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Equalizing the kick

From: Audio Mixing Bootcamp

Video: Equalizing the kick

The kick or bass drum is extremely important because it's the heartbeat of the song and provides power to the mix. Although different kick drums sound different, here is a general way to approach EQing the kick drum that will usually get you in the ballpark. The first thing to remember is you can't overcome a bad drum sound. If the kick drum sounds bad in the room, then there is no amount of EQing that's going to make it sound better. But if a kick does sound good, we can make it sound even better, with a little bit of EQ at certain EQ points here and there in the frequency range. Let's see what we can do with this kick.

Equalizing the kick

The kick or bass drum is extremely important because it's the heartbeat of the song and provides power to the mix. Although different kick drums sound different, here is a general way to approach EQing the kick drum that will usually get you in the ballpark. The first thing to remember is you can't overcome a bad drum sound. If the kick drum sounds bad in the room, then there is no amount of EQing that's going to make it sound better. But if a kick does sound good, we can make it sound even better, with a little bit of EQ at certain EQ points here and there in the frequency range. Let's see what we can do with this kick.

First of all, let's listen to the entire drum kit just by itself. (music playing) You can hear some leakage from the bass guitar in the background. That's okay. You'll never hear it in the track. So let's bring our native 4-Band EQ up. The first thing to remember is that the ideal frequency for a 22-inch kick drum, which is what most kick drums are, that's usually around 80 Hz.

If you go and EQ below that--40 or 60 Hz--it may sound big on certain speakers, but you've probably added too much if you're listening on small speakers. You'll find low end will be just too big for the rest of the band. So you have to be really careful. So let's solo our kick drum, have a listen to it by itself. (music playing) That could use a little bit in the low end. Let's start with couple 3 dB, and let's have a listen.

(music playing) Now, the next thing we want to do is get rid of any of the hollow sound that the drum might have, and that's somewhere between 200 and 400 Hz. So let's see if we get a little bit of that out if we attenuate it. (music playing) Let's bypass it and have a listen.

(music playing) You can hear how it sounded bigger already. Now, if we really go crazy and get rid of a lot of, in this case it's 258 cycles, have a listen when we scoop it up. (music playing) It sounds a lot better when we get rid of that 200 to 400 cycles.

It just seems to sound bigger, and it does fit better in the track. Now the final thing that we want to do is add something that we call point, and point is a little bit of definition on the drum, and that definition comes between 3 and 5K. So let's go up to 3K or so and add a little bit of point. (music playing) Now, let's listen. Then we'll bypass it so you can hear before and after.

(music playing) Big difference there; let's listen in the track. (music playing) Now, let's add the second kick drum mic into it, and what this is is it's called a sub-kick, and this is either a homemade drum mic, which is a six- or eight-inch speaker that's placed in front of the kick drum, or Yamaha actually makes a unit that's called a Subkick.

And what we're aiming to do is get the 40 to 60 cycles that you don't normally hear. So you have to be careful because this could actually overpower everything else and really on most bookshelf speakers you can't really hear the effects of this so much. So you have to be careful and be very judicious with its use. Just about the time you hear it is the time that you want to stop adding more. (music playing) We can listen to that by itself.

(music playing) See, it's only low frequencies. Now the last thing we might want to do is actually add a highpass filter to the kick drum. And even though this might sound counterintuitive, sometimes you can actually clean up the sound of the kick a little bit. So what we'll do is we'll go to the plug-ins and we'll add a simple 1-Band plug-in. And what we're going to do is select the roll off, the highpass filter, and we're going to go to a frequency starting at 20 and have a listen.

(music playing) You usually don't want to go too much above 40 Hz, and sometimes 30 is enough, and what this will do is clean up a lot of unwanted sound, and actually it will tighten up the sound of the kick drum. It's not necessary, but sometimes it's really nice to have. So that's how we EQ the kick drum. Our bottom comes from 80 to 100 Hz, any hollowness in the drum is anywhere from 200 to 400 Hz, and the point or definition is at 3 to 5K.

Beware the boosting from 40 to 60 Hz may make the kick sound big on big speakers, but it might not be heard when played back on smaller speakers.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Audio Mixing Bootcamp

103 video lessons · 19085 viewers

Bobby Owsinski
Author

 
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  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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