bobheads - Walk Into the Fire - mixing drums question

Hi all, here's a track I made a while ago using mostly the Industrial packs IAP sounds from NS2 ( they are great!)

I have a mixing question for those in the community who know a thing or two ;)

This track is made of just synth pads (3 different ones doing different things) which have lovely warm sounds that take up a lot of the frequency spectrum. I don't want to hi-pass them too much because there is no low end synth bass to battle with and the pads' low ends sound great already.

But - the 'massive' drums seem to get lost in the mix. What mixing/producing approaches can you suggest to bring the drums forward without swamping the lovely warmth and/or brightness of the pads? I can consider a sidechain compression on all the pads which would be triggered by the drums, but I don't want the synth pads to have that pumping in-and-out effect. I'm still a newbie at all that stuff so maybe there is a way to do it more subtly.

I'm sure this can be done somehow. I'm a big fan of the Peter Gabriel album sounds circa 1980 (Intruder, Birdy soundtrack) - which has this kind of heavily-processed gated drums - but those albums sound phenomenal, whereas the drums on my track sound swamped by the synths. What's the secret? :pB) I want the drums front and clear but I also want the pads surrounding everything and being the main event as well.... :p;)

I'm wondering if I need to do something like sidechained multiband compressor on the pads, which would only duck the mid-range frequencies of the drums? But I'm not sure how I would achieve that using NS2's internal effects.... as the internal sidechain-able compressor ducks everything, if I understand correctly?

Anyone got an idea about a workaround/ production tricks and tips? Do I need an automated bell filter which ducks the pads mid-frequency on every single drum hit? That seems like a lot of work....!

As always, many many thanks for any input from all of you talented people B)



  • edited October 2020

    Lovely work, I like the progression. I don’t hear any big issue, the compression works pretty well in my opinion. There’s a natural push and pull between the drums and the synths, which I like. If you want more massive, I’d suggest bringing just selected drum hits up.

    But to answer your question on a personal level, usually when I work with those drums I shorten the sounds because they can get pretty long. And I make sure the low frequencies don’t clash. You can automate a highpass filter on the melodic group or just decide which will get the sub 100Hz range, drums or melodics, because ”there can be only one” at a time. Usually I end up at least cutting down on the Industrial kit’s sub, it’s pretty massive 🙂

    As it happens, I’m working on a track with those drums and I did shorten the hits and cut the subs off them at around 100Hz. Edit: I’ll just post it on a different thread and link here because I don’t feel good posting my track on your track’s thread.

    It’s good to remember that bass doesn’t bring a sound forward, mids and highs do, so if you want something in the front, emphasize the mids and highs by cutting bass raising volume and lower everything else in the mix. And of course, lower the reverb amount. Then you can bring the rest back up by applying gentle compression to the whole mix like you have already done.

  • edited October 2020

    @bobheads this sounds really nice;) what I sometimes do is put waveshaper on drums and use sine algorithm with only little drive, something like 7% but it doesn’t always works (what does:D ) little bit of sidechaining would also help I suppose and of course eq but I’m not good in this myself :/ as always, keep playing with it until you get closer to what you want that is my approach:DD
    Anyway I agree with stiksi! It sounds good;)

  • Thanks both, for your encouraging comments and advice. It's good to hear that the Industrial drums are massive ;) - I guess that's why they sound so good on their own! In a mix though, it makes sense that they could be shaped a bit - I will try that, thanks!

    @Stiksi I listened to your track and really liked it - you definitely got a completely different (and very crisp and clear) sound out of those industrial drums - it's good to know what is possible if you know what you are doing ;)

    I'll take another look at this track and see what happens if I change some things. Always learning!

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