Getting drums to sit in a mix is hard work. As one of the most dynamic instruments you’ll ever touch – they’ve got a lot to offer your mix.
A good, well-balanced drum kit has the capability of adding depth to your song and drive it forward. It’s one of the most common mix elements that engineers start with, and often sets a roadmap for where the rest of the mix can go.
But what happens when you’re deep in your mix, maybe even to the point where you’re ready to add some final touches, and you realize that your drum mix is underwhelming with the rest of your track?
How do you get your drums to “pop” once they’ve already been mixed? Bus processing might be your solution.
Big, Bold Drums
Your drum bus deserves some special treatment of its own. Your drums should cut through the mix, have their own level of presence and sustain, and a shine to top it all off.
To get there it usually takes a lot: EQ, compression, and time-based effects for starters. Tedious drum editing and even sample replacement are necessary from time to time.
But the end result is always the same: an album-ready drum kit that’s both clear and defined.
How To Tell Something is Wrong
When your drum mix starts fading into the background, you’ve got a problem. To make it worse, it’s not always an immediately recognizable problem.
Don’t let your mixing get too segmented to the point where you’re mixing guitars and blaming them for your weak drum sound because “it sounded good 5 minutes ago”.
Audio mixes are constantly growing and changing beasts.
The frequency spectrum is a pain to work with since nearly every mix is going to have phase cancellation and reinforcement coming and going as levels and processing changes.
For drums in particular, there are 2 tell-tale signs that something is wrong: they’ll either begin sounding out of place with the rest of the mix, or they’ll sound muffled as if they’ve got a blanket over them.
We’ve got a single fix that can solve both problems…
The Drum Bus Cure
Your drum bus is a great place to start since it brings together all of the elements of your drum kit into a single instrument view. The bus gives you full access to your drum sound, which can be especially useful if your drums have already been mixed and balanced.
One of the fastest solutions to an underwhelming drum mix is adding a clipper to the bus. Why?
A clipper can help:
· Boost presence · Cut through a dense mix · Add sustain and body to your drums · Lift the “wool” off of your drum tone
If your drum bus doesn’t need a complete overhaul, but could still benefit from some subtle processing, a clipper may still be your answer.
By using a clipper like JST Clip that has a built-in mix knob, you can actually add in-line parallel processing with very little effort. Instead of setting up a new bus, routing your audio there, then adding the plugin just to try it out, you’ve got the closest thing to a one-click solution (that can be adjusted to taste) there is.
What Are You Clipping?
Whether your clipper is getting used on drums, guitars, or vocals – you’re already in the right mindset by including one of these powerhouse processors in your workflow.
New to clippers? Stuck in the old-school mindset that clipping is always bad?