Drum Processing and Mixing: How do you get that big, full and deadly drum sound that Skrillex/Zomboy/Virtual Riot/etc. achieve?

I don’t mean ‘how do you get that hella gnarly skrillex snare man??’, I mean when you listen to their drum loops or their entire song in general, it’s like it’s always pushing forward, everything is levelled perfectly, it’s loud, it cuts through everything perfectly, there’s so much clarity in the hats and rides and it just sounds professional. Of course you sidechain everything to the drums but that’s not enough. I roll off the low end of everything besides the kick and the snare, etc. I do the basics but it doesn’t have that “oomph” or that… completeness.

Here’s a loop I made: http://www3.zippyshare.com/v/93TdXIYM/file.html I thought it was okay, but the hats don’t hit hard enough, it doesn’t sound like it’s always moving somewhere, and it’s not “professional” quality. How can I process and mix these to take them “to the next level”

Maybe try multiband compression.

Skrillex has significant midrange.

1 BigUp

Have you tried boosting your snare at 200hz?


Yeah, I’ve done all the usual EQ tips for drums. I’m looking for that clean, sharp and professional sound that all the ‘big’ producers get. Their drum loops always hit hard and clean through the mix, they always sound like they’re ‘going somewhere’, as if they’re always moving forward. It could be the entire song mixdown, but there’s something about Skrillex’s, Zomboy’s, Virtual Riot’s, Must DIE’s, Barely Alive’s etc. drums and mixes that just kill anything that an ‘amateur’ makes, my sound design is fairly on point but in the drum and mixing department everything falls to shit.

I think it’s more about the mixing approach. Sidechaining aside, they’re probably basing everything around the kick and snare, letting them be the loudest (by db) elements in the mix, and having less high frequency content to let rides and hats shine through.
In that drum loop, I’d recommend tightening the ADSRs on the closed hats, maybe adding some short and ‘small’ reverb to give that stereo presence. No idea what DAW you’re using, but FL also has this thing called “Fruity Stereo Shaper” and it can do great things when used effectively. You also can let them be quite loud in the mix if that’s what you’re aiming for.

1 BigUp

its a two level approach. kick and snare need to set at 0db…the next loudest thing peaks at -3 db so that kick and snares are the loudest. Side chain is the second trick and you have to understand why you are doing it. When Zomboys snare and kicks hit, they hit at 0db in the master. The ONLY way this happens is if EVERYTHING is sidechained to them maybe hats being the exception since they don’t have any low end. If something else is playing, it reduces the volume of the kick \ snare and you will never get the punch you need. So these guys openly use volume sidechaining, not compression sc. They are literally whacking down everything so that when a snare hits it is literally the only thing playing for that few millisecinds. its the only way to sound like them because that is what they do.

1 BigUp

Alternatively, the drum samples you use are crucial. Eqing and processing can only do so much for quiet, low impact samples.

I dunno if you intend on getting any tunes mastered but, if you do, you really shouldn’t have mixes that loud. 0 db is too loud. Beyond -6dB you’ve lost half your head room. Keep the mixes low and the speakers loud.

All about frequency distribution.
Then when you’ve got that down, meaning writing songs from a perspective where you use all sounds as little interrelative building blocks ( essentially a lot of sounds that serve a purpose but sound unremarkable on their own), you can begin looking into the gain staging. There’s a few reasons why frequency is more important than loudness. One is simply because the sound is still pretty much about the basses and drums. Another reason is that there’s more weight available in the way you arrange frequency than trying to for example compress yourself out of having a huge kick ontop of a sub and then a reverbed huge clap going in (in the space of just a moment in the song).
Volume or loudness really just has to be balanced properly there’s not a time where you have to something hitting 0 or anything.

and yea mostly in the mixing

Have you read the Moneyshot Thread at the old DSF?

Thats Maccs thread right?

He’s amazing but far away from doing a sound like this tbh

Tbh the reason the snare hits at 0dB in their tunes is becuase its the loudest thing in the tune and the ME moved it up to be that loud. They wouldn’t mix their tunes to be that loud surely. It makes no difference

True, but it’s more like an “ethics of mixing” thread, isn’t it?

yup and it is outdated…for example, he talks about NOT sidechaining…it just not how its done these days. let me edit that…if you are talking about Zomboys drums…Maccs mixing guide is outdated.

Do you have to sidechain to make it big then

1 BigUp

kind of…you still need to sound design to make it big.


The important part of the moneyshot thread is leaving your master fader at zero and turning your tracks down because it sounds better. If

then you’ve turned the master fader down, which was what Macc originally entered the thread to point out was wrong.

Not so much the sidechaining bit or anything else.

I am not going to push my liberal agenda on you…make music how ever you want. This thread is about recreating what the heavy hitters do.