getting drums to punch through mix

Discussion in 'Drums' started by ochaim, Dec 3, 2004.

  1. ochaim

    ochaim Guest

    I get the sense that I'm drowning out my kicks and snare in my mixes.

    I try to raise the level of the kick, but when it does punch through the mix, it's too overpowering and I can't make sense of where the level should be so it's enough, but not too much.

    The same goes with the snare, usually it ends up sounding like it's too low, and it gets lost, not so distinctive. But when I turn it up til it's just distinctive enough, it seems too loud, and ear shattering.

    The drums I'm using are sampled on the mpc60 from a sound module.

    I've read that if it sounds like things are clashing, lower the frequencies that are clashing with a particular element, via eq. So samples I have that have a bit too much middle eq, I'll push down a bit so the snare can come through clearer (theoretically??).. this hasn't worked too well either.

    Any advice would be great.
  2. gnarr

    gnarr Guest

    have you tried decreesing the volume of the guitars and bass etc. ? the way to a good mix is not making it to loud.
  3. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    Sounds like you need to re-think your monitor situation.
    If your monitors or your room or where you have your monitors in you room isn't giving you an accurate picture, then changing how you mix won't really matter.

    Accurate monitoring is the first step in any mix decision.

  4. ochaim

    ochaim Guest

    gnarr, yah, I've tried lowering elements that might interfere, but then they get lost as well.

    chris, the problem could very well be the monitor situation. They're low end monitors, Audix, and I didn't put much thought into placing them or the problems that might be inherent to the space that I'm using (finished basement).

    I'll look for some monitoring info. You have any links online for that?

  5. splurge

    splurge Guest

    I don't know what your set up is but maybe you could try this:
    Have a "copy "of your drums running through a compresser set at extreme settings, then fade this in whilst your track is running until your drums become present in the mix, not over powering.

    I hope I have explained this ok.

    Good luck


    PS. Or maybe you might just need to compress them ?
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Audix monitors actually have a decent reputation ... so I don't think that is the problem. I suspect your room may be the issue. Some absorption, diffusion and bass trapping will allow you to hear what you are doing better.

    Without hearing your recordings, it's difficult at best to tell what the problem (if any) is .. It sounds to me (from what you are saying) like you may be trying to make the guitars too loud. Remember, rock music is about the snare drum and the vocal, more than anything else. It's not such a bad thing to let the guitars get lost a bit in the mix occasionally. Adding some compression can help any sound punch through a dense mix as compression can make a sound appear to be louder than it really is. Often the problem lies in the arrangement of the song where too many elements are competing for the same sonic space. Make sure the guitars aren't all playing in the same octaves or in the same range as the bass is.

    I usually start a mix by bringing the kick and snare up to where I think they need to be and then adding the bass in ... If the bass is masking the snare or kick, sweep the mids until you find the range that is mucking up the works and apply some cut .. I usually cut the kick drum a few dB @ 200 to 250 Hz, with a narrow "Q" and then boost that same frequency on the bass to make it punch through on smaller speakers.

    Allow each element in the mix to have its own area in the frequency spectrum .. boost the mids a little on the guitars between 2kHz. and 5kHz.

    Try these things out and let us know if it helped ...
  7. ochaim

    ochaim Guest

    Splurge, I've heard of that technique before, thanks for reminding me.

    Kurt, I'll try your suggestions tonite, you got me back to basics, I was thinking too much about it...

    on the subject of eq sweeps. what are you looking for when trying to isolate the freq range that's mucking things up? I notice that when I do sweeps, there are spots where the volume goes up drastically, do these tend to be the problem areas? or is it more specific to the frequencies that are shared between elements? (where you would cut one to bring the other out)

  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Look for the elements that are sharing the same space when you sweep. Sometimes this is where the signal gets louder as you discribe ... You will probably find that this is almost always in the low mids area ... I call these frequencies the "wolf frequencies" because to me they make something soung like it's going "wolf, wolf, wolf". Other times it will be elsewhere. It all is dependent on the song arrangement, instuments etc.
  9. sammyg

    sammyg Active Member

    Dec 12, 2003

    I found I was encountering this problem a lot too, Kurts technique is the way I usualy work, however a few times I have tried another way which isnt too bad.

    I solo the drums, get them sitting right then group them to one bus, then instead of bringing in the bass guitar I bring in the rhythm guitars and get them sitting right with the drums, then I bring in the bass. I know this sounds wierd but I found that doing it this way I was matching the bass guitar with the rhythm guitars rather than the drums, but as a whole the mix sounded uncluttered and the guitars were just like Kurt describes, there, but not killing the rest of the mix, buried in a good way. I found that sometimes doing it the other way the rhythm guitars would end up too high in the mix. Usualy I comp my bass guitar pretty hard so it works in this scenario.

    I guess all I am doing is changing what I am using as a benchmark.
    Try it, I was rather suprised. :cool:

  10. BenLindell

    BenLindell Guest

    The best way i know to overcome this is to send the kick and snare to a bus. Then throw an limiter in that sends, set it up harsh, by its self it'll probably sound like crap, but then go to your full mix, with that return (or channel) down, and start mixing it in till it sounds better.

    I do this on most of my mixes to get a great bass drum and snare punch.

    Oh and also dont be afraid of cutting with the eq, its not made just for boosting, its great for carving out your mix

    My 2 cents,
  11. sharmon

    sharmon Guest


    Hi, i have the same problem a lot.

    I find myself trying to make things sound too BIG. I want everything big and everything christal clear. This has lead me to over producing sounds and i'm left with something that does sound big but not very natural, and nothing really seems to fit into the picture. the other day i started mixing a song a second time from scrath, eqing and compressing minimally and only doing things that seemed necessary, at the end of the mix it sounded much much better than what i had done previously, much more like a band playing than individual instruments.

    My opinion is:
    Snare: If using a sample then be sure to find the right sounding snare drum, cos if its not 'right' any amount of eqing aint gonna change that. Use the sample that needs least processing. Don't over-compress, it needs those dynamics. Are you triggering the snare from a recording or sequencing? If you are recording the snare and then triggering, maybe you can give the recording another look and see if you really want to trigger it. Sometimes the snare may not sound so great on its own, but might actually fit in well with the whole band.

    Bass Drum: On the whole most of what i said about the snare goes for the bass drum too. I used to always try to get rid of those softer kicks by over-compressing or triggering the damn thing, but i find that its a lot punchier when its meant to be with a little less compression. Depending on what sort of sound you want, sweet freqs are 50 to 85 or so, punch is around 100, tho personally i knock off quite a lot at 100. 'Boxy'/wolfy freqs are around 200, cut those to taste. To get a sweet slap boost a bit at about 5k.

    Those are my opinions :) Based on trial and error and also on reading a whole lot of Kurts posts and implementing his advise :)
  12. sharmon

    sharmon Guest


    Sorry, forgot something very important. This may sound silly, but listen to music in your studio, see where the snare has been placed. Think of what you would have done and if it would have been the same. Unless your monitors or room is really terrible, i don't think that should be a problem. Just be sure that you are very familiar with your monitors.
  13. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    I just tried sending my drum tracks to a group bus, compressed the absolute hell out of it, then brought the group track in under my drum tracks....holy crap what a life saver! The drums are really taking shape now and the drums are sounding consistent!
  14. ochaim

    ochaim Guest

    thanks guys...

    finally a day off and I got to try the tips you guys gave.

    it was a mixture of mixing from scratch a few times, and compressing the snare and kick, but I think it was the compression that really gave it the boost it needed.

    take a listen and let me know if anything is out of place, clashing, uneven, enough/too much de-essing etc...

    thanks again guys, especially kurt, liam and sammyg.
  15. heyman

    heyman Guest

    Hey, if you are interested I would be willing to remix it for you if want. No charge of course....

    Let me know if you are interested...
  16. ochaim

    ochaim Guest

    damn, is it that bad?? hehe..
  17. heyman

    heyman Guest

    Actually, no, I like it quite a bit. Just was wondering if you would like someone else to give it a go to see what type of Mix I can come up with.

    I have some snare and kick ideas ...

  18. BenLindell

    BenLindell Guest

    man it sounds pretty good, kick has a nice punch to it. Did you compress a bus or the kick channel?
  19. ochaim

    ochaim Guest

    Ben, I used compression on the snare and kick individually. I figured there'd be a lot more control that way in terms of how much comp to use on each.

    Jim, if you're on MSN messenger, I wouldn't mind sending the folder and see how you approach it.

  20. heyman

    heyman Guest

    Owen, I sent you an email and I am on Windows messenger. I added you to my list

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