Hi-hats serve a very specific function in any genre of music, that’s why it pays to know how to properly apply equalization to them.
As you may well know, hi-hats form part of the drum kit in any particular song,
and you’ll need a well mixed drum kit that is able to merge with other sounds well.
This guide will take you through everything you need to know about applying EQ to your hi-hats to have them sounding good and well balanced.
Mixing decisions will differ and this guide will give you a basic understanding of how to treat your hi-hats.
The very first technique involved when equalizing hi-hats has to deal with the low-end.
You basically have to cut out any low frequencies that may give the hi-hat unnecessary muddiness.
most hi-hats have a frequency range between 300-15000Hz, which means that anything lower than 300 has to be cut,
modern processed hi-hats have a frequency range 500-11000Hz as shown in the image below.
in this case we are going to cut off the low end frequencies that are below 500Hz in order to leave the Hi-Hat clean with no muddy low end:
with this hi-hat it is very difficult to spot the low frequencies because it has been processed.
here’s an example of a hi-hat with a lot more prominent low frequencies:
in this case we’ll go right ahead and get rid of that low end like this:
cutting off low end frequencies is a matter of preference,
in the above example i cut out anything below 500Hz to leave the hi hat with some low end,
other people prefer to eliminate the entire low end.
This is dependent on the entire song but the examples above should give you a good indication of how to get rid of low frequencies.
Making the hi-hats brighter
Another way to utilize equalization on hi-hats is to basically make them a bit more brighter.
It is very common to find unclear hi-hats that have the high range frequencies a bit hidden or not too prominent.
In this case you’re going to use EQ to shape and boost the Highs.
usually you’ll be boosting frequencies above 6Khz, and you’ll basically pick a frequency and boost it until you find the right boost as shown in the image below:
as you can see from the example above;
you’re better off singling out one specific frequency and then boosting it,
rather than selecting out an entire high frequency range and boosting it.
the last thing you want is an over bearing hi-hat that is out of control because it has the entire range of it’s high frequencies peaking.
Curbing the high range
sometimes you have to tame down the high range frequencies in your hi-hat in order to have it not distort.
in this case you have to single out frequencies and cut them out as necessary, here’s an image of what it will look like:
you basically have to test different frquencies and figure out which one you’ll have to reduce,
the amount of reduction you’ll basically do will be dependent on the harshness of the frequency.
Most of the time a minimal reduction will do the trick.
another way to curb high frequency hi-hats that may be harsh is by using a de-esser,
it can simply get rid of any sibilance and help you retain the natural state of the hi-hat.
Can you use a hi-hat cymbal as a crash?
Yes you can definitely use a Hi-hat cymbal as a crash.
Tt will work just fine, typically Hi-hats consist of small to medium cymbals mounted on a pedal.
Therefore you’ll not get the same loud sharp crash you’d get from a dedicated crash,
but you’ll get something close.
Do clean cymbals sound better?
Clean cymbals will definitely sound better, that’s why you’ll see many drummers cleaning the dirt off them.
The truth is; if you’re looking to improve the sound texture and give cymbals a bright and vibrant sound; cleaning them can help you achieve this.
A dirty cymbal will sound muddy and not as crisp as it should sound therefore a good cleaning is an absolute must.
Where do you put hi-hat rolls?
Hi-hat rolls are so popular in genres like trap music which is a part of hiphop well known for using simple melodies, bass 808’s and hi-hats.
When it comes to Hi-hat rolls there’s no general to follow when placing them,
some songs have them at the beginning of drum kit while others have them mixed within the drum kit coming in at different intervals,
therefore the rule is basically placing them where you feel most comfortable placing them.
Here’s an example of how randomly i use Hi-hat rolls:
Where do open hats go?
Open hats are often utilized in various genres of music,
as with any hihat, how you use them is entirely dependent on what your preference is and what you’re musically trying to achieve,
there are no rules to follow here.
Which is true for most percussive sounds.
The best thing you can do is probably test them out at various intervals and see where they particularly sound good enough for you.
Some genres will have them at the beginning of a drum kit while others will use them at certain intervals within the song to create a melodic groove, therefore the choice is entirely dependent on the user.
In conclusion, hi-hats are the most easiest to apply EQ to because they are not as complicated as other instruments.
Their frequency range varies and the basic techniques to EQ them are:
Simply cutting out any low end muddiness to make them stand out more,
then also taking account of the high range to either boost them or reduce them so they don’t sound too harsh.
There are no specific rules when it comes to mixing, it depends on what you’re trying to achieve,
therefore you always have to remember that the techniques here are simply to shed light and highlight the important things,
you can use them to your own effect in which ever manner you feel is necessary for your particular music.