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How do you guys track your drums?

Discussion in 'Drums' started by Mike Miller, May 23, 2011.

  1. Mike Miller

    Mike Miller Active Member

    Hey everyone quick question. How do you normally track your drums in your DAW? I've been trying to figure out how to record drums for some time now. I've gotten the mic placement side down just need to figure out how to track it in my DAW. I normally use a Sure SM57 on the snare, an Audix D6 on kick, 3 Sennheiser E604's on toms, and two Sterling Audio's for overheads. So 7 mics in all.
  2. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    What are you asking? Please be more specific.
  3. Mike Miller

    Mike Miller Active Member

    Sorry, I typed that on my HTC phone. I just noticed it diden't make sense. I'm a bit confused on how you actually record drums are they all done on one track of the daw, or split into different tracks? Basically what im asking what is the process do they only play it once on one track of the daw or multiple recordings for diffrent tracks ie snare etc.
  4. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    Here is a tutorial I wrote for a magazine about this exact thing:

    http://gregbester.xp3.biz/Recording and Mixing Drums in the Modern DAW.pdf

    The simple answer to your question above, however, would be to record each mic to a separate channel, all taken at once, which is called a TAKE.

    You seem quite confused on this issue, though, so maybe check out some online tutorials on Youtube about this.

    Cheers :)
  5. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mo's article is some good advice, for sure... and there's the adage that there is only one rule - that there are no "rules".

    I generally multi-track a kit. But I mic the kit pretty much for the style of music I'm recording.

    To that end, if I'm recording straight ahead jazz, I generally track the kit with minimal mic's - Kik, Sn, single OH and a room. If I'm tracking a driving rock/metal song, I've tracked some pretty major track counts - Kik in, kick out, snare top, snare bottom, Hat, Rack 1 Top, Rack 1 Bottom, Rack 2 Top, Rack 2 Bottom, Floor Top, Floor Bottom, Front of Kit, OH-L, OH-R, Rm-L, Rm-R - for a total of 16 tracks, just for the drum kit. To wit, there's a lot of tracking I've done more of a traditional 8 track count; Kik, Snare, R1, R2, Fl, OH-L, OH-R, Mono Rm.

    IMHO, much of your tracking choice(s) should/will be be based upon;
    1-The style of music
    2-The room/environment
    3-Mic choices you have
    4-Creative freedom
    5-Gear limitations

    The great freedom you have of putting everything on individual tracks can also be a great burden... it's typically a lot more work to have more tracks. Committing to a lower track count by mixing to fewer track counts can actually be liberating, as lots of decisions are made on the front end.

    While I listed gear limitations as number 5, if you only have 2 tracks available because you only have two tracks, you obviously need to either get darn good at getting a 2 mic setup, or you need to send everything to a mixer, and pre-mix your kit to a 2-bus, and send that to your DAW/recording device.

    Am I making sense here?

  6. Mike Miller

    Mike Miller Active Member

    Thanks for the information guys it's allowed me to understand the process a little more! It's pretty sad that I've been working on my studio for a few years now getting it into its final stages and not really knowing how to record drums. Its kinda embarrassing lol. So basically, for sound it all depends on the mics used/placement, the room as well as the drummer. And in the daw I set up different tracks one for each mic then have the drummer do one take? Correct?
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yes. But only if the drummer is capable of getting it all in one take.......

    Watch the levels carefully. Digital overs suck really bad and fixing them can be a hassle. Have the drummer play his part as it will go down before you commit. Part of the problem can be, when setting the mic levels, the excitement of the take isnt in place and you get spikes in parts you didnt see when you were tapping out the tests for each mic.

    Then there is the aspect of drum replacement. A lot of drum tracks are completely replaced and the initial recording with the live drums is only for feel and for a steady signal to each channel. A click track is always a great idea whether you are keeping what you record or intend to use replacement software later.
  8. Mike Miller

    Mike Miller Active Member

    Ok, basically if the drummer cant get it all in one take I should split the song where theres brakes? And how do you guys normally set levels on your mics? Set them until they clip then roll off 10 degrees?
  9. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Unless it's pretty complicated prog-rock/fusion jazz, if a drummer can't get through one complete take, I'd suggest that they save their money and go learn the song, and come back later. It'll save the artist tons of money and the AE lots of sanity.

    That is, assuming that they aren't writing the music on the spot... in which case, yes, you punch in at the stops.

    As far as levels... It really does depend on what you're comfortable with. I hate generalities, but I generally don't like to see yellow, and never want to see red. Anything less than yellow is fine, unless it's just too little of signal to process.
  10. MrMojoRison

    MrMojoRison Active Member

    In my Daw each mic has its own track. Record them all at once. use a click track. The hardest part is monitoring. The better you know your drummer and the more your listen to them play the more you can anticipate spikes in the level. I make my drummer play the song until he can get it one take front to back. Sometimes it takes a while but for me thats the best way and sounds most natural. Im usually running 7 to 8 mics but want to start experimenting with only a few mics on the kit and more rooms mics to catch the natural reverb.
  11. Mike Miller

    Mike Miller Active Member

    Thanks a ton everyone I've really got a general idea on how to track and record drums now.
  12. andrewcubbie

    andrewcubbie Active Member

    Carefully, haha. But really, like a lot of my recording ways, trial and error. I've literally tried every which way of things to figure out my perfect sounds. It's never the same either.
  13. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    One extremely important area not mentioned yet, in any situation where more than one mic is being used, is phase. This should be taken care of when your setting up the mics and getting the sounds. If you don't have a console/ or pluggin that will flip the phase for you, get ready to move your mics around, alot, for hours. Here's the method i've recently been taught at the studio. Put the mics all generally wher you want them. 1. kick- start with your primary kick mic, record a couple hits, like thre or four. zoom way in on your DAW so that the waveforms look like colored in bumps, and valleys. If the waveform's first illustration is a bump, i.e, goes up, then your mic is in-phase. If it is a valley then it is out of phase. When a signal is 'in-phase' it pushes the speaker out, on the initial impact of the kick.. when it's out of phase, it will suck the speaker in on the start of each kick hit, this is not good. Assuming for no reason than chance, it's out of phase, use the phase flip, or move the mic so it is. 2- Ok now solo any other kick mics along w/ the primary one, and listen work the phase button, listening for the fullest, deepest, sound. and listen for thin sound. Full is in-phase, thin is out of phase.
    Now your kick is okay repeat the listening procedeure w/ kick solo'd + your over head(s) one at a time. You should have a slammin drum sound w/ just kick/overheads. If you don't, check the tuning, which you already did before you set up your first mic right? if not tuning, try mic placements. OK so now you have a fantastic drum sound w/ 2 or three mics. 3- repeat the listening 'phase flipping' for snare and all other mics against your soloed overhead(s). Your listening for what makes the drums jump out at you, what makes them sound full, not thin.
    We then track each mic to it's own track, and eq/compress as called for. Drum sounds at our place generally take an hour and a half to 3 hours to get the OK.
    You should learn how to tune a drum, make sure you have brand new heads batter heads and resonant if you can, make sure the drummer has broken them in by playing a few hours before the session. Then explain to drummer who came in w/ dead heads, that the studio is a great sounding room w/ nice mics, and captures, what's there, dead heads. Then proceed to not TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER. At minimum you want new kick/snare batter heads. realistically your happy w/ new batter heads on every drum. resonants are much more imortant if micing the bottom of the drums.
    we had a drummer come in w/ all new batter heads except on the kick, and his 4th tom. we sent him to the store, he got a new kick head, we mounted it/stretched it, but the 4th tom was an odd size. so my boss played the toms, and we all acknowledged the relative lack of tone (life) in tom 4. tom 4, not on the record, we put it outside. Hope this helps! p.s deadheads are okay, dead drum heads make bad recordings.

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