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  #1  
Old 04-03-2013, 03:25 AM
harmonicmint harmonicmint is offline
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Default Mixing drums

Hi guys and gals,
Just wanted to throw a thread in here to start some discussion regarding mixing techniques. I'm always interested in hearing about other methods that were deamed successful. In this post I would like to invite others to share if you wish successful mixing of drums.

To start off... I will share my go to method. My primary instrument is drums so their sound in recordings has always been very important to me.

I play a Roland TD-9 kit as a midi triggering system to sample any given kit in my Steven Slate Platinum library. I lay the entire kit out onto a single stereo track with the Steven Slate software as an instrument insert. The software enables me to adjust parameters of each drum and cymbal.

I then setup an aux buss with a UAD 1176 limiter with fairly aggressive leveling and route about 30% of the signal to it and leave my output on the actual drum track set to main and the aux bus output set to main.

It gives me a good blend between the drum samples and the squashed send. Of course I can tweak on that all day to make the balance appropriate to the program material. Typically I am looking for a very slammin, lively drum sound as the vast majority of what I mix is rock.

How do you prefer to route your kit through Pro Tools?
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:39 AM
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Chris Lambrechts Chris Lambrechts is offline
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Default Re: Mixing drums

2013 drum tracking eh ?

I come out of the age where you had to have the drummer tune the kit - and you would grab a bunch of mic stands and mics and cables and you would position those round the kit and then in the control room you would check for phase and input levels and silly stuff like that - go figure huh

On a more serious note though - and yes I know some of these drums sample libraries allow for awesome things and I use them as well if the scenario calls for it.

I would still like to split out everything as if it was a real kit recording scenario with multiple mics - thus multiple tracks.
I k ow you can determine things like mic bleed on some ofnthe better sample libraries and you have to keep that in if you want to even come remotely close to micing up the kit yourself.

Just a couple of random thoughts

Chris
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:46 AM
harmonicmint harmonicmint is offline
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Default Re: Mixing drums

Absolutely, I used to record acoustic drums and my last kit was a Pearl Masters Studio but to be totally honest....everything that you just mentioned really threw a wrench in the creative process as tuning a set of drums isn't the same amount of work as throwing a tuner on a guitar. It really is like recording an ensemble. Don't get me wrong, I love acoustic drums and that's one of the reasons I began playing them in the beginning. They are big, loud and pretty. But now I am more interested in the final sound on disk and getting something accomplished when I have time to record. Just trying to start some dialogue. Thanks for speaking up!
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:32 AM
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albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Mixing drums

I used a Roland kit for several years with great results. I used Addictive drums, ezdrummer and SD2. once the midi was all tracked and edited, I would print the drums to separate audio tracks(most drum plugins allow for this routing). Once all the tracks were recorded, I would treat them just as I would an acoustic kit, plus all the "shell" tracks would be sent to a stereo AUX track with a compressor(started with BF76 but moved to the Waves SSL bus compressor). That track would get squashed quite a bit and then mixed in WITH all the tracks feeding the main outs. One thing that bugged me with SD2 and ezdrummer was the amount of snare that was in the overhead tracks. My solution was, once all the audio was printed, I would print the overheads again, but with no snare drum selected on the kit(none is an option). That gave me overheads with no snare for much better mix control(despite how "unnatural" that may seem, it really works well).

BTW, much of the time, this was done with a real hihat, all real cymbals and sometimes a real snare. I love working that way but my biggest client insists on a real kit(he who writes the checks......)
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:25 AM
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EGS EGS is offline
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Default Re: Mixing drums

Quote:
Originally Posted by harmonicmint View Post
...I am looking for a very slammin, lively drum sound as the vast majority of what I mix is rock...
Just an opinion of course, but if/when possible I'd suggest real acoustic drums. Most (not all) drummers feel better about recording with acoustic drums. To reduce phase issues (and after years of experimentation) I use fewer mics rather than more:

kik: AKG D112
snr: Shure SM81
oh: Neumann U87
rack tom: CAD E-100
flr tom: CAD E-100

Yes, that's a single OH mic positioned over knee of drummer's kik leg, not too high up. This single OH mic idea only works if the cymbals are nicely balanced acoustically. The snare mic will have hi-hat bleed; since it's a quality condenser mic, the off-axis-frequency-coloration is not an issue & this hat bleed is useful. Pan to taste, but too much panning can sound un-natural. In PTools, edit between tom hits. When the toms are not played, only the kik/snr/OH mics contribute; it's very powerful and phase coherent (try it). In PTools clone the kik track and drop pitch an octave to create a sub-kik element. Use great drums, new heads, new sticks, and a great room. Carefully tune the set. EQ/compress/limit/efx to taste. There are a million different ways to get drum sounds; it's all personal preference !!!
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  #6  
Old 04-03-2013, 11:41 AM
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jasonthurley jasonthurley is offline
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Default Re: Mixing drums

Quote:
Originally Posted by EGS View Post

kik: AKG D112
This is a horrible kick mic for recording... even live it is quite unimpressive... just my opinion of course.... Try an Audix D6 for under $200.... its night and day when compared to the AKG, although I do like using a PZM inside the kick and a Neumann KM184 for beater/high pass sound mixed together.... Also the Earthworks Drum Kit microphone set I will have to say is extremely impressive for a 3 mic system (although I like to mic toms for more mix control).

Most of the stuff I do at my home studio is simple MIDI triggers and I track them out individually (Kick, Snare, HH, Tom 1, 2, 3, Cymbol L, Cymbol R, Toys) by printing them to audio tracks once I have the midi/VI edited and tuned.... then I may send all to an aux for drum group plug chain and even use a DCA to automate the entire kit while allowing individual tracks to have their own automation going at the same time. Its good for demo's and stuff but I mainly use it to produce/write the track and hope in the future to get a session drummer in to lay down the album version.

Have fun!

Last edited by jasonthurley; 04-03-2013 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Sorry wrong mic model... Not a U87 but a KM184
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:11 PM
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albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Mixing drums

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonthurley View Post
This is a horrible kick mic for recording... even live it is quite unimpressive... just my opinion of course.... Try an Audix D6 for under $200....
Have fun!
Interesting comment. The 112 is considered to be pretty much a "standard" for studio work(and it CAN sound good) but I also am not a fan(running a D6 inside and Beta52 outside). Bleed on the tom tracks is my biggest issue and my solution works extremely well if you have the time. I advance past the ebnd of the song and have the drummer to single hits and flams on the toms. Then I use those and manually paste where the tom hits happen, removing all the audio between hits(if the tom tracks are "busy" I sometimes use those hits in drumagog and let the plugin do the dirty work). In any case, having clean tom hits, with no bleed and full decay, makes a world of difference
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:39 PM
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Default Re: Mixing drums

Quote:
Originally Posted by albee1952 View Post
Interesting comment. The 112 is considered to be pretty much a "standard" for studio work(and it CAN sound good)
I have tried it on many many different recordings and to me its like an sm58... its considered a "standard" but Im not tracking my vocals in a studio using one... Although I have used them on Trumbone, Sax, French horn, and Euphonium....

Everyone has different techniques... one of the most intresting was when Eddie Kramer was explaining how he likes to mic his drums overheads "Infront" of the actual kit as a kit is designed to throw sounds "forward" not straight up.... when you hit a snare or tom the sound reflects from the floor throwing forward (as most drummers angle their kit pieces at least slightly) He also used 3 overheads... one center about 3-4' infront of the kit angled at 45 degrees (aiming at the kit), one on the left and one right all the same distance in front of the kit and all angled down at that 45 degrees.... The results were a very nicely balanced kit sound and it sounded extremely wide... also due to the distance of the OH's the toms didn't bleed nearly as much into the OH....
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:47 PM
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mjslakeridge mjslakeridge is offline
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Default Re: Mixing drums

I too like a simple 5 mic drum booth setup, but for a different reason-I built too small of a booth for the required stands. My overheads are permanently mounted to the ceiling with 12" flexible goosenecks. For years I used AKG C3000 condensers for the overheads with OK results, but a few months ago, while going through my mic closet, I found some Russian-made Octava MC 012-01 condensers I bought 10-15 years ago and had forgot about. Now I am using them for the overheads, and they seem to do a better job of picking up the toms, even though they are probably 30" away. Anyone heard of/used these?
For snare, AKG C 2000 B condenser, with -10db pad. Hats, AKG C 1000 S with the hypercardoid insert. Kick, Sennheiser Evolution e602 Dynamic. I never have been able to track a decent Kick sound, so I now always use sound replacer on the kick. So I initially record to 5 tracks, then duplicate the overheads and remove all except the tom hits, EQ'ing the original OH and new tom tracks differently. Sometimes I replace the toms with previously recorded toms (my drum kit is the only one used in the booth, so unless the tunings on the toms have changed, this works). I do like albee's idea of recording the clean tom hits right after laying down the drums.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:58 PM
harmonicmint harmonicmint is offline
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Default Re: Mixing drums

I'm going to try and address everyone's comments with one reply.

My philosophy about sound and recording has morphed quite a bit over the years which probably makes mine differen than most. (I didn't say evolved or devolved I used the term morphed) I used to be very concerned about authenticity with my sound sources and equipment. That was an easy development coming from the background of a percussion education. I was very much locked into "going through the familiar motions" when performing or recording. I believe it was because that was what I knew and my brain made a connection that equaled go from point a to point b and you will arrive at point c everytime. It wasn't until I started writing my own material and learning additional instruments and trying to develop some vocal talent while trying to be my own engineer all at the same time did I zoom out from the picture and start seeing things as less compartmentalized. My studio is used primarily for my own personal sessions. It's not until a musician in the area hits me up for some session work do I really ever deal with anyone elses preferences about what instruments are being used. I'm lucky in that regard I suppose because I can be as inward looking as I choose with my workflow.
I remember when I used to play an acoustic drum kit... Everything had to be a specific brand name or made out of a certain material. It was as if there was an identity associated with having a deep snare or a shallow snare or playing Paiste signatures versus playing Zildjian Z's. I look back now and realize I had too much time on my hands and had allowed myself to zoom in too closely to the overall scope of things.

When I got deeper into logistics of what it actually means to play every instrument, write every part and oversee every part of every detail from start to finish on a project have I come to realize that for my own personal needs...it doesn't serve me to be a purist. When not being a purist opens up so many other doors.

So does my audio quality suffer from this decision?

I think it depends who you ask... I think it all boils down to whether or not a person is accustomed to hearing an authentic Mesa Boogie rectifier compressed and eq'd a certain way and being played through a guitar with certain type of humbucker. That's what it really boils down to. That's why I don't own any real amplifiers. My rational says, why invest the same amount of money into one physical amp when I can over a dozen amp emulations..that may not be exact...but do they sound great. To my ears they do and they serve my need.

Does the LA-2A emulation sound identical to the hardware LA-2A? Some who have actually used the hardware version says that it does, some don't. Does the emulation still compress the signal? Yes... It serves my needs. So does the Fairchild emulation. Sound exact? I don't know. But it sounds different than the LA-2A and I can find reasons to use them on different types of material.
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Last edited by harmonicmint; 04-03-2013 at 09:38 PM.
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