Mixing drums

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by Silverlining, Dec 5, 2002.

  1. Silverlining

    Silverlining Guest

    Here's the scenario:

    8 tracks of drum audio
    1 avalon 737sp
    1 finaliser
    1 Motu audio system (1x2408/1x1224)
    Logic Mac

    Having come from an electronic background I am relatively new to all this. I want these drums to sound warm, congealed and punchy. Basically we want them to sound like the late Barry White's "Playing your Game Baby".

    Do I:
    1. bounce each channel of my audio through my avalon (eq'ing and comp'ing) and use my finaliser as a A/D converter?
    2. Useplug-insto compress each drum sound individually and then run the full mix through the avalon, bouncing the left and right separately?
    or both

    Any advice would be much appreciated. Any other tips, naturally more than welcome.

    all the best,

    Asad (Reverberations)

    Email: asad@reverberations.co.uk
  2. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Sounds too complex.

    For shits and grins, try this.

    2 mics matched (your choice) behind the kit (behind the drummer pointing at the kit at 34 inches height, and a kick.

    3 channel.

    Darn hard to beat this. Give it a try and see what you think. The rear mics need to be about 1 foot away from the drummers elbows and towed in slightly. Reverse the phase of the kick if it is in front of the kick drum..if not put it on a desk stand beside drummers foot at 6 inches.

    It will sound like the drummer actually hears it and with no bleed problems. It is the way I do it and everyone says ..WOW..
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I have to agree with Bill in that less is more. First off the worst thing you can do with drums is compress them. This is an opinion, but I think compression removes all the punch and dynamics, which to my ears is not a good thing to do. The very best drum sounds I have ever got were with a mic on the kick a mic on the snare and an AKG C24 stereo tube overhead. I have spoken of this here before. However this requires a drummer who digs into the snare and toms and doesn't beat the living begeezus out of the cymbals. It's hard to find a drummer like that. Usually they want to pound the crud out of the cymbals and seem to think that every little nuance of the cymbals should be up front. Kenny "Blue" Ray used to tell me, "This isn't a drum record"... He he he. Throw the Finalizer out the window. The best sound it will ever make is when it hits the pavement. (Really) Good mics and eq's on the drums is all you should ever need. If you can't get a great tone with mics and eq's then there is something very wrong with the drums, the drummer or worst case, both. (Usually when there is something wrong with the drummer there is something wrong with the drums too.) Mic the snare top and bottom with a 57's (checking for phase), toms with 57's or 421's , the kick with a D112, RE 20 or a 421 and overheads with some kind of pencil condensers like AKG 451's, 460's or Neumann KM 184's. Eq's from a quality desk such as a Neve, SSL or MCI or outboard eq from Massenburg, Avalon, Manley etc always makes things a lot easier. All that being said, it is easy to see why many artists go to a top flight recording studio to do drums. It is one of the most challenging instruments to record properly and if not done in a simplified manner as Bill described can require a lot of expensive gear to do correctly. Really, throw that Finalizer out the window. I hate those things ...... Fats

    It's my opinion, I'll play with it if I want to!
  4. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

  5. I agree:

    "However this requires a drummer who digs into the snare and toms and doesn't beat the living begeezus out of the cymbals. It's hard to find a drummer like that."

    Being a drummer since '64 and now an engineer, the three issues are:
    1. Tune the set well
    2. Do the above quoted from Cedar.. hands down the most important
    3. Imagine viewing yourself as if you were in a movie.. watchimg to make sure your moves were consistant, and that they both match the mood of the music, and don't overplay ... unless it's a solo, then still don't overplay, just dig in.
    Consistancy is the rule. If the drums are played well the song will pull you into the tune.
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    And don't forget to" throw that finalizer out the window!" :D
  7. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    K-sound, I know a studio zen man drummer that absolutly Mr. neat can get more dB from a kit than I have ever heard with barely touching the heads and never marking the heads. He has a 1/2inch spot on the snare. He tunes the crap out of his kit and has a 57 sonar snare.

    Why is he still a session drummer and a live gig man for 80 a night?

    Because he probably keeps it to himself...''

    No question, just a vibe.
  8. Bill ... maybe he has two things going .. he know how to play (a given), and he doesn't want to play drums for just "anybody" (?) studio sessions are great, but it takes a great deal of political savy and reserve to deal with the people and the music sometimes ... remember that feeling, eh?!
    I am in awe at my son who plays drums also.. when I track him (since he works in the studio as a session drummer) for jazz or rock .. I'm looking at meters that are so close each hit it's unreal.. and, as you say, he also has that no effort power anytime vibe. This comes from jazz far more than rock .. I think .. and our shared love of good cymbals played well. If you know how to play cmbals well, chances are the dynamics of your playing are also on.. it's like being a excellent rythmn guitar player, which is far harder than being a excellent lead guitarist.

    I can mic Keith with a kick, and two overheads .. throw in a room mic and it would be fully usable.

    edited part:
    BTW, I tried two of the SP C-3 mics in a spaced pair behind/over the drummer in omni pattern .. I was floored. Great snare, toms and kick .. as close I'd say to the two Neumanns I like best as I have heard.... no plug, just fact.. they were great .. but not great on Standup bass!
  9. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    I feel your vibe broddah.. (you have a privite message)
  10. BarefootStudios

    BarefootStudios Active Member

    Great thread! Bill==When using the 3 mic set up-what mics would be best for behind the drummers elbows. I have a pair of Audio Technica 4050's,and a pair of Shure SM 81's.My D112 should be fine for the kick.(Checking for phase,of course)Speaking of phase,can I check this by having the drummer hit the kick drum,with that channel soloed and watch the white cones (in or out),then do the same with the rear mics?Make the excursion the same,right? Happy New Year to all!Barefoot
  11. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    I would try 81's first.

    Do try the AT's and see which ones you like.

    Best way to ck phase is to record the kick with all 3 mics on and turning the kick mic off with all 3 channels balanced, if the bass comes up with the kick off, you are 180 out, bass goes down, you are in phase.

    Once, I got better sound from just the back mics due to the studio I was working at had no microphones sutable for kick.
  12. BarefootStudios

    BarefootStudios Active Member

    Thanks for the reply.I have a jazz drummer coming in for some tacks that i am looking forward to trying this set up on. Now,to go one step further,if i was to add a room mic,in front of the kit,what would be the rule of thumb for distanc,to avoid phase problem. (I am sure this would also apply to micing a guitar cab close and from a distance.Peace,barefoot
  13. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Since no two rooms are alike acoustically, put on a set of cans and move the mike until you find the sweet spot.

    This is the only way. Put the mix in there balanced and plug and unplug the mic in different locations until you hear the sweet spot. You will find it but it varies greatly dependant upon the room and acoustics.
  14. themidiroom

    themidiroom Active Member

    I'm going to mic some drums soon. I am still undecided about the OH mics. I have narrowed it down to the AKG C1000, Rode NT5, or the AT pro37.
    Any thoughts on these mics?

  15. jscott

    jscott Guest

    Having used all 3, I'd say the only ones to consider are the NT5's. You may never get the harshness out of the 1000 and the AT has little for warmth. NT5's are a bit on the dark side, which in this case actually means a bit more natural sounding, not hyped and more suitable for Jazz IMHO.

    Is your choice budget related?
  16. Axeman32

    Axeman32 Guest

    I just want to confirm the placement of the balanced pair. Are you saying that I should line them up with the drumers elbows directly 1 foot to the right and left and 34 inches high and towed in slightly say to high tom 1(r) and high tom 2(L)? Is the 34 inches the approx height of the center of the high toms. Thanks in advance
  17. themidiroom

    themidiroom Active Member

    Thanks for the feedback. Budget is a concern obviously. I do want some mics that will give me a relatively neutral sound without costing an arm and a leg. I've been using a pair of MXL V63M mics. They get the job done, but I would like to step up to a more serious mic for this purpose.

  18. paulpreamble

    paulpreamble Member

    "First off the worst thing you can do with drums is compress them. This is an opinion, but I think compression removes all the punch and dynamics,"

    I've heard alot of guys say this, just curious what everyone else thinks.
    To me compression (especially on the kick) make for a tighter sound and removes any boomyness.
    The trade off is indeed limited dynamics but if not overdone you can have both.
  19. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Another drawback to using compression on drums besides limited dynamics is increased spill. For me, I prefer as much separation on the tracks as possible. If compression is called for in mix, if the tracks are cut sans comps you can gate first and then compress. That way it eliminates spill. It is very hard to gate a compressed track, much easier to gate a dynamic track. For boominess I usually do something with the drum first rather than look for an electronic solution. On my drums (for pop and rock) I have a 5” or 6" hole cut in the front head and I use Deadringers on both the front and rear heads. No other pillows or blankets. Just the Deadringers. This cuts the boom and ring while still allowing the shell to resonate..... Fats
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

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