Personally I love just having one mic on the bass drum, one mic on the snare drum and two overhead mics on the whole kit. This way, the drums are much easier to mix, it forces the drummer to play better and more consistently and all the placement of the drums is done for me! I will be showing you the traditional way to process the overheads and the ‘Beatles’ way of processing the drum overheads.

The Traditional Way

First, I would start with a reverb. It’s not always possible to get a good sounding drum room for a recording so it is important to have some air and life in your overheads. A reverb can do this for you. Depending on the sound I want and the speed of the song, I usually have a reverb decay of 1 second. Mess around with the room size, dampness, etc. to find the drum sound you want. Also, it is important to EQ the reverb as reverb can quickly muddy up a mix.

Next I would use compression. I never really go to crazy when I want a natural sounding overall drum sound. I would usually go for a 4:1 ratio with a fast enough attack time and a medium to slow release time. This helps the toms punch out a bit and also helps the cymbals have more presence and more definition on each hit. Experiment as always and see what works well.

Then I use an EQ. I first remove the resonant frequencies around the 250 Hz – 500 Hz region. After that’s cleared up, I then use a high pass filter and remove everything below 60 Hz. If I want really really bassy toms I am more careful about that move. I then do two scoops. First I scoop out about 8 dB with a wide Q where my kick drum is in the frequency range. Next I scoop out about 8 dB with a wide Q where my snare drum is. This clears up a lot of the spectrum and lets my kick and snare tracks breath more and have more definition. If I feel the cymbals need more sparkle, I use a high shelf boost of maybe 3 dB to everything above 8000 Hz. Be careful not to boost this too much.

That’s pretty much as far as I go when processing the overheads in a more traditional way.

The Beatles Way

The Beatles way of processing the overheads are quite different. Think of some of the Beatles’ early tracks where the cymbals are dirty and sound compressed as hell and seem to ring out forever. It’s an awesome sound.

First I start with a compressor. I turn down the threshold to about -20 dB. Then I have a ratio of around 40:1. I usually use a slow attack and slow release too. This completely destroys the dynamics of the overheads but gives it that signature sound. Make sure to blend in you kick and snare tracks so it sounds like an actual drum track!

Next I usually just do basic equing and roll off a lot of the low end. I then add a pretty drastic high shelf to help the cymbals ring out. Just experiment and see what works well for you.

Saturation is usually my next move while achieving that dirty Beatles drum sound. Mess around with the wet / dry signal with your saturation plug in and find the sound you want. Saturation can really smooth over the highs of the cymbals and any other resonant frequencies and make them more pleasing to the ear.

Sometimes sidechain the kick and snare to the Beatles overhead can really make the cymbals pump with life. That along with some reverb can make your overheads absolutely come to life.

That’s usually as far as I go for achieving the Beatles overhead drum sound.

I hope these tips have helped you on processing the drum overheads to achieve the sound you want. Use these tips as a guide to find your perfect drum sound.

Thanks for reading.

Look forward to more mixing tips soon.

By yanam49

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