Processing Acoustic drums into Hiphop drums

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by ChrisH, Mar 24, 2014.

  1. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

    I'm tracking an ep currently that is a trip-hop, rock, jazz group.
    Spent allot of time at the mic and drums getting the sound as close as possible to what we want, now it's time to emphasize that.

    The drums sound i'm after for most of the songs is along the lines of the drums you can hear in these two songs.



    I'm having a hard time figuring out what's going on with that snare and how the whole kit is glueing together??

    Seems to be what determines a "hiphop" drum sound (after a great player with a great feel) is a mean snare that change's from section to section, and "kit glue".

    I would love some suggestions for plug'ins to create color and interesting sounds.
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    the PTM track sounds to me like a sample, fairly heavily compressed to get in your face, and either hitting tape, or a heavy handed taped sim. the sample itself may have hit tape as well. then just some fader rides. but to me the predominant sound or vibe from that tune reminds me of the effect of tape.

    the second tune sounds like its basically using two snare hits alternating back and forth on the beats 1/3 and 2/4, w/ the 1 and 3 being a less pronounced hit attack wise, and the 2 and 4 being a bit sharper and more aggressive, which it hitting the verb bus a little harder lending that sense of space, or they could be automating the verb to get that effect. in the chorus it sound like they are also adding some pitched synth hits to reinforce the snare, again keeping up w the alternating groove, by not using the same pitch for each hit.

    the sound toys decapitator is awesome on snare. triggering white noise on snare hits is an old school technique. a little flanger, or phaser on snare/snare rolls is a classic transitional move. delays gated verbs are cool. the telephone effect on drums is great for intros, or bridges. so is automating a hi pass filter fro really high to full range gradually over a bar or 2.

    im kinda late to the game on this but i recently tarted messing w using a heavily compressed drum bus and mixing it in w the rest of drum tracks. i put the room mics in it too on a recent project, whichmade the drums sound huge, but in retrospect, id take them out cuz it was a bit too much, and more than anything else, it brought out too much of the cymbals which the drummer was bashing already, oh well now i know.

    i always say this but im also a huge fan of natural reverb. put a speaker in a bathroom or concrete room or basement, play the drums thru, and put a mic 15 or 20 feet away, mic facing the wall 8 or so inches away, and boom, instant reverb chamber. if the room has a door you can vary the reverb time. the more closed the door, the longer the decay, the more open he shorter.

    they did this at the power station constantly in the 80s heyday, but the used a stairwell that was all concrete, w the speaker at the bottom and the mic wherever. they did it on vocals, drums, anything they wanted that type of reverb sound on.

    you could also trigger a 60 or 80 hz sine wave off of the natural kick to give it some boom but keep it tight, giving it a bit of a dance/electronica element to it.

    well now that ive regurgitated every drum trick ive heard about and could think of in 5 minutes, ill hafta go see if i can com up w some of my own when im done this seemingly endless studio remodel,and death metal band project.

    oh yeah towels on he drum heads is a ringo technique. good luck man, it be cool to hear what u came up w when its done.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Telling us what you want and showing us what you have already recorded? Are two different things. So far, we have no idea what your drum kit sounds like on the recording? And obviously, these drum samples you put up might be unrealistic? The first tune definitely sounds like an old Roland drum machine from the 1980s? So, no real drum set is going to sound like that, no matter what you do to it.

    Now that second example by the Neighborhood would be a more realistic possibility from real recorded drums. This was something I was talking about which was posed as another question here on the forum about drum recordings. We all want tight punchy drums. Not loose and flabby. So how to? Noise gates. Not Bill Gates. And that other drum manufacturer did not make Pearly gates.They only made drums.

    Now it's not just using the gates that you need to do. The gates are one dynamic process. You might want an additional bit of dynamic processing a.k.a. compression and/or limiting? I do that to the drums before I gate. Sometimes I'm forced to gate before I dynamically processed the drums. It depends on the devices available to me in whatever control room I'm working in. And then the overheads I rarely add any dynamics processing to unless I want them squashed for a huge room sound.

    Now while the gates have a fast attack time that is almost instantaneous. It'll still lose ya some of that initial drum transient. That's okay, you'll pick up that initial transient on the overheads. Then you'll get all the balls and punch from the drums. All the meat that's fit to eat. Yeah baby. So I just have a couple of cheap DBX 166's or 266's? I can still get what I want though it won't be exactly as I want. It will be however, good enough.

    So the idea is to start screwing around with beached drums sound, individually, until each one sounds like a drum sample coming from a drum machine. The overheads will always be the glue on the blue Bayou. That's most of your drums sound right there, the overheads and bass drum. Then you add in everything else. Sometimes I really like to hear that upbeat exaggerated on the snare drum. So I'll go hog wild over some of this stuff. Just to get the snap and punch I want out of the drums to virtually make them sound like a drum machine. But sometimes a drum just won't have any life to it? So if it wasn't recorded well in the first place, not a whole you can do with it. But it's okay, chances are you'll live another day to do it again? And then it will be all the better.

    There are however other ways around lousy drum sounds and recordings. Some devices like the ALESIS D-6, I think? Have some wonderful drum samples. It also has external trigger inputs that you can plug your drum tracks into each one of those inputs. It's better than a gate. When it senses the drum playing, it simply plays the sample you have selected, in real time. So ya can have the world's worst falling apart Taiwanese drum set with Hal Blaine playing his drums for ya. And who wouldn't love that? So you might want to look into one of those drum regenerator's? They can take care of everything in a single pass or in multiple passes.

    One of the other things we used to do with drums to get the sound that we wanted, when we didn't have gates. We were taping down wallets on top of the drum skin tops, for some heavy dampening of the drum/drums. We weren't into ambient drum sounds in the disco days. We liked it dead, dead dead dead, dead. So the musical genre will truly dictate how you need to go about mixing your drums. It can be your most fun and fulfilling part of a good rock 'n roll recording.

    Drums are one of those natural sounding things that don't naturally sound good through natural recording techniques. Sometimes they can and do? Other times not. Sadly, acoustics can play a big part in the quality of the drum tone. Few rooms except for large cubic foot studios can take any advantage of the room tone for drums. So don't get caught up in that phallus. See? If the drum sound like crap in person? They're going to sound like crap to unforgiving microphones. If they're good, clean and have tone? You'll end up with good sounding processed drums. If they sound like trashcan lids and empty plastic buckets? Hardly a China men's chance in hell, regardless of your processing, will they sound good.

    Envisioning in your head, what it's supposed to sound like and then to get it that way. Well, sometimes it's just luck. Sometimes it goes actually as you have envisioned it. Other times you'll spend an entire day to get it right. Other times, you'll start putting microphones in totally wacky places. There is no foolproof formula. There is only the fool. Real pros don't play with stuff they don't need to play with. It's not about experimenting. It's just about delivering. It's du jour no.

    I think the pizza guy is at your front door?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  4. pcrecord

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

    a trip-hop, rock, jazz group??

    Well listen ; you can either get your own drum sound and let it be unique or try to copy others and fail. Acoustic drums have their own DNA, the wood, the skin and tunning, the room, the players skill. Everything forge the sound and you can play around and get close but why not taking what the drummer does and make it with the best mix you can do?
    Now I know there are times where, the guy comes up with a shitty kit and don't want to take time to tune it or let you tune it. And the worse part, he does'nt want to remove the pillow in the bass drum.. So you record it and it's very bad. Then the way out is drum replacement.
    There's a lot of drum replacement tool as drumagog.. I don't like it but hey you name is gonna be on the album right ? ,,, ;)
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    "Drums are one of those natural sounding things that don't naturally sound good through natural recording techniques."

    I disagree. ;)
  6. pcrecord

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

    "Drums are one of those natural sounding things that don't naturally sound good through natural recording techniques."

    I also disagree ;) !

    Being a drummer for 30years myself, I know that with the right player/drum/tunning/room/mic/placement/preamp, the tracks could be used as is without mixing more than the volumes and pans.

    Some of the best albums were those with a unique sound and this unique sound is sometimes very close to the unprocess track.
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I love drum set with only three microphones on them.

    But then again I like drum sets with 12 microphones on them and everything compressed, limited and gated. Dripping with EQ. And 3 different reverbs, also. No?

    You guys never let me have any fun... blah.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  8. pcrecord

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

    RemyRad : I love all drums !! ;) But of course, if I'd take too much time to create an overprocessed drum sound to mimik a TR-808, I feel I'd be wasting it and may be prefer a VSTI or drum replacement technic. But that's just me! I try to be honest to the song and mix accordingly, (or to please the customer) But my heart is on pure acoustic sound (y)

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