How to get some High Quality "2001" Tom Drum Sounds

Tom drums are one of the hardest things for me to get right in a mix. I feel like if I try and make them “big and epic” they end up sounding cheesy. On the other hand, if I don’t go all in with them, then they’re just lifeless and boring, with no impact in the mix. So how do you get them to sound full and cut without sounding fake?

One way I’ve found that helps is by having a duplicate track running an octave above the source, which gives your ears more to grab onto, and identify them in a mix a lot easier. It also helps bring out the tonal quality of toms. If you’ve ever played drums or heard a tom, you know it has a heavy “DOOOOONNNNG” type sound. This is its resonating frequency, what helps distinguish a high tom from a floor tom. This resonating frequency is also something that is really easy to get buried in a mix.

If you’re like me, it seems like your toms sound like a piece of paper being flicked by a pen, certainly not like a big beefy drum. It’s because your resonance and thickness is getting lost in the mix, with too much attack and not sustaining the resonance enough. So if you find yourself in the paper situation, try this octave trick; If they’re higher toms, add an octave below to add body and beef. That will help bring out the low dong if it’s a higher tom.


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