Mixing drums at home can be a daunting task for any musician. This article will provide 5 tips to make the process easier and more enjoyable.
Make your drums sound powerful and loud. If you feel like something is lacking, check the attack of every drum. You can boost it slightly without making them sound too bright or harsh.
Use compression carefully: overusing this tool will make everything sound flat and lifeless while under using it isn't going to bring out enough dynamic variation between hits. A good starting point would be to set input gain at around 12 o'clock with ratio at about 11:00 and release time at around 119 ms before seeing what happens when it hits the mix.
Avoid panning all the drums to one side of the mix unless they're panned that way in real life (for example, a jazz kit). Keep some elements on opposite sides for punchiness and clarity!
Mute everything you're not using! Even if they sound good on their own, once you start adding them to the whole drum kit, your drums might end up taking too much space in the mix. Try muting every single track of your DAW and see how that changes things for you!
Treat different elements differently: for example, hats can be treated with a high-pass filter (HPF) set at around 75 Hz while kick needs its low frequencies intact to bring out power; this is because of where each element sits relative to other ones in the frequency spectrum.
Make sure that all of your drums are sitting well together in the frequency spectrum. You can do this by using a graphic EQ or even just by boosting certain frequencies on specific tracks.
Use reverb and delay sparingly: too much of either will make your drums sound muddy and indistinguishable from one another. Start by adding very small amounts and go from there.
If something doesn't seem to fit, try changing its pitch. This is especially helpful when working with samples. For example, if your snare doesn't sound right, try pitching it up or down until it does!
That's all for now! These are just a few tips to help you get started on mixing drums at home. As always, experiment and have fun with it! Drummers - keep those rhythms tight!