One of the main reasons for grouping your drums is that it allows you to process that group as a whole. There are many benefits to this and adding processing to a whole group makes the individual elements in the group slightly more cohesive. In other words they work together better.
Lets have a quick look at grouping drums.
Let’s use compression as an example: you have grouped all your individual drum sounds together and apply some compression to this group. This then reduces the dynamic range of all the drums sounds as a whole and makes them ‘glue’ together better, which means they now work together as more of a unit rather than individual sounds. Basically you slightly reduce the volume of the louder parts and slightly bring up the volume of the quieter parts. This means that the whole drum group will now work more as a unit rather than having certain sounds way louder than others.
Compression isnt the only thing you can do to the entire group. You can add EQ, Reverb, distortions or even group certain elements and sidechain them all as a unit. There are many things you can do once everything is grouped.
There is no right or wrong way to group your drums, I know some artists who group every single drum or percussion sound together, and I know others who like to separate these groups, I.e. one group for the hats, one group for the percussions, one group for all clap sounds and a kick drum group (if they have layered different sounds to build a kick).
My approach to every track is different. Some of my tracks I may use all of the drum sounds ‘as one’, and other times I make a kick group, clap / snare group and a hats/percussion group. It really depends on HOW you want to treat all the sounds. Remember the outcome is how good it SOUNDS, do not get caught up in the routine of it all……..sometimes you can trick yourself into believing that every track you produce needs to be made in exactly the same way. Having said that, it is beneficial to set up templates where selected channels are already routed and grouped together, however; don’t feel like you need to use the same procedure every track.
Experiment with processing individual sounds and processing the groups. In dance music, a lot of focus is on the kick and snare. If you start with original samples which are of high quality then this minimizes the processing which you need to apply. In some cases you will barely need to process them, maybe add EQ or some slight compression but sometimes you may not need any processing. As i learn more i find myself using good kick samples and not doing any processing on it.
If you are grouping things together then you want to make use of a good buss compressor - i tend to use Cytomic 'the glue' compressor.
Remember that processing a group can save your CPU usage, so if you are going to apply similar reverbs to a lot of sounds, then why not group them together and treat that group with only one reverb instead of using numerous reverb plug-ins? When you are operating with samples, keep in mind that if the original sample is bad quality, then grouping them and processing them will not make them sound better, you may get the sound a little cleaner but trying to touch up bad samples is not a route you want to take. It is time consuming and in most cases, unnecessary.
So there you go! The benefits of using a buss or group:
-less CPU usage.
- makes sounds more cohesive.
- treat a whole group of sounds ‘as one’, can apply an effect to a whole range of sounds rather than using multiple individual plug-ins, they are all on one fader making the overall volume of the group easy to handle.
- it tidies up your projects. Having your individual tracks routed and grouped properly makes the sessions a lot easier on the eyes. Make use of color coding to make it easier to follow.