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Mixing Drums With the Ableton 10 Drum Buss

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Read Time: 6 min

With Ableton's latest update to Live 10, you now have an all in one solution for drum mixing needs as there is now a dedicated Drum Buss audio effect to make mixing drums easier than ever. 

In this screencast, I'll show you how to mix drums using Ableton 10's drum buss audio effects plugin to create a punchy, fat, in your face drum mix. 



Mixing your drums can seem like a daunting task. Producers and engineers often stack on plugins after plugins to try and achieve that powerful and punchy drum sound that we are all accustomed to hearing. While this level of drum processing might be manageable for the advanced producer, the novice and intermediate producer can struggle to achieve a professional drum mix.

With Ableton's latest to update to Live 10, you now have an all-in-one solution for your drum mixing needs as there is now a dedicated drum bus audio effect to make mixing your drums easier than ever. But what do the controls do on this Drum Bus plugin, and how can we harness its power and create a powerful drum mix?

My name is Daniel with Envato Tuts+. In this video I'm going to show you how to mix your drums using Ableton 10's Drum Bus audio effects plugin to create a punchy, fat, in your face mix. So lets get into the DAW. Ableton's Drum Bus plugin is an analog style drum processor that was designed to add body and character to a group of drums while gluing them together in a mix.

So what we're going to do is go over every single function in the Drum Bus plugin and then apply the processing to the drum loop we have here. Let's first have a listen to the unaffected drum loop. So the first control is the Drive control. The Drive control lets you determine how much drive is applied to the input signal.

Let's have a listen to what this sounds like. As you can hear the signal is much more aggressive when the drive is pushed. Next we have the three types of distortion, the Soft, the Medium, and the Hard. The Soft is a wave shaping distortion, let's have a listen to what this sounds like.

Next is the Medium, with just a limiting distortion. And last is the Hard, which is the clipping distortion with bass boost. So depending on the amount of distortion that you want, you can choose between Soft, Medium, and Hard. Next is the Trim slider, which lets you reduce the input level before any processing is applied.

It is simply a gain control here. And then the Comp button here applies a fixed compressor to the input signal before it is processed and by the distortion. This compressor has a fast attack, a medium release, and moderate ratio settings, as well as ample makeup gain. Let's have a listen to what this sounds like.

Next is the crunch, which adjusts the amount of sign shape distortion applied to mid-high frequencies. This will be great to adding that vintage sound to your drums and get a little extra character and bite. Next is the Damp control, which is a low pass filter and removes any unwanted high frequencies that occur when adding distortion.

And this will be useful to tame the high frequencies when we add in compression and distortion. One of the most prominent features in the Drum Bus plugin is then the Transients control which emphasizes frequencies above 100 Hertz when adding positive values, it will add attack and increase it's sustain resulting in a punchy sound.

Negative values will also add attack, but decrease the sustain. This will help you tighten up your drum loop, and help you make it more impactful in the mix. Let's have a listen. And then the Boom knob is to adjust the amount of low-end enhancement that the resident filter produces.

This is great for adding extra subfrequencies to your drum loop. And if we click on the headphone icon here, we can hear exactly what is being added to the drum loop. So let's have a listen to what the boom sounds like. And then we can adjust the frequency of the resonant filter or the key of the boom with the Frequency knob.

Then we have the corresponding note of each frequency displayed right here. So if your cake is in the key of A, you can use a Frequency knob to tune the added sub-harmonics to A here. We can also adjust the decay of this added sub frequency to make sure that the length of this added sub frequency fits in with the groove of our track.

And to hear just exactly what is being added to the drum loop, we can enable the headphone icon here. Let's have a listen to the added boom. Then finally, we have our standard output gain control and a dry wet control. So now let's go through each setting and adjust the drum bus audio effect to the current drum loop that we're working on.

Let's go ahead and adjust the Drive. And now the type of distortion. The Medium limiting distortion sounds good on this drum loop and then the Compressor. We'll go on over to the Crunch control. A mild setting at 10% sounds good on this particular drum loop. And we'll adjust the Damp to see what high frequencies we want to let through.

Around 5,000 kilohertz, works well for this drum loop. Now let's add a bit more punch to these drums with the Transient control. And then finally, let's add in some extra bass or Boom. Our current drum loop is at G, so we'll go ahead and adjust the frequency to playing the G.

So we had to add in the Boom and adjust the Decay of this boom. Now let's adjust the Decay and we'll go ahead and solo just the boom to adjust this. At around 87%, sounds good here, and, finally, let's adjust the Dry/Wet. Around 75% seems like a nice balance for this particular drum loop.

So now let's hear the effect of this entire drum bus effect on our loop. First without. And now with. As you can hear, the drum loop sounds much more livelier, impactful, in your face, and it gives your drums more presence in the mix. Ableton 10s Drum Buss audio effect Is an all in one solution for mixing your drums.

So the next time you reach into your toolbox, from multiple plugins, to mix your drums, reach for the Drum Bus instead.

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