Drum Replacement The dirty little secret

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by audiokid, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Damn, its spreading so what the hell. :whistle: There is more to it but who's paying attention anyway ;)

    HALT! Saying you can tell the difference only means it was either done poorly or meant to sound different. Anyone with extensive experience in this, knows sound replacement can go undetected, and this includes convincing the best drummers, bassist etc from knowing or caring. And the public, could care less.

    If the performance is kept, but the sound doesn't work (similar to a guitar effect), we could take all day to find a sound that fits. Maybe invest another $100, $200, $500,000 in acoustic treatment, gear and building, or say "^#$% it, lets use that sound" and get this happening!

    Is this process cheating?
    Would it be better if we all had the same building, same equipment to make music? Maybe we could create a colony of recordist who refuse to use electronics and call it Modern Classical, we don't use any electronics and you cannot record us.

    Is this technology any different than switching a guitar effect, using emulation software, re-amping, replacing or triggering? How is any of this any more right or wrong than switching out a mic, pre, effect etc. I mean, don't those have an impact on the wave too?
    Or, using a reverb effect vs traveling with the whole band to the Amsterdam Hall just to get that "real" take..:rolleyes:
    Is recording a staircase or standing out in a valley and recording the hillside making you smarter over using an effect to insert into a song that is simply about county life? Aren't we all just creating a musical story and using the tools that get the job done for us? Does my analog rig make me more worthy over someone that is able to use emulation in a DAW?

    Where do you draw the line?

    View: http://youtu.be/4G0KGb8rpt0
     
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Decent article, it comes off a bit like he's shilling for Slate at the end - but not too bad. It's a fairly balanced walk up to that point.

    It's loaded with interesting side-links, I laughed out loud at what has GOT to be a typo in this one on How Record Contracts Work. Ironically it was in the 3rd paragraph, whose subject sentence is, "The first thing to keep in mind is reasonable expectations for the sale of an album." Then immediately after warning me to keep my expectations in check, I come to find out, I "have about a 1-in-20 chance of producing an album that is a major hit." I like those odds. I am due !!

    I've done small projects for friends when there was no drummer available - and although I'm no drummer, and I don't own a standalone drum-machine, I contributed the drums to the track by using replacement software (using homegrown samples of a great sounding kit from another project recorded at a regional studio). I haven't spent nearly enough time behind a drum set to develop the large motor skills required (you know, flailing like you've been thrown out of plane with no chute), but I play the desk as well as anyone. A drumstick on a phonebook provides a satisfying snap that makes a nice triggering impulse with enough variation to assign different samples to the variations in amplitude. The last time I did this (which was a long time ago) I skipped the drumstick and just had an SM58 in each hand, and tapped the windscreens of one for kick and the other for snare. It got the job done. Sonically, good samples - performance wise much better than triggering everything from a MIDI keyboard, or pushing buttons on a drum machine would have been with my skill set.

    As far as using drum replacement software, I don't mind it in moderation. If at all possible, I'd prefer to use the replacement tracks to augment the real kit rather than completely replace it. I would prefer it 'go undetected', as you say, - same as pitch correction. If you're deliberately going to create some crazy new sound I've never heard before, I don't mind that either. Doing it for the sake of fake-perfection, or some homogenous sound because it's easier doesn't appeal to me any more than having Lars of Metallica drumming behind Aretha. It's a tool.
     
    bigtree likes this.
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Well, I am a drummer. Long before I was a guitar player, bass player, keyboard player and vocalist, I was a drummer first.

    And while I love the sound of my Yamaha's miked up in a nice room, there are times when it's just not feasible, and ...there are times when the sound I am after isn't in my kit.

    There's nothing wrong with replacement, re-amping, triggering, etc. It's all song-dependent anyway, and what works for one song doesn't necessarily work for another.

    There will always be elitists - those "purists" - who negate anything done that is artificial in any way. You can still occasionally run into people who bitch about the use of synthesizers and samplers. Let them. I don't care. I can't afford to bring in the Cleveland Symphony every time I decide to add a string arrangement to a song.

    It's all about the sonic pallet. Use what you think sounds best, don't make excuses, or feel the need to justify your choices.

    Chris uses his Bricasti - as opposed to driving the whole project to Cleveland to track a backing vocals chorus take in Severance Hall. Would it be nice to do so? Sure. But that's an indulgence...it's not being realistic.
    Just because he chooses an emulation of a great sounding room, does not mean that doing so will result in a less-than-useable effect. Is it exactly the same as the real organic reverb that one would get by recording in a space like St. Paul's Cathedral? Maybe, maybe not, .. but that doesn't make his choice a bad choice, either. It doesn't mean the art will ultimately suffer for it.

    Delay isn't really organic, at least not in the way it's been used on thousands of popular recordings over the years... can you name me one real location that would provide the type of echo/delay that is used on Pink Floyd's Us and Them? In that scenario, there isn't a location anywhere on earth that they could have used that would have given them the effect that they were after... no real place that could have given them the full 1 second delay/echo that repeats and decays the 6 times it does in that song. Yet, I've never heard anyone complain about that echo/delay in that song just because it wasn't "real", because it sounded great for that song.

    And that's where I sum things up: As long as the end result sounds good, that's really all that matters.

    IMHO of course. ;)

    d/
     
    bigtree likes this.
  4. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    This is a good thread. I contributed all of the drums without ever lifting a stick on the first album that I produced/engineered and no one from "the public" has ever noticed.

    It seems silly to me to replace a poorly recorded kit played by a real drummer by sitting behind a desk all day and clicking on a midi track. Or the double SM58 trick used by dvdhawk. If a drummer isn't really good and doesn't provide the budget to record an acoustic kit really well, I straight up tell him that he's not good enough, rich enough, or experienced enough to track real drums, and I provide a top of the line Roland electronic kit for him to play on. That way I avoid the whole issue of overhauling a disaster.

    I think this is a fair statement, but I'm not sure the author of the article would agree with you on this one, and I don't think someone like Steven Slate would admit to not being able to tell at least 95% of the time.

    I would say that you draw the line only where technology doesn't (yet) allow for a sound that is in some way superior to the "authentic" acoustic sound of the instrument. As long as the technology is improving the sound in some way, use it, either for effect, or when the technology allows, enhanced replacement.
     
    Space likes this.
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I would use this technology even with the best drummers because its not always a question if the drumming (er) is poor, its about sound. You use replacement technology to win or augment.
    I would (without question) replace drums for almost all Pop music today, that is, if I was looking for a pop kit. And it would still have to be performed and tracked (for triggering) very well. But I use Sequoia and it works great for that. So I know it works.
    I think where resistors of technology fall short, your experiences are most likely not good.
    We use amps and distortion effects for guitars but somehow, when it comes to drums, they should remain untouched. But we use a comp, reverb, gates , blends. Its weird how there is some sacred code recordist die by. You'll go to endless length to try, but never get there to get a kick to kick when you could simply trigger it and call it a day.
    If you want to win in this business, not always but more often than not something somewhere in the mix can benefit from this technology.

    imho, saying no to this technology would be as ridiculous as:
    I should use my classical guitar for a ZZ Top track because its real. We all know an electric into an amp with some fuzz is the better sound for the task.

    There are thousands of drum tracks recordist think are first generation, replaced. This goes back to even Steely Dan Albums if I recall.

    Using sampled sub kicks and synth are a great example of augmenting what you already have. I will often trigger a sub with the original. Same with a snare. I will often keep the Overheads and replace the rest. Or just leave it because it sound just perfect the way it is.
     
  6. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    it only matters what the band thinks. if they say ok, then ok. if they threaten to kill you, then not such a good idea.

    it becomes wrong to use when you dont have the conversation at all. whose record is this anyway?
     
  7. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    To clarify, I mention the mic tapping method only to show you just need a good impulse waveform to do the sound replacement. On the project in question, I wasn't sound replacing a terrible drummer with a terrible sounding kit. Out of necessity, I had to BE the drummer and needed a quick way to get drums in the song that were more expressive than I feel I could have done with a drum machine, or MIDI keyboard, or even Roland kit, as the input device.

    As a guitar and keyboard player, I've never developed the large muscle, gross motor skills, or endurance it takes to sit down and play the drums well enough to track anything rock solid. I have the basic skill set, but like anything else it would take years of practice to get good at it. But like a lot of non-drummers, I have more than enough fine motor skills to drum out a very solid / very intricate beat on the kitchen table and annoy the mrs.
     
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    This thread and technology isn't about deceit or fooling someone, its about restoration technology and how its been used for decades, one way or another. :cool: Definitely a secret weapon to those who know how good it really can be.
    If you didn't know about it, now you do. Very cool indeed.
    Samplitude does it really well. Melodyne and Samplitude together is even more amazing. But it does take some thinking and a good PC to handle the processing.
     
  9. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    Drum replacement is it's own art now.. There's no metal these days not made without samples. There's alot of sounds that are just not possible without some kind of drum replacement.

    When most of the daws have the feature built in it's part of the norm. If you can't tell that's when you know someone is good at it..

    There is a ZZ top greatest hits album that they replaced all the drums on older tracks like Tush and Le Grange with Alesis d4 samples from the late 80's early ninetys.. They did it physically though. Sounded great.

    If you want to be a true purest 1 or 2 mics 1 room and go... Anything more than that is just progress...
     
    bigtree likes this.
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i've had a D4 for years. one of my friends was archiving stage tapes from a band we were in years ago, 60's / 70's ... a variety of formats 1/4" r/t/r cassettes a few multi tracks. a lot of these tapes were very undefined, recorded off the pa or from a mic in the audience. i loaded them into the DAW and among other tricks to improve the audio i eqed them so the snare spiked and then fed that into the D4 a recorded the sample snare back int the daw. same for the kick too.

    it really helped the sound and my buddy was absolutely amazed with what i did. he told me later he realized i was a "genius" when he saw me do that (drum replacment) ha ha. i told him it was a very common thing to do. no big deal.

    so i am not saying there isn't a place for this kind of thing. everything is a tool if it is used correctly. i just object when tools are abused or used to replace talent.
     
    bigtree likes this.
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm a drummer first, guys...before any other instrument I play, I'm a drummer first...and as one who plays and records real drums often, I can tell you that I loved the D4. I'm not one of those "purists" who insists that drums should always be real. Quite to the contrary, I find absolutely nothing wrong with drum sound replacement. And while it's totally song dependent, I really like having the option to replace or add sampled sounds if the song calls for it.

    As far as the D4, I loved it for it's ability to accept audio triggers through standard 1/4" inputs, and not through some "proprietary" format that was for Alesis drum pads only.

    I used the D4 many, many times to replace real kick and snare sounds...and not always because the original tracks were necessarily bad, but just to have the option of using alternate sounds, if they were called for.

    With the right gate settings on a given track, and tweaking the internal settings of the D4 (sensitivity, Xtalk, etc., ) it was a fairly quick and painless process. I never really used it for cymbals or toms much... finding most of those samples to sound a bit too processed at their sample sources, but it sure was cool to be able to replace kick and snare sounds, or sometimes, even to simply add these underneath the original tracks, to add solidity and presence.

    I'm pretty sure I still have my D4, although I'm not sure it works anymore - if memory serves, I think the reason it ended up in storage was that it finally crapped out on me, I think the LCD display went dark on me and I couldn't tweak the parameters without being able to see which ones I was tweaking - LOL... but I sure got a lot of use out of it when I had it. :)

    FWIW

    d/
     
  12. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    Back in the day recording drums I only had 3 Sm58's,... so I did a set of overheads kick and triggers on the toms and kick and snare into a D4.. I used to use it live alot on the kick as well.. Worked well for smaller p.a.'s that had trouble with clean low mid eq and good lows..

    The end result was pretty good... Ohs and kick gave the vibe and the D4 samples gave the tone..
     
  13. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I still have a D4 :) Now a day, it's in my live rig and I use it as a click generator when needed.

    Before drum replacement existed, I was once ask to replay an entire album because the band's drummer playing and sound was really bad. It was a great challenge because I needed to play it tighter than him but was still forced to follow the band which was not recorded with a click.. Funny thing I'm sure he was aware that he was not playing on that album but he kept bragging about his good playing on it.. LOL

    Every accoustic drums have a very unique sound. You can change the heads, the tunning and mics, the sound will change to a certain point.
    I still prefer a good sounding real drum in a nice room. Sometime, I can even compromise on the sound I (or the customer) wanted because even if it wasn't what we were looking for, if the drum sound is very good we will keep it like that. Organic music sometime decide by itself how it's gonna sound, you need to choose your battles ;)

    But when a young punk drummer arrives to the studio with a 200$ CB drum, I just pray that the band knows what a good drum is suppose to sound like and they'll let me do some magic with drum replacement. Having the drummer play on an electric drum is the ideal because replacing cymbals can be a pain (if they don't sound right). I try to avoid writing the midi track by hand because it is time consumming especially if you want it to feel real. I prefer replacement or trigering.

    So yeah, I had to put my drummer's ego to the side numerous times, the end results is what matters.
     
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    That's why God invented the Akai MPC's ;)
     
  15. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Ahhh, drum replacement. Something I'm getting into because I don't have a proper treated environment, but have a great drummer.

    From a budget/newbie POV, I say this. I'm all for making the song (hence the kit) sound it's best, as long as you don't lie and claim to have "engineered" or "recorded" those drums like that. REPresent, don't MISrepresent.
     

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