top of page

Kick Drum Equalizer

I belong to the part of audio engineers that are not believing that each instrument has a "magic" styled way of correct eqing. Yes, there are some rules when it comes to some music production steps, using equalizers included.

I rather believe that the best thing we can do for manipulating the different volumes on the different frequencies regions is a) To listen to characteristics of the instruments we apply eq and b) to apply the eq in context with all the other instruments that constitute the whole track / song.

The same goes when we have to manipulate a kick drum frequencies intensities. We have to decide while mixing which role does it have within the musical context, what parts of its sound flatter it in general and of course what kind of impact we want this kick to have in the track as an entity.

Each kick drum is different, each song project is different and each final sonic goal is different.

A kick drum is a percussion instrument and can be played by striking the head with pedal(s) or sometimes either a drumstick or by hand (experimentation is a key in music). In electronic music the common kicks that being used are synthetic rather than acoustic, usually made by a sine wave at the core of its sound design.

Kick drums are used in many styles of music such as in metal, electronic, jazz, blues, and rock music. They mainly used to provide rhythm for songs and other musical performances.

I usually try to listen to 4-5 or more different sonic aspects of the kick when mixing. On the very lows under maybe 80-90Hz, at the range of 90-200 (250) Hz, at 250-900 Hz, 900 Hz - 3 or 4 kHz and higher. What I like to do is to decide the role of it in the track - should it be aggressive? Should it be subtle in the context? Punchy? Fuller with round sound? With more or less body? Answering those questions helps me to craft a very useful guide through my mixing process.

Most of the times I get rid of the low rumble, especially when I prefer the Bass to be the dominant instrument on this region. If I need a bassy body I am trying to manipulate the 80 , 90 Hz and a bit upper range and test if the characteristics of this one and its role to the sound manipulation, adds the body timbre I look for.

If I want a punchier one, then I believe that reducing some mids could give space to the frequency point of this "click" hit of the kick that usually lies a bit higher than the low mids, maybe 1kHz or so. Maybe a boost here gives me an extra "clean" punch.

For a rounder sound the answer may lies in the low mid frequencies - where most people refer as "mud". Beside of mud there lies the sound body for a vast range of instruments. We have a muddy mix when we use a lot of channels so all those sound bodies are intermingled because they are too many, The more the instruments, the more the different sound timbres, the more the "muddy" confusion. So the "mud" range is not a bad thing. It is a bad thing only if we layer more and more stuff in this crucial frequency region. That's why we have to carefully apply eq here - reducing volume of an instrument gives space to another, It is a task of priorities. Those priorities derive from what is our main goal for the final mix.

Most of the times, I don't find something useful in higher frequencies of a kick but this is also changing from project to project. Maybe add some coloring harmonics intensity in higher frequencies with a saturator like Decapitator by Soundtoys - this reforms highs in a nice crispy - rusty way sometimes.

The only sure when it comes to a kick drum is that I always have in my mind to eq it in combination with other instruments, most usually the bass - or maybe some low synths, that lie in the bass and subbass sound fields.


bottom of page