The quick answer to whether you should high-pass an 808 kick drum comes down to how you want the 808 to fit in the mix in terms of the overall sound being either boomy or tight (i.e less prominent bass).
A generic 808 kick drum will have most of it’s energy anywhere around 50 Hz to 60 Hz, and thus allowing you to filter out anything below 30 Hz to 40 Hz.
Of course, it’s mandatory that you use discretion because a very steep high-pass filter at 40 Hz can ruin your desired sound and worse still if you decide to use a brickwall filter.
Your best bet is probably using a gentle 12 dB or 24 dB/octave high-pass filter rather than a 48 dB/octave filter and upwards, because some EQ plugins can can go up to 96 db/octave.
However, since music is an art form there is no science which says you shouldn’t use steep high-pass filters. If it works for that particular mix then that’s fine. It’s your music after all.
The Benefits of High-Passing an 808 Kick Drum
We have already established the issue of using a high-pass filter on a 808 kick drum. The following is just a simple list of advantages of high-passing 808 kick drums:
- A high-pass filter on a 808 can create more headroom to make the final master of the song even more louder.
- A high-pass filter on a 808 can reduce the amount low end mud and rumble for a cleaner sound.
- A high-pass filter on a 808 can tame the low end such that a limiter or compressor will not recreate to muddy frequencies.
In the event that a high pass filter doesn’t give you the sound you want. You can always try to use a gentle low-shelf filter e.g a 6 dB or a 12 dB/octave low-shelf filter.