Here’s a question I get a lot:

“When using Superior Drummer/Slate Drums, etc., should I compress and EQ those drum sounds?”

‘Tis a good question, and a popular question.

Lemme spell it out for ya.

9 times out of 10, if you ask me a “Should I…” question, my answer is going to go something like this: “Try it and see for yourself.”

Now, before you think that’s a lazy, arrogant answer, let me flip things around a bit.

I’m very comfortable and experienced when it comes to all things studio. But when it comes to electric guitar equipment, I’m fairly new. I’ve really only been playing electric guitar for a few years, so I’m still learning new things left and right.

Every once in a while, I’ll have a question like “Is it better to run an overdrive pedal into a clean amp or an overdriven one?”

That’s a classic “Should I…” question.

If I search a few forums or call up my guitar guru buddy Pete and ask him, he’ll give me a classic “Should I…” answer.

It starts with “It depends…” and usually ends with “try it and see what sound you like best.”

And it’s the same thing with mixing virtual drums (or ANYTHING for that matter). Sure, it’s great to see how someone else mixes a particular instrument (I learn something new EVERY time I watch one of Graham’s mixing videos inside of Dueling Mixes, for example), but when it comes down to you in your studio, you’ve got to try things for yourself and see what sounds best.

Back to the original question…

I recommend the “Lazy Method.”

If the track sounds great, then leave it alone and move on. If it’s not working in the mix, then mess with it a little bit.

A lot of the samples in these virtual drum programs have already been EQ’d and compressed a bit, so you may find that you don’t need to do much…or you might need to go crazy with EQ and compression.

It depends on the mix.

You can hear a great example of this in this month’s song over atDueling Mixes. The song has both the original recorded snare drum AND a snare drum sample that was triggered using the original snare. So you have the option to use one or the other…or both.

I ended up doing very little processing to the sampled snare on my mix, and the drums sound is HUGE.

Take a listen and see how I did it here:

Joe Gilder
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