Struggling with mixing your drums? Can’t get them to sound powerful and punchy? In this post I will share a simple mixing trick that will help you to control your drum’s dynamics! Make your drums sound loud without wasting a lot of time!
Drums are a percussive type of sound that has a lot of dynamics. For example you can have a clap that you set to -18 but the peaks will be at -12db or sometimes even more. That is the problem when we do bus processing. Those sounds usually trigger the compressor on your drum group channel. A lot of times you don’t want those peaks to trigger the compressor. You can easily fix that using the method from this post!
1. Make sure that you group all your drums into one group. I usually put my claps, hats, shakers, and percussion into this group. If you have some drums that have a lot of low end don’t put them into this group. Because they have a different frequency response we don’t need them here.
2. Make sure you do the gain staging. All of the levels should be well balanced. This way you will be able to get the most out of this technique.
3. Now we’ll need a clipper. I’m using a FREE clipper by Venn Audio. It has a lot of different algorithms.
4. Apply the clipper to your drum bus.
5. Let’s say that the RMS of your drum bus is around -18db. But some sounds peak at -12 or maybe even -9. This will trigger the compressor on the drum bus channel. If those peaks are really loud the compressor will react where it shouldn’t. So we want to cut those peaks and reduce the dynamic range with a clipper.
6. Start pushing down the ceiling of the clipper.
7. If your RMS is -18 and the peaks are at -9db I would set my ceiling at -12 first. If that reduced those loud peaks you can keep this value. If you still have loud peaks you can push more towards -18. I usually leave around 6 db of those peaks. So if my RMS is -18 my peaks would be around -12db. Sometimes less, sometimes more. Play around to see what fits your track the best.
8. The purpose of this technique is to eliminate the peaks, reduce the dynamics and glue the sounds together. You just need to find the value that will reduce the peaks but also keep the dynamics. We don’t want to squash our drums. We’re just controlling the dynamics
9. When you finish with that don’t forget to compensate the volume. It should be as loud as before the processing.
That’s it! With this simple technique you can easily control the dynamics of ANY sound. This way you will cut those unwanted and loud peaks that will prevent you from making your mixes sound LOUD!