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Mixing Drums - Internal Balance vs Track Balance

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Mixing Drums - Internal Balance vs Track Balance

Postby ITHertz » Sat Aug 08, 2020 6:25 am

Hi Folks,

I've been trying to improve my drum mixes and I have a question about how to balance a drum kit.

There seems to be a couple of different ways to do this. One would be to balance the kit to itself and then try and balance the whole kit to the rest of the tracks. Another way, which seems to be more common (at least in online tutorials), is to balance the separate parts of the kit against the other tracks i.e. the snare, kick, etc. are balanced/processed wrt the full mix.

I'm thinking that it mostly depends on how realistic the final mix should sound. I also realise that there's no "right" or "wrong" here, just personal preference.

I'm curious how others approach this. Thoughts?

Cheers,

Chris
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Re: Mixing Drums - Internal Balance vs Track Balance

Postby simedgoose » Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:08 am

I always believe you need to do both. Firstly, the kit has to sound like a kit and be balanced, so that is first priority. But then when it is balanced and in the mix and you can’t (for instance) hear one tom as there’s other frequencies masking it, you *have* to adjust the kit balance within the mix or change the mix. It’s always a compromise. There’s no point saying to a client “you can’t hear Tom 2 in the mix but the drums sound great solo’ed”. I’ve heard many drum mixes which sounded pretty awful and unbalanced when solo’ed but perfect in context. It’s all about the final product.
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Re: Mixing Drums - Internal Balance vs Track Balance

Postby blinddrew » Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:08 am

For me it's down to what you're trying to represent. If it's the sound of a real kit, then i'll start with balancing the kit against itself and then treat it as an instrument.
If it's more disparate or experimental sounds then i might treat them differently.
But it's always just a starting point and i will almost always need to go in and play with things again later.
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Re: Mixing Drums - Internal Balance vs Track Balance

Postby The Elf » Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:14 am

It depends...

A jazz trio might need the kit to sound more subjectively 'natural'. A metal band may need their drums to support the mix at the cost of any sense of 'realism'. And all shades in between!

I would say that if your mix is empathetic to the material you'll achieve whichever balance is 'appropriate' without even knowing you've done it.
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Re: Mixing Drums - Internal Balance vs Track Balance

Postby CS70 » Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:37 pm

ITHertz wrote:I'm curious how others approach this. Thoughts?

Cheers,

Chris

I tend to balance the kit first, then tweak it heavily against the rest. So in the end if you listen to the drum bus alone it may not sound so natural in places.
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