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EQing Kick Drums

Discussion in 'Studio Techniques' started by Taybot, Aug 15, 2009.

  1. Taybot

    Taybot Senior member

    I have a bunch of kick drums I chopped up into one shots, but now I need to make them hit harder, like I need to learn how to EQ these kick drums to hit hard and sound better. Could I get some advice on how to do this? What effects should I put on them? Or does anyone know of any tutorials on how to EQ drums when making your own personal drums?

  3. Markdvc

    Markdvc Administrator Staff Member

    While it is IMO dangerous to give general guidelines regarding how to apply EQ to any instrument, an acoustic Kick drum will often be treated like this:

    Some boost around 60 - 100 Hz makes it fat and deep, some cut around 200 - 400 Hz removes that "cardboard" character that may be unwanted, some boost starting somwhere above 5 kHz increases attack and definition, allowing it to be better heard on smaller speaker systems.

    Compression and gating may also be applied, ranging from a relatively gentle 3 or 4 to 1 up to the "all button" type much beloved on the 1176. What is very important when compressing a kick is getting the attack and release values right. Quite often it is better to let the initial transient go through before the compressor kicks in, i.e. don't have the attack set so fast that it will effect this attack. After that, the compressor can thicken up the sound quite nicely. If using the Logic compressor, which I find works very well on drums, remember as well to try the various compressor models and clipping settings, these can add a lot to the result.

    I emphasize, there are lots of ways to both EQ and dynamically treat drums, the exceptions to the rules are often what define the rules :)

    One more thing - you may actually find it useful to save various samples of your drums, both treated and untreated.

    HTH, kind regards

  4. bambony

    bambony Administrator Staff Member

    All that Mark said and don't forget drum replacement techniques which you can Google. Layering your original Kick with a sample or 2 is often the best way to achieve sufficient variation to provide interest and consistency of sound.

    What type of music are we talking about here as this has a massive influence on the type of EQ treatment.

    Additionally compressing the whole drum mix as well as all the above can help with clarity and punch in a mix.

  5. Taybot

    Taybot Senior member

    Thanks that was really helpful!
  6. Taybot

    Taybot Senior member

    My next question is, when do I work on the kick?

    What I mean is, when I watch famous producers on YouTube go through their drums, their drums already sound really good. Their kicks are loud and grimy, the snares sound phenomenal, before they even put the drums in the song. So they obviously haven't mixed the drums with the song yet. I'm just talking about what they start out with.

    I'm pretty sure they have great drums initially because they put in work before hand, EQing their drums to sound right. So then, when they're ready to make a beat, they just go through their own personal library of drums that already sound great. They probably barely have to EQ each drum after they make the beat, cuz they already put in so much time getting those drums to sound ill. So that is what I'm tryin to learn how to do.

    My question is, when should I work on these drums? What I'm thinking is, after I chop up a break, when all I have left is the one shot, whether it's a kick, snare, hi hat etc., then, while it's still in my arrange window, I should start working on EQing it, using all that advice Mark told me.

    Later on, when I'm making my beats, I can layer the drums, compress the mix etc., but the drums will sound good up front.

    So, to repeat my question, is that the time to do it, when my drum is still in my arrange window, as a one shot? My thinking is I could get it sounding right, save it as an aif file and wav file, and then I would permanently have that kick or snare in my drum library.

    Otherwise, if I do detailed work on it, in Ultrabeat for example, the kick won't be saved. It'll only be right for that one beat I was working on, and I will have to spend tons of time mixing my kicks and snares on every single beat I make.

    Does all this make sense? Am I going about it the right way and, if so, is that the time to work on the kick, when I still have it as a one shot in my arrange window, before I have even saved it?

    Thanks a million!

    before I I'm talking about hip hop production.
  7. Taybot

    Taybot Senior member

    so was I right? should I work on the kick when before I save it, then just save it as an aif file? Thx!
  8. Markdvc

    Markdvc Administrator Staff Member

    It may sound pretty obvious, but the sound is really made on recording. With drums that means having a great drummer, a great sounding room, a great engineer, with the right drumset, tuned correctly, with the right choice of microphones, all placed correctly.

    That takes a lot of talent as well as years and years of practice doing it.

    After that you can start EQing and compressing, but remember the old adage about polishing turds ....

    kind regards

  9. artofmixing

    artofmixing New Member

  10. HKC

    HKC Senior member

    On top of that you got to remember that there is no such thing as a good or a bad sound, it a very subjective thing.
    One thing that isn't subjective is what eq does and the first response you got pretty much nailed that and that would also be the description of a typical 80s style kickdrum. The funny thing about that type of sound is that it doesn't really sound that much like a kick in reality does. If you listen to 70s or 90s rock kick drums (Zeppelin, Nirvana, Kravitz) you will notice that during that time it was modern to have drums sound pretty untreated which also was a nice sound and allowed for more full bass sounds. Metallica has a really heavy click (5KHz en mas and no midrange) on their stuff, dance/hiphop almost have a low mid lift on a lot of the kick drums (probably because the sound of the early Roland beatboxes pretty much was like that) or a complete lack of high end and a lot of boom, and what about that New York kind of approach being very dry and compressed.
    Anyway my point is you don't mention what kind of context the kicksounds will be used in so it's difficult to help you without a reference in style........and I think everything sounds good it just needs the right surroundings.
  11. Taybot

    Taybot Senior member

    Thanks for the input. I'm talking about hip hop, like how the drums sound for Just Blaze, Swizz Beats, Kanye, Jermaine Dupri, Polo etc. Just the basic mainstream, great hip hop producers.

    thanks again!
  12. HKC

    HKC Senior member

    Hiphop is often not as instrumented as "standard" rock/pop which leaves a bigger headroom for the kick and (wider frequency specs too) so other tweaks may apply to what you are after.
    You haven't mentioned if it's an acoustic drum sound that you have chopped up but if it is it's hard to give advice because it also depends a lot on where you placed the mic (or mics) and certainly on which mic you have used, a D112 sounds very different from a SM91 or a RE20.
    As for the room you record in, what is a good sound. A great room would be one where you can get all sorts of sounds out of. It could be big (above 100m2) or it could be a neutral one which basically means smaller but treated to give as few early reflections as possible. The latter will have to get some spacial treatment afterwards with ie the Space Designer but it can certainly be done very convincingly these days.
    Anyway any other kind of room will have some kind of "signature" sound where you can recognize the room and that may not be a bad thing if you only plan to use the room a few times. In these cases you kind of embrace the character of the room and let the early reflections play a part in the texture of the sound.
  13. Taybot

    Taybot Senior member

    i figured i would continue this thread, rather than make a new thread for my next question.

    The kicks I chopped up weren't played out acoustically, I didn't record a live drum set or anything. They're just some drum loops my friend gave me.

    Anyways I'm busy EQing and compressing these kicks I chopped up, they're sounding pretty good but I'm wondering do people do anything to kicks other than EQ and compress?

    I don't want to put too many effects on them, but I'm just wondering if there might be something I'm missing. Like reverb or something, any other things people do to drum one shots other than eq and compress?


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