How to make hi hats sound better

Hi hats are among the most important instruments on a drum set for most drummers. Hi hat sounds work really well with most beats. Read on to find out how to make hi hats sound better.

Hi hats may be more common in tram, and EDM music, but they play a major role in almost all music genres. From R&B to jazz and funk, they have a way of switching up basic beats and adding a groove. Getting your high hat rhythms right can level up your music. While it is one of the most important instruments on a drummer’s set, many have a hard time figuring out to make them sound great. To create better hi-hat sounds, you need play close attention to the techniques you use.

How to make hi hats sound better

Here are some hi hat techniques for getting great sounds

Shoulder on the edge technique

This is cymbal technique that contributes a lot to rhythm notes in a beat. Different drummers have different ways to use this technique. Using varying attack angles depending on the height of the cymbals will give go varying notes.

Tip on the top

Using the tip of your stick on the edge of the cymbal will not make much sense. Instead, try using it on the top of the cymbal instead for better sound.

The degree of Open hi-hats

Wide open high hats are hard to control and can come out super ringy. Slightly open hi hats on the other hand may be more predictable but can have as much ring to them as the wide open ones. Using the proper degree of hi-hats to phrase your music dynamic and timbre will definitely give you better sound.

Hi-hat slurp technique

This requires drummers to play the hi-hat, raise the top of the hat and close it on an upbeat or a downbeat.

Play the hi hat with your foot

When playing the hi-hat with your feet, release the pedal to raise the hat then push the pedal down and bring the cymbal together to release a chick sound. This technique is greatly used by drummers to play grooves.

Splash – the splash with foot is a technique perfect for jazz drummers. It is similar to playing hi hat with your foot but the difference here is that the pedal is released after the bottom and top hi hat cymbals have already made contact.

How to mix hi hats for added energy

If you add too many cymbals, clanging and hi-hats to a max, and on top of that under-process it, the sound won’t e appealing to the ear. To avoid such issues, you need to manage the high frequencies produced by hi hats.

You also need to remove the low frequencies that are tacked on to the hi-hats while you are recording. By doing this, you will not need to boost it at the end.

How do you do this? First, organize the hi-hats with a sub mix. Next, set a filter of around 100 Hz. Finally, move your cut-off forward for a sonic character change and back it off slightly for clarity.

Don’t go overboard when processing the hi-hats

Hi-hats are known to experience processing effects quicker than the other drum hits due to their small frequency range. For that reason, many beginners tend o go overboard with compression, saturation and EQ.

To prevent this mistake, you need to work with high quality recordings. This will prevent overcompensation with the effects. Low quality audios simply don’t work the same; you will need to download a replacement of re-record the track.

Transient shaping tricks

Transient shaping tricks are great for h-hats. You can use the attack dial to turn up a hi-hat mix that it lacking flair. This is especially great for trap sounds, electronic music and EDMS.

Another way to use transient shaping tricks is for correcting purposes. You can use transient tricks to make strategic adjustments like trimming off the tail of an open high hi-hat for a balanced mix without removing their characters.

Use a de-esser on the hi-hat

De-essers are popularly known for vocal mixing. But they work just as great when it comes to fixing problematic high frequencies.

When is the best time to use de-esser on a hi-hit? Sibilant hi-hat tracks need a de-esser with a cut-off of about 12 kHz. You need to adjust the cut-off dial until you identify the issues. This will help you correct the signal with transparency. An alternative is filtering with EQ but that can remove important parts of the sounds or color the signal.

Use velocity and swing on programmed hi-hats

Acoustic instruments have not stopped pop song produces from using programmed hi-hats. The thing is, programmed patterns can result to a robotic, straight, stale sounding mix that has no note length, swing or velocity.

Space for vibrant hi-hat

Achieving a vibrant hi-hat sound can be a bit frustrating for beginners. It is easy to get stuck on a processing and adjustment loop with the hopes of making the right track. All you need to do is saturate and pan the mix to get attention, make it feel wider and also add more rhythm.

If you are doing electronic music or hip-hop, try panning like 40 to 50% from the centre for a better effect. Play around those number until you find the kind of rhythm that suits your mix.

When doing a hardpan on the left do not forget to use a sound that will support or counter your activity on the right.

Final word

The hi-hat pattern you use can either make a beat or break it. Well constructed hi-hat patterns have the ability to turn a boring beat and give it some groove. This article should help you learn how to make hi hats sound better before and after programming.


Can you get how quality sound from a cheap hi hat?

Cheap hi hats are known to make horrible clanging sounds when used. While it does not give out a great-enough sound, a cheap hi hat can be great for practice. You cannot change much about the quality of sound from a cheap hi-hat. This means you would have to purchase a better quality h- hat.

How can you distinguish higher quality hi hats from cheap ones?

It’s easy, higher quality ones have tighter fixings while cheap ones have unstable ones that can come loose.

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