Do you ever wonder why other tracks have so much clarity and loudness?
The secret would be to stick to the right techniques, learn them, and improve over time. But remember, more often than not, less is more, and you don’t need to force that. Understand the fundamentals, start using them, and you are good to go. Here is the list of 7 tips that can help you get a mix that is louder and more precise.
1. Place Your Sounds Properly
First, You want to make sure that sounds are actually on the grid; otherwise, they won’t be the best quality. This is also the sign of quality, and if your sounds, samples, and effects are”off the grid,” it’s a real shortcoming. To do this, make sure that you have your Plugin Delay Compensation (PDC) in your DAW set up correctly. Most DAWs, such as Ableton, have Automatic PDC so you don’t need to worry about it.
However, for instance, in FL Studio (at least in the older versions), you have to make some manual tweaks to make it work properly. Just keep that in mind if you prefer older DAW versions. Second, by placing sounds correctly, you can add clarity to your sounds. Not everything should be placed precisely on the timeline, though the main elements should be.
To be more specific, if you want to add a little swing or groove to your shakers or tambourines, you can slightly shift them to hear them differently. Also, adding wider stereo imaging on these sounds can optically change the placement, which results in a sweet and distinctive character.
2. Make The Main Sounds Mono In The Sub Frequencies
Mono adds clarity to your sound. Don’t worry too much about the lack of stereo, because you will probably
add various instruments to make your mix wider. As we talked in earlier posts, it’s also good to be in mono, especially
in your sub-region. When it comes to bass, you must consider a decrease in the stereo field based on how wide is your stereo field is.
You don’t want to use huge stereo widening, though to hear the sides a bit in your bass, this is perfect. Also, this can work if you don’t want to make your bass completely mono. The kick as a pillar sound that should be in the mono, as well (at least in the Sub Frequency Region). With this in mind, you can avoid correlation issues. Check this post that explains how to make your kick wider without correlation errors.
If you don’t do that, the balance might be unstable and the correlation of your phase can damage your track with negative rates. In the end, keep this in mind to make a solid low-end and make your track more transparent without any issues. The higher the frequencies are, the wider the stereo image you can create.
3. Create Significant Transitions Between Passages
This is more like composition advice than mixing. If you are looking at this from a different angle, however, it could also contribute to creating more clarity in your track regarding the perception of your track. Let’s say your track is flat without any significant changes and your transitions don’t include any new things, meaning you are just playing the same patterns and all the sounds sound similar most of the time. In this case, you want to make sure that these passages evolve and change to make the composition clearer for your fans and listeners.
4. Don’t Add Too Many Layers For Specific Sounds
A good tip to keep in mind is that you don’t want to use many sounds, as it may start getting overwhelming without the desired effect. Instead, try to use less and create more straightforward sounds that you can hear easily and perceive without getting into useless details.
For instance, you might use seven layers of the Snare Drum. At some point, you realize that four layers are more than enough to make your song clear for a natural and honest snare.
Consider this advice if you want to achieve more clarity.
5. Learn How To Order Plugins Properly In Your Chain
This is really crucial, as the order of your plugins in the mixing chain affect the final sound. A good example is your main drum bus.
6. How can I make my drums sound clearer and louder?
In this tip, I will share some plugin formulas I use on the main drum bus to get drums that are clear, transparent, and loud. I will also discuss specific presets from these plugins that I use often to achieve the standards I’m looking for. Let’s check it out!
1. Compressor/Limiter (Cytomic The Glue)
I always start with the main compressor/Limiter plugin, which holds the beat perfectly together. I try not to get it as loud as possible. Rather, I try to keep space for headroom for the other plugins. My favorite compressor/limiter plugin for this use is a plugin from Cytomic called “The Glue.”
It includes pretty awesome presets for your drums. I like it mainly because it’s a compressor and limiter in one package. In the case your purpose is to have a clear, transparent, and loud track, then you can follow this formula to see brilliant results on your drums. I use a preset from this plugin called “full parallel hipassed,” which compresses and limits your drums.
There is a similar preset called “full parallel.” However, I prefer to use the hipassed preset, as it keeps the highs sharp and doesn’t affect them too much. So let’s say this is our first plugin on our Drum Bus. Before you add another plugin, you want to tweak the plugin a bit to get the best outcome. Remember to keep it clear in this stage and do not add volume unnecessarily.
Find out more about “The Glue.”
2. New York / Parallel Compression (Cytomic The Glue)
If you feel that your drums are jumping around and aren’t as consistent as you would want, even though the single drums sound lovely and clear, then it’s time to use another plug. Yeah, it’s also “The Glue” from Cytomic! I’m addicted to these presets from this little plugin, as it works on all the drums I use.
In this case, we will add more transparency by creating headroom and creating better conditions for our plugins, which we will use in the next steps. There are three great presets that I use a lot:
The First is called “New York Adding Sustain,” which basically adds a nice, transparent feeling while holding your drums together.
The Second – “Gentle Compression” – Use this when your drums sound a bit smoother than usual and aren’t so sharp. This will compress them slightly without changing the character of your main drums. Also, don’t forget to tweak the “Makeup” knob to find the perfect transparent sound.
That’s the beauty of it ! You don’t need to change the other parameters too much. However, determining what to use depends on how many drums are playing. In this case, I suppose you have many drums playing together because it’s a Drum Bus where most of your drums are linked into one group. Plugin presets are great for achieving consistency in your sound and your future tracks without changing the character and style of your sound.
A third Preset I use a lot in Cytomic The Glue is “New York Catch The Front.” It’s similar to the first preset I mentioned, but with slight changes. It’s good to use this if you want to achieve transparent and consistent drums with nice sustain.
3. Multiband Compression – (GranComp3 Free Plugin)
The next plugin I like to use is multiband compression, as it allows me to preordain the potential of the drums. I noticed this excellent tool recently and how enormous it sounds. I like to use this effect when I want to add more density and still keep the clarity on the point. It adds direction and brings power and dynamic range to drums. Whenever I apply this thing to my main drum bus, it is a pleasure.
Specifically, there is a preset called “Master Heavy2” that impressed me with the transparency and power it has.
Get this MultiComp plugin for free Here.
4. De-Esser (SPL De-Esser Dual-Band)
As you may know, there are not too many producers using De-Essers on the drum bus. There are many reasons for that. One of them is that it doesn’t sound professional when you use this plugin on the drums with the cold statements. When I compare my drums with and without a De-Esser, the highs are too edgy and my ears get tired very fast. On the flip side, if you use a De-Esser, just use a few tweaks for your main drum bus.
For this example, I like to use SPL De-Esser Dual-Band, which allows you to make tweaks. “High S Reduction” or “Low S Reduction” are great to use.
It makes the highs more subtle, helping you to perceive the main drums as a whole without separation. This is great if you are planning to make some fat and rolling drums.
7. Add fewer instruments and effects
Even though more sounds add magic to your music, it’s harder to achieve this level of mixing. First, you must understand the basics and realize that you have to make a significant relationship between your sounds across several variables, such as EQ, compression, stereo relationship, saturation, and also many other things.
There are plenty of great plugins that might use for your main drums. Those plugins include exciters, imagers, and saturators, though it all depends on your actual sound and if you can afford to use that particular plugin in the situation. You can also make single drums sound punchy, loud, and exciting with equalization, so keep in mind that it’s not necessary to use too many additional plugins for your Main Drum Bus.
I have been helping others understand music production, mixdowns, and mastering for a number of years. I have always found it rewarding to see people progress within this field – making the information digestible and engaging.