PRO TIPS

Computer Music - - Make Music Now -

FULL SNARE AHEAD

When mix­ing drums, we all know the main aim is to achieve a smooth blend be­tween sep­a­ra­tion and co­he­sion – but it’s eas­ier said than done! Over the years, I’ve spent hours work­ing on drums only to come away frus­trated. A good rule of thumb that’s helped me is to en­sure that the snare drum is the loud­est – or at least one of the most up­front – el­e­ments in the mix. Vol­ume-wise, lev­el­ling the kick drum slightly be­low the snare will bal­ance th­ese vi­tal hits. Then, all the other com­plex rhythms sit be­hind to carry the groove along.

After that, lis­ten for any parts pop­ping out, or not sit­ting cor­rectly. Slight vol­ume ad­just­ments on your in­di­vid­ual drums have a huge ef­fect here. This tech­nique doesn’t work on ev­ery tune, of course, and it de­pends on the style you pro­duce, but give it a go and see if the re­sults work for you.

BEAT-MATCH­ING

In most drum ’n’ bass tracks, the per­cus­sive parts do the ma­jor­ity of the work. They form the core char­ac­ter of the track, and build in­ter­est and vari­a­tion through­out. Usu­ally if your drums sound great on their own, the rest of your sounds can be eas­ily in­tro­duced and the track al­most writes it­self.

To guar­an­tee qual­ity, I al­ways eval­u­ate my lat­est beat by ref­er­enc­ing it against a re­leased, mas­tered track – us­ing my CDJs, I can mix them to­gether just as I would when DJing out. If they sound de­cent, and punch through the other tune, I know I’m on the right track – or I’ll in­stantly hear what needs fix­ing. For ex­am­ple, the cym­bals may need more ‘sparkle’, or my kick could be a bit too subby. It’s a tech­nique that has guided me through stu­dio strug­gles, and it’s some­thing I swear by when en­gi­neer­ing. If you don’t own decks, go down the usual route and ref­er­ence in your DAW.

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