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How to Mix Drums Like the Rockstar You Really Are

Here are a couple good tips if you’re mixing drums.

Start with overheads

Listen to the overall drum sound through the overheads.

That’s where the essence of the drums come from so they need to sound great. Approach the overhead sound like you would a mastering session. The overheads are a combination of different instruments that you need to mix together.

but a boomy snare drum. That’s why subtle EQ’ing is key for the overheads.

Compression – I like routing my overheads to a separate stereo bus an compressing them together. It helps to use compression to glue both overheads together. I talk extensively about the benefits of routing and subgroups in the new version of Mixing Strategies(

Add in the Kick and Snare

This is the time to use EQ and compression to really make the kick drum shine.

EQ – Use your spot mics to really use your EQ skills instead of on the overheads.

Here’s my mantra when it comes to kick drums:

Cuts the mids, boost the lows and sprinkle with highs.

That’s it! Get rid of the boxiness in the middle, increase the thickness in the lows and accent the beater in the high-mids.

The snare is a little different. I usually filter out the lows, cut the boxiness but sometimes boost the mids. And finally I add a little crackle and pop to the highs.

Compression – Depending on your compression preferences you have two choices:

  1. Hit them hard – High ratios, fast attacks and lots of gain reduction. Not my favorite but sometimes works.
  2. Keep them level and tight – Medium ratios, attack and release in time with the song and moderate gain reduction.

I prefer the second one because I do most of my heavy compression with parallel processing. They both have their places and uses so pick the one ya want!

Finish With the Rest

I approach the toms very similarly to how I work on the kick drum. It’s just a matter of sweeping around and finding the right frequency to cut and boost for each individual tom.

From there I add the right reverb and sometimes choose a different one for the snare to make it stand out.

In the new version of Mixing Strategies 2.0 I’ve added a whole chapter on how to make your tom sound juicy and tight. That’s in addition to the 35 different drum mixing tips that are already in there.

Get Mixing Strategies 2.0 right here:


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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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