Mixing Drums - Digital vs. Digital through Analog

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by jkasko, Jan 29, 2002.

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  1. jkasko

    jkasko Guest

    Has any found that drums mixed all digital either directly in a DAW or through a digital console don't quite have the impact of going out the D/A's to an analog console. When mixing drums all digital I find then to have to much realness and not enough impact for rock and roll. Do you find the same thing?

    The reason I am asking is that I am considering no longer mixing through my Mackie D8B console out of DP or eventually the new Pro Tools and instead bring in an analog console without automation to do my mixing and then using the DAW for all automation and plug ins.

    This parallels abit to Julian's quest for doing his analog summing from Pro Tools for his final mixes and I think the biggest benefit of the D/A conversion out to an analog console is rock and roll drums.


    -Joe Kasko

    -Joe Kasko
    Perfect Sound Studios
    Bolingbrook, IL
  2. UTS

    UTS Guest


    I agree strongly! I have tried several times to mix drums (Rock, Metal) in PT as well, but in the end I always returned to the console and real outboard instead of plug ins. While on the other hand, vocals and guitars, bass are often processed with plugs and it sounds right (at least to my -too bad probably- ears). I can't get drums to sound as agressive with plugs somehow. I do pretty much exactly what you described, something like a hybrid of digital and analog mixing. I submix, automate in PT and then send it out to the console...the only drawback is that you cannot mute the analog channels which results in a higher noisefloor - but who cares, when it comes to really loud stuff??


  3. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Allow your mind to remain open to the 2nd generation of plug ins before you turn your back on plug ins alltogether..

    Basing your opinion on say ,Gibson gtrs from their first F Hole model would be unwise... let the technology emerge!


    Sony on the TDM platform is v rocking, it will come to other Mac based systems via the PowerCore soon..

    Dunno about PC.. That UA card will be cool on Mac whenever it's ready....

  4. miketholen

    miketholen Active Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    I haven't found anything to replace my console, or my tape machines for that matter.
    I track drums to tape, then dump to dig., edit/tweak.
    and then mix the tracks on a console. :D
  5. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Near Portland, Oregon
    Home Page:
    I find it interesting that the answer to these questions is frequently "spend more money" or "wait for the upgrade". A good inexpensive analog console and reasonably priced outboard equipment can get drum sounds that really kick butt. Direct to disk can do it but it costs way lots of money. I get a kick out of all the money spent on getting warm analog sounding mixes with a DAW. Tube pre's, tube mics etc..hey, just record to analog!
  6. rpowell

    rpowell Guest

    hmm...i'm completely addicted to mixing in PT now...mostly metal/hard rock...big drums...

    i usually end up taking the drums sub out through a drawmer comp for a little bit of dirt..even if i'm using plugins for comp/eq...

    worked for me so far..
  7. wiggy

    wiggy Guest

    Analog all the Way!!

    I have recently started using 'Alishad' and found it very convenient but not a full and 'punchy' as my bleoved Ampex mm1200.Alishad even allows me to fix and do way cool things that would take to long or just not be possible on 2"... FWIW though i wouild usually send the band in to do naother take instead of pick and poke over a song.. i it much quicker and easer and provides more cohesive result in the long run.

    Alishad HAS to be returned through an analog console to achieve max maount of mix headroom. Where i work we have an old neve 8024 so i guess we are sorted in that regards too. But i have often found myself returning alishad mixes to 2" to take the edge of the 888 (or as they should be called 666 'bit grinders') cos they are so damn harsh. I havebeen doing this extensively for recrods that ahve been made on 001 alishad, makes it just like the old days with only 24 tracks etc!! and has worked very well, and mixed it through my MCI428 or the neve with great results.
    THe headroom of both desks is awesome so that coupled with REAL EQ and compressors.. makes the digital format truly useable ..just have to tweak it a bit more than i would have from tape.

    It's funny though..... a while a go i finnshed a record that was done completely on the aforementioned Neve and onto my ampex 1200 (which is immmensely FAT sounding 2" deck) and then mixed from an MCI jh24 on 1/4" atr100. People were asking what my secrets were to fat and punchy drums, bass and gtrs etc. Too me it was very apparent .. good analog gear (fullstop!!!)I was even asked if 'man that mixer you used must have been tube or something!'....

    What worries me more is the fact that some people are starting to overly flattering comments towards me like these, becuase i fear we are at a turning point now where the record buying public dont really know whata good sounding record is anymore??

    food for thought?
  8. jkasko

    jkasko Guest

    Another thought on this is if each drum channel needs to be D/A'd out to it's own channel or will just busing out L/R pairs of groups give you that analog punch?

    -Joe Kasko
    Perfect Sound Studios
  9. dave-G

    dave-G Active Member

    Nov 16, 2001
    Home Page:
    There seems to be 2 different subtopics being talked about here, drums on analog tape, and drums recorded digitally, but mixed through analog electronics.

    Certainly, the sound of drums on analog tape is partly imbedded in our collective psyche, but I assure you some of the things that many of us see as "features" of this sound were once considered limitations that many engineers labored to transcend.

    It's no mystery that tape compresses, and absorbs transient detail, which can sound great. Recording drums digitally requires (for one thing) moving your close-mics back a bit, since the recording medium ain't gonna change your transient-to-sustained signal ratio for you . The closer you are to the drum (like that SM57 a half-inch off the head of the snare), the louder the transient is relative to the sustaining part of the sound. Tape literally limits this, bringing the sustain closer in level to the attack. This sounds "punchy" . mmmm.. good! However, digital renders this dynamic-range relationship much more literally!! :) Engineers whose mic-habits were ingrained using analog will be the first to notice the difference. A little distance will help with the ol' inverse-square law, at the possible expense of increased leakage if you go too far. . . Also, part of the allure of using vintage preamps is the transformers that "soak" up some transient energy (older API's, Neves, etc) will have some effect -- but not as much as hard-hit tape (and are still outstanding to use in this application and others).

    Proper mic selection and placement, with a good analog signal path on the way IN to digital can be plenty enough to get the best of both worlds. Good (or well-clocked) conversion matters, as does careful gain-staging in the box, but I find that good, powerful digital drums can be done, and can be "punchy" enough to punch your lights out! Transient detail can be your friend too :D .

    As for mixing in analog vs. digital, going into several channels of Neve or something similarly "colorful" would certainly have an impact, but I wonder if there's going to be an "improvement" over a digital mix when simply summing the individual drum tracks on a very transparent analog mixer like a GML HRT or Millennia Mixing Suite, or maybe even one of those Speck line mixers. I dunno... is there?

    One more thing: try getting your digitally mixed drum sounds to just about where you like them and then put McDSP's Analog Channel plugin (AC2 with some variant of Swiss and IEC2) just on the kick. It's amazing how it can make the whole kit shift to a more analog perspective without losing the focus and 'stick' that digital does so well.


    "Nucular" --George W. Bush
  10. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Nice post, Dave!!!
  11. jkasko

    jkasko Guest


    Great info. The trouble I seem to be having is that I am getting all the ambient detail of the drum kit that it seems to pull the impact of the drums to back a bit. When I go out to the D/A's to an analog console that ambience seems to be dimished and the drums seems to have a more upfront focus to them. Maybe this is a sound I am used to hearing on todays recordings and that why I am drawn to it.

    Any more info on the subject would help. Also, I don't think we are talking about recording to tape. We are more discussing recording digitally and then mixing completely digital vs. going a combination of analog/digital.

    -Joe Kasko
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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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