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Tips & Techniques:Drums - Mixing tips by James Meeker

Random tips... not always useful but nice to know.

1.) Snares love plate 'verb

2.) Multiple 'verbs on snare often works

3.) Cutting top end off room mics is often good

4.) "Modern" kick drums have a lot less low end than you may think, and a lot more 4-6K... you may end up boosting +12 db in that range... don't fret, it happens.

5.) Nail you kick/snare compression attack/release curves right away. Once you nail that (and you'll hear it when you do) you've got the drum sounds nailed.

6.) Don't pan the toms too far... 75-45% wide does the trick.

7.) Don't go insane with the top end of the OH's.... too much 10K+ ends up with a very amateur sound.

8.) Snare EQ: HP around 70hz, boost around 120-240, cut around 500-700, boost at 1.2K, and look for something between 3 and 10 K for more boost depending. Depends on what you got and want. Piccolo snares tend to like 6-7k boosts.

9.) Try parallel compression on only the rooms--run one fairly mild, and the other set to annihilate. Balance them out until it sounds cool.

10.) Knock out some 200 and 800 hz in room mics... leave the rest of it alone except for maybe some mild 8 Khz lowpassin'. If the kick has to be tight, HP the signal as well.

11.) Ruthlessly cut the lower mids on kick.... 6-15 db cuts should do around the 300-500 area. Set bandwidth to taste... the tighter the kick you want the more around 150-250 you should be rollin' off on.

12.) Pick either your OH's or rooms as being dominant. Don't put 'em in at the same levels--have one louder than the other. The "modern" way is to choose the rooms a bit more--to balance out the ultra compressed and loud direct mics. Most OH's these days are cymbal info and a little clarity only and are often low in the mix (like -12 db on the meters it seems).

13.) Limit *AND* compress kicks and snares. Love compression with a vengeance for that Lord Alge sound.

14.) Put a stereo widener on your OH's... makes the drumkit image bigger, can make the snare sound a bit fatter too.

15.) Put 20 ms delay on your room mics to get that Albini sound.

16.) Apply vigorous amounts of tape saturation as the first plugin in your chain.... you'll need less compression later on. Gets a good vintage/indie type sound if you lay it on there.

17.) 20-80 ms of predelay on snare 'verbs can be cool.

18.) Non-lin verb sounds on drums is probably going to come back in style--I've already gotten requests for "big 80's drum sounds, tons of reverb" from young bands.

19.) Don't compress your OH mics.

20.) See if you can get a good sound using only your OH's and (some) room mics. Add minor amounts of close kick/snare (maybe not snare) for a vintage type sounds. It can be interesting how great you can get this to sound (except forget it when doing "modern" rock or metal--you need all the close mics you can get).

21.) When in doubt use triggers/samples. However, if it's a "learning" session or your trying to improve your chops don't use those things until you learn how to mix without it. Use the bare minimum when you do use 'em...
James Meeker
Lava Room Recording Studio

From thread:
Contributors: mw, peeder
Created by peeder, 8th January 2008 at 09:57 AM
Last edited by mw, 27th March 2012 at 03:05 PM
Last comment by ianbryn11 on 26th February 2009 at 09:09 PM
26 Comments, 107,792 Views

(26) Comments for: Drums - Mixing tips by James Meeker Page Tools Search this Page
Old 8th January 2008
There are several points here I couldn't agree with less.
Like cutting the top off the room mics, like using 15db of in low mids. If you have to do that you didn't record the drums right, and what's the point of it all if you're going to replace the sound with a sample anyway. As far as verb goes, that is song dependent, as is quite abit of the treatments listed, and in my opinion the need or not for parallel compression depends on the drummer, the song and the whole production. To me the best tip for getting great drum sounds is a great drummer that has been recorded right.
Sometimes you need to do most of what's listed but at for me usually not.
Old 9th January 2008
Gear maniac
Ged Leitch's Avatar

Jeez, lighten up.

They are "suggestions" that may or may not work in the context,

I think most of them are good tips,

and obviously you need to start with a good performance first!!

these are "mixing" tips not "how to hire the best session drummer" tips

thanks James for the info mate.
Old 9th January 2008
Lives for gear
Mike Caffrey's Avatar
I'm kind of with Lou on this. There are a few things that I think are simply not true.

I think one problem with the EQ advice is thatit's too specific. I completly agree with the point he's trying to make - the trick with a kick drum is npt about making a big low end and the shape of the point at the top detemins who it will cut through the mix.

I bet my kick sound is fairly similar, but with far less EQ and the resulting trashing of the sound through EQ phase. Then again, sometimes that phase sounds good.

Speaking of which, there wasn't a single mention of mic phase in getting a good drum sound, which is pretty much the only thing that matters.
Old 10th January 2008
Gear maniac
macmod's Avatar

noooooo..please heh

18.) Non-lin verb sounds on drums is probably going to come back in style--I've already gotten requests for "big 80's drum sounds, tons of reverb" from young bands.

Best regards, I already love this new tips&tricks section..lots of info, thanks!
Old 10th January 2008
Originally Posted by Ged Leitch View Post
Jeez, lighten up.

They are "suggestions" that may or may not work in the context,

I think most of them are good tips,

and obviously you need to start with a good performance first!!

these are "mixing" tips not "how to hire the best session drummer" tips

thanks James for the info mate.
sorry but these are put out here as things you should do, and some of them are pretty radical, in my opinion. If you get drums that are poorly recorded, then you pull out every trick in the book. If you recorded them and you have to do that much to the drums, you did a poor job of micing or the drummer wasn't up to the job. And if you're eqing the sh#$ out of the snare, why then do you have to use a sample?
As far as parallel compression goes if you're trying to get an insane amount of smack
out of the kit, using parallel compression is one way to do that, When I first saw that trick 22 years ago where it was most effective was on the kick and snare. So why say
only on the room. Mike said it better than I, these "tips" are too specific. Michael Brauer has given tips on parallel compression, Joe Ferla has given tips on micing a drum kit, check them out
Old 10th January 2008
Lives for gear
peeder's Avatar

Thread Starter
These are Mr. Meeker's tips of things to try, which might not always work. This is not The Final List Of Ways To Mix Drums. I think the article is clearly and accurately labeled. I don't do all or even most of these but they are food for thought.
Old 10th January 2008
Lives for gear
Mike Caffrey's Avatar
Then they are creative ideas, not tips for a Wiki guidline on how to mix drums.
Old 10th January 2008
I think I am to blame for some misunderstanding.

While I trumpeted the arrival of this new section (that technically has Wiki like functionality capable), AS a Wiki, the real truth of the matter is I have disabled all the "anyone can edit anyones contribution" functionality.

So it is most definately NOT a Wiki.

You will notice that I am no longer calling it a Wiki either. I am calling it a Tips and Techniques DIRECTORY and that's an accurate name for it.

At the moment a few GS members are taking it upon themselves to call bull**** on the tips. (And I have deleted several pointlessly bitching posts)

But I think they will give that up as the penny drops that these are in no way presented as definitive fact.

As I say, my bad, I am using Wiki capable software but NOT as a true Wiki as my initial promotion suggested.

I apologize for this miss-labeling.

We are bound to get some 'dumb' tips and I will be deleting those gradually. Feel free to point them out to me.

Best regards to all


Old 11th January 2008
Gear maniac
macmod's Avatar

Well Jules, FWIW I like this new section and a good thing is that the comments are ''under the hood'' and that the tips are apparently being ''watchdogged'' by you

Old 11th January 2008

For sure an ongoing filtering system will be in action as this Tips & Techniques directory fills up..

Things might get renamed / moved around to make it easier to find stuff.

Also GS members might start 'rating tips' (via the rate this thread function) so that might help people zoom in to the coolest info fast..

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