Drum Sound Processing

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Drum Sound Processing

An article by Socky42 - Related Board Thread Here



Some of you asked for a quick run through of my drum sound in my Doom remix so I thought I’d make this guide on how I process my drums. I use Superior Drummer with the Metal Foundry add-on but it really doesn’t matter what you use as long as they’re good sounds. E.g. EZDrummer 1/2, Steven Slate Drums, the default Avatar Superior Drummer etc.

The most important parts of my drum sound that make the biggest difference are the overheads, room mic and the reverbs that I talk about near the end.

I can do a guide using just the Avatar kit if enough people want it, since that's what most people here use anyway.

Sound sample:
- Before and After

Kick Drum

Kickdrum Sample

First up we have the shaping EQ, this is pretty extreme but I couldn’t really find a particular sample that fit my needs so I just found one that was close enough and did some broad EQ boosts.

Then I use Fabfilter Pro-Q 2 for some surgical EQ, cutting out some undesirable frequencies. Obviously you can use any EQ plugin, I just like Pro-Q because you can solo the individual bands. This stage really depends on your arrangement/mix, e.g. do you want a clicky kick or not?

Then I use Waves RBass to fatten up the sound a bit and add some tight low-end, this isn’t a necessary step since not everyone will own it but it’s on sale now for $39.

Finally the compressor - in Logic Pro, the default compressor comes with some analog emulation and in this case I’m using the ‘Classic VCA’ setting; but any compressor should be fine. Ratio is at 4 with around 5db of compression.


Snare Sample

Starts off with some EQ to clean up unwanted frequencies.

Another extreme EQ to shape the sound of the snare, in this case I wanted more ring and body to the snare.

An enveloper to make the attack of the snare pop, every DAW should have a similar plugin.


Hi-Hats Sample

I prefer the sound of overhead hi-hats, so here I cut out some of the high end so it doesn’t clash with those two tracks but left in the dry low-to-mid range.


Toms Sample

Removed some low and mid-range frequencies to tighten up the sound and a wide boost over the high end.

Then I had another RBass on there for some boominess, but another EQ boost from 50-100hz would give roughly the same effect I guess.


Overheads Sample

As with most tracks, an EQ to cut out the low end and mid-range; this is to ensure it doesn’t muddy up the rest of the drums and make the kick hard to hear.

Second EQ is for sound shaping, here I was focusing on getting the snare to come through the way I wanted and cutting out a few more undesirable frequencies.

Some even out the levels a bit and glue the overheads together. Ratio of 3, around 5-6db of reduction.

Finally some more clearing up of undesirable frequencies, just left the track playing on some heavy hi-hat cymbal part and cut away till it wasn’t too harsh on the ear.


Room Sample

I slam the room mic with a high ratio compressor to the point of it clipping the sound, this gives a lot of life to the snare drum and glues the entire sound together.

And of course some EQ to clean up low frequencies and annoying fizz at the top.

Auxiliary Tracks

I make 4 auxiliary tracks - Parallel Compression, a ‘Large Room’, a ‘Snare Hall’ and a ‘Drum Hall’.

Parallel Compression

This is on the entire drum bus, where you send your drums sound to another bus and then process that duplicate. Then adjust the parallel compression to taste.

We slam the drums through a high ratio compressor. Hard to explain but it makes snare more snappy, gives the kick more attack etc.

Then I cut out some annoying high end frequencies.

Drum Hall

Drum Hall Sample

This is a reverb bus that consists of the snare, overheads and hi-hats; this is to give more body to the snare and more low-end to the crashes, hats etc.

I use ValhallaVintage in Concert Hall mode with a long decay and some highs cut out; very dark sounding.

EQ to cut out some highs since this is all about thickening the sound .

Compression to glue the reverb together a bit.

I normally use a plugin called ‘Center’ by Waves for this but not everyone’s gonna have it and its not on sale right now; the purpose of this is to remove all audio from the middle of your stereo field – so the reverb doesn’t get in the way of the rest of the drums. In Logic Pro the default EQ has a mid/side option where you can just EQ out the mid, like I’ve done in the picture. I’m assuming other DAWs have a way to do this too.

Large Room

Large Room Sample

This is a reverb bus that consists of the kick, snare and toms; just a way to give more stereo width and more of the high-end snare/toms to come through.

I use ValhallaRoom for my reverb but any room reverb will work obviously; 2 second delay, 10ms pre-delay and cut out some high end.

Same as in last section, cuts out middle of stereo field to clear it up.

Then notching out some high-end frequencies again.

Snare Hall

Snare Hall Sample

This is a reverb bus that only consists of the snare; I find it adds a bit of sustain to the drum sound and adds some snare high-end to the Drum Hall bus from earlier.

ValhallaVintage again, less highs cut out but still has a dark character.

Cut out the lows, so it doesn’t clash with the Drum Hall bus and muddy up the mix.

Finally the EQ we saw before cutting out the middle of the stereo field.

Then that's it, tried to be as brief as possible, lemme know if there are any questions!