I was giving feedback to a mix yesterday that had some low-end problems with the kick drum.
More specifically, it was the lack of low-end that was the issue.
I originally thought it was just a mix decision where the engineer had decided to use the bass to carry the low-end of the kick/bass interplay. The kick came out nicely in the high-mids and the beater really cut through the mix but it was lacking in the bass area.
The engineer, Rodney, came back to me with this response:
“Part of my issue with the bass drum is that we didn’t capture a good low end in the recording. I actually copied the track and then eq’d it to bring out the beater a little more to help it be heard at all. “
When that’s the issue there are a couple things you can do to fix the low-end of the kick drum.
1. Drum Replacement
I use Drumagog 5 to enhance the sound of my drums. It’s a great plug-in and helps me take my home-recorded drum sound to the next level.
Even if the tracks are great I still check whether I can add something extra to it, and with the blend slider it really helps blend the sample and the kick together.
There are plenty of other drum replacement software out there, many of which are included inside your DAW. With drum replacement there’s really no excuse not to have a great drum sound.
But if that’s not something you can do you can also try:
2. Sub Bass Enhancer
You’re probably familiar with the exciter, the plug-in that adds artificial harmonics to your high-end.
Not as many might be familiar with its counterpart. In Logic Pro X it’s called the SubBass plug-in and it helps add artificial low-end to your kick drum or bass guitar.
It’s actually a technique I use inside Quick Mixing, and it’s the one where Mitch Stallings didn’t even have words to describe my methods:
However, sometimes you don’t need to get so technical with fancy plug-ins. Maybe all you need is EQ?
3. Carving Out a Space With EQ
If you have a decent amount of lows in your kick drum you should just be able to EQ that weight into your mix.
Finding a good place in the lows where the kick really has weight and then cutting those frequencies in the bass (and vice-versa) is an age old trick.
It’s all a matter of finding the right spot where you get the best from the kick drum while not taking too much away from the bass guitar.
It’s a bit of search and destroy (or is it search and rescue?), but once you find the right frequencies in each instrument it’s a breeze to create a good balance between the kick and the bass guitar.
If you’re looking for a shortcut and want me to show you how much of a difference EQ makes in a mix, check out my 1-hour walkthrough inside EQ Strategies: