Let me burst a bubble for you today. Something that’s been on my mind lately as I’ve been writing a lot about mixing drums.
Here it is:
There is no one way to mix drums.
There are no magic frequencies that must be boosted or cut in every drum sound because every drum recording is different. There are no holy compression thresholds because sometimes you want to go easy (or hard) on that particular song.
As the immortal Tenacious D sang:
“Sometimes you’ve got to squeeze,
Sometimes you’ve got to say please”
The same goes for EQ, saturation, reverb and anything else you’d like to slap on your drum bus.
In addition, different genres demand different things. You wouldn’t mix a punchy and hard-hitting heavy metal kick drum the same way you’d mix a soft and spacious folky kick. You’d approach them completely different. Your mixing decisions should adapt to the nature of what the song is giving you.
For lack of a better way to describe it, the song will tell you how you should mix it. If it’s an aggressive song you’ll react aggressively (within reason, no need to completely crush and distort your drums just because the vocals keep screaming at you).
Conversely, a quiet ballad that makes you melancholic and yearn for the “good old days” will make you react in a more restrained manner.
However, regardless of what the genre is, there are definitely some must-know tricks and techniques to know when you’re trying to make an acoustic drum kit sound stellar.
My friends over at The Pro Audio Files just came out with a brand-new workshop based entirely on mixing acoustic drums, a topic which I am very excited about. I mix a lot of acoustic drums so I’m happy someone is taking the topic on.
If you’re interested in taking a look at the workshop Dan gave me a 25% off coupon for Audio Issues readers. Use my affiliate link below and use the code ‘audioissues’ when you check out to grab your discount. It’s applicable to the Mixing Acoustic Drums workshop as well as any of the other workshops, including the bundle.