EQ'ing Toms: Floor Tom EQ Tips (16x16 And Larger)
Certainly my favorite drum to play is the floor tom- I have an 18x18 Pearl Session Custom model, and let me tell you, that thing sounds beautiful.
When it comes to including your floor tom in the recording mix, however, the drum will often need a good amount of EQ in order to keep it from dominating the other drums and the mix in general- the same will often be true for the bass drum and cymbals, just because of their low fundamental frequencies.
It can definitely help to dampen the floor tom while you are recording, too, as that will help to kill a lot of the mid-range resonance which has to be taken out of the mix anyways- when it comes to EQ'ing toms in general, the main things that you are looking to get out of the sound for production purposes are the "clicking" of the stick, the deep bass response, and just a little bit of warmth from the mid-range.
Let's keep these factors in mind as we talk about how to get the floor tom EQ that you need.
Deep Bass Response
For starters, we need to get a lot of bass response out of the drum- but this doesn't necessarily mean that you will need to boost that much at the bass range.
Killing off a lot of the unnecessary frequencies in the mix can often make the bass *appear* to be more present, and it is always a better idea to cut frequencies rather than boost, if you can. Just boost the track volume afterwards to get it back up to the volume that you need (the reason for this has to do with the inherent imperfections in plug-in algorithms, and the fact that these become more prevalent as you boost frequencies).
For our purposes, keep in mind that the bass range of a typical floor tom is anywhere from 50-70Hz, and if you do need to end up boosting the bass, this is the range that you will want to start with.
The next range that we are going to look at in our floor tom EQ is the mid-range warmth.
In general, this range is going to come from our 600Hz-1.2Khz range, but you will need to do a good amount of listening to determine where in this range you want to center your EQ.
Again, remember that cutting away the range between 120Hz-400Hz could be all you need as far as making the sound warmer and more full. Cutting this range will clean up a lot of the "mud" in the sound, and you might find that the only boost you need is really to make the sound of the stick a little more apparent.
Bringing Out The Sound Of The Stick
Bringing out the sound of the stick is something that has become more popular since the 1980s in drum recordings, but the choice is still up to you as to whether you like this sound in your mix, and to what degree.
The stick sound generally occurs in the 7-10Khz range, and so this is where you should look first if you are going to boost up this sound at all- try using a fairly narrow Q at 9Khz and boosting by about 8 Db; this will give your floor tom a lot of "presence" and you can work on the sound from there till you get a mix that is right for the song. Don't boost too much or it can start to make the drum sound a little unnatural.
Finally, cutting away the range between 2Khz-5Khz can also help to bring out the sound of the stick and clean up a lot of the "harshness" in the sound of the drum- and don't worry about anything beyond 12Khz, either. These frequencies are usually unnecessary, and using a hi-pass at this level might be a good idea (you will still get some of these "airy" frequencies from your overhead mics, anyway.)
I hope you find this information useful to your drum mixes, and feel free to check out some of my other music articles if you'd like.
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