Mixing Metal Drums

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by supercharry, Jul 20, 2005.

  1. supercharry

    supercharry Guest

    Hi everyone, Id like to hear some opinions on how to mix a heavy metal drum recording. Ive got this guy coming next week to my studio to record some heavy metal drums. I would like to make a very good Bass Drum sound, which is very important in this type of music.

    I would be pleased if someone's got any special tip for this session.

    Thanks in advance
  2. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Most important thing for the sound would have to be the preamps. What are you using as far as pre's go?
    Those are really gonna make the biggest difference for heavy metal drums.
    IMHO It really helps to use coated ambassitors for drum heads. It helps them to not ring out so much. It keeps them real tight and dense sounding.
    Also don't use any reverb on the kit other than the overheads and the snare. Keep the kit pretty dry
    I personally like the sound of a hard hitting drummer and IMHO think that it makes a better recording. Telling him to play hard may help you to get an intense take, and help with the heavyness.
    Good luck
  3. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Most important is the drummer, the drums and their tuning, and the room. If the dude can't play the way he wants to be heard, you're likely in for a l-o-n-g session. Tell him to look at every drum and visualize his ex-girlfriend on the head. That should get him slammin'!
  4. jonnyc

    jonnyc Member

    Apr 21, 2005
    what are you using for a mic, pre's, and so on. If you're using a d112, beta 52 or D6 you should already get a pretty good kick sound. I use the D6 which I've heard a lot of people refer to as the heavy metal/hard rock kick drum mic because you get a lot of click and thud. IMO all three mics make killer kick mics and with little eq you should get a good sound.
  5. supercharry

    supercharry Guest

    As for the mics, Yes Ive got a D112 for the Bass Drum, Sm57 for Snare, Two C-1000's for overheads (I must upgrade......... I know....... but I cant get something descent with these... maybe KSM44's, 414's??). The drummer, tunning and drums are very good. The drummer really hits those drums, I think he's already watching his girlfriend on those heads!!!! We've got new Heads, and the drum set is a 6 piece Pearl MMX Masters Series which is a great kit.

    I havent got the best pres, Im using the Digi002r pres for kick, snare and OH's, in this case we're using Mics on toms which go through a Mackie Mixer to the Analog inputs of the Digi002.

    Im still trying to decide which Pre should I get (Cause Im really needing it) that I can hook up with the Digi002 via Optical output.

    But this is what I've got as far. I should be upgrading in the following months.

    Thanks for your comments
  6. jonnyc

    jonnyc Member

    Apr 21, 2005
    The Digimax Lt by presonus is nice. The pre's in it are a little better than the 002 pre's but not a lot i think they run around 750 new. A cheap alternative is the behringer ada8000 if you don't care about sound quiality. Both of those are adat lightpipe and give you 8 extra seperate channels.
  7. supercharry

    supercharry Guest

    yeah, Ive seen the digimax series, as well as the Octopre's by Focusrite. There are others with 4 channels that might be better also. I have about a month to decide.

    thanks to all of the replies
  8. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Feb 17, 2001
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Home Page:
    You have to trigger the kick drum, or it's not metal. It's just a truth in this genre....You'll still need good processing though to make the sampled kick sit and sound completely right (I use a Distressor and a Buzz Audio EQ).
  9. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    Correction: ...or it's not NuMetal.
  10. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Feb 17, 2001
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Home Page:
    I disagree. Triggering has been around a lot longer than since the sub-genre that you are referring to as 'Nu-Metal' has existed. Triggering is what the old school guys do and prefer...unless you are talking about Black Sabbath...then yes, anything after that would be considered 'new school'. Do you consider Cannibal Corpse or Deicide new school? I doubt it, you are probably talking about Korn, Linkin Park, etc. This is not who I am referring to.

    Remember, I'm in Tampa. We were once considered the 'metal capital of the world'. Much of the serious 80's and early 90's metal came out of this town, and all of it used triggers (ask Scott Burns or Jim Morris if you don't believe me).

    IMO, the band Sudden Death is one of the best up and coming bands on the scene, soon to be international. I recorded them, they insist on triggers, and they would be quite insulted if you lumped them in with 'rap-metal' bands or whatever that $*^t is.
  11. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    IMO one of the biggest problems with music for a long time has been the blind following of trends. music trends, production trends, engineering trends. Just make the music great. period.

    Forgive me for not directly addressing the topic...like many things..forums are not really suited for these questions. You really have to be there in person to truly "get" these answers.

    I know, I know..a cop out (it's 1 am now).
  12. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    I know sampled kicks can sound cool, but I just can't bring myself to do it. It feels like cheating; and I think I just like having the drummer's real kick sound in there. Sometimes samples sound boring after listening to 30 minutes of it steady throughout several songs.
    Do you guys sample anything other than the kick on a regular basis (for metal)?
  13. vividsonics

    vividsonics Guest

    From my perspective I think a lot of the reason the metal folks like triggers is that a lot of times there isn't a lot of variation in the dynamics of the triggered kick. I think this is just part of the style. They like the drums to be an all out bombast through the whole song. As far as feeling like you're cheating... well there are a lot of things you can do to triggered sounds to make them sound great (not mechanical). You can do a lot with velocity layers and other MIDI programming. Plus it's nice to put together samples that are unique to that project instead of just using the presets to some drum module. As far as sampling other parts of the kit, in my experience they do quite a bit. But it's usually blended in to augment the acoustic track.
  14. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    They key to using samples in a constructive and natural-sounding manner is to pay attention to what the drummer has going on the original track. Some beats might be accented. You don't want to lose that. Set up a sample and during the accented notes create a volume envelope to make them a bit louder than the others or make the first kick hit in a series of hits quieter than the next one. This gives a better feel overall then just throwing a standard sample in throughout the whole song. Volume envelopes are your friends when using samples. They are necessity to create a human feel. Some software like drumagog takes the velocity of the original note and replaces it with a sample of the same velocity. Pretty cool but then you may have inconsistent hits you want to level out. Just replace those hits with the leveled out kick sample you want. It takes time but its well worth it in the end.
  15. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    im sorry but this all sound preatty stupid in the long run. i have an idea.

    1. tell the drummer to tune his bass the way it should sound

    2. dampen properly

    3. mic and record

    its not that complex if you think of it.
    or just tell the drumer to play put one mic in the room to get the preformance. then boot up reason and recreat the whole song with samples.

    sounds like fun
  16. THeBLueROom

    THeBLueROom Member

    Jan 15, 2005
    Forb, you missed the point entirely. Have you ever recorded a drummer that plays 32nd/64th notes for an entire song on the kick? Usually the kick level varies so much because most of the local drummers that play this stuff can barely keep up let alone play like a studio drummer should. PLUS, every metal drummer I've ever recorded wanted his kick to be very prominent in the mix and the only way to do that with an inconsistently played kick drum to is trigger a hit, and at very least, blend it with the original, if not replace it entirely. Compression, EQ and gating will only go so far. The drummers are ALWAYS much happier with the kick sound when it's replaced or blended, and we as engineers are there to make them happy with their sound. It takes a very special drummer in metal to kick consistently enough to get great kick tracks, especially when there is so much double kick going on. Some of the best metal drummers still use triggers and won't have it any other way.
  17. Rider

    Rider Guest


    a true metal musician would prefer 100% true music. thats not to say that they are shut out to the idea, but the attitude is doing it all exactly how it is.

    if you have a shitty drummer, yes use samples, but if hes pounding the stuff well, i dont see why you need to sample.

    i use a drum library for recording my stuff (to help composition), even though i found a nice tight kick wiith the right amount of click, it still does not compare to a real kick. especially in machine gunning measures.

    and i would suggest mess a little with some early reflections on the kick, it adds a very nice thump to it. yes its not really natural, but it really rounds up the sub. that is, depending on your recording chain and the actual tone you want in the kick.

    and trust me, you NEVER want to recreate a drummer's beats, unless you want one seriously mad drummer out to kill you. do you think a guitarist would want you getting on a guitar and replaying their $*^t? hell no. every instrument is a channel which the musician channels their emotion through. you will not only offend your drummer by saying his playing isnt good enough, you are also sucking all life out of their playing, and in drumming this is especially crucial.

    there is an exception to all of this, and that would be electronic metal like rob zombie/wumpscut/so on. in that case, sample away!

    most importantly, just consult heavily with the drummer if all else.

    oops there was a second page

    let him play the song out and sample the best of his kicks then, then plug them in. or if hes good enough, just cut and paste the bad hits. compression SHOULD compensate. if a guitarist can machine gun away on a single kick decently, a dedicated drummer should be able to keep pretty consistant through the song.

    as i said, consult with the drummer, just mention that his kicks are sometimes inconsistant and see how he wants to fix them.
  18. THeBLueROom

    THeBLueROom Member

    Jan 15, 2005
    that's the problem, most drummers aren't good enough to be studio drummers. most metal drummers don't kick evenly enough to get that nice click they want, and cutting and pasting simply doesn't work when there are 4000 hits in a song. Do you run a studio? The reason I say that it because you seem to think most drummers are capable enough of laying down solid drum tracks that are over their head technically. The fact is, most aren't, and coaching drummers thru sessions is common place. I haven't met a drummer yet that doesn't want me to make him sound better than he is. Adding a triggered kick track under the original to make the kick more consistent sounding is almost a given, in every metal session. Listen to current thrash or metal music ...90% of it has a triggered kick mixed with the original if not replaced entirely. That is the sound metal drummers are after...plain and simple. You can't get that sound without it. Now if it's straight up 4/4 mid tempo rock, the percentage of good solid "raw" kick tracks goes up, because it's much less complicated and they can concentrate on hitting the kick hard every time.

    nobody was implying that the drummer wasn't involved in the decision to trigger, of course you involve him/her. 75% of the drummer that come thru my studio ask ME about triggering the kick, it's common place in metal.

    no kidding
  19. chiasson

    chiasson Guest

    I was curious as to how to how everyone here triggers their kick samples or goes about replacing the majority of a complete pre-recorded kick track. In protools I have replaced the odd bad hit by cutting a good hit, tabbing to transient and paisting, but doing this for a whole metal track as mentioned earlier in this thread is an unrealistic and non musical option and this is the only replacing technique I know. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Also, this is a recent metal track I recorded in my home studio.

    http://iputthedotinthe.com/schpaaaaazmodic/Spasmodic - Feast Upon Flesh.mp3
  20. THeBLueROom

    THeBLueROom Member

    Jan 15, 2005
    convert the wave form to midi notes (should be available in the wave editor or arrange window) and then trigger a sample from a software sampler.

    or just buy DrumaGog

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