3 Ways to Clean Up Your Drum Sound When Using Subgroups
A “newbie” (his words, not mine) writes in with a question about groups.
I’m still struggling with HOW and WHEN to group and subgroup. I understand WHAT to group/subgroup, I think!!
You know, backing vocals, percussion, drums. BTW, when do you include, say, the kick in the drum group since you’re not likely to add reverb, delay. Do you process the kick, if any, then add it to a group?
Groups and subgroups is something I’ve talked about quite extensively. It’s my #1 recommendation when it comes to simplifying your mix.
It helps you organize your tracks better, it cuts your track count down and it simply makes for an easier mixing experience.
When should you subgroup?
From the start. If you start your session off by grouping everything together and making it simpler, you’ll be surprised at how much easier mixing will become.
But there are those times when you don’t want to include every track in a group. Grouping together drums is great for controlling volume, but if you send the drum group with the kick into a reverb you might end up with a messy drum sound.
At that point there are 3 things you can do:
1. Don’t group the kick – If you exclude the kick drum from the drum group you can add whatever processing you desire without having to worry about the kick drum. This is easy enough to do but you just have to remember to pay attention to the kick drum by itself. It’s a little extra work but sometimes it’s better to have individual control over the kick drum.
2. Send sending each track to the reverb might be better. It allows you to vary the send amount and reverb level from track to track but the downside is that you bypass any processing you’ve done on the group bus before it hits the reverb.
3. EQ your reverbs – I think this is my favorite solution. Just send everything, kick included, to your reverb and slap an EQ on the aux return before the reverb. Then use a high-pass filter to cut out the lows from the kick ever reaching the reverb. You’ll get a nice, full reverb sound for your drums without the clutter from the kick drum.
Using subgroups, sends, filters and reverb is something I talk extensively about in Mixing Strategies. If you want more simple tips like this you can go check it out here: