How to eq a kick drum trance

Kick Drum EQ Guide (for Trance)

05 Oct 2021

One of the questions my students ask me the most is "how do I EQ a kick drum?". I'm sure it's a question on most up and coming producers minds. In genres such as trance, techno and EDM it's essential to have a kick sounding as good as it can.

For me, it's one of the most important parts of a track. It's what sets the tone. A weak sounding kick will not cut through in the mix - and even after mastering - it just won't sound good on a club system. It makes or breaks a track.

Because I've had lots of requests, I've decided to show the kick drum EQ settings for two of my tracks. Caverns of Time (released with Nocturnal Knights) and Sen'jin (released with Afterdark). Both tracks done really well in the Beatport trance charts - reaching 5th and 4th respectively.

I hope you find this guide useful and that it helps you improve your trance kick EQing.


1. Kick Drum EQ Settings for Caverns of Time

Caverns of Time Kick Drum

Clip of the track

Before I get into the EQ settings, here's a clip of Caverns of Time - with the main drop of the track. As you can hear, the kick sounds nice and punchy in the mix. I wrote this track in Ableton Live in 2021 (with my friend Daniel Skyver).

Warning: This is cut from the master so please be careful of the volume and your ears if listening on headphones.


The kick sample before any EQ

Here's the kick sample I used without any EQ or other FX processing. I loved the sound of the sample when I found it - but thought the mid range needed looking at as well as the top end click.

This sample is direct from Ableton so the sound may be much quieter than the track clip. You may need to turn up the volume if you cannot hear it but be careful.


Step 1 - Eqing the very low end

Step 1 – Eqing the very low end

As with all my kicks, I cut out the very low end. You don’t really hear this but if left in may make your mix muddy. I decided to cut this kick at 20hz with a 48db slope.

Step 2 – remove the resonant frequency

Step 2 – remove the resonant frequency

The next step for me was to find the kicks resonant frequency. Pretty much every kick (or sound) will have them and it doesn’t sound very nice. It adds nothing to the sound at all, so I always remove it. Once removed it frees up room in the mix. With a kick, it usually lurks in the low mids – between 100hz and 200hz. In order to find the frequency, I set the Pro Q 3 to a thin Q band (around 15). I then gave it a boost by 6db and done a sweep of the low mids. I soon found a popping, woody type sound around the 150mh mark and then removed it with some dynamic EQ.

Step 3 – EQ some of the mid range

EQ some of the mid range

Moving on, I could hear (and see in Pro Q) that the kick had a bit too much in the mid range. It sounded very boxy so I wanted to take care of that next. The problem area was around 800hz, so I took out 3db with some dynamic EQ. As you can see from the image above, there’s 6db taken away. This is because my mastering engineer said it needed more removed. He was 100% right and it sounded much better.

Step 4 – Take away some of the kicks click

Step 4 – Take away some of the kicks click

Finally, I wanted to remove some of the high end click from the kick. It’s not something you always need to do, but this sample needed some of the click taken away. I could see with the Pro Q that the click was around 9980mhz so took 4db away with some EQ. Before I sent the final track off for mastering I took away a bit more. As a result the kick sat in the mix better with the basses and percussion.


The final result – Caverns of Times kick drum with EQ

Here’s the kick sample with all the changes I made using the EQ. As you can hear, the kick sounds much less boxy in the mid range. In addition, the kicks click is not as harsh. I always think it’s better to be subtle with EQ. If the sound is good in the first place it shouldn’t need too much work done with it.

This sample is direct from Ableton so the sound may be much quieter than the track clip. You may need to turn up the volume if you cannot hear it but be careful.


2. Kick Drum EQ Settings for Sen’jin

Kenny Palmer - Sen;jin Kick drum EQ settings

Here’s a clip of Sen’jin. Once again, you can hear the drop with the kick in the mix. It’s a different type of kick drum from the one used in CoT, so the EQ was different. I wrote Sen’jin in FL Studio back in 2020. I now mainly use Ableton for my music.

Warning: This is cut from the master so please be careful of the volume and your ears if listening on headphones.

The kick sample before any EQ

Here’s the kick sample for Sen’jin without any FX or other processing. It’s a really nice sounding kick – but a little bit lacking in the low end.

This sample is direct from FL Studio so the sound may be much quieter than the track clip. You may need to turn up the volume if you cannot hear it but be careful.


Step 1 – EQing the low end

Step 1 – EQing the kick low end

Just like with Caverns of Time, the first step for me was to EQ the low end of the kick. I cut this one at around 15hz with a 24db slope. That’s it for the very low end.

Step 2 – giving a boost to the lows

Giving a boost to the kicks lows

The next thing I did was to give the low end a nice boost. I felt like this kick needed it. To do this, I done a quick sweep around the EQ band to find where it sounded best. Listening on my Audeze headphones, I could hear the best place was around 51hz – so I boosted 4db there. It sounded much better than before.

Step 3 – removing the resonant frequency

Removing the kicks resonant frequency

Now it was time to deal with the resonant frequency for the kick. I set the Q band to a thin setting, then done swept around the low mids. I soon found what I was looking for at around 143hz so I took that out with some dynamic EQ.

Step 4 – EQing the mid range

EQing the kick mid range

On to the mid range. I wanted to take away a little bit from the mids to give the mix a bit of space. I didn’t EQ too much out with this kick. In the end I took out around 1.5db in the 970hz region with the dynamic EQ.

Step 5 – Adding a little EQ to the top end

Adding a little EQ to the kick top end

Lastly, after listening to the kick I decided to give it a slight boost in the high end. I felt like it needed just a little more click, so I EQ’d in a boost of 0.8db around the 15000mhz mark. The end result was it sounded nice and punchy in the mix. All in all I was really happy with how the kick sounded. It sounded great once it was mastered too.


The final result – Sen’jin kick drum with EQ

Have a listen to the kick sample with the 5 changes made. The EQing has really given the low end a much needed boost – as well as bringing out the click a bit more. I love this kick. Sen’jin is one the best tracks I’ve made so far and the kick was an important part of why it is.

One last thing. Try and keep your EQing simple. Pick the best possible sample in the first place. Then add or remove in a few key areas. Don’t start doing crazy boosts or dips all over the place. A & B every change and see what the difference is. Get into the habit of checking how the sound changes when you add or remove with the EQ.

This sample is direct from FL Studio so the sound may be much quieter than the track clip. You may need to turn up the volume if you cannot hear it but be careful.


An in depth guide to mixing a kick coming soon

Thanks for reading. I hope you found my article about trance kick drum EQ helpful. If you know anyone who makes trance please share this page with them.

I’ll be doing a more in depth tutorial soon about mixing kick drums. This will include a whole host of info such as choosing the right kick samples and how to compress them. I’ll also go over saturation and shaping a kick sample. More news on that soon.

I am presently available for hire through my profile on music producers: Kenny Palmer

If you are looking for a music producer to work on a project, visit: Music producers near me

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