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How to Remove Snare Hits from a Kick Drum Mic with Drum Leveler

Hey, folks! Matthew Weiss —,, and

Here I am with another Sound Radix product. I got it a few days ago. Still in trial mode, haven’t even activated it yet, and already I’ve used it on a mix that was pretty much a life saver.

Drum Leveler is a really cool program. Basically what it does is it isolates and thinks of drum hits as individual bodies. Then it uses pretty darn transparent automation to adjust those things.

So it’s kind of like a compressor, and kind of like a gate, except for instead of doing it in terms of amplitude, it sort of intelligently targets individual drum hits, which gives it a little more versatility when it comes to certain applications. As we’re going to hear, one of those applications definitely came up.

So, I’ve got this cool little drum loop here.

[drum loop]

And you’ll notice that it sounds really cool, and the snare has sort of a compelling sound to it, but it’s a little bit bitey, which could be good if I wanted it, but truthfully, I don’t want it to be that bitey.

What is making it that bitey? Well…


That is my main kick capture, and as you can hear, there’s as much snare in it as kick. Actually moreso. So, this creates a little bit of a dilemma. How do I target the snare without damaging the kick? If I use a traditional gate, even if I put in a side-chain, I’m probably going to lose a little bit of attack from the kick drum, and that’s something that always makes me wince a little bit.

Now, there are definitely some good techniques for getting around that, but instead of creating a duplicate track, shifting it in time, timing the gate, etc, which is a whole long winded process, I can just use Drum Leveler.

So here is before. After.

That’s pretty darn transparent. The kick sounds basically exactly the same, and the snare is completely removed.

So, once again, before. After.

Now, the other cool thing is I want you to listen to the kick drum. There’s a little bit of a pickup note. I want to see if you catch it.

Ready? One more time.

Notice how quiet that “ba-bump bump” is?


Now, we’ll put on drum leveler.


Notice how the pickup is now much closer in level to the actual down beat? I mean, it’s supposed to be a little quieter because it’s a pickup. You need that dynamic in there, but it’s not so miniscule relative to how it was before. All of that is happening in the same plug-in.

So, what I’m going to show you is my settings and then I’m going to recreate them in real-time. Sensitivity, I leave at zero. I haven’t used the plug-in enough to really get a good feel for the sensitivity.

Minimum re-trigger, 20 milliseconds. That’s about right for most drum hits to give it enough time. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the speed of the song.

Gain range, I left it at full.

The compression, I’m doing 25%, and that’s actually what’s sort of helping to level out the kicks.

Hold time, it’s a little longer, because I’m targeting kick drums, which have a slightly longer shape overall.


The recovery, that’s about right for general drums.

Then this gate, which is really, really cool. Of course, I’ve set the side-chain filter to everything that’s below 170Hz is what I’m listening to. Everything above that is being ignored in the side-chain.

So, here we go.
So, I want to target the kick drum. In order to do that, I’m going to start with the side-chain, and get my kick drum isolated first.


Now, notice how that pickup is – you can see on the graphic display, the pickup and the snare are about the same level.


So, I’ve got to turn it a little lower than that.

[drums play]

Now, the snare is really low and level. So, okay, my low threshold, I want to set it right below where the quietest kick drum is coming in.


There we go. Then I’ve selected the target level based on how loud I want all of these kicks to be. I don’t actually really need to bring the kick up necessarily.

So the target level is basically where the kick is trying to go in terms of level, so all of the hits that are too quiet are getting boosted, and all of the hits that are too loud are going to get reduced, so I want to find a spot where I’m not really pulling too many kicks down.


Cool. Alright, so now I’m going to go back into my monitoring chain – my regular monitoring.

[drums play]

And I don’t need quite as dramatic of an effect, so I’m going to turn it on down a little bit.


I’m just doing a little bit of a boost to those pickups. If I wanted more, I could do more. I could certainly set the compression higher, but I don’t feel I need to.

Now I’m going to throw down the gate.


Now, I’m going to end up doing some compression on the overall kick at the end of the day, so normally I leave a little bit of the bleed in. I find it helps keep the sound natural, and it also helps really keep the attack of the kick un-befuddled.

But, because I’m compressing it, I’m going to turn that down a little further.


That’s how I got my settings!

Another great use for this is just simply if you have ghost notes in a snare, and you want them to come out of the entire kit, then you can use this program to do that in a really transparent way, and if you’ve been mixing long enough, and you’ve ever dealt with live drums, you know how much of a pain getting ghost notes to stick out can be.
I think for that reason alone, it makes this plug-in totally worth it. But, you know, the more I’m using it, the more I’m loving it, and I’ve only been using it for a couple days. 
Okay, guys. Until next time!


Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is the recordist and mixer for multi-platinum artist Akon, and boasts a Grammy nomination for Jazz & Spellemann Award for Best Rock album. Matthew has mixed for a host of star musicians including Akon, SisQo, Ozuna, Sonny Digital, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development and 9th Wonder. Get in touch:

Free Workshop Video: Low-End Mixing Secrets

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