Improving Recorded Drum Sounds

Discussion in 'Drums' started by Angus Podgorny, Mar 16, 2002.

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  1. I was hoping that one of the many experienced regulars could help me out.

    I've uploaded an mp3 of some drums I recorded. The file can be found at

    I'm happy with the sounds, but they're not quite where I'd like them to be... Of course, I'd like them to sound like Chris Lord-Alge mixed them, but I'd be happy with something that sounded moderately professional. I'm just not sure how to get there.

    The drums were a Sonor 6-piece (mid-level quality) kit, with Remo Ambassadors Top and Bottom; recorded to eight tracks: kick, snare, Toms (4), OH's left and right.

    Any advice on how to improve my sounds would be MUCH appreciated!
  2. mixfactory

    mixfactory Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    What do you have to work with? Plug ins or analog outboard gear? A list of what you have available to you would be a big help.
  3. jeronimo

    jeronimo Guest

    Can you list the signal chain, mics and describe the room for the recording? I liked the sound a lot!!
  4. If you go to, you can see some pictures of the recording space.

    Mics I used:

    kick: Sennheiser E602
    Snare: AT atm21
    tom 1: 57
    Tom 2: Radioshack clip-on instrument mic
    tom 3: RS clip on
    Tom 4: SM58
    OHL: Studio Projects C1

    The mics all ran into my late-seventies AudioPro 16 channel console, into my ST Audio C-Port, with the exception of the OH's, which ran through my PreSonus BlueTube, and into the C-Port.

    I would've loved to Mic the hihat, ride, snare bottom, room, etc. etc. etc. But current'y I'm only working with 8 inputs at 24/48, so anyway...

    During mixdown, I used Nuendo's EQ and reverb, with a little bit of compression on OH's, and some pretty heavy squashing on the Bass drum, because the drummer thinks he's playing Jazz. There's no gating.

    I recently acquired two Alesis/GT AM61 tube mics. I'm excited to try these out on OH's. The drummer who played on this track will be back this weekend to lay down some tracks for another song, so any advice on how to improve these sounds before I hit tape (or disc or whatever) would be much appreciated.

    What I would REALLY like, is a sort of rubbery-sounding tom. The type of thing you hear from Carter Beauford, or the guy from Sevendust. I'm thinking that it would help if I was recording a decent drum kit with some decent mics, but I'll have to wait until I record a decent drum kit to find out whether that is true!
  5. Your link won't work when clicked on because you included the comma in it.

  6. imacgreg

    imacgreg Guest

    Your drum sounds were pretty good, I really liked the snare sound you got. Try to get the drummer to hit the kick harder if he can. You won't be able to get the good, slap/oomph out of it if it isn't there in the first place. Is he tracking with just headphones? If so, that could be a reason he's letting up a bit. A lot of drummers I have recorded really change their dynamics once they put on headphones. If possible have the bass player track with him live with the amp in the same room if he isn't already. You will have a little problem with bleed, but if that is what it takes to get the drummer to play hard and get good takes, it is well worth it.

    Overall, I personally thought your sound needed very little improvement, just the kick.

  7. planet red

    planet red Active Member

    Jul 25, 2001
    Sounds to me like theres too much muffling in the kick drum. I prefer to use a powerstroke 3 on the batter side with barely any or no muffling. If you tune it right you should be able to get both more thump and clicky attack. It seems to me when a kick is heavily muffled no matter where you put the mic it sounds the same, and lacks excitement.
    But then again its not always about a monster drumsound. Its just about finding a sound that fits the music.
  8. damster

    damster Active Member

    Jan 17, 2002
    I do the same as planet red on the kick.A powerstroke 3 on the beater side with an evans eq3 resonant.A small towel is all I need for muffling which just deadens the flutter echo that makes the drum sound a bit like a tennis ball.A wood or plastic beater really helps if you want alot of attack like the sevendust stuff.Very punchy sound with gobs of low end........I hope you know how to tune.

    For what you are working with it sounds as though you may want to consider replacing the kick or augmenting it with a sampled kick.I believe you can get a DX plug called drumagog that is a sample trigger which you can strap across you bdrum track and it will trigger your new chosen sound.Try the website.Hopes this helps.
  9. Thanks for the help everyone!

    Yes, there IS a bit too much muffling, but the drummer uses the Evans muffling system, and likes the feel of the head, when there's a pillow forced up against it. My bad luck.

    I'll have to go pick up a more-dense beater this week.

    As far as me being able to tune, I tuned the toms on the recording... And that's about as good as it gets for me. :w:
  10. planet red

    planet red Active Member

    Jul 25, 2001
    Having one of those drum tuning weights around is worth its weight in gold. Most drummers I record dont know a thing about tuning or heads. Normally I end up selling them a powerstroke 3 for the kick and a new ambassador for their snare. Then spend a couple minutes tuning the toms....normally miked with 421's, once you drop the lower mids out of them they end up sounding nice.
    Unless I'm recording a really good drummer with a nice set, I prefer a processed/compressed/augmented with samples sound. Either way, i end up spending more time with the actual drums in the room, then i do with the recording side of it. I've always thought it was funny how someone will spend thousands on their signal chain, when for way less you can buy a couple snares, some high hats, and keep some good heads around that will end up doing more then a pair of nice preamps or compressors and cost way less.
  11. Yyou've made a good point! Although, seeing as how I'm 19 years old and have minimal funds, neither a good signal chain nor extra drums is feasable right now...
  12. Paul Schubert

    Paul Schubert Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Just a suggestion.
    Check the phase relation on the kick.
  13. Sir Bob

    Sir Bob Active Member

    Jan 30, 2002
    As long as we are talking about the bass drum sound, has anyone ever taped a dime to the face of the bass drum beater? I was told it helps with the attack.
  14. homerg

    homerg Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    They sounded pretty good although the hi hat sounds out of phase or something. The bass drum has too much of the high end click going on too. The toms sounded good for Rock but if you're looking for a more "rubbery" sound then you have to change the tuning a bit. Tune them a little higher on both ends. Usually you want the bottom head a little hihger than the top to get more attach out of the drum but if you want a more resonant sound then you'll need to tune both heads closer in pitch.
  15. The Hihat May have some phase problems, but if you're referring to the stick noise and cymbal honk... That's actually how they sound. The Hihats are old 15" Zildjian QuickBeats (the ones with the holes in the bottom). They're very heavy; Okay for intricate stuff, but not so great for slamming.

    The Snare is a Pearl Maple Free-Floating piccolo. It's a pain to get sounding half-decent. And I think that the sound of the toms is actually limited by the drums themselves. They're late-eighties, low-end Sonor, all except for the hi tom (my favorite-sounding), which is an 8" Tama Rockstar. The whole kit is wrapped in plastic... I'd like to test my theory, but he only other kit I have access to, is my own, a 1967 Ludwig 4-piece... Not exactly a "modern" sound.
  16. planet red

    planet red Active Member

    Jul 25, 2001
    I'm not really sure what software you use, but if you record a ton of shitty drumsets.... like i do, get some sort of soundreplacing plugin (soundreplacer for PT or drumagog which is vst, i think but have never used it). That way add a little bit of a good sounding kick and snare sample, and wallah way better more consistant tracks. Especially if you want that Lord Alge sound. Just phatten everything up with some samples and compress the hell out of everything. Of course nothing sounds better then a good drummer with a good drumset in a nice room, but most of us arent really in the position where we can pick and choose projects.
  17. MadMoose

    MadMoose Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    When something sounds really bad I try to make it sound interesting. Drums and guitars don't always have to sound perfect. There's no fix for bad playing though.
  18. Masternfool

    Masternfool Active Member

    Dec 3, 2001
    I think you're off to a good start, sound on the kick, some more presence..I recorded a studio drummer last week and was using a new drum tuning "ratchet" for lack of a better term. This thing was like a miniature torque it was quick,easy and accurate..I think he said it was about $18.00!! The phasing you here on the H/H could just be the O/Hs' picking up..try switching some phases around..good recording for what you have!! Harry
  19. Aaron-Carey

    Aaron-Carey Active Member

    Dec 25, 2000
    Like the dude says, Drumagog RULES!!!!
    If you need samples for it let me know. I've been supplying internet buddies for 2 or 3 years now with drumagog ready samples ( 8 velocity levels, then another 8 then another 8) that use both of drumagog's random multisamples and dynamic multisamples.

    Im working on some new stes now also, and the best part, so far theyre FREE :)

    Im hoping to work a deal with wavemachine labs who makes drumagog. Some user testimony wouldnt hurt.
  20. dayvel

    dayvel Active Member

    Mar 25, 2002
    I can't believe you'd use those Sonors when you have a set of sixties Ludwigs sitting there. As long as they're still round and the bearing edges are good, those are great drums; use them. And get rid of the 15' Quick-beats.
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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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