In some cases, even top-quality drum recordings find it tricky to assert themselves in a mix. By using the equalizer in a precise way, you can focus on keynotes and phase interference. Learn how to integrate toms and overheads in your recordings and create fuller audio characteristics in our tutorial.
Generally speaking, all the toms used should be tuned to one another. Because the wanted signals and resonance frequencies of toms are often very similar, you have to be careful when cutting frequency ranges. For the floor tom, boost the fundamental tone at around 100 Hz, and for the high rack tom at around 250 Hz. Normally you can thin out the sound between 600 Hz and 800 Hz. To give the toms sufficient attack, we’ll boost the skin sound between 3 kHz and 5 kHz. This will help the toms stand out better in the mix. Accenting the highs between 7 kHz and 10 kHz can also give the toms a bit more gloss.
Here are some EQ recommendations for the toms:
Subbass range below 60 Hz: LoCut
Bass range 100 Hz – 250 Hz: +4dB
Skin attack 3 kHz – 5 kHz: +5dB
Highs 7 kHz to 10 kHz: +2dB
Tip: In most tom recordings the low mids are an especially sensitive frequency range. If the sound is too muffled, reduce the signal between 350 Hz and 450 Hz.
To make the hi-hat sound bright and crisp we’ll accent the highs using a shelving filter starting at 12 kHz. By boosting at around 200 Hz we can also accentuate the stick hit on the cymbal. We can reduce the hi-hat signal between 1 kHz and 5 kHz while simultaneously boosting the range between 6 kHz – 7 kHz.
Overheads / Room Microphones
The overhead microphones provide the entire spatial impression that the drum kit makes in the stereo image. In essence they convey the fundamental sound of the drums. They are also particularly important for capturing the sound of the cymbals.
Set the shelving filter for the highs starting at around 11 kHz to give the overheads enough air and gloss. Feel free to use a low cut on the frequency range under 100 Hz. It’s always a good idea to check the frequency range around 400 Hz and 800 Hz because signal components at these frequencies can lead to a muffled sound.
Using the guidelines listed above you can edit additional signals from other microphones on the crash or ride cymbals as well as other room microphones and add them to your mix.
However, when doing this be aware that a mix with several different room microphones can lead to phase cancellation which will make the overall sound impression muffled and weak.
Tip: When mixing the individual signals with the overheads make sure that the panorama settings and the audio impression of each instrument fit with the stereo image created by the overheads.
If you want to spice up your drum mix rhythmically, you can add drum, percussion or noise loops and position them in suitable parts of the arrangement. In addition to enhancing the rhythmic component the loops can also enrich the general drum sound in the mix. Because most loops cover the entire frequency spectrum it is usually necessary to thin them out in order to preserve the transparency of the mix.
When adding loops to an existing mix we can focus on the frequency range that is meant to enhance our mix and use low cut and high cut to remove the rest.
The best way to do this is to use a suitable bandpass setting for the EQ whereby all of the frequencies under and above the desired frequency band are cut.
Last but not least, align the added loops in the stereo image – perhaps even using panorama automation – to create a dynamic audio impression.
We hope you have fun creating the optimal drum sounds with the EQ.