How to EQ an 808 Drum Machine

How to EQ an 808 Drum Machine

In this article, we will provide you with an explanation of how to EQ 808.

When you are EQing the 808 drum machine, you should pay attention to making the low end tighter and cleaner. Also make sure there are no conflicts between your 808 and any other instruments in the mix.

Aside from EQing, there are several other things to consider, such as choosing between analog and digital drum machines and using effects and tuning sound.

How to EQ 808 drum machine

Before applying EQ to the 808, you should start with the help of a hi-pass filter, cutting all super low notes in other instruments in the mix that might conflict with the low end of the drum machine.

After that, you should get rid of anything that lives under 40 Hz with the help of a low cut filter, afterward, boost somewhere around 40 to 100 Hz to make fundamental frequencies stand out in the mix. Then, it’ll be a good idea to eliminate any resonances or build-ups somewhere around 100-150 Hz.

If your intention is to make 808 sound more aggressive as your genre dictates you so, you can boost somewhere around 200-250 Hz. The range of 250-350 Hz might be boomy and muddy, which requires a cut, or you may need to apply a boost or don’t do anything at all. What your decision will be, depends on your musical idea.

For making the sound more articulate and for making 808 cutting through the mix better, you should consider boosting around 1-2 kHz. As for clarity and presence, if there’s a lack of it, you should use a hi-shelf boost around 5-10 kHz. And cut anything that you consider conflicting high-end frequencies over 10 kHz.


Grab a low-shelf filter to get rid of any rumble that sits below 40 Hz. In some cases, you might consider leaving it be as it’s unnoticeable to our ears. The next step would be to boost somewhere from 40 to 100 Hz, but you have to make sure that you still have plenty of room for your kick drum to shine through or that you won’t make that frequency range too overcrowded.

Additionally, you may find that there is some build-up in the range of 100 to 150 Hz, so you should apply a surgical cut here to avoid any clashes with other instruments in the mix. Be sure to carve out any complementary frequencies in the low-end between kick, 808, and other elements so that everything has its place and has an opportunity to shine through the mix.


If you aim at making 808 sound more aggressive, then the frequency range of 200 to 250 Hz will be the perfect choice for it. So, listen carefully and apply a boost here to add more punch. Though it might not be a good idea in case the track has got a lot of aggressive distortion, then you should leave this frequency range as it is.

If 808 sounds too boomy or muddy, you might consider applying a cut somewhere between 250-350 Hz. In another case, you might find that at the same time that the same range of 250-350 Hz will need a boost, or maybe it would be better not to touch it at all. If you want to add even more punch and make 808 more aggressive, you can apply a gentle boost somewhere around 500-600 Hz.


It might be the case that you would not need to do anything in this frequency range. But, at the same time, you can boost a bell curve with a tight Q for finding out unpleasant frequencies and harsh resonances. If you find any of those, you should apply gentle cuts to achieve a more pleasant sound. Also, if your intention is to make the sound more articulate so 808 will cut through the mix better, you might want to apply a gentle boost around 1-2 kHz.


This is the area where all types of percussion instruments live. If your mix doesn’t have enough clarity and presence, you should apply a high-shelf boost somewhere around 5-10 kHz. At the same time, there might be a lot of conflicting high-end frequencies that you do not actually need in your track. If that is the case, you might want to apply a cut with the help of a low pass filter anywhere over 10 kHz. Performing all of these actions will guarantee that your mix will sound punchier and louder.

What you need to know about 808

Before applying the EQ, you should be familiar with what makes 808 so special and why those drum machines remain so popular these days. Whether to choose an analog or a digital drum machine is solely a matter of personal preferences. If you like to do things manually, most likely you’ll hunt for an analog unit, whereas VST fans will spend their time browsing and looking for their ideal plugin.

What is an 808 drum machine?

808 drum machine, or as it’s mostly known as Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer, is a drum machine that was made by the Roland Corporation somewhere between 1980 and 1983. When engaging with it, users could program rhythms rather than using preset patterns. Also, 808 creates sounds using analog synthesis, which is a process that uses electrical currents to generate sounds.

Why are 808 drum machines so popular?

Basically, the biggest appeal of 808 drum machines is their ability to allow you to use your ingenuity to create and program unique beats. Another reason why 808 drum machines are popular is that it’s a really great choice for some rule-breaking if we talk about pop music. If you listen attentively to “Planet Rock”, you will notice that it has got a lot of very punchy, powerful sounds that were made with the help of 808.

Another really cool thing about 808 is that it’s infinitely adaptable as it produces tons of sounds that can be used in various ways. Initially, 808 was used as a source of percussion, and later it was discovered that it could be used to create bass lines.

Live drummers got quickly bored playing the same thing over and over again and were more eager to show their value playing other things, but 808 would never get boring playing the same sound. That fact was another advantage of using it in the tracks, as well as the fact that it stimulated hip-hop artists to master the art of loops and helped house and techno producers to create almost never-ending tracks.

Finally, 808 helped to unite some genres and break walls between others. It was more and more common that an R&B singer would implement the sounds of 808 in their track. Some rappers also had to change the way they rap, as it wouldn’t go with the uptempo tracks.

Analog vs digital

Analog drum machines produce sounds using analog synthesis. User controls are a bit limited to main functions such as tuning, decay, and level. Analog machines are more attractive for music producers who like a natural warm tone and to tweak things using their hands a lot and value the real feel.

Analog drum machines aren’t very budget-friendly, so digital drum machines, which are more budget friendly, are based on analog modeling and offer control of the analog machine with digital clarity. Also, it is possible to find a hybrid drum machine that combines analog and digital sounds.

Also, there is an option of picking a VST drum machine that is even more budget-friendly, and it’s a wide variety to choose from in terms of good-sounding plugins, which guarantee that you find something to go along with your budget and needs.

Using effects and tuning sound

All drum machines have settings that help to shape and change the characteristics of the sound. That being said, you can try tuning them with the help of controlling the pitch. Also, you can use outer effects such as sequencers, gain, filters, oscillators, delay, decay, and reverse to create new interesting sounds from any sample possible.

In terms of using effects, it all depends on whether you have some limits to your creativity flow and how far you can go to achieve a new sound.