Subtractive EQ Part 3: Kick Drum

Miss part 1? Read Subtractive EQ – Snare Drum.

The Kick Drum
If the snare was the primary listening point for Rock music then the kick drum is the second most important. By working in the guitars in over the snare I was then met with the challenge of working in a solid kick drum sound. This kick drum was tracked using two different kick drum microphones, one deeper into the drum than the other. For reference, the first kick signal is called the “Kick-In” microphone and the second is the “Kick-Out” signal. (This is one example of the nomenclature used by many engineers to differentiate between the different microphones placed on a drum set)

Kick In

I started by blending the two signals to my liking and then attenuating any unwanted rumbling around 79Hz. I also reduced most of the high end of the kick-in signal. The LPF was applied drastically at 927Hz. In tapering off the high end I can reduce the unwanted sound of the cymbal splashing and use the kick-in microphone for the proper thump that I was looking for.

The kick-out microphone had a much smoother tone to it so I used this to capture the slapping of the beater against the drum. This slapping of the beater is what will cut through on a pair inexpensive speakers that do not have much bass response. This is important to think about while shaping your sound. Lastly, using my ears, I sought it fitting to attenuate around 552Hz and 7.7kHz. If you are familiar with heavy rock or the metal style then you can understand that the kick needs to have a present and simultaneous thick tone to it. This tone is mostly achieved by reducing most of the mid-range and shaping the low and high end to your liking.

Kick Out

The kick drum is a tough instrument to work into a mix because it does not follow the same rules as other instruments. The trick is getting the kick drum presence into the mix without actually overpowering the mix. Many can adhere to this debacle and that is why it is important to attenuate the kick drum’s frequencies rather than boost them.

The rest of the drum kit was adjusted as such:

Tom 1

HPF at 56Hz, -10dB of gain at 596Hz

Tom 2

HPF at 45Hz

Tom 3

HPF at 49Hz, -10.3dB at 317Hz, and -8.2dB at 1.6kHz

OH Left and OH Right

HPF at 113Hz, -10.6dB at 942Hz
HPF at 88Hz, -8.8dB at 2.1Hz


Read Part 4 – Subtractive EQ for Bass

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