Bring drums up in mix before mastering?

Discussion in 'Drums' started by behtbeht, Jun 14, 2004.

  1. behtbeht

    behtbeht Guest

    HI all, I hope I'm on the right forum, not being a mastering engineer. I've just completed a mix that I'm happy with. I'm sending it out to a really well known studio in my city to be mastered. The only problems with the mix were the drums, that for various reasons were hard to get thick enough as well as enough low end. I finally came up with the best mix I could and it's pretty decent. One of the things I want done in the mastering is to boost the bottom end on bass/drums and make the drums thicker and larger.
    To see what I could come up with on my own, I compressed the stereo mix itself (something I won't be doing before sending it to the studio) to see what could be done. Very shortly, I did indeed get more of the sound I wanted and thought "great, if I can do this with this little toy, the studio can do it a lot better".
    But two things bring me to this question: 1. I tried a different form of compression today that sounded better for the overall song, but seemed to bring the drums back which I don't want. 2. I've read that if you intend on compressing during mastering, you should have the drums louder in the mix than you'd normally like.
    So my question is, how important is this and when is it done? I don't want the overdose, maxiumum compression thing. I just want the low end thicker and the whole song punchier - which I achieved to a degree by myself. So in this case, would I turn the drums up a bit anyway and send that in? Or would it be okay to leave it as it is?
    In the end, I might just send in both mixes of course, but I'd like to know anyone's opinion about this.
    Sorry for the long post! Just wanted to be clear.

    Michael M.
  2. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    It's a very good question. Generally, when you bring up the low end on a mix, it can mask the snare a little, again it's hard to tell without hearing it. Compression normally won't kill the drums. Limiting on the other hand can. If most of the impact of the drum is the attack, then this will be the first to go when the ME kicks in the limiter. Thiner attacky drums suffer the most while thicker fuller drums tend to retain a lot of impact. I find that if you ride the drums up a little higher in the mix, they'll end up closer to where you want them when the level is raised during mastering. Now this can be tricky in regards to the kick and how big it is. If it's too big and you ride it up higher, it can duck the bass a little. If the bass is riding high in the mix, it can duck the kick. But for the most part, the snare suffers the most. It generally has most of it's impact in the attack and the limiter can duck this quite a bit depending on how hard he hits it. It would be great for you to attend the mastering session if you can, as you will learn what happens during the process. I would definately do 2 or more versions to cover yourself. Again it's hard to tell without hearing it but if you have concerns now, then go with your gut. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to whip off a copy and send it to the ME and get his take on it if he can. This may point out possible other fixes to help you achieve what your looking for.


    I have one engineer that uses the transient designer on his snare which exagerates the attack. When he requests the mix to be crankin loud, this is the first thing to go. I have him give me the mix he likes and then one with the snare up a few db. I find in this case the snare up works best.

    I have another engineer that mixes his drums very organically. the impact of the drum is in the body of the drum. After some precision compression, I can make the drums jump out and therefore no drum ups are needed.

    If I have multiple versions, I can tell within a couple of minutes which one will translate more to their liking. This will save lots of time in the long run and you'll be happier with the end product. Once you get a feel for what happens and he gets a feel for your mixes and your likes, you'll be able to reduce the number of mixes you have to do in the future. I request that most of my first time clients attend the session if they can. I get a feel for what they are looking for and we can sift through versions to find what best serves their needs. After that, they know what to do in the future. Hope this helps
  3. behtbeht

    behtbeht Guest

    Yes, it does help - quite a bit - thanks! I think I may be your example number two - not needing to up the drums, but I'll go with an alternate mix just in case.
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