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The Recording Drums Series
Part VI - The Great Equalizer - Eqing Drums
If your tuning, timing, and performance is in place, getting your drum tracks to sit in the mix then becomes a matter of EQ. In the other articles, you may remember all the times I said that EQ can not fix the sound of your drums. That is most definately true. If all the other elements weren't attended to before and during the tracking process, EQ during the mixing stage will only make them sound worse.
Having said that, we'll assume that your drums were well tuned, you played with all your might, and you used a click track. Now EQ can be used in the mix to give each drum a place to live in the song. This way all of the instruments in the song can shine together as one in peace and love and harmony (sorry, I couldn't resist).
For reference, I refer you to "The Musician's Guide to Home Recording" by Peter McIan and Larry Wichman. I have used Mr. McIan's EQ recommendations for many years and find them to be a good place to start.
The secret to using EQ is to bring out the natural characteristics of each drum. These characteristics are controlled by adjusting certain frequencies. Here is a chart:
Kick (Bass drum): Punch 3000K Bottom end 40-100Hz
To make the kick more audible in the mix, increase the EQ at 3000K. I find that going even as high as a 5db - 7db increase gives it prescence and punch.
Low end is manipulated between 40 and 100 Hz. I find that the 80 Hz frequency works but I don't usually need to adjust this at all when I do the drum tracking.