If you want to make your kick drum sit right in the mix, you need to learn how to use the equalizer on the kick drum as a surgical tool. In the following tutorial, we will guide you through the proper approach of using the equalizer on the kick drum.
EQ the Kick Drum
Firstly, we will make a short loop of a kick drum sample on the newly created audio channel within SoundBridge: DAW. We have selected this kick drum sound since it has a lot of low ends, kind of a room reverb layer underneath it, as well as some resonant peaks which need processing. Here is an audio example of how the kick drum sounds unprocessed.
~Kick Drum – Unprocessed
The next step would be to load an instance of an EQ on the kick drum channel. For the purpose of this tutorial, we have chosen to use a built-in EQ which can be found among other built-in effects within the SoundBridge: DAW.
Utilizing the Spectrum analyzer
As you can see from the picture above, there is a spectrum analyzer embedded in this EQ. This will come quite handy for use in order to see which frequencies of the kick drum have the most energy. As we expected, there is a lot of energy in the low frequencies, some on the mid and some obvious amount of energy on the high frequencies as well.
Maybe you have heard about it before, but there are, so-called, “magic” frequencies for kick drum sounds which usually work pretty well for the majority of kick drum sounds. According to that, we should first get rid of “boxy” sound which manly appears between 200 Hz and 500 Hz. To do this we will enable the first band of the EQ and search for mentioned sound in that range of the frequency spectrum. Here is an audio example of how it sounds and you can see it in detail in the picture below. Have in mind that the dB value for this band of the EQ is extremely exaggerated, but this is necessary in order to find which frequency has that unwanted resonance.
~Kick Drum – Band 1 -Boosted
Attenuate the problematic frequencies
The idea is to do the opposite thing of what is shown in the picture above, meaning to attenuate the selected frequency. Consequently, this is shown in the picture below. So let us hear how our kick drum sounds now. We advise you to use a pair of studio monitors or a pair of high-quality headphones in order to hear the difference
~Kick Drum – Band 1 -Attenuated
Moving forward, we have another magic spot that appears from 1 to 2 kHz and this is mainly where the attack of the kick drum is placed. Let’s repeat the same process as above and hear the unwanted frequency first boosted and then attenuated.
~Kick Drum – Band 2 -Boosted
~Kick Drum – Band 2 -Attenuated
The 3rd unwanted frequency which we found in this kick drum sound is appearing around 3.7 kHz. It has a really resonant peak which we think needs to the tamed. Therefore we will apply the same process as used in the previous two bands and listen to the boosted and attenuated versions of the 3rd equalizer band. To finalize the processing with EQ, we will cut the sub frequencies of this kick drum. This is because it has too much energy in that area. To do that we will use a simple Low Shelf filter which can be found as the first band on this EQ. You can check that in the picture below.
~Kick Drum – Band 3 -Boosted
~Kick Drum – Band 3 -Attenuated + Low Shelf
Since we got a bit far from the original/unprocessed sample it will be wise to hear the difference. It will also be good to mention that there is a tremendous amount of different sounding kick drums out there. So not every kick drum will have problematic resonance around 200 Hz or 3000 Hz. Therefore we encourage you to experiment and trust your own ears as well.
~Kick Drum – Unprocessed
~Kick Drum – Processed with EQ
Download the project here.