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Album: Undertow

How did they achheive that drum sound? Any suggestions before I waste a week testing and compressing.


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anonymous Fri, 08/27/2004 - 00:14

Start with Danny Carey......

Then add some great mic's.....probably a pair of B&K 4011 for OH's....421's on tom.....D12 on kick with another mic outside (U87...C12..something of this sort).....414 TL II on snare...
Pair of something clean for room..

You'll need to record them in a really big room....using some high quality pre's like API's or Neve's....probably Neve's....then use a plate like the EMT250 for the drum verb.
The snare and kick are heavily compressed....and I'd imagine there's some layering of the's huge. They're probably not compressed with Art or beringher comp's either......but who know's.

Starting with Danny is the best idea......then getting a good room and some decent mic's is the easy part.

anonymous Mon, 09/13/2004 - 22:15

Danny's Kit

The drummer in my band works at Explorers Percussion in Kansas City, MO and since Danny Carey lives in Paola, MO he has a history with the owner of Explorers. He recently did a drum clinic at Shawnee Mission North high school and as a promo thing he left his tour kit in Exlorers. It is a beautiful Sonar kit with Paistie Cymbals. He also uses a bunch of pads but he didn't leave the brain there so I don't know what they trigger. I think the most unique part of his kit is that every part of it is numbered for fast setup and the remote high hat and snare which are placed in the center which probably makes for a better balance in the overheads as well as attribute to his playing style. Someone told me that live, he also uses ddrum triggers in conjunction with the mic'd kit and I also believe he uses a dw drum kit in the studio (though I have never seen any pictures) and I'm sure he experiments with different sets. but honestly, you're never going to get that sound without being able to play like that. And if you can, like everyone said you will need a very nice studio with all the works. That sound just wont come out of a garage, basement or bedroom setup unless your basement houses a pro studio. Not that you can't try to make it sound like that: Its heavily compressed and tightly gated. It sounds to me like they have very effectively used HP and LP filters to notch each tom as well as the cymbals, kick and snare into a specifc frequency range, I've been trying to get that sound and even with a good drummer and a good kit, when we went to the local commercial studio (451s, 421s, D12 tru neve's to protools) it just wasn't even close. I'd imagine it also has a lot to do with a good mastering job as well. My best advice is to practice hemiola rhythms untill your brain splits into 4 seperate mini-brains, move to LA and form a band that gets signed and eventually it will just be some label-backed engineer's problem.
Ryan Chamberlain

anonymous Fri, 11/26/2004 - 23:16

Oh man, this guys drum kit looks amazing. I love Tool also. Didin't know anything about the band except Maynard was the singer and what a good singer he is. Now I know Danny Carey is the drummer. I learn something new everyday. I see he has some synth with his drums. I figure that also. Man I want to listen to some tool now!

psykostx Mon, 06/28/2010 - 03:24

Sorry guys, all the answers given are almost completely wrong. The album wreaks of Neve (probably 1272 and 1084) preamps. I'd say besides the amazing musicianship, that is a big contributing factor. I know that Carey uses a Sonor kit on the Aenima album, though it may be a Tama Starclassic or some other absurdly punchy kit...I believe Dave Grohl was also a fan of the Starclassic in his Nirvana days. As for mics we all know what mics they take pictures of, but as for what mics were actually used that can be anyone's guess. I know that a Heil PR-40 was used on kick drum on the 10,000 days album. I'm guessing that for Undertow, the engineer used Sennheiser MD-421 on all toms and probably kick drum with a 441 on snare, and old hotrodded tube Telefunken large diaphragm condenser mics for overheads and distance mics, judging by the sound alone. Those mics are pretty standard for use with Neve pres, and are quite recognizable. For guitar I mostly hear the unmistakable Peavey 5150/6505 sound. It is quite recognizable as the main guitar distortion sound of both Van Halen, Alice in Chains, Dream Theater, and MANY MANY others...but as for drums, I would say that Neve 1272's are the main factor in the way the recording is rendered... when this album came out, it was quite in vogue to custom rewire the old 1272 line amp into a mic amp, before the attention shifted to the 1073 and the Neve cloning craze really hit. That huge iron sound that makes the album dark and heavy is Neve. Alice in Chains also used a Neve desk on "Dirt" not sure about the rest. A lot of rock and metal bands have switched to API desks post 2000, thus the huge change in sound from dark and heavy to a more grinding up-front sound. Both Neve and API desks are equally punchy, just different emphasis, with Neve being weightier and API being more snappy. Of course, theres always stuff used that isn't mentioned, or obviously discernable by experience with the said equipment. Some people find Neve pre's muddy, and Undertow is a good example of why... If you don't have a system capable of accurately representing frequency etremes clearly, Undertow (and Aenima) both sound muddy, hollow, and frankly irritating. If you have a good full range system, the details really shine, because they are in the low bass and high treble. Frankly, Undertow is the last Tool album that wasn't overmastered. It is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship.

EDIT: Sorry SkipMasters I didn't read your post until after I had typed this.


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