When I get done with a mix, no matter how much I work on the bass drum it barely comes out. I'm mainly working with metal bands, so I was wondering if anyone could give me pointers/ suggestions/ answers on how to make the kick stand out in the mix.
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Well, there area lot of things that can affect this. #1 is what you're listening to your mixes on. I wouldn't say it matters, so long as the "what" is not just one thing.
On ALL testing speakers, you want to use something as a reference. Some professional recording that you think does a good job of accomplishing what you want, and then your tracks.
On the technical side there are two parts to this question. The first is how much 'woof' of the kick you want to stand out and the second is how much of the 'click' you want to stand out.
Example of a lot of 'click' - SLipknot "the blister exists"
Example of a lot of 'woof' - Dimmu Borgir "Progenies of the Great Apocolypse"
Poor quality but I think you can see the difference of what I'm talking about. Personally I like a mix of the two ala Meshuggah's track "bleed"
Apologies for all the links w/o anything useful BUT! I don't know too much about where you're coming from so I'm covering bases. Maybe you could post a sort clip so we can hear what you've got and you tell us where you want to go?
Things to try: -if recording live kit, try to add a sampled kick to the mix and see how that sits in the mix Pick one that sounds DIFFERENT than what you've already got so when you mix them together it sounds like 1 NEW kik. (also works when using two sampled kick sounds).
-I will almost always put a lo-cut filter on my kick tracks (all tracks...) between 30hz and 60hz. Depends on how it sits in the mix and what I need. Using this on all your tracks keeps the low end cleaner and gives you a lot more headroom on your master out.
-I'm always surprised how much the bass guitar can add to the effect of a good kick sound
-check the EQ's and make sure the frequencies of your kick aren't being too heavily copied in your guitars. Logic's Match EQ is great for this as you can analyze your kick and then throw the matched EQ on an offending track and take those frequencies out. Can have terrible results also. =)
Others probably know a lot more than me. I hope something helps =)
Obviously, you need to find the correct frequencies – what gives definition to the kick is actually something like 6000 Hz rather than the bass frequencies. But the most important thing is, trivially, that the kick is simply loud enough. It is the only instrument you should allow to reach 0 dB. Don't try to get your mix loud by giving too much power to the guitars (overall loudness will be achieved in mastering, and there you need the kick to really stand out so that it can actually push the mastering effects). Compression on the drums themselves – if used at all – should not remove too much of the transients, rather drive something into saturation if necessary.
Dont be afraid using compressors on channels or busses triggered by the kick.. Maybe half db compression just when the bass drum kick helps.