Tips for Mixing Drum Loops and Automating Effects
I’m gonna talk a bit more about automation and a 10 minute creative spark that I allow myself here and there to do some kind of sound design work, throw in a bunch of plugins and just try to make something cool happen.
I’ve got these files, knocked it out, and had a couple loops in it and I wasn’t really feeling the loops during the verse, and then in the chorus I felt like it was too much going on so I took the creative freedom as their mixing engineer and kind of put my producer hat on for a minute and I got to work trying to make something happen with these. So I’m gonna walk you through, show you the before and after and how I helped make this work for the song. So let’s hear the loop.
[mix + drum loop without processing]
For me the drum loop wasn’t cutting it. I love the groove of the loop, I just felt like it needed something else. Let me actually make the automation inactive and pull in iZotope Alloy 2 which has become my — almost a secret weapon. I’ve started going in and using the presets and they have completely changed my workflow. Whenever I’m in doubt I’m pulling up Alloy 2 and just dialing in, clicking through a few presets, picking one I like, touching it up a bit and moving the heck on. I’d say a good 30% has been cut from my time to mix a song because of this one plugin. I’m not really one to brag about one plugin, but Alloy 2 is doing an incredible job for my workflow. Shoutout to iZotope. If you haven’t tried it, get the demo. The multiband transient designer is already worth the price of admission and the rest is just incredible.
There’s a preset in the vocal section, I thought it was a vocal one but this one is break loops smasher. Let’s take a listen to what that’s doing.
[drum loop before plugins]
Cool. Now with Alloy.
[drum loop with iZotope Alloy 2 multiband transient designer]
So a little compression, a little more attack. That’s not doing as much as I thought, but the Pixelator from JSt, Joey Sturges.
[drum loop + iZotope Alloy 2 + JST Pixelator]
Just getting a little but more dirt, a little crunch. Sansamp.
[drum loop + iZotope Alloy 2 + JST Pixelator + Sansamp Amp Simulator]
For me, Sansamp, I love the texture and tone that it gives but I lost some of the clarity and attack and I wanted this to be real choppy. I wanted it to be articulate, almost like a punchy, choppy, just a cut in and out kind of deal. So I cut some of the lows and boosted a frequency I liked.
[drum loop + FabFilter Pro-Q 2]
Without. Kinda sitting back. So that brings it forward a little but more. Brings it out. And then I wanted some attack so put the good old Attacker on.
[drum loop + SPL Attacker]
You can hear that articulation I want. You get the transients, just smacking a little bit. Let’s hear before and after in the mix. Then I did one last thing with some automation of a stereo delay.
[drum loop in the mix]
I feel like that works so much better and then what I did to bring a little bit more interest to the part to create a little bit more interest was throw some stereo delay.
I’ve got a delay set up called DG Delay 2, I’ve had this thing in my template for forever. Let’s pull down here and see if I can quickly find DG Delay, there it is right here and you’ll see it simply the stock delay with an 8th note on the left, dotted 8th on the right. 100% because it’s a send, got the feedback at 33 and 38, you can see those settings. The saturation knob is pulling up a little bit of grit. Then I’m EQ’ing a bit. I actually used that delay on the vocal or something else before I used it here but I felt like it would fit so I wrote the automation in manually with the mouse and that’s what we got here. Let’s take a listen to what that’s doing in solo.
[drum loop in solo with stereo delay]
Now in the track, let’s see if we can hear that automation.
[full mix + drum loop with effects and automation]
You can hear I exaggerated at the end so you can really hear it. But it’s matching the delays, the dotted, excuse me the dotted 8th delay from the guitar, and sound pretty cool.
So get creative with it, set a timer, don’t forget, 10 minute rule is a pretty good way to live by when you’re doing effects and getting crazy because it’s best when you have a deadline. Don’t spend too much time trying to get crazy with effects and do all this stuff. If it’s working it’s working, if not, move on. I hope you dig that. So firstname.lastname@example.org, mixingvocals.com, theproaudiofiles.com and have a good one.