The presence and bite of professional drum recordings might be missing in recordings of your own. This desired tonal quality can be achieved in several ways. For instance, distortion is generally a good choice, and specifically for this case, parallel distortion. In this article, we’ll show you how to use the parallel distorted reverb technique to add an edge to your drums.

As usual, we’ll start by listening to a short sequence created in SoundBridge: DAW. It contains most of a full mix’s elements.

This screenshot was taken before applying any drum processing.
~Full Mix – Drums (Unprocessed)

As we can hear in the audio example above, the drums sound tight, but they lack a certain edge and a sense of space. To solve this, let’s group all of our drum tracks, except the kick, and name the newly created group track: DRUMS.

Next, since our plan is to process the drums in parallel, we’ll need to add a new return track, which we will call “DRUMS – Parallel”.

This is the picture of my mix and the highlighted "Add Track" menu.
~DRUM GROUP – Solo (Unprocessed)


Now let’s add plugins to our newly created “DRUMS – Parallel” return track. The reverb effect would be first in line. We chose Ice Reverb, a simple reverb effect found in Native Instruments’ Maschine 2.

~DRUM GROUP – Solo (Reverb)

Once we’re happy with the sound of the reverb, we’ll add a distortion effect after it. For this, we have chosen Trash 2 by Izotope. Keep in mind that for this kind of processing, the amount of distortion and reverb should be subtle. Let’s hear how it sounds.

This picture was taken after adding iZotope's Trash 2 Distortion effect to the newly created return track.
~DRUM GROUP – Solo (Reverb & Distortion)

The final effect in our “DRUMS – Parallel” return track will be an EQ, which we will use to control the processed signal and eliminate any annoying frequency peaks.

This picture was taken after adding FabFilter ProQ 3 effect to the newly created return track.
~DRUM GROUP – Solo (Reverb, Distortion & EQ)

Finally, let’s hear how the drum group sounds with and without parallel processing, in the context of the full mix.

~Full Mix – Drums (Unprocessed)
~Full Mix – Drums (Processed)

If you liked this article on drum processing, here are some more on the same subject: