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An Unconventional Trick to Tame Harsh Cymbals I Learned at NAMM

Last weekend I went to NAMM and spent a lot of time studying from all the great audio engineers speaking at the trade show.

One interesting thing I learned was how Jacquire King, who’s worked with Kings of Leon, Tom Waits, James Bay and Kaleo to name few, handled harshness in his cymbal tracks when mixing drums.

Instead of using EQ to tame the high-mid area to make them less pronounced, he used a de-esser to target those frequency areas instead.

Because a de-esser is just a frequency dependent compressor, you can set it to an annoying frequency range that is overpowering your high-mids to smooth out that area instead of resorting to EQ.

This might be more beneficial when you don’t want to cut out frequencies, but rather tame them when they get too loud.

This is similar to my trick from yesterday of using multi-band compression to tame the low-mids and is another example of how you can use multiple different ways to handle your mixing problem.

You don’t need to handle everything with EQ. You can often use dynamic processing to tame the unnecessary frequencies you don’t want.

In fact, when it comes to drums, using dynamic processing like multi-band compression (and de-essing it seems) can be a better solution than just carving stuff away with EQ.

So think about that the next time you’re mixing your drums. Instead of resorting to EQ, try experimenting with your compressors, transient designers, de-essers and gates to solve your problems.

And if you need help understanding how they all work, we cover it all inside the Drum Mix Toolkit.

Check it out 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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