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I'm working on a project where I am to mix/master drums to a backing track (sort of a drum-replacement project.)

I've gotten the drums to sound pretty great on their own but was just wondering if I should mix down the drums into one track before mixing it in with the rest of the music? It's all midi instruments (aside from the drums, obviously) so I understand it would be a good thing to keep the drums separate to mix better with the other instruments, but also I'd like to sort of compress the drums together so they come forward more in the mix, seeing as this is a drumming project.

So what are the pros and cons of mixing drums down before mixing with the other instruments? Or am I being totally crazy? :D

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migrated from Jan 25 '14 at 9:29

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's common and good practice to mix the drums to a group track, in pretty much any situation; that group track might well have a compressor (possibly even multiband) on it, but I still wouldn't call this mastering. Unless you're limited by CPU performance, it's not useful to bounce that group track to a fixed file; just leave the group track as it is so you can step down into the single mic tracks if it turns out to be necessary for the final mix.

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On mixing drums down,

The top pro:

  • Once your drum mix is right you don't need to worry about individual levels - it is just done

The main con:

  • A particular song might require pulling out some tones from a particular drum to give some headroom to another instrument, but your only alternative is to use an equaliser

We tend to mix down prior to a live gig, but in the studio we keep each drum track separate so we can tweak as needed.

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