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Recording 3 piece live in barn.

4 mics on drums (kick, snare, 2 overhead) all subbed to two tracks ADAT.

IF I would like to try dynamics processing of some sort -- which is more common: compressing or gating? 4 or 2 channel as in 1 per mic or just kick and snare? Or perhaps process after subbed to two? process to tape or at mix?

Also, what about compression on the other signals: vocals, acoustic guitar and bass?

Recommendation on under $250 unit; under $500 unit; under $750 unit.

Ciao for now,



KurtFoster Tue, 09/24/2002 - 14:53

I'm sorry to be the only one giving you any answers. I wish some other people would chime in with their slant on things. There are lots of recordist who use dynamics on drums and since your going to be going with everything to 2 tracks you will most likely want to also. A lot of times the kick will be compressed and the toms might be gated perhaps even a gate on the snare but beware, gates can chop off the leading edge of a signal and sometimes they will be prone to either failing to open or a false trigger. Once it's on tape your stuck with it. I personally don't feel the need to compress drums to tape but I usually keep at least the kick and snare on thier own channels, that way I can process them or even replace them at mix. I also don't like to compress drums because it makes them harder to gate (if I choose) when I mix. If your looking for high quality compressors to use on a remotable rig you might think of some API modules in a lunchbox. They are reasonably rugged and are killer gear! Very esoteric.......Fats

anonymous Tue, 09/24/2002 - 15:37


Hey I said from the beginning it might get a little boring. I admire your perspicacity.

Besides, we’re making progress.

Why compress kick and gate on toms and snare? And if gate the toms I guess you must mean on the overhead mics? Conceptual difference between comp and gate as it relates to Kick (comp) and Snare (gate)? In other words what is a good general explanation of difference between gating and comping. Why not gate the kick and comp the overheads or snare?

If a budget allows only a compressor or a gate (for drums that is) which one should it be? And in my particular 4 miked drum scenario is it best to get a quad comp or gate or can I get away with a stereo unit? Oh, and by the way much difference between a stereo unit and a dual channel unit when using for drums?

Ciao for now,


KurtFoster Wed, 09/25/2002 - 07:02

You asked;"Why compress kick and gate on toms and snare?"
Don't gate the overheads, I was referring to individual mic on the toms and snare to be gated, my mistake.....OK from the top..... You may compress the kick if you wish. It can help it sound a little 'punchier' or 'fatter'. No compression or gating for the overheads. If you want to know why you shouldn't compress overheads, just try it, the reasons will be obvious. Differences in volume and attack as the compressor relases after an initial hit can be problamatic. It just doesn't sound good. I wouldn't worry about dynamics for tracking in your situation.....Fats

RecorderMan Thu, 09/26/2002 - 08:49

Try this:
No gates.
Compress the kick a very small amount. say aonly about a 1 to 2db of gain reduction At ratios around 1.5:1 to 2.56:1 (or even up to 4:1...listen). Meduim to slow attack, fast release. Ballance the Print the kick Loud to two Tracks panned up the middle, bring the OH levels up till you have a nice balance of the Kick(up the middle) and OH's (Panned hard left & right) with the lick nice and loud. Work on adjusting the OH mic placement (using a spare mic cablr as a "measuring tape") so that they (the OH mics) are equidistant to the Kick & Snare.
On a separate track print snare. This will only use one track more than you mentioned and will give the abillity to reballnace in the mix. Too much/wrong kick can be eq'd out/in the stereo track (without affecting the OH's/ toms/snare that much)....and the separate snare track will give you much mix latitude.

Or if ONLY two tracks. OH/Kick track 1. Snare track 2. Mono drums can/are PHAT. Nothing wrong with stereo either (my fav)...but don't limit yourself with too may preconcieved notions.

harveygerst Wed, 10/02/2002 - 07:48

About the only thing I would ever consider gating while tracking is a Marshall stack cranked way up, with the guitar turned all the way off.

Gating (while recording) is such a bad idea, I don't even know where to begin to tell you all the possible pitfalls. Just don't gate while you're recording, period. Save it for mixing down.

KurtFoster Wed, 10/02/2002 - 09:52

Do you ever use expanders when you track? Or how about this? Mult the input and bus both channels to the same track(s). Then insert to tape a gate on the multed channel and set. Mix the amount of both channels to achive attenuation of undesireable sounds and to maximise seperation.....What do you think? Fats :D :D :D

osmuir Wed, 10/02/2002 - 10:38

1. compressor: RNC. don't bother with anything else unless yr rich enough to get a distressor and on up $ wise. and you will want an RNC anyway.

2. i think gates are f'n useless. unless you want the 80s gated snare roar kind of sound. i gate in mixing using automation on my daw [or i edit the audio tracks...easier by far, because you have the visual aids].

3. durring tracking, just use the compressors to limit the tracks, if you track hot [which i invariably do].

try it, see how it works for you. but RNCs all the way.


KurtFoster Wed, 10/02/2002 - 12:09

Don't forget that Woods has a very particular set of paramaters that he wants to apply. One of these is, the drums are printed to stereo, the other is he wants to use ADAT. What your saying is highly appicable in multi tracking the drums on a workstation but in this situation he has decided to premix them. Woods intends to use overheads to capture cymbals and toms and is only individualy micing the kick and snare. Now if he were going to mic the toms and bottom / top snare I would consider using gates to help manage kick and cymbal spill and get a comercial tom tone. As I said before gates can be tricky and there are many problems associated with using them. I have found however that by using the Drawmer 404 gates I have been able to keep these problems manageable. Fats.

chrisperra Sun, 10/27/2002 - 23:15

your particular scenerio is is one of the most difficult to deal with. mind you tons of killer jazz albums where done with worse situations.

what style of music is it? is your drummer any good? does he sound even just standing back and listening? ie: is his snare ten times louder than anything else? if he does a fill do you hear toms as clearly as the snare and the cymbals.

these things are very important. concepts like gating and compression were thought up to compensate for uneveness in volume. and bleeding of different drums and cymbals into each other.

your situation doesn't really allow you to gate anything really, maybe the kick. but you need as much sound coming in as possible. so i would'nt bother.

instead work on tuning the drums and placing the best quality mics you can get within the barn. since the overheads have to pick up the toms as well try to use a mic that has a wider frequency range than a typical condenser. like a 414, or any good large diaphram mic that you would normally use for vocals. if you are a on a budget a akg c4000 is good. i have a pair of apex 430 that i sometimes use for overheads. they are only $185 each and are good on a limited budget.

if you are playing rock stuff the snare and hihats will be the problem. try to tune the snare/ muffle it put blankets in the room, whatever you have to to get the natural sound of the kit sounding good so if you are standing behind the drummer everything sounds good, nothing sticks out like a sore thumb.

play around with mike placement to duplicate the sound as best you can. if i had to i would compress the oh,hihat and toms before it gets to the 2 tracks.

really be sure you like what you hear before you start tracking for real, cause it's hard to get it back once its already done.

one good cheap tube compressor out there is the behringer tube composer in canada it's only $599 and it's stereo. it's good for anything.

another technique you might use is instead of recording everyone at once off the floor do the drums first to 4 or 6 tracks on the adat. you'll have more control.

then get the band to play along while you mixdown the drums to 2. don't record them but listen to how everything sits while you're bouncing down you'll have a better of chance of blend in the end.

hope this helps

chris perra