Metal Kick Drum Mixing

Brandon Drury —  January 6, 2010

I was asked for tips on getting a metal kick drum to work as in the Toontrack Mixing Wars: Metal contest.

While the kick drum used in Toontrack Mixing Wars: Metal from the Metal Foundry drum samples was recorded in a robo high end studio by a mega engineers and a super pro drummer, some people are surprised by what they here from the unprocessed drums.

Note: Toontrack intentionally left the drums unprocessed so that they could mega manipulate them using their included mixer. Take a listen to the results.

EQ On Metal Kick Drums
If you start with the stock kick drum Metal Foundry, you’ll notice it’s very heavy in the low mids and not a whole lot going on top. So, the solution to that is fairly straight forward. I pulled out a narrow band at 250Hz quite aggressively. (There are times and genres when you want plenty of 250Hz, but this wasn’t one of them at least not for my tastes.)

Then I boosted the hell out of 5k and 10k. I use more EQ here than I do on any other source EVER. I don’t feel guilty using 30dB of EQ if I need to (watch out for the bleed however, if applicable). At 10k, you’ll hear more of the death metal click. At 5k you’ll hear more “clack”. Getting the relatively balance of these right is mega crucial and something I spend some time on.

Note: Some drums have tons of attack by default and don’t need EQ. As I discuss in Killer Home Recording: Murderous Mixing, EQ is both problem solving tool and a creativity enhancing tool. So this notion of “needing” doesn’t necessarily mean the source was flawed. It simply means we want to enhance it to fulfill our creative vision.

I don’t compress the actual kick drum often. I’m sure it’s happened, but I don’t automatically start there. I use two parallel compression buses which I route directly to my standard drum bus. One bus dramatically over emphasizes attack by setting a release long enough for the peak to leap through. The other drum bus uses an super dooper fast compressor to increase the sustain. By blending these two faders we have outrageous tonal possibilities for our fake ass, over-the-top kick drum sound.

Killer Home Recording: Murderous Mixing
Audio Mixing TechniquesIf you liked this little mixing tip, you MUST check out Killer Home Recording: Murderous Mixing. I’ve jam packed it full of every mixing trick, tactic, and concept I know. You’ll love it!

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.

One response to Metal Kick Drum Mixing

  1. Lots of good ideas here. I’m going to try some of them.