Pro Audio Files

Anatomy of a Mix: Mixing Drums [Excerpt]

So starting from the top of the channel here on the SSL, the first thing you’ll notice is that depressed is 29 and 30. That’s buss 29 and 30.

Buss 29 and 30 are feeding into our drum crush over here. So bass is going to channel 29 and 30 here, and that’s being crushed. So it’ll come out…


If you watch here, you’ll see there’s quite a lot of compression going on. It’s on the fastest release time.

So what we’ve got going there is the kick, the snare, and the room mics. That’s it. That’s all that’s going to it. If we can float, let’s have a listen.

So this is the crush. I’m going to crank it a bit. So it’s not overly — let’s mute the sub as well…

It’s just some SSL parallel compression. There’s quite a lot of top end boost.

Boosting at 10kHz. A little cut at the top. I’m getting pretty tight on the bottom end. Coming up to about 60 or 70. Boosting some 300. I’ll take the EQ out.

Basically coming up and getting rid of some of the low lows on the kick so it doesn’t get too muddy. And yeah, there’s a little mid-range going on as well, like a 900 boost. A little 300. Just to add some thickness underneath.

So, that’s our drum crush. So I’ll unfloat the sub. You can hear the sub come back in. Float it again. Sub floated. Back in. Pretty big.

Float. Back in. So even though I’m sending the kick, the rooms and the snare to this drum crush here, I’m not boosting any super low lows in it, because that would just get really interfere with the sub and the cleanliness of the kick, you know?

So I like — it’s difficult when you’ve got a lot of bottom end going on there, if you’re going to get lots of competing things going on, it’s really going to turn into a big phasey mess, and you’re not going to have the clarity.

As I’ve talked about in the Produce like a Pro Academy a lot is like, what really sorts out the men from the boys in a lot of mixes is that clarity in the bottom end. I know a lot of people have made a big deal about this, but about 150 or 200, definitely not above 200, probably about 150 and below is pretty mono.

It should be kick, bass guitar is where I like everything to be coming central.

Now with guitars, I tend to shelve up to close to about 200Hz, so I might boost and get some body down there. I can keep that panned left and right, but everything 150 or 200 and below should be a mono signal. I don’t want to hear it in the left and right speakers and I don’t want any phase issues coming on.

Cool. So we’ll come back to the kick then. So as we’ve just discussed, the kick is 29-30 that’s bussing to the drum crush.

So the channel out position here, this is really important for you to know on an SSL. When you do channel out, it goes EQ into compression. One of the great sounds of an SSL is when the EQ smacks into the compressor.

It’s a really huge thing. I didn’t really understand that for the longest time when I first started mixing on SSLs. I could never get it to sound the way that Chris Lord-Alge makes it sound or any of those guys. I could never get that same sound.

That’s why. It’s that EQ into compression.

So we have kick EQ, or the boost that I’ve done going into that compressor, and it kind of gives it that spanky sound that we love.

So what’s going on. We’ve got a huge boost down here at 60. A lot of boost. We’ve got some cut around about 400. About — quite a lot. Like four or five dBs worth of cut. Then we’ve got some boost about 2.5kHz. About six or seven dBs worth of boost. And then we’ve got a lot of boost at about 8kHz.

That’s basically giving us an even more exaggerated view of that bottom end, that scooped low mid, and that top end and above.

But just to add even more to that, I’ll turn it up a little bit for myself, is you’ll notice I’ve engaged the insert here. Take it off. It sounds good.

It’s a little tighter. How does it get tighter? This here. I’ve got a bass guitar sitting in the way. Hey, it’s a studio, we have gear all over the place. But look, the reason it’s got tighter is because I’m doing a little 63 boost, a little 125 cut, and a little 250 cut here, and then a little 4kHz and a little 8kHz boost there, and a tiny bit of 31 cut.

So I’m shaping it even more with the 560b. That’s the API graphic.

This is an old pair that I have. I’m actually going to get the new BAE ones, just between you and me, because these are worth like, $1,000 and the BAE ones I think sound better and they’re not $1,000. They’re cheaper. So I’m going to sell these and get new ones!

I’m not that much of a snob that I need that.

So inserted EQ. It’s tightening up. It’s cool. I like that. Put this in. It’s a little tighter.

There’s something about API stuff. 312s, 560s, 550s, you know, any of the EQs and stuff — EQs or mic pres — there’s something about those 2520 op amps that everybody likes. I’m not an electronics engineer. Many of you watching this may be. They just seem to soak up the transients so you can hit it really, really hard, and they just seem to make things sound a little sweeter. I really love them.

So basically, the only other thing that’s important to know, and it is important…

Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at

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