EQ / Tuning Your Drums?

So, I don’t see this mentioned in any specific thread, related.

How many of you actually go through the trouble of tuning your kits, samples, etc when your in the composition process of your tracks? EDIT - EQing as well. Specifically generic cuts that make each sound reasonable cleaner.

I use Ableton and tend to mildly tune myself but when I do, I tend to shoot for Spectrum and set it for notes. I don’t have any reasoning theory wise for doing it.

Additionally, I’m curious if you root note the drums for top to bottom, or treat them to some degree like chords or detune more than not, etc.

EDIT - I added EQ to the title as well for discussion.

Also, if you’ve got some tips or even some reading, I’m sure people would love to read.

I’ve gotten somewhat decent with tuning acoustic drums in IRL at one point, but I don’t really tune samples /hits to any specific note if that’s what you mean

Well from my limited live music knowledge, drums are set to a degree of your sets. Imagining doing that would be nuts between songs would be crazy.

@xSANTAxDURSTx so would you say the lower end is more importantl since you don’t necessarily do so? Besides cherry picking samples, to fit by ear.

I only try to do it if I have a long 808 kick or a snare with some sort of tonal content, usually doing it by ear.
I assume that when you equalise you drum you’re unconsciously removing or reducing dissonant frequencies so in a way you still tuning them, I guess

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I tune my drums for every track (when working on electronic music) …I don’t go nuts though, and by go nuts i mean pull up a spectrum analyzer to fine tune things. Often when I am writing, I start with drums and bass. When i get a bassline that inspires me to move forward w the track I’ll often tune the kick to sit around the bass somewhere so they complement each other.

I don’t generally think too much in terms of tuning drums melodically (unless im doing some pitched percussion that is meant to be melodic - which case I’ll tune by ear). I consider my drum tuning to be a measure to make my mix come together better.


I added EQing to the discussion because I’m sure that’s also a major step in getting stuff to sound a bit cleaner in addition to some tuning, as mentioned above.

Things like your kick benefit from a cut/scoop out of the 200’s. Same with your basses, to be fair. And general I’ve found “scooping” a particular sounds range can be beneficial in a ground floor methodology.

Additionally, in the 1k range and above you can find some of your harsher upper mid stuff and alleviate them. Can be mix-wide or more fine tuned to the drum channels individually/specifically.

Additional thoughts?

Only thing I do that’s remotely interesting that jumps to mind is I don’t actually have my hihats try to carry the top end of my drums by themselves anymore. I throw shakers up there (which sit nicely behind hats most of the time) or I throw a really metallic cymbal (which will tend to get in front of the hats). That lets the hats define rhythm and the other part (whatever it may be) fill out the top to keep it from being empty. I also will go nuts when it comes to using different shaker samples and panning them all over the place and messing with velocity and timing on those hits. With shakers, it doesn’t distract much and its fun to mess around with weird ideas.

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I often do massive EQing for drum sounds, partly because I have not enough patience for searching for optimal samples and often just use my own hits. But even when I synthesize drum hits for a track, I still can’t help myself trying to betterize the f out of every drum sound, especially when I already bounced complete groups for glitch treatments or similar stuff… It depends on the context and specific sounds but I usually cut lows and make multiple soft and sharp peaks and cuts to dampen and accentuate various frequency bands in the mid-lows to highs, often in multiple steps with different EQs before and after other effects such as multiband compression, transient shaping, saturation and so on. These days I’m using a bit less EQing and more multiband compression, multiband transient shaping and even reverb with frequency-specific decay (Pro-R). I often bounce too early and work freely with grouped audio, for instanc,e if I have the feeling that the high end is missing after all the processing, I sometimes layer some noise or retriggered crash or hihats over the whole thing. But in general, less is often more and I have more often than once destroyed beats with too much processing :wink:

Sometimes I retuned a kick, especially for house-type stuff or stuff with deep and long kicks, but nowadays I often just use a synth for that kind of stuff so retuning isn’t a problem.

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I cut out the mids for the kick and high pass at 50hz…hats weird notch/peak filter cut out everything under 900hz and anything above 17000hz…snares cut out the low end and the most resonant frequency…then notch/peak filter whatever is left…

For fills high pass then bandpass…and volume mod…

I do not tune my drums according to pitch…I leave them atonal so that there is no frequency overlap…

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