Advanced Drum Mixing / Mastering

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#1
Hello chaps,

So I have been searching through the forum and can only find one thread with a title related to mixing or mastering drums. I went through some of the recommendations, including this article: http://music.tutsplus.com/tutorials/3d-mixing-part-3-equalization--audio-5370 That thread was back in 2011 anyway so thought I would spark the discussion up again.

I am finally getting my drums sounding real nice, more punch and sizzle than Mike Tyson on a BBQ. Ok, maybe that's a little exaggeration...

Basically, I was wondering if anyone could share any wisdom, articles etc on advanced EQing, mixing or mastering? What does the DnB mastering technician look for when he is mastering a track? How do we put that finishing touch on making our drums sounds cohesive, and fitting tidily in the mix?

Any thoughts?

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Serum

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#2
I like to keep things very very simple and find that most things can be done on the individual volume faders rather than with fancy EQing or processing at the mixing stage.

I generally just filter the flab out of the bottom ends of sounds if I don't want them and just leave them as they are otherwise. If the tops seem too high there is probably an individual sound that needs either turning down or replacing and so on. You can make sounds gel simply by setting the levels correctly.

In my experience things tend to stick out because they're too loud for the rest of the track or because the quality of the sound is poor.
 

kama

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#3
Yeah to my experience its much more about the source sound than processing. Recently I've been leaving the individual track processing to a minimum, apart from low cuts and perhaps giving some sounds more high end. Then I stick the tracks to a group and compress. This way it's easy to hear if any single sound is drowning out others and rebalance.

But I have to say, drums are always my weak point :D
 

bhksamples

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#4
Serum say's it, i do it the same way. The first step is to glue the drums as best as possible with balancing the levels. Also keep any eye of the stereo width of your single drum hits and fix this before so your drums fit to each other here too.

Kick and snare have roughly the same levels, hihats , cymbals and percussion have roughly 20 % - 40 % of kick or snare levels. This is just a roughly guideline, but will help to get a feeling for it faster.

Once your drums sound good, you have to fit all other tracks around. Listen closely when you fit the frequencys ( lows, mids and highs ) of all other sounds around by their dominance so the drums don't get distorted
at all in the whole mixdown process.
 
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Sammy Dexcell

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#5
Yea as mentioned above that is the method i go by too and thats not just with drums, everything get's this treatment of adjusting volumes/equing to get it sitting right.
Makes your track sound a lot cleaner and less muddied overall.
Theres also the method of grouping things and using compressors to gel everything together i read a thread on here a while back from june miller saying they compress individual drum hits aswell as the group that they get bus'd too. And it works for them as their drums to me, are sick! But this method as a beginner is difficult to get right as most people will over do it and the tunes sound too sharp and obviously compressed.

There's no be all and end all method though, so experiment with different techniques. If you find yourself getting lost, reference stuff to get your bearings and see whats missing etc
 

alz

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#6
Yeah what I tend to do is start off by soloing the kick drum, then solo in all the other drum tracks individually, that usually makes it easier to give yourself a good perspective on the overall balance.
 

sam the dnb man

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#7
I always pitch my hits when layering so that they are either in the same key or just until it sounds good. I'll then nudge one hit forwards or backwards to get the phase as tight as possible. Maybe phase invert one of the hits as well if it's sounding flabby
 

Binary_UK

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#8
I have no rules for drums, I love bussing mine to a drum bus, adding a prefader send with light tube distortion, a touch of reverb then adjusting the levels to suit.

From here I add a pro - c to gel things, and get the levels just right
 
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#9
I'm trying to get my head around parallel compression. i'm bussing all of my individual drum sounds out to an auxiliary with very little compression and subtle eq. i also route to another bus with some more aggressive compression and eq. then i send those two auxiliaries to final auxiliary which is my drum master. makes them sound a bit better but i still haven't fully grasped it yet.maybe a little more work on the eq and some subtle compression of the individual hits pre send would help? I don't really like to do something unless i understand what i'm doing though.
 

Serum

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#10
I'm trying to get my head around parallel compression. i'm bussing all of my individual drum sounds out to an auxiliary with very little compression and subtle eq. i also route to another bus with some more aggressive compression and eq. then i send those two auxiliaries to final auxiliary which is my drum master. makes them sound a bit better but i still haven't fully grasped it yet.maybe a little more work on the eq and some subtle compression of the individual hits pre send would help? I don't really like to do something unless i understand what i'm doing though.
The idea is that you're mixing a compressed signal in with a dry one. It brings up the quiet sections more than if you just compress on its own. You can do the same sort of thing with distortion as well. I'm not sure whether EQing one and not the other will cause some sort of issue. It might be best to eq both of them the same or just do the EQing on the individual bits. Having said that if it sounds good then don't worry.
 
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#11
I'm trying to get my head around parallel compression. i'm bussing all of my individual drum sounds out to an auxiliary with very little compression and subtle eq. i also route to another bus with some more aggressive compression and eq. then i send those two auxiliaries to final auxiliary which is my drum master. makes them sound a bit better but i still haven't fully grasped it yet.maybe a little more work on the eq and some subtle compression of the individual hits pre send would help? I don't really like to do something unless i understand what i'm doing though.
InstinctHostile referred me to this youtube video which explained it enough for me to get my head around: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRW3SGK79dM

I'm no expert, but I have been adding some eq / effects on my individual drum tracks before sending them to their own busses. So for example, my snare (which is layered from two or three hits) will have a bit of distortion and reverb added so the hit itself sounds nice and cohesive. Then I send this through to one of two drum busses with all the other drum elements. Then I compress that quite heavily and mix the compressed signal in with the rest of the drums on another bus with a dry signal (no effects). Hope that makes sense!

Anyway, thanks for all the tips people. I'm really looking forward to posting up my first tune and getting some feedback. I am pushing my ancient macbook pro to the limit though so now I am getting deep into my project my computer is failing on me a bit. Just ordered some new RAM so hope that can see me through to the end of the tune. :)
 
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#12
The idea is that you're mixing a compressed signal in with a dry one. It brings up the quiet sections more than if you just compress on its own. You can do the same sort of thing with distortion as well. I'm not sure whether EQing one and not the other will cause some sort of issue. It might be best to eq both of them the same or just do the EQing on the individual bits. Having said that if it sounds good then don't worry.
thanks for the breakdown.that should make it a bit easier to grasp.i kept the eq the same with subtle generic boosts on this bit i'm working on and yes, sounds better. can't exlpain it really but maybe just not as disconjointed and more unified. wicked!
InstinctHostile referred me to this youtube video which explained it enough for me to get my head around: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRW3SGK79dM

I'm no expert, but I have been adding some eq / effects on my individual drum tracks before sending them to their own busses. So for example, my snare (which is layered from two or three hits) will have a bit of distortion and reverb added so the hit itself sounds nice and cohesive. Then I send this through to one of two drum busses with all the other drum elements. Then I compress that quite heavily and mix the compressed signal in with the rest of the drums on another bus with a dry signal (no effects). Hope that makes sense!

Anyway, thanks for all the tips people. I'm really looking forward to posting up my first tune and getting some feedback. I am pushing my ancient macbook pro to the limit though so now I am getting deep into my project my computer is failing on me a bit. Just ordered some new RAM so hope that can see me through to the end of the tune.
Sweet. Good advice up in here. checking out that youtube vid right now. cheers
 

groelle

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#13
I always pitch my hits when layering so that they are either in the same key or just until it sounds good. I'll then nudge one hit forwards or backwards to get the phase as tight as possible. Maybe phase invert one of the hits as well if it's sounding flabby
wanted to point this one out again. sometimes you have that snare and you like its character - but it just wont fit with the rest of the layers, you shift the pitch a bit and voila, big fat fuckin snare. really helps sometimes.

There's no be all and end all method though, so experiment with different techniques. If you find yourself getting lost, reference stuff to get your bearings and see whats missing etc
second thing i wanted to point out. REFERENCE!


im doing the june miller approach of compressing layers and then sending it to a drumbus. been doing it that way forever. needs a bit of training but someday ill be there. hehe :)

good thread with good contributions, thanks!
 

Serum

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#14
Another little tip if your layers clash. Try flipping the phase. The sound will change dramatically and could be the difference between the sounds beefing each other up and cancelling each other out.
 

RUSSLA

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#15
Another little tip if your layers clash. Try flipping the phase. The sound will change dramatically and could be the difference between the sounds beefing each other up and cancelling each other out.
Never done that before, just to check this is the same as Inverting in Logic yeh?
 
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#18
I'm trying to get my head around parallel compression. i'm bussing all of my individual drum sounds out to an auxiliary with very little compression and subtle eq. i also route to another bus with some more aggressive compression and eq. then i send those two auxiliaries to final auxiliary which is my drum master. makes them sound a bit better but i still haven't fully grasped it yet.maybe a little more work on the eq and some subtle compression of the individual hits pre send would help? I don't really like to do something unless i understand what i'm doing though.
Thing is that you get twice approximately the same signal on top of eachother, and a small delay due to the digital compression can cause phasing issues. I found this post pretty helpful in explaining what happens and how to deal with possible issues:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/mar09/articles/qa0309_3.htm
 
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