How to Use EQ to Improve Your Kick Drum Sound
Mixing drums starts with the foundation. The kick drum.
The kick drum sound, along with the snare, will be the defining factors of your drum sound. If the kick drum sounds bad, the foundation of the song will lose its footing.
The kick drum needs to be tight and punchy, with enough low-end to fill up the bass range and enough mids to cut through the mix.
EQ is one of the most important tools you can use to get a better kick drum sound, but where do you start? The frequency range is so big, and to a beginner it might be hard to figure out which frequencies are better than others.
You’re in luck.
Guidelines for Greater EQ’ing
Filter for Clarity – A high-pass filter isn’t used much for bass instruments, but it can clean up the low-end of the kick drum quite well. Don’t overdo the filtering, just below 50 Hz can make the kick drum tight while cleaning up unnecessary low-end.
Low End Thump – It’s important to emphasize the low-end of the kick with EQ. If you feel there isn’t enough bass to your kick drum, a low shelving boost around 80 – 100 Hz normally does the trick.
Get Rid of Boominess – A boomy kick drum can also cloud up the clarity of your kick drum sound, so it’s normally a good idea to cut around 200 – 250 Hz if you feel there is too much muddiness in your kick drum sound.
Cut out the Boxiness – A boxy that resides in the aread around 300 – 600Hz or so.
Bring out the Beater – If your kick drum is all thump and no snap then we need to bring out the sound of the beater. We can usually find it around the 2 – 4 Khz area.
Depending on the genre of the song, and the type of beater used, different frequency boosts in the beater area generate different sounds. A boost at 2.5 Khz is more of a typical rock sound as opposed to a narrower boost at around 4 Khz, which results in a Hardcore Metal type snap.
Filter the High-End – Filtering out the high-end can work well if there is a lot of bleed from the snare and cymbals. A low-pass filter down to 10 kHz or can really get rid of that high-end you really don’t need in the kick drum sound.
EQ’ing your kick drum correctly is the first step towards a better sounding bass drum. Once you’ve gotten to grips with the EQ spectrum, and how to use it to make your kick drum sound spectacular, then you can focus on other things in the mix.
Start with the kick drum to get the groove going, it’ll make the mixing process much more enjoyable.
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Image by: Paul Graham Raven