Mixing Kicks

So I’m remixing / mastering New York Blues (with Glyn’s incredible vocals and Peter’s awesome Hammond), and I decided to try something with the kick that I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere often along with a trick I saw only once but loved the effect:

  1. Something I saw Steven Slate do once in one of his videos was to duplicate the kick and add saturation on the duplicate track until just above the point where it starts to be overdriven. I pulled back the volume on this track, routed them both to a group channel, and then…

  2. …I automated the EQs on the group track to be in line musically with the song’s chords. Basically, I added an EQ handle at the sub-100 Hz range to match the root chord of the song; another 2 octaves above that; and a 3rd two octaves above the 2nd. Then, as major phrases of the song moved to different chords, I changed the frequencies of these three bands to either be the same as the root of the chord or a perfect 5th. This really reinforced the kick because it’s no longer competing with the rest of the song.

When I’m done, I’ll post A/B for you to listen to. Obviously, these aren’t the only changes I’m making so it may be difficult to isolate the kick from everything else that’s different.

Here is the kick group channel EQ in FabFilter Pro-Q2


Original mix

New mix

Bummer, man. I was extremely interested in listening, but the Box link seems to require me to download Adobe Flash, which I’ve banned from my machine.

Can you hum a few bars, instead? :laughing:

But seriously - I would have wondered whether, to the degree that the kick sounds better by tuning its harmonics to follow the song’s chord structure, the changes in its overall tone could be noticeable enough to be distracting (in a negative sort of way). Not having heard it myself … what are your thoughts?

I uploaded the new mix to Bandcamp. While you won’t be able to hear the old mix, you will be able to hear the new one.

Believe it or not, it’s not the tuning that becomes distracting - it’s the fact that a doubled kick has a lot more bottom energy than before. I had to pull back the kick on the group track a decent amount to prevent it from overtaking the entire mix.

New York Blues

For those who are interested in the other changes I did.

  1. I applied my track presets to the drums, bass, and used my new mastering template. I obviously tweaked these to suit the song rather than use them blindly.

  2. I replaced the multiple versions of Roomworks SE with my 4-send reverb technique.

  3. I adjusted the panning of the rhythm guitar in the beginning so that it’s center before going off to the right after the rest of the instruments kick in.

  4. Similarly, I adjusted the panning of Peter’s organ during the solos so that they are less panned left. They aren’t completely center because I did want to continue to give the impression that this is a live band, but by moving it from L48 to L24 it adds a lot more emphasis on the organ meaning that I didn’t have to bump the volume as much to get it to cut through the mix.


Sounds like I’m listening to it backstage behind the PA stack

Do the entire Cubase forum a favor and go away. Thanks.

My advice: Don’t give up your day job.

such a happy place :unamused:

Will listen to your track at home later, nice you like to experiment with techniques, the only way to progress in my opinion (contrary to the two dinosaurs above that are about to become extinct/ added to my shit list…)

My question is this: is Oedipus and OldFecker both Bill, or is Bill only Oedipus and someone else is OldFecker? My guess is that he’s both of them. I already scared Fecker away once, though it apparently wasn’t permanently.

Hey Fecker…should I have Ed or someone cross reference your IP address to see why you were banned on your last account? You do know they can do that, don’t you?

Hi Larry,

I listened to it on a few smallish systems. I hear what you did. I’m not sure if it is really necessary… The mix sounds good for what you were working with. Take this as a preference: The drums and bass sound, I’m not really keen on them. Guitars sound good and so do the keys and Glyn’s voice, but in comparison, the drums and bass sound a bit “canned” (for lack of a better word) Not as natural sounding as I would like. So, when you did the EQ treatments, it made the kick sound very boxy and unnatural. I believe the process and thinking you had with this has its merits and I think it would sound better to me if it was done on a more natural sounding kick. For what it is worth, this type of processing I only use on EDM type of things because the resonance of the low drive in these mixes. It makes a huge difference. In traditional music (rock, blues, alternative, etc) kick drums tend to have a short decay so the impact of their note is not as intrusive on a mix. This allows for the body of the bass to extend a little lower and crossover into the kick drum’s note. That’s where the low-end body comes from and it can be even lower if you duck the bass briefly when the kick is hitting. Now tom toms are a completely different story. They are resonant and their note sits higher. These I tune to the average key of the song if possible because toms and bass really play with each other in that area of the EQ.

Lastly, The kick drum is/can be a very important “lock in” for the listener, especially if it is driving a arrangement. Altering it’s sound takes it out of static, stable position and could be distracting to the listener. Something to think about and remember, Nothing Is Right!! :smiley:

Thanks for the great and very detailed feedback!

Hi Larry, it’s a quest, I understand! But, to my ears, all the kick hits sound the same, and they really stand out. Maybe I’m just not hearing as well as I should! But the other thing I notice is that the drum pattern is quite uniform, with no variation, so it begins to sound mechanical. Love the track, btw, especially Glyn’s vocals!

Yeah, I know what you mean. Jamstix is great for developing fills but for kicks it’s either “steady as she goes” or “I’m going to completely change every bar so that I drive everyone crazy.”

Really standing out is kinda what I was going for here, so I guess “mission accomplished.” :smiley:

Thanks for listening!

Sorry, I must have missed that. I’m more scared of your MIDI brass, to be frank.