut 2-3dB between 350-450hz and then boost again, if required, for more high-end brightness, by 1-2dB at 5k. These 3 EQ points are a superb region to begin to sculpt an interesting snare sound.

Compression on a snare is a real balancing act where too much takes away the stamina of the performance and too little makes it practically impossible to obtain an appropriate level for the snare in the blend. I use a ratio of 2.5:1 with a surprisingly rapid attack (2ms) and launch (11ms). If you’re acquiring that you’re losing the snap of the snare, slow your compressor’s attack a small but remember that slowing the attack too much takes the compressor too lengthy to grab onto the sound and usually leave the snare a lot less manageable in the blend.

Adjust the threshold settings until details sound appropriate to your ear. This basically enables you to choose how much total compression you’ll be applying. Don’t overdo it or the drum usually lose its power but don’t go too lightly or the snare won’t stand up in the blend. Gating the snare is a trial and mistake task too. Depending on whether the snare approach in the track is aggressive or soft may have a lot to do with your threshold settings. Like found on the kick drum, I utilize the quick “auto” attack along with a slower launch found on the gate in an attempt to keep out the ambient sounds of the cymbals, toms and kick.


While clearly a cymbal, the hi-hat is usually employed more as a rhythmic element than a tone color like a few of the alternative cymbals in a drum kit. Making certain it has its own sonic area and speaks clearly without being too loud and distracting is what EQ and compression are about in this example. For EQ, I’ll again employ a shelving approach at around 200hz that might effectively clear out low-end info that is non-essential to the hi-hat sound. If I’m interested in delivering in a bit more high-end shimmer and sizzle, I’ll boost between 1-3dB between 6k and 8k again utilizing my ears to tell me what’s functioning. In general, I tend to avoid compression found on the hi-hat as it seems to locate is own dynamic range without too much more aid.

Low (Floor) Tom

A well-mixed set of toms will create all of the difference between drum fills that are exciting and those that go by without capturing the listener’s ear. Starting with all the low tom, I tend to take into consideration the places in the frequency range that enhance both the boom as well as the snap (synonymous to the method I approach the kick). In order to highlight the low standard of the drum, I’ve found a dramatic cut (12dB) at around 500hz enables the drum to talk clearly. Also, to incorporate the high-end snap, a semi-aggressive boost of between 4-6dB at around 3k usually do the trick. Compression moreover adds a lot to the equation. A ratio of around four.5:1, a slower attack of 120ms and medium slow launch of around 90ms usually assist the sound stay full and resonant. For the threshold, I just adjust until the tom rings correctly. Gating is another main element for toms as the big diaphragm mics placed on these drums tend to choose up a great deal of the extraneous sounds within the rest of the kit.

I set the gate with all the quickest “auto” attack along with a slow 400ms launch and then adjust the threshold until I’m hearing just the low tom come through when it’s hit. For the “tweak heads” among us there’s a somewhat more exact and labor-intensive method to do this. By entering the actual sound files in your DAW and deleting all but the tom hits themselves, you are able to create a well gated tom track.

High (Rack) Tom

Like the low tom, the significant tom has it’s own frequencies that ought to be cut/accentuated to enhance the sweetest components of the sound. For EQ, I’ll do another big cut of around 10dB at 600hz and I’ll create a similarly big boost of around 7dB at around 2k. For compression, I employ a somewhat more aggressive 6:1 ratio slower attack (100ms) along with a fast launch (25ms). As with all the low tom, I’ll gate the excellent tom utilizing the identical gate attack (quickest “auto”) and launch (400ms). The key to the threshold is to change it until just the excellent tom punches through keeping the channel really muted for the rest of the time. A final note found on the toms, as all tom sizes, tunings and even drummers are different, you’ll should play with these settings until you see the sweet spots.

Overheads / Room Mics

Given that we’ve prepared a real effort to isolate and enhance each of the individual drums in the kit, overhead mics serve the double cause of capturing the cymbals and integrating the combined sound of the kit into the sound of the drums. I pay attention to 3 certain EQ points in purchase to provide the overhead mics a clean, balanced tone. First I’ll employ a excellent pass filter (shelving EQ) at the low frequency of 40hz to wash up any unwanted sub-sonic rumbling. Then I’ll pull about 5dB at between 100 and 200hz to avoid any low-mid buildup. Finally, if required, I’ll enhance the total brightness of the cymbals/kit with a little 1-2dB boost at around 5k. For compression, I’ll set the ratio at about 3:1, the attack at around 110ms as well as the launch at a somewhat faster 70ms. The threshold ought to be modified to ensure that the overhead/room sound blends with all the total kit blend. Finally, adjust the amount of the overhead mics in the blend until you choose up only enough of the area to place some air and level into the kit.

Limiting the Sub Mix

A final trick to incorporate punch to the total drum kit is to send the individual tracks to a stereo sub blend and spot a limiter like the Waves L1 on that stereo auxiliary track. By adjusting the threshold until the attenuation is between 5-7dB, you’ll discover that the kit has a truly pleasing total punch and presence.

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