Hi, I’m Shawn. Have you ever thought to yourself, Why does my kick suck? Maybe I should just poke holes in my eardrums and die!” No??? me either but it can be really frustrating trying to get the different elements of a mix to come out. When I started trying to mix drums I didn’t know where to start. When you want a nice thumping kick the logical place to start is at the low end and yeah you need that but most of the time your music is going to be heard on something like a smartphone. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, smartphones don’t have low end. So how is anyone going to hear all that great thumping going on down below 100hz? The answer is, they’re not. So, I hear you say, “What are we supposed to do about that?”
The answer lies in the concept, that in order to make a great mix, focus on the midrange. That’s what grot speakers are all about. Grot stands for cheap junky speakers. It amazes me that grot speakers have become a high dollar item.
You can currently buy, not a set but a single grot speaker for about $200. Don’t get me wrong, said product does what it says and is of good quality it’s just that there’s a lot of hype surrounding the concept and companies are boosting their prices accordingly. Why spend $200-$500 when you could get the job done for $10-$20. The original idea was to emulate a car speaker.
Way back, before 1980 or so cars came with “a speaker”.
That’s right, one speaker right in the middle of the dash and it was a cheap one. You could probably buy an equivalent raw speaker today for about $10 or so.
I use a set of Logitech computer speakers for my grots but almost anything will do as long as it has clean sound. Any basic full range speaker will do the job.
Back on point. If you focus on the midrange and make sure everything you want to hear is represented in the midrange. Usually, kick, snare, vocals or lead instrument. I know you want to hear a lot more than that but if you focus there your song will come across just about anywhere it’s played. So, one of the first moves I make on my kick is to put a high shelf starting at about 1-2khz and I just turn it up until I hear what I want to hear. You’ll find that it tends to sound like a hard rock kick which is great because that’s what I want.
How I EQ my Kick. As always, listen, there are no presets. What works in one situation wont necessarily work in another.
I’ve set up an EQ to roughly emulate a cell phone speaker.
Now I’m going to boost the high end on the kick. What I’m listening for is the beater hitting the head. That gives those little tiny speakers something to work with. So even though you can’t hear the nice low thump on your smartphone your beat is still well defined.
Now I’m going to show you what I might do with the rest of the EQ on my kick. First, turn off the cell phone emulation. I’m going down to the bottom. I tend to like what I hear at about 55-65hz and you don’t want a lot, just a small boost, 3db or so but it could be more depending on the situation. The most important thing is to listen.
Last I’m going to make room for the bass at about 120hz.
And that’s your red hot mixing tip for the day. Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next time.