How to make your drums punchy - Reason Sound Design

Uploaded by PropellerheadSW on 24.05.2012

Hi this is James from Propellerhead Software and in this Reason Sound Design video I'm going to
show you a few ways that you can make your drum sounds punchier in a mix.
Since Mattias showed a few ways we can make our sounds fatter in the last video,
I though it would be a good idea to also cover the drums, since they could end up getting a bit lost in the mix
after you have totally fattened up some of those other sounds.
If you have a listen to this song and listen to how the drums sound you can hear that they lack a certain amount of punch
and presence in the mix.
One of the first things that I do when working with drums is to use compression.
If you notice, I'm using a Dr. OctoRex loop player and the drums are really just a stereo drum loop.
But as you can see, I have separate mix channels for kick, snare, and percussion - which would be hats
or other things. Since we have multiple slice outputs on the rear panel of the OctoRex
we can isolate specific slices to their own outputs, like this.
Now I'll work on the kick drum a bit. Using the on-board compressor of the Reason mix channel,
I'll dial in a ratio of roughly between 5:1 to 6:1 and set the threshold so that the compressor is doing its work most of the time.
This allows for a nice even level without any jumps in volume.
I'll also set the release time to a low or fast setting and keep the attack time set to its default of a slower setting
so that the compressor does not totally squash all of the initial punch and attack.
The next thing I will do is to work with the EQ section to dial in some frequencies that I wish to cut or boost.
There really is no magic template here since each sound is going to have its own specific characteristics
so it's really best to use your ears and see what works.
But there are a few frequency ranges that you want to pay attention to. For the kick drum you don't want to boost extremely low frequencies,
as this will only cause a very muddy sound.
If you find that your kick needs a little extra body you can try boosting in the 90 - 120Hz range.
And also try boosting a bit in the 2k to 4k range to add some attack.
Use these same tips with the snare sound, except try tweaking frequencies in the 250Hz range for some punch
and 2.5k ranges for some extra snap when you're working with the EQ.
I also suggest that you work with the high pass and low pass filters in the EQ section because these
are a great way to remove any extreme high or low frequencies from the sound.
The next tip to get the overall drum mix to have some punch and presence is to use parallel compression
mixed in just under the original track. To do this I use the Spider audio merger/splitter to create a submix of the drum parts.
And I fed that into two separate mix channels. On one of the channels I turned on the compressor and set it fairly aggressively,
as you can see here, and I also added an insert effect which gave the parallel track some grit and character.
Work with the level so that the parallel track is not overtaking the original track, but rather adding to it.
Now let's hear how the entire mix of the song sounds with the drums processed using these tips.
Another tip you can try is layering drum sounds. For example you might have a kick drum which has a good
punchy low end but has absolutely nothing in the mids or highs.
Layering a sound that has some of those characteristics and rolling off some of the low end of it
will give it that extra little something that you're looking for.
Give some of these tips a try next time you're mixing a track and need a little extra punch in your drums.
And if you have any additional tips that you use and you'd be willing to share them with us, send an email
See you soon.