Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
The snare drum is the pulse of the song, which is why so many mixers like to build their drum mix around it. In this movie, I am going to show you how to start with the snare first and build your mix from there. When we start with the snare drum usually what happens is it winds up being more prominent in the mix. Now, you might want that, and that's a reason why you want to start with the snare. Many people just feel more comfortable starting with it because it is the pulse of the song. Either way, here's how we do it. You'll take notice that there's two snare tracks: one with a snare top and one with a snare bottom.
The snare top means there is a mic on the top of the snare, and the snare bottom means there is a mic underneath the snare that's capturing the sound of the snares themselves. Just as when we started with the kick, we're going to bring the snare top channel up so it reads about -10 on the master meters. (music playing) Now it might go a little above and it might go a little below -10, but it's where the average is.
Somewhere around -10 is good. If it's a little above, it's okay; if it's a little below, that's okay too. Now, we're going to bring the bottom of the snare, or as it says, SNARE bot, which is the snare bottom mic. We are going to bring that up until we can just about hear it. (music playing) If we mute it, we can hear the difference. (music playing) Now since before we created a group for the snare, now we're going to engage that, and that means that with the movement of one fader, we can move the level of both of them up and down.
(music playing) Now, we're going to introduce the kick into the mix. We're going to use the Kick in channel, and that means it's the microphone that's inside the kick drum. I am going to use that one first because it has the most definition. I am going to bring that up so it's about the same level as the snare top mic. (music playing) Now, when I say the same level, what that means is not the same level on the fader, but the same level relatively speaking of what you're listening to.
So it's what you're hearing, they should be about equal in level, and not the channels being equal in how far up or down they are. We're going to do the same thing with the Kick out channel that we did with the snare bottom channel. We're going to bring it up until it's just about to the level that we can hear it. If it's too loud, it's going to sound too big and it's going to overpower the kick in mic and the snare drum. So we're going to bring it up until we can just about barely hear it. (music playing) It's easier to hear when you have bigger speakers that go lower.
So you have to be careful with this if you're listening on headphones or if you're listening on very, very small speakers, like computer speakers, because it's very easy to bring this up so it's too loud and it overpowers everything else. If that's the case, just bring it up so you can barely hear it, and in some cases if you can't really tell, you're better off not to use it at all. Now that we have both kicks in, what we're going to do is engage the group that we created previously. So now that allows us to change the level of kick drums with just one fader.
(music playing) Now, I am going to bring the overhead channels in. What that's going to do is it's going to change the sound of the kick and the snare. But the real secret here is to bring it in just enough that you can hear the sound of the cymbals, and what you're looking for is some sort of definition. In order to do this, I am going to go to a memory location that I've already noted that has a lot of cymbals. The way I am going to do that is I am going to bring up my Memory palette, and that's Command+5.
It brings in the memory locations. I am going to hit Drum Fill, and it's going to take us exactly where we need to go. Now let's listen without listening to the overheads. (music playing) You can hear the cymbals, but they are very subdued. Now, we're going to bring up the left overhead, so we can hear that with more definition. (music playing) Let's bring up the right overhead as well.
We're still listening in mono, by the way. We'll get into panning in the next series of movies. (music playing) Now, you can hear the definition of those crash cymbals and that's exactly what we want. Now, let's move on to the toms. The first thing I am going to do is bring up tom number two--that's the middle tom--and listen to how everything changes with that tom. All of a sudden, the sound of the kick and the sound of the snare is going to change, just by the fact that the channel is up. (music playing) Listen to tom number one, the same thing.
We'll bring it up to about the same level. (music playing) Now you can really hear it there. There's a lot of rumble from that tom. The kick drum and the snare drum are actually setting that tom off. It's actually ringing as we're going. That's perfectly normal, and what you're going to hear is a lot of different leakage coming from those tom mics, which is going to change the sound of the rest of the drums, but in fact that's normal. What we're going to try to do now is get the level of the toms, so when we hear that fill, all of the toms are going to be at about the same level when they are hit.
Here we go! (music playing) Let's listen to that again. (music playing) Let's listen one more time. (music playing) If you take notice as we listen, you can still hear the hi-hat, even though the Hat channel is still at 0.
Now, sometimes that's perfect for the song, but other times you'd like to have it either louder in the mix or you want to hear more definition. So let's just listen to it without the hat channel even in the mix. Listen for the hi-hat. (music playing) Now, let's bring the hi-hat in. (music playing) Mute it for a second. (music playing) The idea here is to bring it in just enough that you can hear the definition.
Finally, there is one channel that's still not in the mix, and that's the Room channel. Sometimes there is only one room mic; sometimes there's two, for stereo; sometimes there's three, which are left, center, and right. The idea of the room mics is to make it sound bigger and fatter and fuller and add some glue that you can't get any other way. Once again, the ideal level is just about when you can hear it. If it gets too loud, the sound of the drums begins to sound trashy; if it's too low, you won't hear it at all. Let's bring that up now.
(music playing) The idea here is that room mic will not only give you some glue, but it gives you some extra ambience from the room.
The better the room sounds, the better the ambience sounds. So that's how we build the mix around the snare drum. Usually when you build it this way the snare will be more prominent in the mix than if you started with another instrument. Keep in mind that it's all going to change as we add more instruments, as we add compression, as we add EQ, even as we add effects like reverb and even some delay. Those will all help change the balance of what we have here, but this is the beginning balance since where we start from and everything else will be tweaked from there.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
73 Video lessons · 20519 Viewers
130 Video lessons · 20815 Viewers
110 Video lessons · 12621 Viewers
80 Video lessons · 14476 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.