The drums are an important part of making hip-hop beats, so much so, that it could determine the success or failure of a recording. Flat or mediocre sounding drums could wreck what would otherwise be a great production hence the need to have big-sounding drums. Giving your drums the loudness you require is not too complicated, and the following tips will show you how.
Take advantage of the recording facility
The room where your recording takes place is your first ally in your attempt to create the impression of loud sounding drums. The way your drums sound is influenced a lot by the acoustics in the room where the recording takes place and hip hop producers have always taken advantage of a the reverberations in the recording room to boost the sound of the drums. By placing microphones (also known as room mics) close to the drums, the reverberations in the room are captured, and this helps boost the sound of the drums.
Use a bass booster
There are plenty of bass boosting plug-ins that could help you boost the sound of your hip hop samples. Bass booster plug-ins are created to find out the absence bass frequencies in a recording and will automatically add them. Of course, you have the final word on how much bass you want in the recording but an important thing to remember is that excessive bass will not help boost the sound of the drums. The key here is to boost the bass with a measure of moderation.
Equalize the bass
For hip-hop drums to stand out, it is important that the bass frequencies are properly equalized. This is usually easy, but it is one little step that many people take for granted with the result that the sound of the drums gets muddled up, and the distinctive loudness you craved is never achieved. On your screen, you can easily determine whether the frequencies are properly evened out by looking at the shape of the curve. Properly equalized frequencies produce the shape of a hump – they peak in the middle and then roll evenly to the left and the right.
High frequencies can obscure your hip hop drum sounds and reduce their loudness, so it is a wise thing to try and bring the frequencies down. In addition to frequency reduction, you should also consider compressing the kick especially when the peak on your screen is not uniform.
Slow down the tempo of the song
When you slow down the tempo of a song, its pitch also goes down. The slower recording then sounds heavier than what you had originally when the tempo was higher. The sound of the drums is, therefore, more distinct and, in effect, louder. While this sound-boosting technique is easy to perform, you need to take care that you do not go overboard in tempo reduction – if you reduce the tempo, excessively you might end up with a sound that is totally different from your original recording.
If you need some more pointers, check out this video on mixing big hip hop drums: