Drum EQ guide: How to EQ kick, snare, toms, hi-hats, overheads and more

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How to EQ Drums:

EQ is a fundamental part of mixing. Through the use of parametric EQ, pass filters and shelving filters, you can manipulate the frequency response of the instruments in your session. This process allows you to alter the character of an instrument, increase separation, create effects and more.

In this lesson, we’ll focus on the key frequencies that you need to know when equalizing drums. By learning the sound characteristics that occur at various frequencies in your drum recordings, you can use drum EQ to achieve your desired sound. If you want to increase a particular characteristic, then you boost its related frequencies. If you want to lessen a particular characteristic, then you cut the relevant frequencies.

Each of the following drum frequencies comes from the free Mixinglessons.com EQ Settings Cheat Sheet. The EQ Settings Cheat Sheet gives you a breakdown of the key frequencies that you need to know to EQ drums, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, and vocals.

Click here to download your free copy of the EQ Settings Cheat Sheet.

Kick EQ:

60-100Hz: Thump
100-250Hz: Roundness
400-600Hz: Boxiness
2-6kHz: Attack
4-8kHz: Click

Snare EQ:

100-150Hz: Warmth
150-250Hz: Fatness
800-1000Hz: Boxiness
2.5kHz: Slap
3-5kHz: Attack
8-10kHz: Crispness

Rack Tom EQ:

240-500Hz: Fullness
600-1000Hz: Boxiness
5-7kHz: Attack

Floor Tom EQ:

80-120Hz: Fullness
400-800Hz: Boxiness
2.5-5kHz: Attack

Hi-Hat and Cymbal EQ:

100-300Hz: Clang
4-7kHz: Crispness
8-12kHz: Sizzle
12kHz and up: Sheen

Overhead EQ:

50-250Hz: Muddiness
400-1000Hz: Boxiness
7.5kHz and up: Shimmer

These frequencies offer you a solid starting point to help you find the kind of sound that you’re looking for from the drums. Of course, it goes without saying that no two drum recordings are the same. The kit, the player, the mics, the room, and the recording techniques all impact the unique characteristics of your drum recording. So don’t be afraid to experiment with these settings as much as you need to in order to achieve the sound that you’re looking for.

What are the key frequencies that you like to hone in on when you use drum EQ? What character are you looking to get out of the drums, and what drum EQ moves do you think have the biggest impact on your mixes? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to download your free copy of the EQ Settings Cheat Sheet to kick-start your EQ for drums, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, and vocals.


Get the best results from EQ, compression, vocals & drums with the FREE 'Home Studio Bundle'

EQ Settings Cheat Sheet Compression Settings Cheat Sheet How to record studio quality vocals at home How to record drums with one mic

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