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How to Compress Your Kick the Right Way

The kick is the bedrock on which your song stands. It’s the pulse that drives your track; therefore, a great-sounding bass drum is crucial if you want to keep listeners moving on the dance floor.

To give your kick a massive, chest-thumping sound, you’ll need a compressor. Compression is an important — if not the most important — item in your toolbox for crafting a punchy-sounding kick drum.

In this post, we’ll delve into the proper way to compress a bass drum. Whether you’re working with miked acoustic drums or cutting-edge electronic drums, following the steps in this blog post will get you a rock-solid, professional-sounding kick that guarantees an engaging, hard-driving mix.

Garbage in, Gargage Out

While piling a bunch of plug-ins onto your kick drum can be a lot of fun, it’s vital that you solo the track and give it a careful listen before you start processing it. After all, if your unprocessed bass drum track sounds bad, trying to cover up its imperfections with compression and other effects will sound just as bad, if not worse.

If your bass drum track is suffering from poor sound quality, re-recording it is always going to be the best solution to rescuing it. That said, if you’re mixing a project for someone else, re-recording isn’t always an option. If this is the case, try using sample replacement.

You can be as gentle — or as aggressive — as you’d like with sample replacement.

If your kick drum sounds weak, but otherwise passable, blend your sample with the original to bolster its sound. If your bass drum track is completely unsalvageable, replace the entire track. 

Either way, once you attain a solid, impactful kick sound, you’ll be ready to move onto the next step. 

Eliminate Unwanted Resonances

Resonances are caused by a buildup of frequencies within your kick drum track. Unwanted resonances not only suck the dynamics and headroom out of your track, but they’ll also create unpleasant artifacts that make your track difficult to work with.

The old-school way to resolve unwanted resonances is to instantiate a dynamic EQ plug-in on a track, create a large boost with a narrow Q bandwidth, then sweep around the frequency spectrum and listen for any annoying frequencies. You then lower the gain on the offending frequency band until the unpleasant artifact disappears. ……….

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