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Recording Drums

Discussion in 'Drums' started by Kyle McCormick, May 19, 2014.

  1. Kyle McCormick

    Kyle McCormick Active Member

    I have an PreSonus Audiobox usb meaning i only have two inputs. I have access to a Alen an Heath 48 channel analog mixer, would the best way to record a multi mic drum track be to run the mics through the mixer and run the mixer outputs into the interface?
  2. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    Both your solutions are not ideal. Two mics may be great for jazz or 60s recreations but recording drums is in my view the hardest instrument to record and although you can premix to stereo on the a and h, your effects and any after record tweaks are very limited. You need more inputs to the recorder.
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I'd either record a kick plus snare, or kick plus oh to grab the kit, in a limited situation. If you start multi mincing evryingthing to tape your gonna run into phase issues, which you can minimize by using just two channels.
    so the question is whether you really need the mixer as you go into the audio box, and you really do not. The important part is the kick and snare, you can trigger as many sounds as you like, but the kick and snare are the groove. The challenge is either a stereo sound of the kit blended, or just mic kick/snr and be punchy. In tight quarters I fall into my same deal, kick snr oh.

    The thing w u is really how much time and pre production is gonna be relagated, and it's really best to get some bass and guitar at the same time, so the groove can work, funk style drums are relatively thin compared to rock drums, but they hold the groove.

    Listen for deeper and and better defined as you press the phase button in and out.
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    What style are you recording? Or are you asking in a general nature? What drums are you using? What mics do you have? What kind of room are you tracking in? ( carpet, hardwood floors, drapes, bare walls, etc) What are the dimensions of the room you are recording in, including ceiling height?

    If the style you are recording is more current or commercial in nature, then you're probably going to want to pick up an audio I/O with more inputs, so that you'll have control over discreet tracks within your DAW platform.

    This isn't to say that a front-loaded submix through the A&H first can't be done - of course it can - but you're not going to have any discreet control over the individual instruments on the kit after the fact.

    If you are limited to the 2 input presonus, and you are going to front-load with the A&H, then keep your mic count to a minimum. Kick, Snare, and a stereo overhead array is probably your best bet to avoid any possible phase problems.

    Have a drummer play while you or a friend move the mics around to find the sweet spots. And after you get a decent mix, make sure to listen to your mix in mono to check for any possible phase issues.

    IMHO of course.
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    unless you get a interface with more channels the only way to record a multi mic drum track is through a mixer into the presonus.
    as Donny said try to keep it simple. one way to avoid phase issues is to place the kick mic in front of the kit and measure the distance the mic is from the snare .... then place the overheads so they are the same distance ... (all mics the same distance from the snare). this assures the sound arrives at the same time and the snare and kick will be in the center. pan the o/h's hard left right and the kick dead center.
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    No matter which of these approaches you decide on, take Donny's advice and take plenty of time to find the best positions for the mics. Make sure the drums have good heads, are well-tuned, and generally sound great. As has been pointed out, once all the drums are recorded to 2 tracks, you won't be able to fine-tune any one drum with EQ without affecting the others.
  7. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    One mic can record a drum kit quite well, but all the issues boil down to two things. Blend and timbre. Small position changes make a huge difference to which component gets lost or becomes prominent, and the distance from the source changes the timbre drastically. For any form of music that needs drum treatment in the mix, you are stuffed. All the special eq and severe effects don't work globally post mix. Loads of people who can record each drum separately have real problems reconstituting them realistically, let alone trying to get this right in uncontrolled locations. Drums often seem to defy all our usual rules. Look at the huge range of snare and kick drum techniques that depend on the genre and often the actual drum? I know how the Spector wall of sound is supposed to work, but I still have trouble recreating an authentic drum sound from that era.
  8. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I'm probably gonna get burned for this comment, but aside from some zeppelin I don't think drum sounds really got good till the mid 90s. Obviously there are exceptions, but overall the combination of of definition and power really started to hit its mark after the mid 90s. It's really tough to top drum sounds from nickel back, or nirvanas never mind. There are far to many recordings from previous eras that were like too exhaggerated. Either too tight and small, or then then 80s where things are so big they lost definition sometimes. Any thing before the 70s was really so limited technology wise, that the engineers really didn't have a similar level of control as they did beyond that. Guitars are a different story, but drums, and I don't mean to say I don't like that kinda sound sometimes, but they didn't get good until the last 20 years. IMHO. Still doesn't mean you need to use a ton of mics. I've had pretty good results in non studio rooms using just a kick oh, or kick snare oh, pre mixed to a channel or two. The last time I did that we spent about 3 hours, messing w phase and mic placement and pickup patterns, w re fence tracks for guitar sound and vocals. I've used a 57 for an OH, and thought it was fine.

    I mean, especially now, w samples, and the ability to duplicate tracks, and be real scientific w eq, there's quite a bit if control you have from a stero drum recording.
  9. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I don't think burned will be what happens, just maybe disagreed/agreed with a bit. I actually agree from the perspective of technology - once technology could alter the sound, a new genre springs up. Same with recording electric guitars in the early days - distortion and effects were not present in the formative styles because nobody had invented it as a style. There would be no heavy metal without technology. You're quite right that engineers didn't have the control - their job was to simply record the sound of the performers faithfully. Now this is the last thing we want.

    I love the sound a metal band's drummer makes up to the point when suddenly the PA bursts into action - when it suddenly turns from average pub band tone to something huge. So many people who mix in studios don't do live sound, and that's a shame, because the live sound people spend so much time tweaking - to cope for the venue being all different. I've noticed many studio engineers seem to have a drum recipe book. Turn to page on 'rock' - do this, and all effects and eqs become somehow standard, and changes just edge away from these standard presets.
  10. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    That's interesting. And after doing some live stuff, and a lot of recordings in non studio rooms, I've found that a lot of times I am doing the same stuff, in the studio. It's the same room, and it has the same definicies. To be completely honest, I have memorized how the faders are set on atypcL rock band, in the studios I work at. W the gain staging, and general mud cuts, and high boosts, being generally the same. The worst is realizing that maybe that's as good as it gets, and then trying to improve thAt. Welcome GAS.

    But then when I listen to some songs that are very popular, I hear some very average, good but average, sounds. Like Joan Jett, I love rock and roll, is n anthem, there's nothing really exceptional on the production, and that song was only recorded for the album cuz they had extra time, the two previous versions recorded didn't turn anybody's heads. But doesn't it seem like any of those recordings seem to have that elusive thing, but somehow they came out w that commercial sound, which I have found to be elusive. So maybe it really is all about performance. It becomes an issue, where you really have to wonder why I'm not able to out mix something that's 30 years old. It's not like they went out of their way for that Joan jet stuff, it's undoubtably the same sounds from the rest of the record, they didn't do anything special, it wasn't a 10k hi hat signal chain. But it's also interesting, that I've recorded covers, and sometimes they hold up quite well or even better (modern) than the original. So really i question if we are beating ourselves up too much, over things we really can't fix. I mean every year there are thousands or songs that are popular. So there are at least a few hundred engineers at any given time doing this, what is it that they know? Is it some secret, technically, or is it really just more refined arrangements.

    It's funny to me that each era of recorded music seems to just get something right. Like 70s is guitars and vocals, 80s is room, and vocals to a point, the. 90s where the black album, and never mind, where drums got up to par. Now to me, it's low end, hip hop and elctronic music is crushing the oomph in the low end. I think the question is will technology create a larger canvas for us to print to, where each element can shine, or if there just really isn't a way to have it all. Which raises a hole new set of questions. Our hearing response ain't gonna change much, but w all this new stuff, there's gonna be a way to fit more onto the canvas. I just dunno how to do it yet.

    I'm gonna be very honest, I thnk that speaker design and amplification is the next area that needs work. Amps are pretty good, althgh I'd love to see tubes brought back into employement, but modern speaker design ain't that far off from where it started. Our ears are obviously limited physically by how they respond, but eventually they will be bypassed, I think, and listening to music will be some sort of completely cerebral experince, where it could be possible that sub and supersonic frequencies aren't filtered out by our ears, and could trigger some response emotionally. Lol I got off track here, but I swear my meds will be in next week. :)

    Now a rant.... I work w a dude who had mixed some huge songs back in the heyday of the 80s and 90s. No pinnacle albums, some platinum hit records. I've compared our basic tracks and sometimes mine are better drum wise, but there are some things mid range wise that are just that elusive commercial sound. But still even a 30 year vet of platinum credit, ain't making the new Rihanna song sonically, and really aren't putting out things that are way better than the staffers, so it's obvious that small chnges in perceptual "goodness" are huge, but also that a recordist really is limited by gear, at any level, no matter how much there is. That said gear makes a big diff, but it still seems that our monitoring environment, has to be the big thing. W a whole decade of ITB mixes, and bootleg plugins, that has to be the diff.

    And really you have to look at who is recording most stuff, and it isn't all stars a lot of the time.

    It's now possible to literally hook up wires to the brain, and create a sense of hearing for people who are deaf, bypassing the ear system. So while it's gonna take some time to suss out, the way we perceive hearing is gonna be the chNge. Our small refinements in electronics won't make that much of a difference, until there is a change in our perception of sound, which is determined by how we sense it.
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Here's the thing though, guys... we're talking about a person (the OP) who has stated that he only has 2 inputs; so while it can be done, the control he will have is going to be severely limited once he's got that 2 mix on his DAW... he's going into the project with a limited capability as to what he'll be able to do after the fact. It's not impossible to get a decent drum sound with what he has - pending that he's got a few good mics to work with, but we all know that it's not the best option.

    Personally, I think he has two choices:

    The first - and most obvious - would be to purchase an audio I/O with more inputs, so that he can mic the kit in a fashion that is more widely accepted, giving him the greatest control over discreet instruments on the kit.
    The 2nd option, assuming he isn't in a position to do option 1, would be to limit the number of mics he uses, and instead, use a minimal number of mics, in which he focuses on mic placement, to find the sweet spot(s), if there are any in the room he is recording in.

    But, there are some key pieces of information missing, too. He's yet to respond to my questions, and the suggestions here, so we don't really know what type of room he has, how good the drums are, the kind of mics he's using, the style in which he's recording, etc., and all of these things are major quotients.

  12. Kyle McCormick

    Kyle McCormick Active Member

    im mostly recording rock. and thank you for the advise
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    2 inputs with a mixer and that's all? Sure. No problem. It's nearly a lost art. It's called live to 2 track stereo. And it's typically used for live broadcast purposes. But in this case, this is my friend Deni Starr. Now I haven't seen her since the late 1970s. She never sang in any rock band. I didn't even know she could sing? She's got as big a bosom as Blaze Starr. I forget if she's her niece? They're both from Baltimore. They're both Jewish. Not sure? I can't remember? It's been 34 years and brain surgery.

    But she started this rock band up a couple of months ago. I just hadn't seen her since like 1979. So I show up at this little bar/nightclub. Where's their audio guy? Oh... they don't have one.

    The only thing they had was 6, 57 & 58's. And her vocal was a wireless 58. 57 on bass drum and overhead. 57 on guitar. 57 on the bass cabinet. All into a 10-15-year-old Mackie. QSC self powered FOH speakers with Mackie subs. Some kind of floor monitor speaker for everyone with 2 different monitor mixes.

    Now this was Deni's 4th time she ever performed in front of anyone. And, she's 60! 70s rock cover band stuff. All the songs we love. The bass player was brand-new never having actually played with the drummer or guitarist much less Deni, before. So they really weren't tight nor really accomplished. But for the folks in the boonies of Maryland, it seemed as everyone enjoyed it? They asked me if I wanted to run the sound? Sure... why not? It's for Deni. And she gave me such an awesome hug. She almost didn't let go of me LOL.

    Now I knew what I was looking at. It certainly won't sound good. And just live to my laptop via a Digi Design/Avid, M-Box 2, on the DI inputs.

    And then between about 3 AM and 5 AM, I did a little quick mastering BS. So this is what ya get with just 2 inputs and a mixer with 6 microphones and nothing else. Except for a little slather of software dynamics, reverb. And for a 60-year-old broad with no one in the band under the age of 45 to 65, this is what a bogus live mix I screwed off on sounds like. It's actually pretty awful in a not so awful and interesting way considering what it was. Certainly not multi-tracking. All live. All one pass. I was socializing. Drinking a hard cider. Kibitzing with folks. While occasionally tweaking some faders since there were no limiters or nothin'. They had some guy get up who was a guest singer. If you could call him that since he was pretty much 90% tone deaf LOL. Ugh yuck barf. So as a demo I thought this would get them rolling? Maybe not LOL? Great for when you want the best that mediocrity has to offer. And that's all there.

    I thought Deni wasn't so awful for 60 and the 4th time she's ever performed in front of anyone. Though actually it's all awful. But this is just 6 microphones, live blaring speakers, nonprofessional performers on a job I wasn't concentrating much on it. Because it interfered with my drinking and smoking. Though for Deni, since she had no recording of herself or the band, whatsoever. I mixed the PA more for the recording than for the PA. So this was one huge conglomerate of a compromise. Off course it doesn't sound like my actual real professional recordings made with all top shelf equipment. But this is what can be expected with what you are asking about.

    Doing this from a overdub, multitrack standpoint, from only 2 inputs is something that could be done but is about 80% unrealistic. I actually know drummers that could pull it off where most couldn't. Everything and everyone else after that is a cakewalk. Not the software. It's Easy Street.

    Try this on for size:

    View: https://soundcloud.com/user3139903/dentstarrband-at-crusaders-51714

    I'm not proud of this. It was just something for Deni. High pass filters I had engaged on everything. No extreme EQ was used other than mostly turning down the low frequency equalizer, all the way, on the vocals. Along with the high pass filter engaged. That's a lot of low-cut. So this doesn't sound like a hit record. And never will. But it is adequate for them to use as a demo since they had nothing at all.

    Promise me you won't all barf on your equipment?
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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