Essential Tips For Producing Drums & How To Master Your Music At Home

T Racks Opto Compressor

Music production is becoming more competitive, and you need to find a way how to mix and master your music correctly. In this post, let’s talk more about tips how to make better and more precise drums, why your mix sound thin and what you can do with it as well as how to master your music at home.

Here Are Essential Tips For Producing Drums:

How To Make My Drums More Consolidated and Compatible Together?

You have to create Drumroom bus – It’s a bus where all your drums will be linked into one track (at least those that you want to link in.) Then you have to use VSTs that will make drums more “glued.” When doing so, avoid the over-processing and keep in mind that cleaner is better than louder.

How To Make Transparent and Polish Drums That Fits In The Mix With Other Instruments

Similar to tip one just more specific – In this case, you have to use Opto compressor. This will reduce that additional edginess, so the final result will be that drums will merge in the mix.

How To Make My drums More Punchy and Edgy In Specific Frequency Band

For this query, multiband transient VST will do the job. With this unique plugin, you can shift the crossovers and adjust the bands for your needs so that will result in total control of your drums. Here is the list of the multiband transient VSTs:

  • Neutron 3 Transient Shaper (included in the bundle)
  • Transify Multi-band Transient Processor by JST
  • Waves Trans-X
  • MT-1 Multiband Transient Processor by SoniqWare
  • FXpansion Maul

Why Your Mixes Sound Thin And What To Do

It’s not about cutting highs within your EQ.  You have to start using saturation, tape, exciter plugins, and analog EQ – it’s a perfect tool that would help you get rid of the thin sound. Also, try to make your sounds to be in mono. Besides, by using these tools, you will get thicker and beefy sound not only in your high-end area but also across the whole frequency spectrum. Here is the list of few plugins that would help you get rid of the thin sound – Soundtoys Decapitator – Analog Saturation Modeler (Especially for mixing)

Soundtoys Decapitator

Brainworx bx_saturator V2 – M/S & multi-band saturation tool (Great for mixing as well as for mastering)

Brainworx Saturator

Melda MFreeformAnalogEq – Analog EQ (Briliant plugin for mixing – this is probably only one plugin that will make the biggest effect on your audio – maybe boosting your frequencies will look scary and weird because of very edgy peaks it makes, but after you will do some frequency boosts, you will see how another side of the frequency spectrum is adjusting according to your changes. So in the end, it will sound very natural and what’s best is that it removes the thinness from your audio.

Eddie Kramer Waves Signature Series – Bundle focused on Bass, Drums, Effects, Guitars, and Vocals. This bundle will definitely make your sound rich,  add the needed energy, and bring a nice color to your mix. You can also check the Kramer Master Tape plugin great for  Mastering as well as for mixing.


Krammer Drums

FabFilter Pro-DS – De-Eser VST plugin. Most popular plugin for removing the thin vocals.

FabFilter Pro DSS

How To Master Your Track At Home (Explained For Beginners)

When you start doing the mastering in your home studio, you have to determine which tools you have to use as the first. In this scenario, we will use the software VST plugins for the sake of the post. Follow these steps to see the results (Every track needs the different approach, this is just more like template or practice that you would have to try if you are starting out.) Also read our post on How Important Is Mixing & Mastering In Music Production? (For Beginners)

1. The first condition is to prepare the clean premaster of your track.

vst plugin master chain

2. Then add active EQ to boost or cut the desired frequency range

3. Add additional Dynamic EQ  (How And When Use Dynamic EQ in Mastering?)

This is very subtle kind of EQ that will make your mix fresher and more pleasing – Again, try to boost the frequencies anywhere where your track needs it, and then finally compare the first version without Dynamic EQ and when it’s turned on. You will hear that without this plugin, your track will sound flat and dull. Also, it all depends on the fact if you used the Dynamic EQ a lot in your mixing process. When the answer is yes, then you would probably skip this kind of VST plugin.

4. Use the multiband compression (Benefits of Using Multiband Compression in Mastering)

With this effect, your track will sound balanced and have will have a professional feeling.  You can adjust the parameters of each band without affecting other bands. This is the feature that gives modern music producers new possibilities when it comes to advanced mastering. This processing isn’t necessary just additional and you just need to know when you can to use it. There are a lot of quality Multiband Compressors out there but here are few what do a great job – FabFilter Pro-MB, iZotope Ozone Dynamics or  Drawmer 1973 by  Softube.

Softube Drawmer 1973

5. Don’t forget to add the Mastering compressor to glue things together

You have nothing to lose because this will gently boost what’s already done. Of course, you have to make some tweaks to make it sound good, but it’s a matter of practice and training. Don’t worry and add this plugin. Excellent examples of Mastering compressors are – SSL G-Master Buss Compressor by Waves or Mastering Compressor by Sonoris. Sonoris Mastering Compressor

6. Use the Opto Compressor (Why to Use Opto Compression in Mastering)

This kind of compression will add more density and sustain without causing pumping, which can easily occur when using VCA compressors. Some of the examples – Waves Renaissance Compressor or Brainworx bx_opto.

Waves Rennaisance Compressor

7. Add Saturation/Tape Plugin (How Saturation Improves Music Mastering)

These plugins, as we mentioned above, will bring the color and warmness to your record and make your record rock-solid. Also, it will make your record more potent in the low-end as same as in the high-end frequency band — in this case, our choice is Kramer Master Tape by Waves.

Waves Kramer Master Tape

8. This is more disputable, but it works pretty well – Try to Use De-Esser.

When? The majority of people will use the compressor to reduce the high-end. But it’s not necessary all the time – Use De-Esser especially in case you still want to keep the energy of your peaks. Not making massive modifications, just a little tweak that will fix that annoying edgy sound. The best thing is that you will hear the peak almost the same but without that undesirable effect.

9. Use The Exciter (What does an exciter plugin do?)

It will make your track more shiny and bright at highs but also better at low-end. Unfortunately, you are not able to achieve this kind of sound only with EQ so Exciter is a great way to make it more professional. Great examples are – Waves Aphex Aural Exciter or iZotope Ozone Exciter.

10. Use Imager (Why To Use It and How To Use It)

We are getting to the final effects that we will use in our mastering effect’s chain. The imager is a kind of effect that is used in mixing as well as in the mastering process. When mastering, make sure you add this to make your track wider and to elevate the bands which that you want to be in the foreground. To do this, download free iZotope Ozone Imager.  Here is some default preset that a lot of producers are doing nowadays:

iZotope Imager

11. Use Brickwall EQ to High-Cut 16kHz.

Make sure that you are adding this plugin to get rid of the unwanted high-end area (GREEN.) Also, it’s good to add the band with high Q (RED) that will soften your high-end a bit more. Great plugins for this are – FabFilter Pro Q3 or iZotope Ozone EQ. If you are using Pro Q3, use the option for Linear-Phase and set it to “Max.” This will correct your highs a bit and your track will have better quality. (It’s more CPU intensive) BUT we are going to tell you last and very obvious effect tool –

FabFilter Pro Q3

iZotope Ozone Equalizer:

Here is the Spectrum Analyzer where you can see the Brickwall High-Cut. Green color represents 16KHZ (16 000 HZ) High-Cut itself, and Red color shows how an additional band improved the shape of the High-End by the smooth transition.

12. Limiter/Maximizer

The very last thing you want to have in your master chain. Now you will see how loud your track could be. Make sure that you tweak every parameter manually in effect according to your track and rather avoid to using presets which would be allowed in previous effects. Basically, when you decrease the volume on your main source (premaster), then effects will have more headroom and space, even if it has advanced processing. So then it’s better to add the volume on the Maximizer/Limiter. The typical threshold for the Limiter is -6dB, but it’s all about your preferences and actual processing. Now it’s time to choose the specific plugin that you would use. Please keep in mind that each one is different, so it’s recommended to have at least two or three in the backup in case that one didn’t work well in that specific song. Here is our recommendation for Limiter VST plugins – FabFilter L2, iZotope Maximizer, IK Multimedia Stealth Limiter, and PSP Xenon. Also, don’t hesitate to check our post How To Maximize The Loudness Without Clipping Or Distorting. iZotope Maximizer:

Izotope Ozone Maximizer


These tips were made according to our experience, and we are just sharing what we’ve learned during the years just to make it easier for you.  Anyway, you don’t have to follow the exact formula because every single track needs to be treated individually. That said, you have to know that these are just tools and techniques that hopefully will serve you on your musical journey.

Viliam Šulek

MusicGearo is a blog site created by passionate music producers for the music lover who wants to build a home studio or purchase various music performance or production gear.It also addresses those who already own home studios but need to learn how to get the most out of the gear they already own.

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