Mixing Toms with Multiband Compression, EQ, Alloy 2 and Studer A800
I’ve been asked several times in the last couple of months, how are you mixing toms. I’ve got a training course out there for The Mix Series which takes us through the rough mix. And Mixing Vocals which takes you through vocals. The thing I don’t have out yet is mixing music and the band —the drums, bass, etc. — I’m working on that now.
But back to mixing your toms. Sometimes I’ll replace them and I’ll use, whatever, the Slate, CLA Bundle has some cool toms, That Sound has some great sounding toms. All kinds of sampled toms out there. But when I can, I’m for not having to go through and cycle through and listen to a bunch of different sounds — I just want to pull open and listen to what they gave me. In this case it was a dramatic sound. I’ll show you before and after and we’ll hear it in the mix and make sure even though I did a bunch of processing, does it work. It’s important to say — It sounds like these were done with a VI virtual instrument, maybe Superior or BFD.
[toms before/after processing]
Pretty dramatic difference. First thing was simple EQ. I took a little bit of, you know, 600 to 800ish kind of range. I felt like for whatever reason those particular toms, I just copied that down. A lot of times I’ll EQ each tom individually, but in this case I just kind of rushed, excuse me for being lazy. Then those go into the virtual channel VCC, nothing crazy. Set to SSL.
Then I wanted more top end in the mix. I felt like they weren’t clicky enough so I boosted that. This is a preset that I got from, man where did I get this, C4, the Waves C4 has a preset and I think it was floor tom 1 or something in there. If you cycle through, if you guys have the Waves C4, C6 it might’ve been, go ahead and cycle through some of those tom presets because this is pretty much a duplicate of that preset. Sometimes I bypass this just to see what’s going on, but honestly I’m mixing into it for the most part and I like what it’s doing. Probably the easiest way to explain this is for you to pause the video, look at my settings, try it out for yourself and see if it’s working for you. I’ll click through a couple of these bands real quick so you can see what’s going on. But like I said, this is pretty much a duplicate of the preset from the Waves C6 floor tom 1 I believe.
Then we’ve got the Alloy 2. Now this one is big for me because I love to remove sustain from the low end so that I get a nice solid, call it a thump, a solid hit in the low end. This is giving attack and cutting sustain for 150 to 200Hz and below. That works well for controlling sustain. Especially when I’ve got live toms that just ring forever. Sometimes that sustain is dropped all the way down and instead of gating I use this. Attack in the mids. Cutting some sustain from that. Then this is also gonna boost that high end that I boosted here on the Pro-Q 2, right there in the 4275.4 Hz. That is gonna be enhanced with the Alloy 2’s attack for 2K and above. That boost at 3.4, the attack, and then cutting some of the sustain is gonna help it be more clicky and cut through the mix.
A big part of this, believe it or not, is this Studer. Now the Studer A800, I’m driving this — sometimes for distortion, sometimes for character. In this case I’m holding off just before it goes to distortion. Let’s listen and bypass.
[toms before Studer A800 Tape Plugin]
[toms after Studer A800 Tape Plugin]
So a lot going on. It’s as simple as this, it’s a drum buss preset with the noise turned off and I’m driving the input and correcting the output. Sometimes when I’m mixing, instead of reaching for the volume I’ll come over to the output and that’s how I’ll control the final output from there. But usually I drive that pretty hard, you can hear the fullness that that obtains from driving it.
[toms with Studer A800]
Let’s go back and maybe bypass one at a time.
[toms + FabFilter Pro-Q 2]
Give that clicky attack. Here’s the multiband.
[toms + FabFilter Pro-MB Multiband Compressor]
Then some more transient designer. Then the beastly A800 from UAD, the Studer. Now I told you we’d check it in the mix. It’s not fair to turn these off and leave it at the same volume, so let’s go ahead and boost this back up. Hear it in the mix.
[toms in the mix with/without processing]