Turn them down.

Trust me they’re way too loud.

Also turn down the crashes or cymbals. They’re way too loud as well.

It doesn’t matter what genre you’re in whether it be rock, dance or rap, most of the songs I receive to master have hi hats that are way too high. Why is this?

My theory is that inadequate monitoring systems are too blame as they cause the mixer to focus too much on the lows and mids. As a result of this emphasis on the lower spectrum, they overcompensate the top end by cranking up the hi hats.

The thing is when your song gets mastered the high frequencies will get pumped up quite a bit bringing along with them all the high frequency information (i.e. the hi hats and cymbals). If your hi hats have been mixed too high, when your song is mastered they’re going to shrill and your mastering engineer will likely tell you to turn them down (I know I would).

Amateur mixes always seem to focus too much on the bottom and top end, thinking that’s how they can get that “pro sound”. The thing you want to create is a “nice even sound” as when your song gets mastered the low and top end will become much louder and much more defined than before.

If you absolutely must have a volume level for your hi hats, I would suggest -20 db. But this can vary depending on the artistic effect you’re going for as well as how high the average peak volume of your song is going to be.

For example, if your songs peak volume is -3 db than making sure your hi hats hit the meter at about -20 db or less is quite reasonable.

Another mixing tip is: be very picky when it comes to what hi hats you select as when the song is mastered and the top end is brought up, the sound of your hi hat becomes quite apparent. So if you picked a not so good sounding hi hat, you’ll know immediately.



Andre is the head audio engineer at ADG Mastering, which he helped found in 2012. For the last 10 years, he has made it his mission to empower aspiring artists and musicians from around the world. You can see more of Andre's writings on our Blog.


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