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Building the mix from the kick

From: Audio Mixing Bootcamp

Video: Building the mix from the kick

Many mixers like to build their drum mix from the bass drum, because it's part of the foundation of the song. In this segment, I am going to show you how to start with the bass drum first and build your mix from there. The first thing we are going to do is take notice that there are two kick drums that says Kick in and Kick out. That means that there was a microphone inside the bass drum and there was another one that was outside the bass drum. So, the very first one that we will raise is the Kick in inside the bass drum, because it's a little bit more aggressive-sounding. (music playing) And now we'll bring the Kick out, and you'll find this has a lot more bottom to it.

Building the mix from the kick

Many mixers like to build their drum mix from the bass drum, because it's part of the foundation of the song. In this segment, I am going to show you how to start with the bass drum first and build your mix from there. The first thing we are going to do is take notice that there are two kick drums that says Kick in and Kick out. That means that there was a microphone inside the bass drum and there was another one that was outside the bass drum. So, the very first one that we will raise is the Kick in inside the bass drum, because it's a little bit more aggressive-sounding. (music playing) And now we'll bring the Kick out, and you'll find this has a lot more bottom to it.

(music playing) You can hear the low end come in. If we have too much, it's all we have is low end. Now the best way to do this is just bring it up enough that you can barely hear it. (music playing) And that's about the right level. Now we've got that level, and we can look over here. We see on the master it's going about -10 on its peaks.

That's a good place for it to be. And now we've already assigned a subgroup; now we are going to engage it on the kick drum, and the reason for that is now with one fader, we can move both of those channels up and down in level and still maintain the relative balance between them. So now that we've got the sound on the kick drum, now we are going to bring the snare up to about the same level. Now it doesn't mean it's the same level on the channel fader; it means it's the same level that's worth listening to, the same relative level.

So bring the snare top up. (music playing) Let's go from the beginning again. (music playing) Once again, we have two mics on the snare: we have one on the top and one on the bottom. The one on the bottom usually gives you a bit more snap, because all it is is capturing the sound of the snares themselves. So let's bring that up.

It's about the same as with the Kick out. Bring it up until you can just about hear it. (music playing) Here we go! If we bring it up too loud, it gets very trashy-sounding, and that's not what we want. (music playing) Here is what it sounds like without it. (music playing) You can hear it just adds a little bit of EQ to it, a little bit of top end.

There is a sound of both of them. Now if you look over on a master fader, you can see how all of a sudden it went from about -10 to about -7 on peaks, and this is what happens if you have the same level of two instruments: you will get an increase of around 3 dB. The next thing I like to do is bring the overheads up, and the reason why is the overheads will add to the overall sound of the drum kit.

There are two types of overheads: you have overheads that are used as a cymbal mic so they're really close the cymbals, and then you have other overheads that are up higher trying to capture the overall kit. Either way, you will do about the same thing. Bring them up until you can just hear the cymbals on cymbal crashes or ride cymbals. (music playing) Let's go back to a place where there's--there we go. (music playing) And we will bring the second one.

We are not going to pan them yet; we are just going to bring them up. (music playing) We don't want those cymbals too loud, but we do want to be able to hear them, and we want to hear them with definition. The next thing we are going to do is bring the toms up. Now one of things that will happen is that toms will change the sound of the entire drum kit. That's not a bad thing, but it happens all the time. So you can't fall in love with what you have right here without the toms and then all of a sudden have the sound change and then worry about the fact that it's changed.

It's the fact of life; it is going to change. So here we go. Bring the middle tom up first. (music playing) And you can hear how everything has changed already. Mute it. You can hear the ring of the tom. You can hear more of the lower end of the kick. You can hear more hi-hat. Watch as we bring the other ones up, especially this one.

You can really hear it on this one. On the floor tom. (music playing) Now once again, this is normal. This is the way it should sound. It's not going to sound as clean as you might think. Now let's go back and listen again, and what we want to do is go to a place in the song where it has a lot of tom fills already. So you center around a tom fill, and what you're trying to do is find a place where you can balance the three of them together, or the two of them, or the five of them, or however many toms you have.

You want to balance them so they're all the same level. So now we've already set our memory at a place where there are tom fills so we can hear them. (music playing) Okay, let's go again and have a listen. (music playing) Once again, what we are trying to do is make sure that we have a nice balance between them, and that we can hear them distinctly.

We don't want them too loud, but yet we don't want them too quiet. I will bring them down just a little bit so they're more in context. There we go! Now we can hear all three of them. Pretty good level. You can hear all the cymbals. Now take notice, without even bringing up the Hi-hat channel, we can already hear the hi-hat fairly well. Sometimes this level right here is just enough for the song, but sometimes you need it a little bit louder.

Sometimes you want to actually add to the definition of the hi-hat, and that's when you bring it up. Once again, what we are going to do is we are bring it up just loud enough until we begin to hear that definition. Here we go, on the hi-hat. (music playing) If it's too loud, it overpowers the rest of the drums. Bring it down just until we hear that definition happen.

Here is without it. Here is with it. It has just a little bit of definition, and that's about the right place for it. Now remember, these are only starting places, and as we bring more instruments in, we are going to tweak all of these levels. Also, as we EQ the drums, as we compress the drums, as we add effects, that's going to affect level as well, so we're going to do minute tweaks as we go along. There is one last channel; it's the Room channel.

Now in this case, there is only one room mic that was recorded. Sometimes there are two, so it's in stereo. Sometimes there's three of them, so there is left, center, and right. What the room mic does is it gives you a little ambience on the drum kit, first of all, which is pretty cool, but it also gives a little bit of glue to the sound. So let's bring it in and have a listen. Once again, just about the time we begin to here it is about enough, although I'm going to take it beyond that, so you can hear what it sounds like when there's too much. (music playing) So that's way too much room mic.

And if we solo it, you can hear it sounds pretty trashy just by itself. But without it, the drum set doesn't sound as good. Right about there is about right. Now also take notice what happens over on our master fader. Let's go again, and watch what happens on the drum fills.

You can see it's almost up at 0 dB, and this is why having a drum subgroup is so powerful, because now we can control the level; all of those 11 channels can be controlled by this one fader. (music playing) And we can bring it down to where everything fits well in the mix. To sum it all up, your mix bus is going to get louder and louder with every drum track entrance.

Don't forget, it's best to begin your mix with the mix bus meter reading about at -10 dB or so. The sound of every drum is going to change anywhere from a little to a whole lot when a new drum or cymbal is added to the mix. This is because of the leakage that you're going to have on those tracks. Finally, each drum that enters at the same level as the current mix is going to make the master mix meter increase by about 3 dB.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Audio Mixing Bootcamp
Audio Mixing Bootcamp

103 video lessons · 18999 viewers

Bobby Owsinski
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 16s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
  2. 8m 20s
    1. Determining the listening position
      2m 27s
    2. Fixing acoustic problems
      2m 5s
    3. Setting up your monitors
      3m 48s
  3. 20m 17s
    1. Setting up your session
      5m 52s
    2. Setting up your subgroups
      7m 50s
    3. Setting up your effects
      6m 35s
  4. 8m 45s
    1. Developing the groove
      3m 46s
    2. Emphasizing the most important elements
      3m 44s
    3. Knowing what to avoid
      1m 15s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Learning the principles of building a mix
      1m 1s
    2. Assigning the drums to a subgroup
      3m 55s
    3. Building the mix from the kick
      10m 8s
    4. Building the mix from the snare
      8m 46s
    5. Building the mix from the toms
      5m 25s
    6. Building the mix from the overhead mics
      3m 53s
    7. Checking the drum phase
      4m 44s
    8. Balancing direct and miked bass channels
      3m 36s
    9. Building the mix from the bass
      3m 26s
    10. Building the mix from the vocals
      4m 19s
    11. Balancing the rhythm section
      2m 44s
    12. Balancing the rest of the instruments with the rhythm section
      5m 22s
    13. Making a mix without building it
      4m 20s
    14. Balancing the harmony vocals
      2m 35s
  6. 23m 2s
    1. Looking at the three main panning areas
      9m 23s
    2. Panning the drums
      6m 9s
    3. Avoiding pseudo-stereo
      7m 30s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding compressor parameters
      3m 42s
    2. Setting up the compressor
      14m 44s
    3. Compressing the drums
      7m 53s
    4. Compressing the room mics
      4m 9s
    5. Compressing the bass
      5m 24s
    6. Using the New York compression trick
      4m 23s
    7. Compressing the clean electric guitars
      4m 40s
    8. Compressing the distorted electric guitars
      4m 48s
    9. Compressing the acoustic guitars
      8m 7s
    10. Compressing the piano
      6m 35s
    11. Compressing the electric keyboards
      4m 32s
    12. Compressing the vocals
      4m 34s
    13. Compressing the horns
      3m 55s
  8. 25m 36s
    1. Learning noise gate basics
      9m 23s
    2. Using the noise gate on guitars
      3m 57s
    3. Using the noise gate on drums
      7m 38s
    4. Learning de-esser basics
      2m 15s
    5. Using the de-esser on vocals
      2m 23s
  9. 36m 4s
    1. Understanding equalizer parameters
      10m 16s
    2. Learning subtractive equalization
      8m 57s
    3. Learning frequency juggling
      8m 28s
    4. Using the magic high-pass filter
      7m 39s
    5. Learning the principles of equalization
      44s
  10. 49m 46s
    1. Equalizing the kick
      6m 7s
    2. Equalizing the snare
      2m 57s
    3. Equalizing the rack toms
      5m 4s
    4. Equalizing the floor tom
      4m 32s
    5. Equalizing the hi-hat
      4m 56s
    6. Equalizing the cymbal or the overhead mics
      6m 49s
    7. Equalizing the room mics
      5m 13s
    8. Equalizing the bass
      3m 59s
    9. Editing the bass rhythm
      4m 21s
    10. Equalizing the rhythm section
      5m 48s
  11. 47m 58s
    1. Equalizing the electric guitar
      8m 15s
    2. Equalizing the acoustic guitar
      4m 55s
    3. Equalizing the hand percussion
      3m 28s
    4. Equalizing the lead vocals
      6m 5s
    5. Equalizing the background vocals
      4m 14s
    6. Equalizing the piano
      4m 46s
    7. Equalizing the organ
      6m 49s
    8. Equalizing the strings
      6m 4s
    9. Equalizing the horns
      3m 22s
  12. 30m 47s
    1. Learning the principles of reverb
      1m 59s
    2. Understanding reverb parameters
      6m 49s
    3. Timing the reverb to the track
      6m 6s
    4. Equalizing the reverb
      2m 51s
    5. Using the two-reverb quick setup
      5m 35s
    6. Using the three-reverb setup
      7m 27s
  13. 59m 8s
    1. Adding reverb to the drums
      7m 56s
    2. Adding reverb to the vocals
      11m 59s
    3. Adding reverb to the guitars
      5m 17s
    4. Adding reverb to the piano
      4m 19s
    5. Adding reverb to the organ
      3m 43s
    6. Adding reverb to the strings
      5m 36s
    7. Adding reverb to the horns
      2m 57s
    8. Adding reverb to the percussion
      4m 46s
    9. Using reverb to layer the mix
      12m 35s
  14. 46m 8s
    1. Learning delay principles
      1m 40s
    2. Understanding delay parameters
      6m 54s
    3. Timing the delay to the track
      1m 28s
    4. Using delay timing variations
      2m 51s
    5. Equalizing the delay
      4m 23s
    6. Understanding the Haas effect
      2m 51s
    7. Using the three-delay setup
      7m 23s
    8. Adding delay to the vocals
      8m 43s
    9. Using delay to layer the mix
      9m 55s
  15. 21m 35s
    1. Understanding the types of modulation
      2m 43s
    2. Understanding modulation parameters
      4m 13s
    3. Modulating the guitars
      4m 7s
    4. Modulating the keyboards
      3m 17s
    5. Modulating the vocals
      4m 17s
    6. Modulating the strings
      2m 58s
  16. 12m 22s
    1. Mixing with subgroups
      5m 5s
    2. Using mix buss compression
      4m 21s
    3. Understanding the evils of hypercompression
      2m 56s
  17. 39s
    1. Goodbye
      39s

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