How to tweak EZDrummer to get great drums

EZDrummer is for sure one of the most revolutionary VST instrument that have contributed to a smooth songwriting for everyone, even for drummers. In addition, it has been vastly used during these years as a great drum replacement plugin or directly as a drum machine even in professional studios. When I started using it I remeber I was completely blown away from its easy of use but I always wondered how to get those sounds of the pros. I tried lots of solutions and finally I got something.

This is a quick loop I composed with Metal Machine loops, but using the standard kit of EZDrummer:

To get killer sounds you have to do something more than a few tweaks, I noticed that using EQ and compression in the right way you can have great results. Firt of all, I found better to change the Snare with the Singerland, then I set all the toms with the “bigger” ones (14″, 16″ and 18″ for the floor tom), finally I changed the Ride with the 22″ Raw Dry because I liked the way it sounds on the ride bell hits.

Now, routing the components to different tracks using EZDrummer multi-output, I usually apply these FX:

  • Kick: EQ (see image below) + Compression (just 4:1 with fast attack and release)
    Reaper ReaEQ settings I use for EZDrummer Kick
    Reaper ReaEQ settings I use for EZDrummer Kick
  • Snare Top: EQ (see image below) + Compression (2.1:1, slow attack, slow release) + Reaper Saturation plugin
    Reaper ReaEQ settings I use for EZDrummer Snare Top
    Reaper ReaEQ settings I use for EZDrummer Snare Top
  • Snare Bottom: EQ (see image below)
    Reaper ReaEQ settings I use for EZDrummer Snare Bottom
    Reaper ReaEQ settings I use for EZDrummer Snare Bottom
  • HiHat: EQ (low cut @ 305Hz)
  • Toms: EQ (see image below) + Compression (6:1, medium attack, fast release)
    Reaper ReaEQ settings I use for EZDrummer Toms
    Reaper ReaEQ settings I use for EZDrummer Toms
  • Overheads: EQ (see image below)
    Reaper ReaEQ settings I use for EZDrummer Overheads
    Reaper ReaEQ settings I use for EZDrummer Overheads
  • Room: EQ (low cut @ 250Hz) + Parallel Compression

And then:

This is the final loop:

The overall sound has improved, you can hear the enhancement on each single components of the drums. With these tweaks your drumkit will start sitting better in your mix, remember that if you have EQ and Compression you need nothing more to get great sounds. I just used REAPER ReaEQ and ReaComp and few more plugins. Of course, tweaking this way the drumkit make sense just to have a quick enhancement for drums, when it’s time to mix you have to do it with all the other instruments. Tweaking the drums on their own without listening to every instrument it’s not the right way!

Moreover, if you have a good drummer: record real drums! They’re just better 😉

Edit 21/10/2013: As JB aka BenoA suggested me, to make it easier for all of you here you are the link to download my REAPER project template to get these results. I changed the reverb effect and added ReaVerbate instead of Antress ModernSpacer, just to use a stock Reaper plugin, but you can use the one you like! I also deleted the master Limiter from the master channel to let you manage the output as you want, of course, to make it work you have to own a working license of EZDrummer: download EZDrummer Heavy Metal tweak REAPER project template


  1. Santo says:

    What a great idea! I could create a template with preloaded EQ and compression on each channel mapped for the multi-output from EZD! Great point man! I’ll share it for sure in the next days!

  2. Josh says:

    You will want to change your drum sounds for different styles and songs, depending on what else is in the mix. Also, even live drums should be augmented with synth drums. Bands even do this when playing concerts.

  3. Santo says:

    You’re right Josh! This is just a way to enhance EZDrummer standard kit to better sit in a heavy metal song, of course you can always tweak the sound as much as you like for different styles 😉

  4. Fabio says:

    Innanzi tutto complimenti davvero per i tuoi consigli e per averli condivisi!!!
    Ho provato a seguirli su alcuni miei progetti (hard rock/metal amatoriali) e davvero rende bene nel mix… grazie 🙂
    Ti volevo fare una domanda: sfruttando i multi output di EZDrummer, ho visto che utilizzavo 7 out e me ne rimaneva uno libero; così ho pensato di assegnarlo al “Floor tom” separandolo dagli altri due e applicandogli dei parametri di EQ e Compressione leggermenti diversi (praticamente una via di mezzo tra Tom e Kick…). Personalmente mi piace il risultato che esce ma magari non sono obiettivo… tu che ne pensi???

  5. Santo says:

    Ciao Fabio! Grazie per i complimenti 🙂 la tua è un’ottima idea, hai sfruttato al massimo la flessibilità del multi output per gestire separatamente il floor tom, ottimo! Continua a sperimentare ogni volta che pensi di poter migliorare il tuo mix 😉

  6. Antti says:

    Thank you for sharing the settings! They sound awesome on every recording that I make! Greetings from Finland! -Andy

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