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Hey: First Post (Help Wanted!)

Discussion in 'Recording' started by JCBdrums, Jul 18, 2009.

  1. JCBdrums

    JCBdrums Guest

    Hello members of recording.org!

    This is my first post here. I've checked around here before looking for answers and some insight to recording. I've tried my best to apply it to my home recordings, but I can never get a really good, clear sound.

    I'm 15, and I've been drumming for about 5-5.6 years collectively now. For close to the past 2 years, I've been posting videos on Youtube of my drumming. In those videos, I am using a recorded set-up on my drums. Lately, though, I've been trying to get as good of a sound that I can get with my equipment (Equipment found here). With my lack of knowledge in using a mixing board, I would like to ask any of you professionals out there to help me out to get my drums sounding better.

    Drum Mix

    My board is currently on the settings (slightly tweaked volume wise) heard in the drum mix. Any help, suggestions, or insight is greatly appreciated!

  2. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    you might get more help if you used a music website that doesn't require people to download your MP3 file....some people won't bother doing the download because they don't really want your file on their computer and others won't download the file for virus fears....GarageBand, Soundclick, MySpace are all free and provide a built in MP3 player...just a thought...
    Nice drum setup....
  3. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I've never mic'd a drum set before so I can't help you there, but I have mixed drums before. For a beginner to mixing, all you need to know post-production is that you need to add some high frequencies to the drum sounds or it will sound boxy and weak.

    Right now your kick drum sounds like fuh fuh fuh fuh, but I bet you want it to sound like DUN DUN DUN DUN. So try notch EQing it up in the 3-4kHz range. Do the same with the snare but a bit higher, maybe 5-6kHz. Now for your cymbal track, try a boost around 10-12kHz. Don't boost any specific track too much, a notch boost of 2-3dB should be plenty. Try that and re-upload the track! :cool:
  4. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Actually I take that back, I did track drums for my friend's band once. We used a Beta 57 on kick, an SCD on snare and an SDC in between the toms. Not the best choices, but it was all we had at the time. The mix was fine and we got plenty of cymbal bleed even without a dedicated cymbal mic setup.

    To achieve a good stereo spread however, it is best to use an XY setup in conjunction with the close mic'd drums. An XY setup is achieved by using two mics usually suspended from the ceiling or on tall stands pointing down at the set at 45° angles. The mics are crossed so that the right mic picks up the left side of the kit and the left mic picks up the right side of the kit.
  5. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member


    First, not bad work for such a young player. You'll get there.

    Now, for the ugly realities. :)

    I don't think it's gonna help to critique your playing, or your style, so I'll just comment it this way. Your playing isn't what your asking about. You're asking about your tracking and mixing technique. There are HUGE differences between playing solo and playing with a band/ensemble. So, take this with the understanding that I'm placing your "sound" in context of fitting in an actual ensemble, and not just playing against tracks.

    The kick is a bit wimpish and kinda' spongy in the middle. That's an EQ thing. Try carving a narrow Q out of the middle... say around 450-500Hz. Don't gut it, just try pulling a bit of it out.

    The kick is also missing some click. There's a couple of ways to put some bite in it. The easiest/surest way is to take about a 3" piece of duct tape and put it where the beaters strikes the head. Then use hard beaters. Get away from the felt.

    If you're already using the hard beaters (guessing not from the pics in your gallery), then your kick mic is just plain wonk and you'll need to take some more aggressive steps to get that click. Take two quarters, or two slugs from an electrical box, and tape them to exactly where the beaters strike the head. Do this for both beaters. I would put a piece of duct tape on the head first, then tape the quarters to that duct tape. Again, you want the quarters touching each other, so that when the beater strikes, they will be metal to metal.

    Snare's a tad too ringy for my taste... but JUST. Take a flag of duct tape to the underside... maybe a 3/4" flag, but no more than an inch. Place the flag no more than 2" from the edge, and place it between any two lugs. You can EQ a bit of the ring out, but when you do that, you're gonna carve out some of the edge that Pork Pie's are really good about delivering.

    You're OH's are ok, but you're evidently doing what I call a live EQ... which is to chop the hell out of the bottom and mids and just making them cymbal mic's.

    OH's are your friend. Even though your room is not optimal, you should start to understand that OH's can actually provide as much as 100% of your kit sound. You can "generally" do some cuts at 400Hz and about 3kHz... again, this is a generality and just a potential starting point. But cuts of about 6db are not uncommon to start with. You may need more, you may need less. But start there and see what you get.

    Also, you need not be afraid of panning. The kit sounds extremely flat and one dimensional.

    Force yourself to start with extreme panning and then narrow it down to a realistic environment.

    Crank those OH's hard left and right.

    Put each kick at about 3 and 9 o'clock. Get some separation in them.

    Each tom should be at least two "ticks" away from each other. By "ticks", I mean the little lines around the pan knob. Start with the high tom at about 4 o'clock and swing around the kit to the floor tom at about 8 o'clock.

    This will put your kit in a Left to Right orientation as it is viewed from an audience perspective. This is probably the most common panning scheme. It's not a hard and fast rule, just one of the more excepted practices.

    Once you try the extreme panning, you'll likely say to yourself that this is insane sounding. Yes it is. But start pulling the kit inward a little bit at a time until it starts to sound realistic.

    It's a somewhat slow process if you do it right. All the tracks will interact with each other, and it may mean taking some things further inward to the center and pushing some things further out. Each kit and room combination are unique.

    Otherwise, things aren't all that bad sounding. I'd like to actually hear some of your experiments, so I'll try to keep an eye on this thread.

    A couple of tricks are to duplicate the kick tracks and squeeze the bejebus out of em and get em' pumping like a hooker chasing a $100 dollar bill. Then bus those to a subgroup. Squash the snare like a steam roller on a plastic bottle and send it to the same subgroup. Take the OH's and chop off the high freq's and send them to the same subgroup. Blend this subgroup just under the rest of the kit. Makes the kit really thunder along like a freight train. Just watch your latency to make sure that they time align correctly.

    Lookin' forward to hearing some new mixes.
  6. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Great post Max. When you mention the extreme compression on the kick and snare just how extreme are we talking? When I get my stuff to pump it's usually around -10dB, or do you mean even more extreme than that?
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Depends on whether the hooker actually catches the $100 bill......
  8. JCBdrums

    JCBdrums Guest

    Hey everyone, thanks for the replies!

    I haven't started changing the mix yet (too early for me :D), but I'll start that later. I saw a few things that I might want to add or ask about.

    The room I am recording in is actually not the room that the pictures of the drum set were taken. For recording, we have a 13x10 (or close to that) room with 1 1/4 of the walls covered in Auralex padding, one wall is completely covered by two hanging rugs, and the wood floor has rugs over it. It's a pretty well padded room.

    The bass drums are, in fact, very whimpy the way they are right now. I brought the microphones out from were they were, so only about 3/4 of the bass drum mic is inside the port whole (compared to the mics being around 3 inches inside the port). Also, on each bass drum head I have the Remo Falam patch (to give it more of a click sound and definition), so I don't think the duct tape is necessary.

    On the snare, I have the microphone about 3 inches away from the top head at somewhere like a 15 degree angle. Would it be better to put the end of the SM57 slightly over the side of the rim? And sadly, I don't have enough inputs to put another mic on the bottom side, so the top is all I can work with. I'll work on trying to get the snare to crack nicely without having much ring.

    Thanks again for the replies. I'll go later today and try to get the sound better (including making the kicks less whimpy!). I don't believe I have any way of doing individual track compression, so I'll just work with what's on the board.

  9. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I think 3 inches is a bit too much air for miking a snare, get it closer, more like an inch and a half. Angle it so it points at the halfway point between the center of the snare and the side wall.
  10. JCBdrums

    JCBdrums Guest

    Yeah, I was thinking that it was too far away. I'll try that and see how it goes :)
  11. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Sorry, but I gotta call it like I know it...

    It doesn't matter where exactly the snare mic is (or any other mic for that matter) as there are no hard and fast rules. They just need to be positioned to capture the best tone of the drum.

    When I'm wailin' on a snare, 6" from the rim can be fine... just as 2" over the rim is fine in some instances. You should really position it high enough so that it's at least pointing downward to the center.

    Generally, pointing it anywhere but the center of the snare will get you a lot more ring and overtones. If you want more snap and crack and less ringing, aim for the center and as high as say.... maybe an inch or two above the rim.
  12. JCBdrums

    JCBdrums Guest

    Alright, I'll have to move around the stand the SM57 is on to do that, but it'll hopefully be worth it! Thanks again

  13. JCBdrums

    JCBdrums Guest

    Just did a quick tweaking on the mixer and recorded it. This was the result:

    Extreme Panning Drum Mix

    In this mix, I set the panning levels to what MadMax states earlier (maybe even a little more). The left bass drum is at 9 o'clock, the right is at 3. The toms are descending from highest to lowest somewhere like 6:30, 10, 2, 5:30. The snare is still centered, but I moved the mic so that I could get a little more of an angle, so the SM57 is about an inch above the rim pointed towards the center of the drum. The left cymbals are panned to the left, and the right panned to the right.

    Again, I played around a little with the volume of the mix, unfortunately before I did the panning (so it's not perfectly leveled volume wise). On the first drum mix I posted, I had the overheads centers with the Highs, Mids, and Lows. In this mix, I turned up the highs a little bit, and toned down the mids and lows. On the bass drums, I cut out some of the mids and a little bit of the highs. I actually cut out a little lows because there was a little too much. This recording was also before I put the bass drum mics further inside the port holes and aimed directly at the place of beater impact.

    Again, I appreciate any help anyone can offer :)

  14. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    That sounds like a good starting base tone, the kick still sounds a little weak though. Once you learn to EQ the set and use compression to get the kits heart beating it will sound much better on tape.
  15. JCBdrums

    JCBdrums Guest

    I'd love to find out how to add compression, but I think that I can't since I am only doing a direct input from the mics to the board. I could add compression in a program like "Audacity", but that would affect the entire set, not just the kick or the snare.

    Unfortunately I wasn't able to alter anything after the latest mix because my parents got home. Tomorrow I'll most likely make the panning less all over the place and more together, yet still noticeable.

  16. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    So explain how you are recording? For example: Drum mics>mixer>USB> DAW? Gives us some info on the routing and the specifics on the equipment.
  17. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member


    The young lad's gear is a pretty clean setup... Yamaha MG16/6fx Mixing Console and a BOSS Micro BR Digital Recorder.

    So, in all likelihood; mic-> console 2-bus-> recorder-> export empty3

    Which the result is pretty darn decent for pretty much nakid tracking, IMHO.

    The Boss is really limiting the ability to multi-track and use things like comps, gates and mixing after tracking.

    The good thing is, that it's the right way to learn to record. It's such a straight forward no frills chain, that you have to learn to make decisions going in... the way we had to do it long before the advent of all this digital revolution.

    JCB, I listened to the 2nd mix pass w/panning. MUCH better!

    As I said, a bit too extreme, but do you hear how much more depth the kit has?

    As far as compressor use the way I described it... In addition to the 2-bus, assign the kicks to bus' 1&2, Snare to bus' 3&4, and the OH's to bus' 5&6.

    You can insert 2 stereo compressor's - one channel on each of the first 4 sub groups. Then adjust the compressors and assign the sub groups to the two bus. Insert an external EQ and chop out the highs on subgroup 5/6... send that to the 2-bus.

    In a pinch, if you can only get one compressor, insert that on subgroup 1/2 and send the kicks and snare to that subgroup. You won't be able to get it pumping quite as hard, as the snare will be involved, but you can definitely get that meaty bottom happening.

    Until you can get a comp, keep hammering at it. You're honing in on it! You don't have to have comps on a kit. If you can get a killer sound without one... you're kickin' butt that a lot of guys wish they could do.

    Again, try bringing in the kit width just a bit... but on your next pass, leave the OH's panned hard wide and narrow the kicks and toms.

    If you want to try a fun thing... do another pass and put the kit wide gain, and narrow the OH's.

    Then, describe your results of each pass, and the differences between the two.

    (BTW... welcome to Summer School!)
  18. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I didn't notice his equip. link in the original post, and was trying to figure out why JCB could not compress just the bass or snare track. I assumed then he was using some type of 2 channel or stereo config. into his recording device. I probably shouldn't answer posts over morning coffee but wait till kicks in LOL.
  19. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Good God... you posted before coffee?? You're certainly a better (and braver) man than I!! :)

    Heck, I don't even usually speak until the 2nd cup. Then too, I don't speak nun two good know way. :-?
  20. JCBdrums

    JCBdrums Guest

    Hey all, again, thanks for replying! I'm learning a few things, but also trying to figure out a lot!

    Madmax, when you say to put the kicks, snare, and OH's on different subgroups then inserting stereo compressors, are you talking about a hardware compressor that would make the input go Mic > Compressor > Yamaha board? If that's the case, it can't happen because I don't have the money for that (the money I have is going to go into new bass drum heads!) and neither do my parents. I just have to get a good sound without compression since I can't multi-track.

    Most likely tomorrow I'll be able to work on the drums more and I'll adjust the panning to be more realistic and not spanning everywhere.

    Oh, and the bass drums are currently the hardest because I'm using year old Remo Powersonic batter heads that haven't been properly tuned since November of last year. They will sound much better if I get around to buying brand new Remo Powerstroke 3's :).


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