One of the core elements of every mix is the kick drum. It can determine how your tune feels, moves, and sounds. The kick can be used to identify genre and era. For instance, a kick drum with less sub-content sounds more like music from the 1970s. Multiple processes and techniques exist for blending the kick drum better in a mix. Today, I will show you one method for putting your kick drum in front of your mix.

As usual, I have prepared a short sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW, which contains most instruments of the whole mix, including the kick drum. Let’s hear it.

This is a screenshoot of my mix taken before applying any processing to the kick drum.

~Full Mix – Kick Drum (Unprocessed)

Use an Analyzer to Identify the Most Prominent Frequencies

As you may have noticed, the kick drum does not cut through the mix as well as it should. One reason is a lack of power in the lower frequency range. To correct this, let us first hear it solo, and then I will apply a few processes to improve its sound accordingly.

This is a screenshoot of the kick drum audio channel.

~Kick Drum Solo – Unprocessed

To approach the processing of this kick drum, I must first determine which part of its frequency spectrum I need to boost. This is simple to accomplish with spectrum analyzers. SPAN by Voxengo will be used in this case. When I open SPAN and examine the interface, we see that the kick drum is most prominent around 65 Hz.

This is a screenshoot of my mix and the Voxengo Span analyser in its default mode.

This standard mode of SPAN is helpful, but it is not the most accurate. Instead, hover the mouse over the right side of SPAN’s interface and select “High Resolution” mode from the drop-down menu. The frequency curve of the kick drum has now become more detailed in the screenshot below, and the fundamental frequency of the kick drum is around 50 hz or G1 key. 

This is a screenshoot of my mix and the Voxengo Span analyser in its high resolution mode.

Use a Multi-Band Compressor to Put the Kick Drum in Front of Your Mix

At this point, having defined the right frequency range, I will proceed to the actual processing of the kick drum. In this instance, I have chosen to utilize the multi-band compressor Fab-Filter MB differently. Feel free to use any other multi-band compressor effect with an expander mode. I’m using this effect as an expander rather than a compressor because I want to boost a specific frequency part of the kick drum. As shown in the image below, I chose the range around the fundamental of the kick drum and switched it to expansion mode. Following the previous step, I increased the expansion range to around 5 dB, set the attack and release times, and increased the ratio. Finally, I transitioned to the “Free Mode” inside the expert section, which serves as the detecting point, and adjusted it to encompass the expanding range.

This is a screenshoot of my mix and FabFilter MB in its expander mode applied on the kick drum.

~Kick Drum – Processed With Expander (Solo)

~Full Mix – Kick Drum (Processed With Expander)


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