Mixing kicks and 808s is very important to get right, as the low-end is almost EVERYTHING when it comes to fullness and excitement..
However, because low-frequencies move slow, if there is clashing (phase cancellation), you will hear a horrible wobble sound, and your low-end will not hit hard and tight.
What We Cover in this Article:
- Wise Sound Selection when Choosing Kick Drums with 808s
- Why Do My Kicks and 808s Sound Weak?
- Tools to Create Low-End Space (Sidechain Compression)
Wise Sound Selection when Choosing Kick Drums with 808s
It’s very important you know how to select drum samples, as it makes mixing WAY easier.
In short.. there’s various types of drums like short-tailed and long-tailed kicks… If you are using long-tailed kick drums with 808s, you’re going to have to fight HARD to get both to sit nice (which is where sidechain compression comes into play.. it can just “make things work”).
When we talk about LOW FREQUENCIES.. it’s not the same as the mid and high frequencies..
Within the low frequencies, there’s actually 2-3 unique areas (I’ve heard these termed differently over the years).
When looking at a kick drum or 808, they typically live in all three spaces of this low-frequency area.. and sadly, most of our rooms and listening environments do not allow us to clearly hear this (which is why mixing the low-end is SO HARD.. because we truly cannot hear what’s going on.. it’s a guessing game without testing on different speakers, headphones, and listening environments!)
Did you know bass frequencies are VERY LONG.. for example.. a 40Hz wave length takes 28.25 feet to complete? I don’t know about you.. but my room definitely isn’t 28 feet..
Use Short-Tailed Drums with 808s
The BEST kicks to use with 808s are short-tailed kick drums.
This is because a short-tailed drum typically hits higher in this low-frequency space, and because it’s SO QUICK, it doesn’t fight with the 808 as audibly! (And sidechain compression works REALLY easy because it pumps so quick).
There are short-tailed kick drums in Urban Heat Drum Kit!
It also contains 808s, and many other claps, snares, and sounds for beatmaking!
It’s included in Drum Bundle Trio with over 2,300 Drum Samples!
But.. I want to Use Long-Tailed Kicks with 808s..
I totally understand, I don’t like following the trends either, and I like making unique beats, too.. so I’ll explain how to approach that down below with sidechain compression.
People will often want to use EQ on the kick drum and 808 to make them fit, and while EQ is probably a mixing engineer’s most powerful tool, a kick drum can suffer if played solo (without the 808!)..
A cool trick to use a Long-Tailed Kick Drum with an 808 is to simply CLONE the kick drum and have one version EQ’d to play with an 808, and version where the kick can play without the 808 and retain its fullness and impact without sounding weak!
This way you can have a long-tailed drum and an 808 play nice, then have a solid kick when played without the 808!
Why Do My Kicks and 808s Sound Weak?
It can be two main reasons..
The first one is you do not have high-quality drum samples.. it can actually be as simple as that!
The online world of buying drum samples has become so popular that anyone is trying to sell a sound kit.. but there are only a good handful of very talented sound designers!
You can view my shop for premium drum samples!
Reason #2 for Weak Sounding Drums and 808s
Poor sound selection and poor mixing choices.
Remember, short-tailed drums + 808s = a BIG WIN!
You have to train your ear to clearly listen to the low-end of the audio. Sometimes its best to do this in solo (even though mixing in solo is VERY dangerous).
The low-end, because the frequencies are SLOW, can have very audible clashing. It will create a wobble sound..
And your subwoofer, listeners, and beat DO NOT LIKE phase cancellation wobble (LFO wobbles in dubstep are different 🙂)
Quick Tips to Improve Kick Drums and 808s Impact:
- Apply gentle EQ to make each sound fit better
- Apply parallel processing (compression and distortion) to help kicks and 808s stand out on small speakers like cellphones
- Wise sound selection (no phase cancellation) will be your best choice here!
Tools to Create Low-End Space (Sidechain Compression)
Definitely watch the video above to see these sidechain compression methods in action..
But what I want to share is that you can use:
- A Single-Band Compressor (Like the Fruity Limiter)
- Multi-Band Compressor (that allows for external sidechain.. like FabFilter Pro-MB)
- Fruity Peak Controller (with an EQ band for the similar Multi-Band Compressor technique)
A single band means as soon as audio goes over the threshold, it turns down the WHOLE SIGNAL… this is fine for normal scenarios, but reduces the whole sound (for that pump sound.. common in EDM beats!)
A Multi-Band Compressor that allows for sidechain compression can reduce just certain areas (like the low-end), while allowing the mid and high frequencies to still be heard.. literally allowing you to fix the problem, but still hear the sound!
The Fruity Peak Controller is a very cool advanced technique that is like the multi-band compressor, allowing you to selectively pump (reduce volume) of certain frequencies.
Mixing Drums and 808s..
Now one thing I will say is I never would use kick drums, 808s, and a bassline in a single track. (I’ve done it, but it makes mixing REALLY tricky.. and sound selection is very important here).
You may also like these other 808 tutorials I have:
I hope this tutorial helped 🙂