Drum Mixing Guide

Drum mixing is perhaps one of the most exciting yet challenging aspects of music production and when creating a mix. This is because drum beats form the foundation of a song and this is what helps distinguish a pro mix from an amateur mix.

 Ensuring that the drum ambiance and other elements of the spot mic channels are working in harmony can be overwhelming if not a frustrating challenge. This is especially the case if you’ve been used to mixing from virtual packages or drum samples. So, to ensure that all the variables are in harmony and that there’s a natural resonance to your sound, you may want to utilize some pro tips.

Here’s a complete guide to drum mixing for the music enthusiasts.

Get yourself organized

The biggest challenge, especially for beginners is figuring out where to start. One thing to note is that a drum kit is comprised of different parts. Having a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) will pretty much help you to get started. A DAW is a tool that will guide you on how to group your drums. This will allow you to channel the drums into a single auxiliary bus allowing you to have a single fader for the drums. You can also subgroup the drum elements especially if you’re using different mics on a single drum. This will help in separating and organizing the drum elements right at the beginning before getting started on a particular track.

Pay attention to drum element frequencies

drum element frequencies
This is the most crucial part if you’re to nail a great drum mix, yet the most overlooked part of drum mixing, especially by beginner sound engineers. According to the guys at Samplified, even programmed drums can be made to sound real in a mix. One thing to always remember is that between the drum elements, there exist different frequencies and this is known as a phase. Now, when different sound waves cross paths simultaneously, it lowers the amplitude, leading to phase cancellation. Phase cancellation refers to lost or weakened sound frequencies and this happens when identical frequencies cross paths with each other. Fortunately, you can reverse these polarities by adjusting the input and output for the snare or kick drum.


When it comes to drum mixing, everyone can have a different opinion on how much they’d want things compressed. The difference in all this, however, lies with how much reduction or gain you can achieve from sound compression depending on various aspects such as music genre, the prowess of the drummer, and how the song feels. Utilizing modern DAW tools can help you achieve the best from compression because with the provision of a reduction meter, you can perfectly sync the compression and EQ and ultimately improve the sound quality.

Using reverbs in your drum mix

drum mix
Adding reverb to your drum mix will allow your mix to convey a distinctive vibe. In addition to this, it also places your mix in a unique-sounding space. But then again, you need to find the right reverb to use because every song is different and the type of reverb to use will, therefore, depend on the type of beat used in the song.

You can always try experimenting with different types of reverbs if you’re unsure on the way to go, especially considering that there are five types of reverbs; including:

Hall reverb

This is the type of reverb that can be heard in a concert hall. While not all rooms are designed with the aim of sound production in mind, concert halls are dedicated spaces made to amplify low frequencies to grandiose sounds. Adding a hall reverb will, therefore, amplify the frequency of your drum mix.

Plate reverb

This type of reverb is achieved by receiving signals sent through a sheet of metal. The sheet of metal sends back vibrations that can be adjusted by mechanical sound dampers. Plate reverbs are a great addition to snare drums because they add size and a bit of sizzle to the sound.

Spring reverb

As the name suggests, this is a type of reverb that is achieved by using a spring. Due to the spring’s malleability, a spring reverb has a lot of resonance and is distinctively sonic.

Room reverb

This is the most versatile and also the most used reverb. It has a short decay time of 1-sec range.

Chamber reverb

Like halls, chambers were originally used for orchestras but are smaller compared to halls. With a chamber reverb, sounds are clearer but you can still feel the effect of a big room.

And there you have it! Because of the many moving parts involved in mixing drums, most people find this exercise challenging and overwhelming. But to keep yourself from exhaustion and disappointment, the above guidelines will help you get started and to also better your overall mixing skills.