How to EQ Drums?

Any mix that you listen to has a backbone: the drum sound. It offers a track the feel and rhythm it needs. The bass drum tracks the pulse movement, the kick drum breaks up a track’s rhythm, the snare steers it forward, the toms and cymbals support the backbeat, and lastly, the drumbeat’s feel offers rhythmic fills, effects, and interest. It’s important to know how to EQ drums to balance and equalize the frequency spectrum of a song.

To achieve a great drum mix, EQ is a mandatory tool to use. No excuse can be tolerated if you avoid EQ – no matter if your drums are acoustically recorded or samples just like 808s.

You will know that each drum mix has its own specialty – your choice will highly depend on the type of sound you are about to play. With that being said, checking some frequency areas is going to be an excellent starting point to a sharper, more professional, and crisper drum sound.

You can also read: What is A Click Track?

Kick Drum EQ

How to EQ Drums?
Photo by: Ryan ‘O’ Niel

Blended with one driving click from the mid sound, the satisfactory compromise in a kick drum sound is a resonant bass thump from that low-end. When it comes down to a great kick drum sound,  two universal areas remain. Different genres need different drum EQ.

50 – 100 Hz: Thrust to include low-end punch. Let us give a heads up here. Do not boost up too much as the low-end can get cluttered up and come in the way of some other instruments in this spectrum.

150 – 250 Hz: If you are fretting over elevating the low-end way too much cause you consider the kick drum to be pretty thick already, try trimming in this region. While allowing your lower bass frequencies to take a breath, it cuts down resonance from the kick. Without making the overall sound muddy, cutting here adds thickness to this low-end.

300 – 600 Hz: Here you will come across the ill-famed cardboard sound. If boxiness wanes the kick drum, you should try cutting somewhere in this field. Hard-rock and metal kick drums follow a scooped drum EQ of 300 Hz. To lessen the boxiness, some kick drum mics have a pre-styled EQ curve that digs out the mids.

2 – 4 kHz: This is where the pop, crackle, and snap are. If you are struggling to get the kick drum to make it through the mix, stop adding more low-end. Try adding more mids instead. A large boost in this area will extract the beater sound.

It highly depends on the genre of the music where you would like to boost. For a rock or pop style, a massive boost in 2 kHz is great whilst a narrower boost in 4 kHz will put forth the click that is prominently audible in metal music.

10+ kHz: Don’t worry. Not always do you have to do anything above 10 kHz. As the character comes from the mids and low-end mostly, kick drums occasionally need any ‘air’.

To lessen the drum bleed, you can filter out the beats with higher frequencies using a low-pass filter. Even more, this gives your drum a more focused and thicker sound.

Snare Drum EQ

How to EQ Drums?
Photo by: Carlos Coronado

The guidelines can still be applied to any drum. For example, consider a drum being too thick. You could easily fix it by filtering some of its low-mids. If the drum is too boxy, you must tame the section around 300-600 Hz.

150 Hz: If you hear your snare sounds come off too thin and need some additional weight, adding the 150 Hz can thicken things up easily.

500 Hz: If you want to add more body to the snare sound, this fundamental frequency of nearly 500 Hz will give your snare a rounder tone.

3 kHz: Add some punch and clarity by boosting this section in the upper-mids.

10+ kHz: You will not notice a massive difference when you begin adding air to the snare, however, it does increase the snare sound by a little. One boost in the highs can be synonymous with the way a low boost in any bass in any bass instrument is sensed rather than heard.

You might have to deal with disturbing ringing overtones with snare drums. EQ is the best method to filter such ringing sounds out.

EQ Toms? How?

Photo by: digitalhallway

Toms are actually easy to EQ. All you need is to reduce the boxiness, escalate thump, and finally attack. Here’s what you need to follow:

Filter out the Mids: Huge boosts come in handy when you want to filter out the boxy sound completely. Be aware to leave some remaining so that it does not give off a hollow sound.

Add the lows: Having different diameters, every tom has a different fullness frequency. When boosted at the lower frequencies like 80 to 100 Hz for example, floor toms offer a full sound. Smaller toms require boosting near to 250 Hz for the same effect. Keep sweeping around until you land on the sweet spot to amplify.

Play around with highs: Likewise, connect the attack by amplifying between 5 kHz to 7 kHz, relying on the tom’s size.

Overheads

You can choose any of the following two ways for overheads.

Master EQ: Perform some slight cuts and amplify to create a premium quality overall EQ. This refers to adding a simple low-end boost to extract the kick drum, lessening the boxiness overall, and adding air and value to the high and upper-mids frequencies. With this method, you can begin mixing drum mix with an overhead sound.

Cymbals only – Using a high-pass filter with the motive of cutting out everything to 500 Hz, you can use the overhead for sounds from cymbals only. This method, definitely a great alternative, can sound drastic.

Final Thoughts

That’s a wrap! Hope you have learned all the answers on how to EQ drums. Try mixing the sound by yourself employing our techniques.

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