Mix Tip: Blending in Cymbal Samples to Enhance a Drum Mix
I want to show you how I replaced cymbals — actually I didn’t replace — I blended sample cymbal hits in on this track for Samantha Encarnacion. A little pop/rock track. And just completely stepped up the clarity and the quality of the record by doing this. A lot of us are familiar with the production technique or the mixing technique to blend or replace kick, snares, toms, but not everybody is used to replacing crashes or rides or hi-hats or that kind of thing. In this one I didn’t do the hi-hat, I didn’t do the ride, but I did do a left and a right crash. I felt like it completely opened up the drums and cymbals and I’m not even done mixing this one yet. May end up doing the hi-hat or ride.
I’m gonna show you before and after. Here’s with no samples. And I’m gonna pull the overheads up so you can hear what the original overheads sounded like and then I’ll show you the hyper real drums with crashes in the mix.
[original overhead cymbals in the drum mix]
Hitting the limiter a bit hard in one section. Forgive me, not done mixing this one. Now I’m gonna pull these in to listen. These crashes come from That Sound library, I can’t remember the kit, I have everything they make and love it. Check out iwantthatsound.com. Here’s the crashes in solo.
[solo crash cymbals]
Before we put it in the mix, I get they sound fake crashing like that. But in the mix I like the definition, extra attack, hyper-real sound, and what it contributes to the song. So, not about what it sounds like solo. We’re gonna make sure it sounds right in the mix. If it sounds fake in the mix, we’ll fix it. Here we go, in the mix, crashes blended in.
[drum mix with cymbal samples]
I like the added transient it gives, I like the attack. I’m gonna mute these and then bring them in. Actually I’m gonna play them in and then mute them.
[mix with and without cymbal samples]
At the end I exaggerated it so you can hear the original overheads, the original cymbals and I don’t mind them but I feel like they’re a little washy, they’re really high pitched — they feel thin to me. Whenever I got working with the kick, snare and toms they were real big and beefy, it felt like the cymbals just kind of made things small. So I pulled in the crash a and crash b, which for me added some meat to the cymbals, some definition, and I love what it was doing. So a quick walkthrough of what I’m doing I’ve got the FabFilter Pro-Q 2, this is my new best friend here with mixing. I’m just pulling out everything below 700 at a probably like 24 per, 16 dB per octave set there, nothing fancy going on there. But then what I am doing is I’m sending it to a sunset chamber, and I’m doing that, you guys who have heard of the Bricasti Reverb, you’ll know that the sunset chamber is a part of that. Got this new plugin called Reverberate. I’m pulling in the sample that is available at, forgive me, it’s the samplicity library of the of the Bricasti emulations. He went and did impulse responses. You can pull these into reverberator — incredible plugin — reverberate, excuse me. I’m pulling in sunset chamber. EQ, nothing fancy. Just making sure it’s kind of a washy high end. I liked getting rid of the low stuff. Let’s pull back up and hear the verb exaggerated because the only thing going to the verb are these extra crashes.
Let’s hit solo, and pull this up and we’ll give a listen of what they’re doing.
I’ll mute those going to the sunset chamber and make them inactive because I have them right here.
Let’s solo the overheads just to kind of get some perspective on this.
Then back with the verb.
[drums with cymbal samples + reverb]
It’s not for every song but for this one I felt like it worked great. I wanted to share that with you and then also give a shout out to the great guys over at That Sound for their sample libraries. Got Crash A and B. Go check them out. Don’t forget to check out davidglennrecording.com got the blog over there, got mixingvocals.com, got an in-depth tutorial course on mixing vocals a to z, I think it’s like 6 hours of training with all kinds of stems for multiple styles: rap, hip-hop, r&b, pop, gospel, live vocal and last but not least The Pro Audio Files for amazing content.