Drum mixing is often quite challenging. In the mix we typically we reach for plug-ins such as compressors and EQs to shape the tone and impact of drum tracks that, for the most part, get us predictable results. However, there are times when we need a tool or two that are different from our "go to" compressor and EQ plug-ins so that we can produce more creative or technical results.
In this article, we steer well clear of compressor and EQ plug-ins, instead we list a selection of plug-ins that aren't conventional "mixing" plug-ins, instead, the plug-ins featured in this list are what we consider to be unique "processing" tools that all produce very cool effects and results when used on multitrack drum tracks and drum loops.
UNMIX::DRUMS is the brainchild of the crazy scientists over at Zynaptiq. This plug-in enables users to quickly attenuate or boost drum tracks within mixed music by use of the large pink dial in the centre of plug-in all in real-time.
UNMIX::DRUMS is a great plug-in that can enhance or soften the impact of drums either in full mixes or drum sub mixs. UNMIX::DRUMS is a very cool processing tool that provides users with exciting drum mixing options throughout the entire music production process from pre-production through to mastering.
Watch our review of UNMIX::DRUMS to hear it in action.
Audionamix XTRAX STEMS
XTRAX STEMS is a fully-automatic standalone stem creator application that enables users to quickly produce multitrack content from mixed music, great for remixing and sampling. XTRAX STEMS enables users to solo the main elements of a song including vocal, music and drum elements. These three main elements are split into three separate stems within the XTRAX STEMS standalone application (Mac only), via the Audionamix online servers. These three stems can also be exported out as 3 independent audio files for use in DAWs.
We tested XTRAX STEMS, watch our review of XTRAX STEMS to hear it in action.
Accusonus drumatom 2
Microphone bleed in close mic'd multitrack drum recording can cause a number of issues in the mix. Drumatom was the first ever A.I machine learning plug-in, it was developed by Accusonus to help producers quickly rid their recordings of persistent drum bleed. Hi-Hat bleed on snare drum track is a common bleed problem, luckily Drumatom is a great tool suppressing the bleed without any fuss or audible artefacts.
drumatom is a standalone application, however, Accusonus offer an optional drumatom player plug-in that runs within DAWs that enables users to monitor the leakage-suppression within DAW sessions.
We took a look at the first version one of drumatom when it was distributed through Plugin Alliance. Watch this video to gain an understanding of what drumatom has to offer.
Eventide's Physion plug-in (initially released under the name Fission) enables users to split audio into transient and tonal parts for independent processing. Physion makes it incredibly easy for users to add effects such as reverb to let's say just the transient of a snare track while also adding dynamic processing to the tonal element of the snare. The split signals can then be mixed/blended back together to produce some very unique results. Think of Physion as a transient designer powered multi-effects unit.
Zynaptiq MORPH 2
A second drum processing offering here from Zynaptiq, this time with a twist. MORPH 2 does exactly what it says on the tin, it enables users to creatively morph two signals together in real-time to produce new and interesting sounds that combine elements from both the audio tracks structural elements. Zynaptiq does a very good job of describing the results of MORPH 2: "One face becomes another".
MORPH 2 inspires users to experiment with sounds as MORPH 2 makes it so easy to produce new hybrid sounds by combining two very different types of tracks. Watch our video review to hear an example of this as we morph a drum loop into a string loop to produce a rhymical synth like instrument.
SoundRadix Drum Leveler
DRUM LEVELER is described by Sound Radix as a beat detection-based downward and upward compressor/expander and gate which doesn't exactly tell the whole story. It's a must-have plug-in for those who predominantly work with drum loops in their music as it enables users to quickly rebalance individual hits within drum loops. If you have a loop that sounds perfect except the snare is too loud then use DRUM LEVELER to push that snare down without the results effecting the levels and characteristics of the other hits such as hi-hat and kick within the loop.
Drum Replacement Plug-ins
We can't post an article listing drum processing plug-ins without mentioning drum replacement. Luckily, we posted an article similar to this that lists several powerful drum replacement plug-ins you should check out the next time you mix:
There's our selection of plug-ins that we believe work creative wonders on recorded drum tracks and drum loops... but have we missed any? Let us know the plug-ins you use to produce creative drum sounds in the comments below.