Mastering the high frequencies of your rhythm section is just as important as mastering the elements in the mid and low-frequency ranges. Accordingly, a perfect balance is essential. Hi-hats, shakers, and rides are some of the most commonly used high-frequency components of the rhythm section, and in the following tutorial, I’ll show you a few tricks to improve the sound of your hi-hats.

As usual, I have prepared a short sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW, which contains most elements of a full mix and then a few hi-hat samples sounding quite rough.

This is a screenshot of my mix before I improve the hi-hat sound

~Full Mix – Hi-Hat (Unprocessed)

Layering Your Hi-Hats to Improve Their Sound

We lack some high-frequency content in this mix, so I will attempt to correct that. Firstly we will use a technique called layering. For this technique, I’ll add more samples to fill in the gaps in the hi-hat pattern. The key is to select the appropriate samples to accompany the main one, which in our case is “Hi-Hat 1,” which we can listen to separately below.

This is a close-up screenshot of the main hi-hat audio channel

~Hi-Hat 1 (Solo)

Regarding the samples I chose to accompany the main hi-hat, there is another hi-hat sequence with different sound characteristics and a ride, which will help fill the gaps in the overall pattern by introducing some background noise. Let us listen to these separately and then together with the main hi-hat.

This is a screenshot of the second hi-hat and ride channels before processing

~Hi-Hat 2 (Solo)

~All Hats (Unprocessed)

Using Dynamics Processing

Since there’s still room to improve the high-frequency rhythm’s dynamics and balance with the other elements in the mix, I will group all the channels, process them together, and call the group “Hi Frequency Rhythm.” A compressor is a go-to option for these types of tasks, but in this case, I chose a transient shaper, which will suffice. Transpire by Sonic Anomaly, which is available for free download, was my choice.

As seen in the image below, I increased the attack and sustain parameters to make the more quiet parts of the overall sequence louder. I also increased the sensitivity and set the overall volume to +1.5 dB. Let us compare the hi-frequency rhythm group before and after I processed it with transpire and finally full mix.

This is a screenshot of high-frequency group and the Transpire effect used to improve the hi-hats

~All Hats (Unprocessed)

~High-Frequency Group (Processed With Transpire)

~Full Mix – Hi-Frequency Group (Processed With Transpire)

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