Recording drums for deathcore/metal band next saturday...any words of wisdom?

Discussion in 'Drums' started by GregLarson, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. GregLarson

    GregLarson Guest

    Im an audio/video student in northern illinois, my band is tracking drums for our demo and I just wanted to see what kind of advice everyone could throw at me. I plan to close mic toms/snare/kick (2 mics on kick, a bd mic near the outer rim and an sm57 near the beaters to get the "click" that us metalheads love) and then doing x-y micing for the overheads.

    a couple things i'd like to know...

    1. advice on gain levels for tracking

    2. how you like to mic your drums

    3. what to do after tracking

    I've done probably 10 or 15 recordings before and they turned out decent. I think it would be good to get advice/input as if I was a complete beginner however.

    Anything and everything you have to say is appreciated. thanks.
  2. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    1. Regardless of musical style, I try and keep RMS tracking levels between -24dBfs and -16dBfs, with peaks in the -12dBfs to -8dBfs range.
    The more "in-your-face" the style, the more likely I am to allow those levels to go a little higher.

    It's really about signal-noise ratio and headroom. Whatever a particular source needs to get the best balance between the two.
    Also keep in mind that you'll be piling multiple tracks together, which will impact your headroom.

    2. I've done plenty of hard rock drums in my short time, and some metal as well. Your approach is very sensible, but I generally prefer a spaced pair to XY.
    I find it allows me to get a better balance between individual cymbals and toms. Just make sure that if you go spaced, the mics are essentially the same distance from the snare.

    3. You're just going to have to play w/ this one. A few general rules I use:
    Compress the close mics, and bus all mics to an aux/effects track.
    Compress the aux/effects track (multi-band works well here), and bring this up under the main drum mix.
    EQ and amount of compression will vary depending on your desired sounds.

    Hope that helps
  3. LJ25

    LJ25 Active Member

    May 15, 2009
    I think the points so far mentioned are spot on (I prefer x-y set up for overheads but thats (personal preference).

    I feel when recording this kind of drumming it is essential to minimise bleeding between the mics as traditionally, with all the mics being compressed so heavily you will also be compressing the unwanted mic bleed sounds. You can use noise gates but getting it right at the source is best by positioning mics as well as possibly. This takes time but it gives best results....then try gating them!

    Another thing that might help with this is where you record. Seeing as you are in a studio you probably wont need to take this into account much but the more "dry" sounding the room is the better it will be for this kind of drumming.

    Hope that helps and best of luck!
  4. GregLarson

    GregLarson Guest

    thanks alot guys i will definately check out the spaced pair overhead micing and see how i like it compared to the x-y. im using protools le 8...could anyone describe how to go about busing? i understand the concept just not sure exactly how to do it pt yet
  5. GregLarson

    GregLarson Guest

    what thought process typically goes on when your trying to find the proper balance between your levels/peaks and headroom?
  6. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    I like lots of headroom. If I know a project is going to have a bunch of tracks (18+), I want to keep my levels low enough to sum them at the master bus w/o having to pull faders down a whole lot. As a mix engineer, I want RMS around -11dBfs and peaks between -6dBfs and -3dBfs on the master stereo bus.
    This way mastering engineers have the headroom they want.
    It's all about preparing for the next step, so I keep my levels lower.
    This is a topic of much debate, however, as you'll find if you do some searching around here.

    Regarding headroom versus signal level, sometimes a compromise has to be made.
    As an example, if a guitar mic just doesn't sound good unless I crank the gain on the preamp, then I'll forgo my basic headroom rules and go hotter.
    If your snare sounds SWEET hitting at -3dBfs and not-so-good at lower levels, then forget the rules.
    Balance is really about the ear. I have numerical guidelines, but what I hear always wins out.
  7. GregLarson

    GregLarson Guest

    thats a really good explanation thanks dude, you've been really helpful. Im going to post what I have after saturday and ill message you when i do so maybe you can critique the work a bit
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Since I don't know what kind of equipment you're going to use I can only relate to you how "I work" my equipment. It's not all about "setting the levels correctly". Some old-school consoles have features that are no longer found on newer state-of-the-art style preamps/consoles. Transformers in microphone preamps can make a heckuva difference in the sound. Sometimes, I'll want to saturate the transformer (I can't saturate tape anymore, well, I can, if I want to, but I'm lazy so, I don't). I have found this particularly effective with numerous instruments such as bass guitar & numerous drums. Even effective sometimes on vocals especially for that genre of music. So in that respect, I may have the gain higher and the fader lower? I thought he got the headroom I want but if I'm on another desk that doesn't have my kind of headroom, I'll run the gain staging differently. A perfect example is a TASCAM console such as the analog 2600. On that desk, the equalizers SUCK! So generally, I won't use the mid-bands and all use very little of the high and low frequency shelf. Because of their lousy headroom and because of how that particular board is configured, outputs to the multitrack machine are post linear fader. In many ways, this gives me the opportunity to run the microphone preamps at a lower gain setting. This improves the headroom of the preamp. Unfortunately, output level for recording isn't quite high enough. You can then raise the linear faders from their nominal 0 DB gain setting and shove them up to the top. This makes the output amplifier make up for the gain loss in the microphone preamp. This buys you incredible professional headroom. On the downside, it destroys the signal to noise ratio by the amount of boost in the output amplifier i.e. between 10 to 15 DB. Well, that's not a problem for most rock 'n roll. It's only a problem when you're trying to record that oboe Solo that is 30 feet away from your nearest microphone. So that point is moot. And headroom is really the most audibly different between professional and I mean professional consoles and the garden-variety sitting in your bedroom. So if you can fake your headroom, you'll make a better recording.

    As Soap mentioned, he tries to keep his recording levels in certain areas for similar headroom reasons. I will on the other hand, especially when it comes to a digital multitrack recorder, pretty much as I did with an analog recorder is to try and track my levels as hot as possible. Now when it comes to mixing, you may be running faders lower than Soap. In both analog & digital mixing, you should be able to adjust trim to put your mixing fader (real or virtual) at the nominal gain position. Although this may not always be the case as it may be so for Soap? You certainly don't want to overload any mixing buses front end real or virtual. When you lose your headroom it just doesn't sound professional. In fact it sounds like amateur hour when that happens. And if noise is a factor during quiet passages (quiet passages?) Hardware downward expanders or gates can come into play. You can even create downward expanders & Gates by "drawing" them in your "compressor/limiter" general application software from Adobe, Steinberg, Yamaha et al. There is a whole lot of factors you can look into to manipulate your sound into something that is listenable. It doesn't have to be technically or clinically correct. It just has to entertain in an enjoyable way. And you might find that utilizing condenser microphones may be more problematic than utilizing standard issue dynamic microphones such as SM57/58's. You almost cannot go wrong with those where you can with capacitor/condenser microphones. You have to know when and how to use the microphone pad and/or high pass filter. You generally don't have to even think about that with dynamic microphones except for high pass filter on a few of them. And remember, if you are using a console that you believe to not be of the quality level you would like to have, you may in fact be better off with dynamic microphones and they're slightly lower output level than the higher output level of most condenser microphones? That's where most folks get into trouble. You think that something that is known to be the best should make things sound the best and that's not necessarily the best choice. For example bells don't sound good on condenser microphones. For those you want dynamic or even ribbon microphones. Otherwise the transient response is greater than the microphone can deliver and that sounds like junk even with a Neumann. So there's a few tips. Use them to your best advantage and happy recording!

    Grrrrrowl is my favorite recorded sound
    Mx. Remy Ann David
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