gain stage question

Im working on a song at the moment its pretty chilled until towards the end where the drums change from relaxed beat to just slamming down on the snr kick and toms at the same time.
If I set each drum channels gain trim at the harder hits then all should be good but this then leaves each channels gain a bit low for the more chilled part.
Im fearing going to hot into any plugins if I leave the gain as it is and dont want to clip or overload them plus some of the chilled parts need to be brought up a bit using the gain.

Any tips or help?

Thanks in advance

Hi andyath, I did some songs like that, too. The thing is, if the drums have been played like a real drummer would do(dynamically), then you should be fine.

Don’t do any fader riding on the drums, just set the trim to the hardest hit like you did, and leave it there. When the mixing is done, the slaming part will be held down a little bit, and the chilled parts will sound louder.

AND: If you treat them to a same loudness level, the slaming part will sound very weak, because that’s unatural.

  1. A slaming drum part usually comes with loud instruments(heavy guitars, sizzle percussions, punchy vocals, backing vocals, harsh synths, etc), and you need that slaming to cut through like in a real life band(drummers are LOUD!).
  2. A chilled drum part usually comes with minimum arranging(acoustic guitars, piano, maybe a little bit of strings, that’s it), the drums will sound louder to our ears because they are easier to be heard in the mix.

The rule of thumb: Play it/program it like in real life, and you can’t go wrong.

Hope this helps!

Hi Vinnie cheers for the reply.

Im going to go with that it’s been bugging me like crazy because their isnt as much volume as I would like going into the plugins as I would like in the quiet parts…theirs enough you said its very dynamic I have programmed them but taken my time and care in doing so bounced them to audio and like the vibe of it.

How about making a cut of the files and just nudging the volume of them up a touch in the quiet parts using the clips gain? Would this effect any sonic character or dynamics or would this be a no no?


If you want to process the two sections differently I sometimes split the events and move a section to a new set of tracks. Here you can have the freedom to make the slight gain adjustment without effecting the other section.

Thats definitely an option thanks Jeff. :slight_smile:

Yes you can, but if the quiet part is too quiet, I’ll use a compressor on the drums instead of just turn it down, to make the loud part come down a little bit(or a lot). It works like a “volume drop”, but different:

  1. By turning down the “volume”, the whole part will sound quieter.
  2. By applying a compressor, it only bring down those “spikes”(a snare hit, or crash), but leave those small sounds untouched(hihat, ghost notes,etc. AND the quiet part of the drum track), this way, the loud part will be quieter, but still sounds loud, because those hihats still remain loud.(I don’t know if that make sense) .
  3. Because VST samples are recorded in layers(a hard hit is louder than a soft hit, the “volume distance” between them is natural), if you change the volume too much, the unnatural “volume distance” between your hard hit and soft hit will confuse people’s ears. The loud part will sound weird, a listener will say:“Hmm, that drummer hits hard, but why I can’t hear it?”

Let’s say a soft snare hit has 5 low end and 3 high end(soft hit usually sounds duller, has less high end), and your hard hit has 5 low end and 5 high end(hard hit has more high end). By turning down the volume of the hard hit 2, the hard hit will become 3 low end and 3 high end, it’ll sound “thinner” than the soft hit, and you lose your “slamming power”.

Like a vocal track, if you bring down the “screaming” part too much, the “whispering” part will sound rich and full and up close, but the screaming part will sound very thin and far away.

If your chilled part doesn’t trigger the compressor much, it’s ok.

I’m not saying it’s a no no, just don’t do it unless necessary.

Thankyou Vinnie that makes sense.
Im going to set the gain at the heavy part and leave the softer quite part to just do what it does its going to have some parallel compression on it anyway.putting it up against bass and guitars it works nicely as it is im liking how natural it sound’s I want to keep it that way as much as I can.