PreSonus Blog

Better Drum Reverb with Dynamic EQ

Sending too many low frequencies through reverb gives a bloated, muddy sound. This is one reason why you’ll rarely see a send from a bass track going into reverb.

Drums are different, because you often want reverb on drums. But you don’t want the kick sending a giant blob of low frequencies through the reverb. You can control this if your drums are on separate tracks or outputs, but drum loops don’t give you that option. 

The usual solution is inserting a highpass filter prior to reverb, typically with a 100-300 Hz cutoff. This solves the kick problem, but it also reduces the frequencies that create the “fat” element in snare and toms. You usually want those drums in the reverb, to avoid a thin sound.

The Solution: Dynamic EQ

Using the Pro EQ3’s dynamic processing provides the ideal solution. Fig. 1 shows the track layout. The drums go through a send to an FX Channel, which inserts the Pro EQ3 prior to the Room Reverb (or reverb of your choice).

Figure 1: The Pro EQ3 inserts prior to reverb that’s processing the drums.

Fig. 2 shows the dynamic EQ settings. The low-frequency shelf EQ is set for a 12 dB/octave slope, which is steep enough to focus on the kick while leaving higher frequencies intact.

Figure 2: Suggested initial settings for the dynamic EQ parameters. Note that only the LF stage is being used.

The settings in fig. 2 should get you close to the sweet spot between too much bass, and a thin sound from not enough low frequencies. If needed, tweak the Threshold, Frequency, and Range parameters to optimize the sound further.

To hear how this affects the drum reverb, check out the following audio examples. They use a lot of reverb to get the point across. Here’s the drum reverb sound without the Pro EQ3 dynamic EQ.

With dynamic EQ, the sound is tighter and free of mud. Mission accomplished!