Recording Drums

Discussion in 'Drums' started by Telewanger, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. Telewanger

    Telewanger Active Member

    Oct 27, 2010
    I use Toontrack Superior Drummer. Superior software changes the velocity, but I also manually change the velocity using piano roll in Sonar X1. When I try to export my audio, mix, and master it loud so that it will get close to matching todays volume, the drum velocity sounds flat as a pancake again and all one volume. I want all of the drums to sound natural and have different volumes. It there a way to make the music loud without killing the dynamics of everything?

    Here is my latest tune. I think the drums sound decent. The RMS is around 12. What do you think?
  2. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    May 22, 2011
    JHB, RSA
    Home Page:
    No, there is no way to make it loud without killing dynamics.

    The better your recordings are, the more robust they will be to processing. I would also recommend not using any EQ or compression on the individual drums on SP because they are "pre-cooked" and will almost certainly fall apart down the line when you attempt to process the mix and "make it louder". This you have already discovered.

    Stop worrying about loudness and start worrying about producing better mixes.

    Cheers :)
  3. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    Apr 19, 2009
    Calgary Alberta Canada
    Making stuff loud without making it sound horrible is why I don't touch mastering myself, I go to the pros. There's always loads of local project studio people who claim they can master, but 9 times out of 10 they're not doing it well, they're doing what I call "make-louder-ing" rather than true mastering.

    It's a deep art all of it's own, it's definitely something worth practicing to learn from it, but if you want results you're probably going to have to pay, and yes, it is very very worth it. :)
  4. Telewanger

    Telewanger Active Member

    Oct 27, 2010
    Great advice as always!

    Click the above link again, if you don't mind.

    I worked on the drums again today. Does this sound decent? There is much more dynamics now.

  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I thought your drums sounded real fine. They can certainly always be further augmented in numerous different ways. I keep finding too many pieces of dynamics processing software to all feature lookahead level detection. This is really cool and super important to prevent broadcast transmitters from being over modulated while maintaining their peak loudness. Well that's crap in many cases in the recording/Mixing process. You need snap, punch and you can get that with lots of compression & limiting as long as you keep your attacks slow & releases slow. But if you increase release times to improve " apparent loudness", you also kill your dynamic signature. Your mix currently sounds quite suitable to be treated to a lovely hairdo by a fine mastering engineer. It's perfectly lovely just the way it is but if you want that extra bit of kick ass, you need to see a specialist. Even brain surgeons have cardiac surgeons perform their personal bypasses. So should you. Be a brain surgeon that is...

    Brain Salad Surgery one of my favorite platters
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  6. Mirrormix

    Mirrormix Active Member

    Aug 5, 2011
    United States
    I think you're using too much reverb altogether (on the guitars and probably on the drums) and I think you're conflating the need for the drums to be "closer" in their presentation with a need for the perception of more volume from the kit.

    It's a common mistake with people new to the process of mixing. The drums themselves sound fine but the room mic effect is making them sound farther away and the balance between the kit and the guitars and other instruments is such that the drums are being dwarfed in volume. They also could use a little dynamics processing to make them jump out more to taste. But that's a subjective analysis. You might like the way they sound.

    HERE is an example of (real) drums tracked in a smaller room, without room mics. This particular sample has not been mixed at all. All of the faders are set to unity and there is no signal processing whatsoever. The purpose is to show you how you can get drums to be more in your face by controlling the reverb.

    HERE is an example of those same drums used in a mix. I added signal processing and a little EQ and there is a little added reverb. Obviously they have been leveled and there are other instruments in the mix as well, but the other instruments don't dwarf the volume of the kit. Also the usage of reverb is controlled so that things don't get pushed back in the mix. (the drums come in at around 1 min)

    HERE is a different example of a drum recording and mix that I made that uses a little more reverb and different signal processing. Notice still that the reverb doesn't push things too far back and that there is a decent balance between the kit and the other instruments.

    HERE is an example of a customer's track that I mixed where they used fake drums similar to what you are using. They did however, take the time to make certain that they didn't load the samples up with too much reverb, so I was able to add what I thought was needed.

    The overall point is that the most important thing is getting the raw drums to sound "right" (the way you want them to sound) during the tracking. Since you're using Superior Drummer (which sounds great) you don't have to sweat the actual quality of the drums themselves so much as you have to worry about how you're integrating the sound of the room mics and overheads into your particular usage of the drum samples.

    You also need to think about how you're balancing the overall kit sound with the rest of the instruments. It's not particularly helpful to think in terms of loudness. But it IS helpful to think in terms of how "in-your-face" the drums can sound when mixing. You can get a more upfront, in-your-face sound by reducing reverb and room ambiance and balancing the kit so that it's not drowned out by the other mix elements.
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