why do i need to clean up my drums?
Remove unwanted frequencies, take out the static, hiss and hum removal, fit the vibe of the track, get your drums to sit better in the mix? There are a number of situations where delivering cleaner sounding drums is going to benefit the beat your working on. It's also a good tool to have in your pocket. Being able to manipulate the amount off dirt we add (more on this later) or take away helps us stay versatile in the beatmaking process and act accordingly depending on what the beat needs.
So there are a number of ways we can clean up our drums. Lets start with the most obvious.
A de-noise processor is a plugin / VST we can use on the channel our drums are on giving us access to parameters that are gonna help us clean up our audio. Some to check out are waves (X-click, x-noise, NS1 Noise serpressor, z- noise) izotope RX 6. These can be a good option and in some cases even the presets are gonna get you close to the desired sound but they’re not a one stop fix for all situations as they are really dependant upon your source material. In some cases they can make your sounds dull and lifeless by removing too much of the top end frequency spectrum.
A noise gate works by masking any unwanted noise by allowing the signal to pass through above a certain threshold and closing it when it drops below. The gate will close in-between pauses and open again when the desired signal returns. They are simple to use and can be a good solution when the noise level is relatively low but the higher that noise level is the more unnatural its going to sound.
Adjusting your ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release) settings on your drum sound within your sampler is one of the best ways to create a cleaner drum hit. By shortening tales, adjusting the attack we are able to create shorter cleaner samples. Chopping tight like this you can remove unwanted clicks and leave yourself with just what you need out of your given drum sample. Honestly we can’t stress enough how important it is to master your ADSR settings this is really where you can get a great deal of control over your individual sounds before any processing takes place. We will explore this in much a greater detail in a future post.
Another great tool to have at your disposal when cleaning up your drums is an EQ (Equaliser). Using our EQ we can remove unwanted frequencies or even enhance parts of our remaining signal. Some tips for eq-ing and cleaning up your drums are as follows.
Remove any unwanted sub rumble
Hi Hat - roll off the bottom end
Snare Drum - Remove some of the bottom end but leave a little bass for the middle
Kick Drum - roll off some of the highs
Similar to an Equaliser a filter has the ability to remove unwanted frequencies. Where it is different to an EQ is generally unlike an EQ you do not have the ability to boost frequencies. A simple low pass or high pass filter can go a long way though in removing any undesired noise. A low-pass filter (LPF) is a filter that passes signals with a frequency lower than a certain cutoff frequency and a high pass filter (HPF) passes signals with a frequency higher than a certain cutoff frequency. With that in mind you can see how we can very quickly cut any undesired frequencies depending on our needs.
When it comes to cleaning up your drums you can see you have many different tools at your disposal. How you use them is of course subjective and dependant on the type of beat you are creating and the desired sound you are after. The truth is you can make even the weakest drums sounds bang with a bit of manipulation and by cleaning them up you can then focus on enhancing. Thats actually not a bad way of looking at it, take out what you don’t want and enhance what you do. It’s al about control. Having greater control over our drums gives us a much greater ability to define the sound we are after. As always please drop us a comment below if you have anything you would like to add.