Why Your Tom Drums, Overheads and Room Mics Play an Important Role in Your Productions

If the toms in your song are a big part of the overall drum sound, you should put some focus into making them sound powerful and punchy.

Toms can add some nice rhythmic parts, interesting fills and also power when you need it. It’s in your best interest to do whatever you can to make the tom drums stand out.

Some of the greatest records of all time had some amazing tom drum fills. The first one that comes to mind is Phil Collins – In the Air.

Okay so let’s see how you can make your toms sound better in your audio productions.

Adding EQ to Your Tom Drum Sounds

The first thing you should do when mixing your toms is to find the unflattering frequencies using equalization. These frequencies are usually in the 250-900 kHz zone.

Once you cut out that midrange boxiness, try and add some low-end bump and also some high-end smack. The toms will start to sing.

Just one word of warning when working on your tom sounds, try not to cut out too much. Be very vigilant with the equalizer and keep your Q tight.

Pull out the Compressor

By applying some compression to your tom drums, you can get a larger then life sound that will stand out in your productions. You can fatten them up with some complimentary compression and reverb assuming that is what you are going for.

If you are just going for small peak reductions, then the same rules will still apply, you just have to add less compression to your tom drums.

The OverHead Mics

The overheads mics may very well be the most important part of the drum kit. The overheads microphones pick up every drum sound in the recording and give an overall balance to your drum sound.

For the most part, I would say that there’s two ways to go about mixing your drums with the overheads. You can use them as the primary sound of your drum kit and use the spot mics to accent the overheads, or you can use them as texture and reverb to build around the balance on the drums.

You should consider adding in the overheads as early as possible when your mixing because it will give you a sense of the overall kit that will make your life easier.

By focusing on the close mics, you will notice that the drums will sound “in-your-face” but when you focus on the overheads, you will achieve a more roomy textured sound.

Mixing the Drum Room Mics

Though the drum overheads and room mics are somewhat similar, they do give off different sounds from one another.

Because the room mics are recorded farther away, you will get a much fuller sounds from your drum kit as well as a generous amount of reverb to boot. Depending on the sound of the room that the drums were recorded in. The room mics can either be amazing or terrible.

Going for a Roomy Sound

Let’s assume that the room you recorded in was amazing, at that point we can try a few different techniques. We can apply a generous amount of compression to get a much fuller and robust sound.

We could EQ the drum kit to draw the most important frequencies in the recording such as the kick and snare that, can then be added into the original spot mics to give them a final touch.


So that about wraps it up for now. I could go into some more advanced techniques, but I think I will save that for another article.

I find that mixing drums is an enjoyable and challenging aspect in music productions. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it. Since it is art, you just have to go with your gut.

The biggest piece of advice that I can give you is to try and experiment using all the tools you have in your mixing tool box. You will discover some interesting techniques that take you to another level as a great drum mixer.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the next article.

p.s. before I let you go, check out this video below that has some cool beginner drum mixing techniques.