Recording & Mixing Drums using only Two Microphones

4.) Experiment/tweak further the sound before hitting the record button. Listen and watch carefully to the recorded levels from the drums. It should not be clipped (hitting red on either your DAW or audio interface level meters). You need to adjust the gain on your audio interface for proper gain staging.

5.) Finally when all are set; record in at least 24-bit/44.1KHz mono.

Audio Mixing Suggestions

Once recorded, you need to review the captured takes to make sure they are perfectly clean and correct. If there are no issues, you can now start mixing the drums. Since there are only two tracks in your DAW/multi-tracking software:

1.) Track #1 for overhead – recorded sound consisting of snare, hi-hats, cymbals and toms.
2.) Track #2 for kick drum – recorded sound consisting of only kick drums.

You cannot apply “specific” and “unique” effects to each of the drum parts. Instead a “generalized” setting would be applied. You can start with following the procedure below:

Step1.) Apply generalized EQ (rough guide, use only when needed and experiment further to get the best sound in your mix):

Track #1 EQ: (Overhead)

a.) Low shelf filter -6dB (or more) at 100Hz – to further reduce captured bleeding of kick drum sound.
b.) Boost +2dB at 200Hz Q=3.0 – increase clarity and punch of toms and snare body sound.
c.) Boost +2dB at 2000Hz Q=1.4 – increase clarity of snare drum sound hits.
d.) Boost +2dB at 8000Hz or 10000Hz – increase crispiness of cymbals, hi-hats and snare strings.

Track #2 EQ (Kick drum)

a.) High shelf cut at 500Hz = -6dB or more – remove bleeding of snare/cymbal.
b.) Cut -9dB at 400Hz (use parametric EQ to find the sweet spot) – Q=6.0, this is for removing the cardboard sound of the kick.
c.) Boost +2dB or more at 80Hz for more kick drum low end sound– bear in mind that the frequency of boosting depends also on the bass guitar. For more details, read these tips on mixing bass to work with the kick drum.

Compression may be necessary but this depends on the material. Some songs require some drum tracks to be dynamic thus you might need no compression at all. Some drum performances are problematic and not even in volume, thus needing compression. For more details, you can read the audio compression tips.

Be careful with reverb, if the drum tracks are well recorded in an appropriate room you might not need reverb effects on your mix at all. However, in some production projects where drums are recorded in a very dry environment it requires reverb on the audio mixing process; following are some suggestions:

1.) Don’t apply reverb on the kick drum.
2.) For overheads, you can apply a slight reverb enough to still make the snare reverb audible while maintain the desired volume level balance between the kick drums and the rest of the mix. Read these tips on how to apply reverb to a mix properly for more details.

You can pan the two recorded drum tracks in the center. The stereo image produced naturally by the recording would take care of the drum ambiance sound in the mix.

Content last updated on July 24, 2012