Kick Drum EQ Settings and Compression

Ever wonder how to apply the EQ and compression to kick drums? Applying EQ and compression are one of the most important things you should consider when mixing kick drums.

As a start, the kick drum EQ settings and compression depends on the song genre. For example, your kick drum sounds different in rock versus jazz or country music. It is because of the way it has been approached in the audio mixing process.

This short guide put more emphasis on mixing of kick drums with respect to the following genres:

a.) Rock/alternative/metal
b.) Pop and Country
c.) Jazz

These are not one-size-fit-all solutions and you need to further experiment on the suggested settings to get the best kick drum sound out of your mix.

Kick drum photo

Kick drum photo

Credits: chidorian

Suggested EQ Settings for Kick drums (targeting rock and pop music genre)

Using a high quality parametric EQ such as Waves Paragraphic EQ, you can start applying the following EQ settings to your kick drum:

Cut -9dB Q=3 Center Frequency=400Hz
Boost 9dB Q=1.4 Center Frequency= 100Hz
Cut -6dB Q=1.4 Center Frequency = 50Hz

The purpose of having to cut -9dB on 400Hz is to reduce the cardboard sound of the drum and to make the drum sounds more bass. Of course since you are mixing for rock and pop music, the heavy bass guitar sound should occupy the sub bass frequencies (less than 100Hz). To increase clarity of bass guitar sounds, the kick drum is cut at -6dB, Q=1.4 at a frequency of 50Hz.

In rock and pop genre, bass guitar and kick drum should be properly mixed. This will increase the punch and overall clarity of your bass frequencies (which a combination of kick drums and bass guitar.)

It is highly important you should also be paying attention in mixing bass guitar properly to get a good sound out of your kick drum.

EQ settings for kick drum in country music mix

In country music, the overall objective of the mix is to convey a much stronger punch in the kick drum and to make the bass guitar more defined instead of making it sound heavy like in rock and alternative music.

In this case, the bass guitar is mixed above the kick drum in most cases. I would recommend the following EQ setting:

Kick drum:
+6dB boost at 80Hz Q= 1.0
Low shelf filter at 50Hz, -3dB reduction

Bass guitar:
Low shelf filter at 150Hz -6dB
+3dB boost at 200Hz