Join Bobby Owsinski for an in-depth discussion in this video Assigning the drums to a subgroup, part of Audio Mixing Bootcamp.
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Whenever there are two or more instruments in a mix element like a drum-kit, it's best to assign them to a subgroup in order to make any level adjustments easier. In this video I'm going to show you how to assign your drum channels to a subgroup and why using one can be helpful. So the first thing we're going to do is insert a subgroup, but in order to do that, we'll first go to the last channel in the group of channels that we want to go into that subgroup. So in this case it's Room, and this is the Room mic, and you'll see why we do this in a second. Now we come up to Track and we say New.
We want this to be a stereo subgroup, and the reason why is we want to pan the drums across the stereo soundstage; therefore, we need a stereo subgroup. So we don't want an audio track. We want an aux input track. Now watch where the subgroup is created. It comes up right after Room. If you didn't select Room, it would have randomly selected a place to put it, and it probably would've been down at the right-hand end of your mix window, so you would have had to move it. This is just saving your next step. So now this is called Aux 1. What we want to do is rename it.
I'm going to right-click on the mouse, which brings up a window, and say Rename. And we're going to call this Drums, but I'm going to put this in caps. What I like to do is put all of my subgroups in caps to make it easier to differentiate between input channels and the subgroups. If we take notice, in this case there is a lot of input channels; in fact, the description is already in caps. And probably what I would do normally is go through those and actually re-title them so they would be in small case, so with just a glance you'd be able to see what was a drum subgroup in this case.
The next thing we want to do is select an input path. I'm going to come up to the Input section of the channel, which is here, and now it says no input. What we're going to do is select an input. In this case, it says Drum Sub. The reason why it says that, it's because it was already pre-titled in a layout. Now, normally this would say something like Bus 1 and 2. Or you can select any bus you want, Bus 23 and 24, Bus 12 and 13, whatever you like. Now we want to go to all of the input channels and select the signal path so they are sending directly to this drum subgroup.
So we'll come over here and we'll select our first channel, which is the kick-in. Now we're going to select all the other channels as well. And the way we do that is we do Shift+Click. These are all of the other channels that are going to be sent to that subgroup, and there is a reason why we do this. We can assign all of those channels all at once. And the way we do that is we hit the Option key and the Shift key, we go to our output assignment, we're going to say Bus, and in this case again it says the Drum Sub, but it could very well just say Bus 19-20, Bus 1-2. Click it.
And now if you take notice, everything that was selected has changed, so all of those channels are assigned to that drum subgroup. The reason why we want the subgroup in the first place is it makes it very easy for us to change the whole drum kit with just one fader. By moving this fader up and down, we're able to change the complete balance of the drum kit against everything else in the mix, and that's what makes this very, very powerful. The other thing that makes it powerful is we can insert a EQ or a compressor into the signal path of the drum subgroup and it will affect everything that's assigned to that subgroup.
So with just one EQ, we can EQ the whole drum kit if we'd like, or with just one compressor, we can compress everything if we like. It's not necessarily the best way, but it is a way to do it. So that's how you create the drum subgroup. In a subgroup all the channels of the group were assigned to a subgroup fader which is then assigned to the master mix bus. This gives you a lot more control over the level of the drum kit.
- Optimizing your listening environment
- Setting up sessions, subgroups, and effects
- Understanding which mixing elements to avoid
- Understanding the principles of building a mix
- Panning instruments
- Setting up the compressor
- Using noise gates and de-essers
- Understanding the concept of frequency juggling
- Using the magic high-pass filter
- Timing reverb and delay to a track
- Using reverb to layer the mix
- Understanding the Haas effect
- Modulating guitars, keyboards, and vocals
- Mixing with subgroups
- Tweaking the final mix