Skip to main content

Drum editing?

Member for

21 years
Just out of curiosity how long would you say it should take to edit drum tracks? Basically i have spent probably somewhere between six and eight hours editing every drum hit for one 3 and a half minute song. I did not really mess with quantizing the hits because my drummer plays with a click live. So he is well rehearsed and overall the drums maintain a consistent feel. However i had some bleed issues. So rather than gating everything, i went through and would cut each hit individually and fade where needed. I did gate the snare and toms but pretty loosely so i didn't have to worry about missing any hits because they were'nt played loud enough. this led to there still being some bleed that would open the gates. I also felt like the toms in particular could have a shorter decay so i faded out on almost every tom hit. Overall you can see how this could make a pretty time consuming process. couple that with the fact that i am using nuendo , and i cant seem to find a quick way of editing hit points and finding zero crossing points without a tiring technique of zoom click split zoom out click zoom click split... etc. Making slices in the audio editor had been more of a hassle than the method i ended up using. I dont mind spending the extra time on our recordings because of the fact that they are my own bands. However i cant help but think if i were doing it for someone else that might not be a very cost effective way to edit. So if you could help me with any techniques you might use in either editing or tracking (that might reduce the need to edit so much) that would be great.

Or even if its just a simple it can take that long if you want it done right, but if time becomes an issue cut the necessary corners. All of these things will give me an idea of what im doing right or wrong.

Thanks for taking the time to read this! Right now im still pretty amateur but i'd like to think as i progress i could start recording other bands, and offer them something good. My main concern is how much time i will have to spend working on a project, and making the price reasonable for both me and a client. So figuring this out could help me substantially.

Thanks again,



Member for

21 years

Member Wed, 09/17/2008 - 13:26
I used to do crazy stuff like that. In the end you really don't gain much for your investment of time.

I don't think I understand the motives here. Why do you want the snare track to contain only the snare and no bleed from the tom or high hat? Are you doing a re-mix? Do you think cutting out the bleed really gives you a better sound? I can see that it reduces the signal to noise ratio, but the drums will not sound as thick, and do you really have that much noise?

If the drummer is good, I spend some time tweaking the compressor, EQ, and maybe if I want something more processed sounding some saturation, and harmonic excitation. If the drummer is not good (i.e. me) then I do some audio warping up front, but just enough to get the important beats in time. Not more than about 30mins work for normal stuff.

For Toms, you could use a gate and on the side chain use a band pass filter. That should fix false triggers. You could also use an envelope shaper to really form the ring if you want.

Best bet is to make sure the toms sound right before hitting the record button. Someone that records drums more than I do will have some good suggestions soon I'm sure.

How close are your mics? I normally am less than 2" from the head. There may be some bleed that the gate doesn't catch, but it's never been a real problem in the mix.

If you want the drums to sound extremely sterile, you could use a drum replacement pluging like KTDrumTrigger. You can use all sorts of filters and trigger methods to make sure only the true sound triggers the sample.

Member for

16 years 7 months

pr0gr4m Wed, 09/17/2008 - 22:43
I love DAW's. I've been using sequencers for 20+ years and being able to edit audio in a DAW the way I can edit MIDI in a sequencer is a beautiful thing. But it can be a dangerous thing as well. The level of control you have over everything can be intoxicating and it can lure you in to spending hours working on something that could be remedied using other methods and probably in a shorter amount of time.

I often see people talking about getting sucked into editing drum tracks for hours 'fixing' each and every drum hit. While that may give you the results you want, is it really worth the 8 hours?

Think of this from a perspective of recording the tracks to tape. When you audition the drums before recording you would listen for excessive bleed and address it at that time, moving mics, adding gates, etc. so that you have the best possible (and workable) sound on tape. The same strategy should be used when recording to a DAW. That way you can spend your time mixing instead of fixing.

That said, once the tracks are recorded, what's a poor boy to do? When you are editing the drums, changing the decay on each and every tom, are you listening to the whole track when making these changes. I mean sure, when you listen to the drums themselves you may hear decays that are too long or bleed that is annoying but what's it sound like in the context of the whole mix?

If they are just plain bad you've got 3 options.

#1 is to retrack. Spend the time to isolate the drums as needed and listening to the tracks before recording. When you've got it where you want it, then record.

#2 is to replace. There are several programs that allow you to replace drum sounds with ones from sample libraries. This is like re-recording but with different drum sounds. If the kit is just really bad sounding, this may be the better option.

#3 is to spend the time manually editing the tracks until you are happy with them.

Member for

14 years 5 months

Link555 Thu, 09/18/2008 - 06:46
Here is a thought when the drummer is laying down the track, make sure his headphone mix has a ton of High Hat in it. That way they compensate and play the hi-hat softer. This works if you want something louder too, just turn it down in there mix. The main thing is don't tell them your doing this.

Member for

21 years

Member Thu, 09/18/2008 - 16:49
I used to do the drum editing thing, too. but I soon noticed that on every BD hit, or tom hit, the level of the hats would rise a little because even tho you can edit out everything around the hit, you can't edit out what occurs during the hit. It really made my mixes sound odd.

Hack's right - BLEED IS YOUR FRIEND. We don't hear the separate drums separately live, in the room, so why try to make them that way on the tracks?

Of course, certain genres demand sterile/artificial drum sounds. For those I would program them in.

Member for

15 years 5 months

mobilelab Wed, 09/24/2008 - 15:53
As many before me have said, bleed is your friend. However, I haven't seen the most important word in mixing drums (or anything for that matter). Phase. I rarely gate drums, maybe toms, and always bus them together and apply some kind of phase meter. When the individual parts are EQed and compressed properly, sometimes just making sure they are in phase is all it takes. There are zillions of posts about micing and mixing to get proper phase on these forums, and they have helped me immensely. For instance, I always apply the "3' distance between mics rule" if I can. Good luck!