The Music Espionage

Kick Drum

The importance of the Kick Drum is often over looked, through good mixing and achieving the right balance it can develop real energy within the music and give it a truly professional finish. The Kick Drum is often the starting point for any mix, as the traditional methods for mixing is to go from low frequencies to progressively higher. Or start with the drummer and work your way through the band to the lead vocals.
Kick DrumThe first thing to do with any mix is to carefully listen through the sound, NOT just the sound of the instrument you are mixing but anything else that may have found its way onto the track. This is normally going to be some form of bleeding or spill.

Do not go straight for the EQ and crank up the bass. Unless you’re taking a specific decision to have a very sub-heavy kick sound (in which case you’ll need to adjust your bass sound accordingly to fit with it), it’s often a good idea to high-pass filter the low-frequency extreme, this could be between 20Hz to about 40Hz. Throughout this area frequencies are more felt than heard and often add noise. Also extreme low frequencies won’t be very audible on all but the largest playback systems, and they take up a lot of the headroom in audio signals. Reducing this subsonic energy a little leaves more room for the slightly higher frequencies which make bass instruments more subjectively apparent on the wider range of real-world listening systems.

Kick DrumIt is a really good idea to reflect between both the Bass Guitar and Kick Drum, these two elements will normally form the majority of all Low frequencies within a mix and achieving a balance between the two is very important. This is simply making sure there is no Masking and that the instruments do not fight each other, each note can be heard from the bass and the kick still delivers the punchy thumb through this.

Often using a gate is really important to reduce the amount of bleeding that comes through the kick track. Naturally this will change depending on the Kick Drum and method of recording. But it is important to make sure that the Attach does not cut the first early slap of the beater on the drum’s skin and also the Release is not closing the gate to quickly and adding unwanted noise before the sound is finished.

Kick Drum

Kick Drum – Using a Gate to reduce spill

This video explains how a Noise Gate can be used to reduce spill onto the Kick Drum channel and through careful EQ and Compression achieve a real hard hitting sound from your Kick Drum.


Kick Drum – Top Tips for the Mix