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First time editing real drums

Discussion in 'Drums' started by ClarkJaman, Sep 16, 2013.

  1. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    Hey guys. I have always used EZdrummer, but for the first time I am working on a song with real acoustic drums that were recorded in a professional studio. I have a couple questions for you guys who have done this a few times:

    -Two matching condenser mics recorded the room sound from about 25 feet in front of the drum kit. Everything is in phase, but the room mics are delayed a little bit since the sound takes a moment to travel from the drums to the room mics. Do you guys ever bump the room and overheads up a few milliseconds to make them sound more synchronized? I have been experimenting, and I found that if I bump the overheads up -10ms and the rooms -30ms it makes the kit sound tighter, but not quite as fat and full. Is this something people actually do? You could delay the room mics by a few milliseconds to get a fatter sounding kit.

    -Also, what tracks do you guys use gating on? I've been experimenting with gating the kick and snare, but it's hard to avoid ruining the attack. Maybe I should get into the world of triggering, but I don't know where to start.

    These are things I never had to deal with using MIDI drum samples, and need some direction on.
  2. pcrecord

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

    It all depends on the sound your looking for. What is the style of the song ?

    For computer mixing, I'd have no shame to at least align the room to the overhead (-20ms according to what your saying) But it's only if I want to use the room mics at high level.
    I often use hard compression on the room mic(s) and bring it up slowly in the mix just so I barely here it. for pop music that's my way to go. But for jazz or classic blues. I'd put the overhead and room first and then bring the closed mic at low levels..

    As for the gates, vst gates often have a look a head feature that can help you save the attack. But nobody said you must use a gate. If the drum sound full and open and you don't have weird overtones, don't use any gate.

    The art of mixing is to fix problems. If there isn't any, don't do anything.
  3. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    Thanks pcrecord. That's basically what I was thinking too.

    The awkward thing is that the drums really don't fit the song. The verses and choruses are very ambient, with a different synthesizer percussion loops etc. Then the acoustic drums come in on the bridge and final chorus, which is the big rock out part of the song. If I didn't already have the acoustic drums recorded and edited, I probably wouldn't want them there. And I might still scrap them and record sample drums. I'm still going to try and make the drums fit, and if in the end it doesn't work, it will at least be good practice, since it will take a lot of massaging and different methods.
  4. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    Nope, that's kind of the idea. The room signal is supposed to be delayed to capture the ambiance. Nudging them any which way is a can of worms, imo. The trick is to place them so that they capture the desired ratio of direct/ambient sound. Saying that, if you're getting too much direct sound which is causing you phase problems (usually due to being too close to the kit) you could try delaying them by a few milliseconds but I would wager it will give you mixed and mediocre results and smear the transients. My advice would be to leave them alone, mix them in subtly or omit them altogether and simulate a room sound with an impulse reverb.

    Generally I don't do anything to the room mics in the time domain. I will usually compress the hell out of them with a squishy, distorty compressor and EQ them to taste, though. The SSL LMC-1 works wonders for this (it's free). Not to say nudging them either way can't help, it's just pot luck.

    The gating thing varies among engineers. Some prefer to gate everything because they claim it makes the drum tighter while keeping bleed under control. The only problem to this that I see is that if you've got a fair amount of cymbal bleed in your close mics, the cymbals will jump up in volume every time the gate opens. If you're going to use a gate, use one with an adjustable range or floor. It will help keep the bleed under control and will sound more natural.

    Me, personally? I hardly ever gate anything on drums. I have always found that the ambient sound from the toms enhances the overall sound of the kit. I like to keep them open. If you get your mic positions right and use their polar patterns to reject what you don't want, gating is often not necessary and you get the bonus of the peripheral bleed enhancing the space of the kit, particularly if you pan the toms. If I'm going to gate toms I'll use a dual-band gate, which lets you tailor the attack and release of the low and high bands independently. But like I said, this hardly ever happens in my world.

    The drums is a complex instrument to record correctly, largely because of a multitude of mics and inherent phase issues. The polarity switch is your friend here. It can remedy a lot of the phase issues that many novice recordists battle with. If there ever was a silver bullet, the polarity switch is it and I use it religiously. We're always told to reverse the polarity of the under-snare mic, right? Well, that may work in the context of the snare on it's own but what if the snare is out of phase with the overheads? Yup, flip the phase on the top head instead. Another example. Nine times out of ten if you've recorded X/Y overheads behind the drummer you'll have to reverse their polarity. You'll be so surprised how fat the snare and the rest of kit all of a sudden becomes.

    So my advice? In this order:

    1. Get a good sounding kit with new heads tuned properly
    2. Get a drummer who can actually play well
    3. Choose the right mics.
    4. Place the mics in such a way (using their polar patterns) to reject bleed and capture what you want.
    5. Pay attention to phase.
    6. Once they are recorded, experiment with different combinations of polarity reversal.
    7. Apply whatever processing you desire, provided it fits the material.

    There's more but you'll have to learn as you go.

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers :)
  5. DSPDiva

    DSPDiva Active Member

    It's up to you. I personally don't change the timing on the room mics. If you use that technique and you like how it sounds, do it. Don't be afraid to do it just because it's not the "normal" thing an engineer would do. Trust me, mixing "rules" are broken every day and with great results. Even the pros do weird things that would be considered unconventional.

    As far as the gating, sometimes when I gate I have that problem too. If gating it is going to mess with your attack or give your transients a weird sound, just skip it or leave the threshold higher up.

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