The bass drum, which many know as the kick drum, plays an important role in music. It stirs emotion in the audience, making them want to dance as it thumps through their bodies. This is of course, what it’s supposed to do but if the kick drum is mixed incorrectly, it will leave the audience feeling pretty bored – no matter how good a song might actually be. Don’t worry though, because that’s why I wrote this post. To help you learn from my bad experiences…
Okay, so it’s called the bass drum… So, if you’re anything like the younger version of myself, you’ll be thinking that the more bass the better, right? Well, I’m afraid not, but I won’t just tell you, I’ll show you. Below is a picture of the EQ settings for a kick drum. It is evident from the picture that only the bass frequencies (100 – 200 Hz) have been boosted.
One would think this would make your kick drum more lively. Don’t get me wrong, it does give it some thump, however, when added to the rest of the instruments, the bass gets lost and the beat with it. Below is a link to an .MP3 extract from a song where the above EQ has been used.
Okay, you might be thinking that it didn’t sound too bad, but if you play around with some of the higher frequencies (3000 – 5000 Hz) you will find what many call “the Click”. The Click is the sound of the kick pedal’s beater hitting the drum head, and it gives the bass note more definition. The picture below shows the EQ setting used to get the Click.
When this EQ is used, the bass drum cuts through the mix in a good way and if you look carefully, you might even see your audience clapping their hands. You can hear what this EQ sounds like by listening to the .MP3 extract below:
If you have trouble believing my theory, you can go listen to almost any well-produced song out there and you’ll hear the famous Click cutting through the mix. Sometimes it’s really quite emphasized but hardly ever in a bad way. In recent productions they even overlay each bass note with a MIDI kick drum sound to improve the fullness and to get more Click… so get creative and go crazy!