Make Your Percussion Sound Fuller and Clearer

Drums and Percussion are often a pivotal, driving force underpinning modern day soundtracks, especially within epic orchestral music, action sequences or tracks created for sports applications.

If you’re looking for ways to make your Percussion samples sound bigger and fuller for your soundtrack piece, but when you layer them up things often get cluttered quite quickly, this tip is for you.


The Frequency Led Approach


We’re familiar when writing for strings that we need to think about the frequency ranges of the instrument groups, approaching things keeping in mind Violins, Violas, Cellos and Basses as separate and distinct groups within the sectional writing.

Yet for some reason, few of us consciously divide up the Percussion family in quite the same way when writing.

But tracks that require heavy use of Percussion should be approached in this way too:

Layer instruments keeping in mind frequency ranges. Being aware of this will limit overcrowding, which leads to your track sounding messy or cluttered.

Percussion instruments within these groupings may include:


  • Low Range:


Orchestral Bass Drums, Kick Drums, Low Booms, Surdos.


  • Low-Mid Range:


Low Toms, Timpani, Taikos


  • High-Mid Range:


Some Hand Drums, (Djembe), Snare Drums, Frame Drums, Some Metals


  • High Range:


Hi-Hats, Shakers, Some Hand Drums (Bongos, Darbuka, etc.), Cymbals


Of course this a far from comprehensive list, but you get the idea.

Keep in mind general frequency balances within your whole track too: If you have a lot of low end in your track already, it may be wise not to add too much in that frequency range from your Percussion too. Or perhaps strip other elements out to make way for that Percussion.

Either way, you want to avoid any frequency range from getting too cluttered.


  1. Avatar
    Robert Else

    Makes great sense to include percussion in this consideration. The low end is the hardest part of the mix for me to handle and get a clear yet effective energetic vibe. Throw in contrabasses and low brass, and there’s even more competition down there. Quite challenging.

    1. Michael Kruk Post
      Michael Kruk

      Exactly Robert! Low end can often be that low and muddy problem child, huh?!

  2. Avatar
    1. Avatar
      Jeroen van Olffen

      That does seem like a useful tool, quite clever hybrid of dynamic eq, and multiband sidechain compression/ducking. May have to try demo. Cheers

  3. Michael Kruk Post
    Michael Kruk

    That looks like a great tool – thanks so much for sharing, Christopher! How have you found it so far?

  4. Avatar
    Ulf Pettersson

    Agreeing on everything said!

    Also another thing to consider is to check that the phase aligns if you’re stacking some, or many low-end (and hi freq for that matter), instruments on top of eachother.

  5. Michael Kruk Post

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