Add more layers!
HOW I MIX
There is no good song without good drums, right?
When I mix a song that has high-energy drum parts such like in Rock and Metal genres or even some Contemporary Country or Electro-Pop stuff,
I want to get big and wide sounding drums.
A good reference for me is Nickelback drum tone.
Even some High-Level engineers have Nickelback drums as a reference, really.
Big, lush, wide, fat and clear drums.
Sometimes, I am looking for even heavier and more punchy tone.
Even I want to get really punchy and powerful drums, I still want big ambience or room and wideness at the same time.
Sometimes the drums need to be more dry, because of the tempo of the song and the drum rhythm or just because you like it that way, of course.
But let's say we want the best of both worlds - punch and ambience.
I am always preparing several kits that I want to blend together.
I pre-mix every kit in the sub-projects and export them into stems and then I import them into my main mixing project.
I often end up with 1 main kit and 6 extra kits.
This kit has all kit elements.
Kick, snare, toms and cymbals.
Regular full kit.
The main kit usually consists of up to 3 snare sounds and 2 kick drums blended into "snare" and "kick" buses.
I apply all the good stuff like Saturators, EQs, Compressors and Reverbs.
The main kit has all regular spot mics, overhead mics and ambience or room mics.
Once I have the main kit prepared, I usually add several xtra kits.
These kits usually don't have any cymbals.
There usually is an 80s kit with that famous fat kick with gated reverb and that famous ultra low-tuned deep snare sample.
There also is an electronic kit which usually consists of a kind of 808 synth kick only.
Then there are 2 of my own sampled kits, only kicks and snares.
The next kit is a Ludwig Vistalite style kit. Kick, Snare and Toms. Fat, boomy kit.
And there is also a classic Avatar studio style kit - Kick, Snare and Toms.
There is also sometimes one or two more extra snares or even some FX Toms tracks depending on the song.
The important thing is to tune all the sounds to the same note or in a nice interval.
The tones should ring nicely together.
If the sounds would ring on a different (bad) notes, the overal sound can get messy and definitely not punchy.
Another important thing is to check the phase between the main and xtra kits.
I am always trying to flip the phase on the xtra drums bus to hear what sounds better.
You can usually hear the difference in the low-end frequencies when you flip the phase.
Sometimes I need to adjust the phase even on individual kits of xtra drums.
REAL OR SAMPLED?
Well, everyone knows that there are drum samples used in most of the commercially successfull rock and metal songs.
Even the most famous audio engineers use drum samples in their productions.
Layering real drums with drum samples is very common.
I am trying to use the real drum tracks more and more.
Real drums are always routed as main kit.
I usually use some additional sampled room mic tracks in the main kit because most of the real drum tracks don't have good enough ambience / room tracks.
I like to use the lower-quality real ambience / room tracks as additional cymbal tracks to bring liveness into the cymbals.
Xtra kits are always the sampled kits in my projects.
This is how I get the huge drums in my productions.
What is your approach to get huge drums?
May the muse be with You!
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