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So there are like 10127834 topics on drums right now. That's cool, I just don't want to jack everyone else's thread.

This a question about loudness. I LIKE the sounds I am getting from my drums, but it is very low.

Now, my ASSUMPTION is, my overheads are aimed too close in and are capturing way too much of the snare, therefore making the snare take up most of the mix for the overheads. I was using software compression afterwards, and its helping even out and making the toms punchier, while softening up the cymbals a little bit. My kick is coming out great, and I miced the bottom of the snare and I prefered the sound I was getting.

But generally, if I try to compress and use any make-up gain, my master seems to clip by 2db, even up to 4db. And it only does it on really hard snare hits. I'm running the snare through my BlueMAX, and it's helping it form a really nice snare crack that I am looking for, especially someone like me that just needs a compressor that works and does its job.

So, is this the problem, or that pretty normal? I added guitar into the mix at a nice solid level and it seemed fine. But as I exported it, it sounded low. The last time I recorded something, I had to DOUBLE the guitars.

Suggestions? Thanks =)

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RemyRAD Thu, 08/03/2006 - 12:02

I think all your problems are related to operator error? If you've done everything correctly, you should be able to control the mix of everything. It doesn't make any difference if you believe things are recorded too low as long as you're balance sounds correct. Loudness can be a function of the mastering as opposed to the initial recording and mix. If your overheads or at least 3 feet above the drums, you are generally OK. Too much snare drum in the overheads? Mic the cymbals closer with the overheads.

So if you are compressing the drums, you utilize only as much makeup gain so as not to cause any clipping otherwise you don't need any makeup gain. Compressing drums can be a cool effect while at the same time, it can take a lot of the snap and life out of the drum set. This is what experience and technique provides you with.

You mentioned recording a guitar that sounded fine in the mix and then the exported level seems low? Then you are doing something wrong as that sounds like operator error again.

So in answer to your question, NO, none of what you asked about seems "pretty normal". Doubling guitars is only something you do if you want a doubled guitar sound. Not to make the guitar louder. So since you are still on a learning curve, I suggest you listen to as many good recordings as you can get your hands on? They will help show you the way, provided you understand and comprehend what you are listening to.

Never had your problems
Ms. Remy Ann David

hxckid88 Thu, 08/03/2006 - 12:34

Thanks for the reply! You're very helpful. Sometimes I think, "Is this how other people are doing it?" I'm doing what makes most sense to me. I am not a mastering engineer, and I know that is something they usually try to accomplish. Last time I put the overheads way too close and the cymbals came out really loud and the toms didn't sound punchy enough. What do ya know, I moved it higher and it sounds better, I am slowly improving through trial and error.

What I meant was the general song as a whole sounded low when I exported the guitar/drums. THOUGH the mix was fine. I guess I should stop worrying about getting it loud and get the correct mix that I want to make it sound good. I was just wondering, should I be paying attention to how loud this is? Or are you generally "good" as long as I'm not clipping the hell out of it? So like I said, I record the drums at good levels, I just seem to not be able to apply any make-up gain at all. But maybe I will reconsider what I am doing.

RemyRAD Thu, 08/03/2006 - 14:22

I think you're getting the idea.

Generally when I'm making a fairly serious recording, I'll put microphones on everything that the drum kit has. So there are individual microphones on the tom's as well as the overheads. But sometimes, when I'm going for a more minimalist style of recording, I'll just use a pair of overheads for both the cymbals and the tom's. When I do that, generally I will keep the overheads lower so as to be able to pick up plenty of the tom's tone. I'll frequently do that more for jazz recording than for rock and roll. It is also quite dependent upon the drummer. Some guys have their cymbals so low that they are virtually on top of the tom's. Whereas other guys have their cymbals more elevated, higher. I like those guys best as it makes your job much easier and you have better control over the drums sound. I used to love watching Ed Shaughnessy in the Johnny Carson Tonight Show band as his cymbals were elevated considerably. I just hate those guys that have their cymbals right on top of their tom's making it nearly impossible to get a proper balance between the overall overhead sound and the tom's.

On to your dilemma of overall mix volume level. You don't necessarily want to under record your mix but you also certainly don't want to over record your mix's. If you under record, it will lack resolution and therefore cause your mix to sound less articulate. If you over record, it might sound great but then you're going to get a fair amount of clipping and you don't want that. So you're learning the fine line about recording and mix levels. That is where and the reason why people are more commonly using 24-bit since its overall dynamic range is much greater than at 16-bit. But through enough years of experience, I find 16-bit quite adequate for myself. But can I hear the difference? Sure, but I really don't care. I am more interested in the tonal quality than I am in the technical blah blah of it. I'm sure some folks here will find that shocking if not downright blasphemous? After all, aren't we all supposed to go after the ultimate decibel? Been there. Done that. It really doesn't matter. It's the content and execution that really counts. I've never heard anybody say " that guitar solo would have sounded better at 24-bit....". You do the math.

1+ 1= 2
2+ 2= 4
3+ 3= 2 gay guys!
Ms. Remy Ann David

Jeremy Thu, 08/03/2006 - 15:13

If your sound level goes really low in exporting, you might be exporting them to an MP3 format, this is just an assumption though. You need to make your files .WAV to keep them as full, and lively as possible. I didnt see what your format was for exporting, and if you said it I missed it in skimming your thred.

RemyRAD Thu, 08/03/2006 - 15:48

Jeremy, compressing a wave file to an MP3 should not change its volume level. It's a digital process and unless your software gives you the option to change the volume level before you compress it, it should be at a 1:1 level.

Most people don't quite understand the importance of proper gain staging through a circuit or through an entire process. One reason for the extended bit depths is that one can start off sloppier and end up spiffier without the need for excuses for lack of knowledge or technique. It takes some time to fully Master one's craft. Many of us experienced similar problems in our early beginnings and we didn't have anything as wonderful as for multiple people to explain what we all took a lifetime to discover. Thank goodness compromise is not considered a dirty word.

The incomparable
Ms. Remy Ann David

anonymous Thu, 08/03/2006 - 18:19

hxckid88 wrote: ... So like I said, I record the drums at good levels, I just seem to not be able to apply any make-up gain at all. But maybe I will reconsider what I am doing.

I would venture to say you might be looking at two separate processing targets. If you are compressing the kit and the snare is dominant, the setting for a good snare sound from the comp may easily be one that doesn't catch the leading transient. If that's the case, while the compression effect is there in a good way, you still would not pick up any headroom for make up gain. Something fast and hard would do that in its place or in addition to the comp, but at some point (perhaps rather quickly :? ) the nature of the snare will begin to shift.

hxckid88 Thu, 08/03/2006 - 18:42

Great, definately not feeling alone here. I AM exporting as a .wav. I almost never export to .mp3. I convert after if necessary. I am recording at 24-bit, just because I can. So why not?

As far as the balance issue goes... I used a little common sense to see where things are. I have 4 tracks. Overhead L, OVerhead R, snare, kick.

I ran the kick and saw what level it was coming in at, same with snare. They were very loud, clear... I ran the overheads by themselves, and then I mxied them all together. It was just my observation that the snare in the overheads was very prominent. It wasn't a big deal though. As far as this guy's kit, he is short, so his cymbals are fairly close to the toms, but I was able to give it good distance... Sounds fine.

And Wayne, I had to read that like 3 times to understand that haha, but I know what you mean. compressing the overheads seem to make the snare really sharp, I liked it, but it did NOT give me any more head room. I suppose its trial and error, experiment and listen...