Thread: Working at my drums.

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  1. #1
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    Default Working at my drums.

    So the song is just me jacking around. It's kind of poo poo playing on all the parts, I know. I'd fire the entire band if I could, but they won't leave.

    https://soundcloud.com/renopowers/song-1-001

    My goal for this was to work on getting my mics placed and balanced around the drum kit. Learning where in my room things worked and didn't, what to do with the room to help with problems... all those good things.

    So there's no EQ in the drum chain. I did use compression and all the channels get routed to my drum bus where I like to put the Waves J37 tape plugin. I know, technically this is like adding EQ. But I really like how it sort of smears things and blends them a touch. I think of it more as a compressor or saturation than "EQ".
    From there the all the tracks go into a compressor on the master bus.
    The guitars and bass...I've definitely been futzing around with my new Sound Toys collection. But their not important at the moment.
    I feel like it's a decent job. The snare could be a little thicker, but I'm pretty happy with my days work.

    That said ... I'd really like for you guys to grade me on it. Rip it apart and let me know what I missed and what I need to work on.

    As always, I appreciate the time and energy you guys spend on stuff like this.

    -r
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    It's kind of hard to judge the drum sound because the guitars are by far the loudest thing in the mix. The drums also seem to be played softly, barely tapping the heads, so I cannot really hear how the drums interact with the room, or with each other.

    Can you post a clip of the drums soloed?


    otek
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    Yes. I'll pull that tonight.

    -r
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    Thanks for the listen otek.
    https://soundcloud.com/renopowers/song-1-drums-001


    I used the tala wands rather than regular drum sticks. I use them because they are quieter and I can play them a little more aggressively or with fuller strokes and I don't feel like I'm being too loud.
    I don't think you should underestimate my suckage at drums. This is literally the first time I've tried to play along to a song. So take it for what it is I guess. I wanted to try and to some more takes, to improve my playing a little, so I'll do that with regular sticks and see what differences there are.

    Again, thanks for your time.

    -r
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    Tala Wands and self-proclaimed drum suckage naturally makes it harder to establish some kind of general base line in evaluating the sound, but I couldn't detect any glaringly apparent problems related to your recording practices. Might want to give that bass drum pedal a squish of oil, though.

    As I said before, the drums are too softly played to really excite the room, so there's no telling what it would sound like when the drums really get going.

    How hard are you driving the J-37?


    otek
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    Tala Wands and self-proclaimed drum suckage naturally makes it harder to establish some kind of general base line in evaluating the sound, but I couldn't detect any glaringly apparent problems related to your recording practices. Might want to give that bass drum pedal a squish of oil, though.

    As I said before, the drums are too softly played to really excite the room, so there's no telling what it would sound like when the drums really get going.

    How hard are you driving the J-37?


    otek
    It's not self-proclaimed ... my sons tells me it's not very good all the time. lol. And I'll grease up the kick pedal tonight.

    And if for nothing other than practice, I'll see if I can generate a little more confidence and get after the drums a bit more aggressively, with a standard set of sticks. Thanks for pointing out the impact that has in the grand scheme of things.

    On the J-37 I start with the "factory default" preset and switch a couple of things. I slow the speed down to 7.5ips and I switch to the 811. I do not move the input or output drive off zero.
    What I seem to get from it is a "dulling" or "smearing" effect. Most noticeably when I slow the "tape", but the 808 seems to be abit duller as well. What I like about that is it seems to take some of the harshness out of the hi-hat, without closing off the snare. But mostly seems to wash the sounds together somehow. It undefines the separate pieces of the kit and makes them more like a single sound source.

    I did mess with compression a lot last night. (not on the track include above). A lot of clownfucking as I hear others on the board call it. But basically I messed with really driving it for the snare track, vs my two Weedy style mics on the sides, vs doing it at the drum bus and master bus. I also messed with the couple different versions of (software) compressors I have to try and hear the differences.

    I found a preset called "parallel drum smack" on the FG-116 "FET compressor". I put that on the drum bus and pushed a lot of input to it, then set the mix at like 30 to 40%, it did a similar, but better thing than the J-37.
    I found if I did that same thing on the mix bus at like 25%, it seemed to blend things together really neatly. I hear the term "glue" a lot, but not having someone specifically show me "this is glued, this is not" I can't say for sure if that's what was happening...but to me...I'd kind of describe it that way.
    My take away was, I may not be using compression aggressively enough in some cases? Most peoples advice is to start gently and work up ... I think I may have been overly cautious with it.
    New information for me to work with moving forward anyway.

    -r
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    Thanks for pointing out the impact that has in the grand scheme of things.
    I find that it's often not until you get the drums good and loud, that you start to excite the room and hear what it does.

    On the J-37 I start with the "factory default" preset and switch a couple of things. I slow the speed down to 7.5ips and I switch to the 811. I do not move the input or output drive off zero.

    What I seem to get from it is a "dulling" or "smearing" effect.
    The important thing here is not where it's set at, but how it affects the VU meters. 7.5 ips will start to sound real crunchy, real fast. Try working your input and saturation parameters and pay close attention to what it's doing to the attack of the drums. I find that often times, anything above say, -10dB on the VU meters will start to have a profound (and usually detrimental) effect on the punch of the drums. At 7.5 ips, you start losing definition very quickly if you drive it too hard. And if it noticeably dulls or smears the sound, that's more than likely what's happening.

    My take away was, I may not be using compression aggressively enough in some cases?
    It depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you're hitting it softly like that, you're probably not going for John Bonham-style hulk smash.

    Compression can make the drums sound weaker and smaller, too. I saw you had a look at the "Deer Cathedral" link in the Radio Show forum? On this track, the drums have maybe one dB of compression on them, plus maybe another one or two on the 2-bus along with everything else. Nothing on the close mics. That's a Weedy-style setup too, incidentally, although I believe I mixed in a smidgen of the floor tom close mic.


    otek
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    I find that it's often not until you get the drums good and loud, that you start to excite the room and hear what it does.
    So I've ran into an interesting thing here. Changing the sticks, as expected, made quite a bit of difference. I'm finding that my hi-hat is overwhelming. I can't seem to tame it without completely sucking the life out of the snare.

    Rolling off high end pulls the life out of the whole thing. If I back the volume off my two weedy mics, I loose the snare. When I try to bring the close snare mic in to compensate, it takes away from the cohesiveness of the weedy mics. The snare mic seems to be disjointed from the rest of the kit as it sounds in the room.

    So I haven't quit on it...just having working through the new issues I've found.

    -r
    Last edited by RenoPowers; January 11th, 2016 at 07:11 PM.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    So I've ran into an interesting thing here. Changing the sticks, as expected, made quite a bit of difference. I'm finding that my hi-hat is overwhelming. I can't seem to tame it without completely sucking the life out of the snare.

    Rolling off high end pulls the life out of the whole thing. If I back the volume off my two weedy mics, I loose the snare. When I try to bring the close snare mic in to compensate, it takes away from the cohesiveness of the weedy mics. The snare mic seems to be disjointed from the rest of the kit as it sounds in the room.

    So I haven't quit on it...just having working through the new issues I've found.

    -r
    That sounds like something that would be best addressed during the performance, by not hitting the hi-hat as hard.
  10. #10
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    Take this with a grain of salt, but I don't feel like I'm hitting the hats as hard, as they are loud sounding on my recording (if that makes sense). I will try and pay attention to that tonight and make adjustments to my playing.

    Thanks for the suggestion!

    -r
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    After listening to your drum clip again, I think it could also possibly be a mic placement thing. The hi-hat sounds closer than the snare to me, which might explain why it could sound 'overwhelming'.
  12. #12
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    Here's a rough drawing of what's set up now. My mics on the side are equidistant (by eyeballing) from the snare in either direction. They are facing straight at each other. There's a snare mic and two mics for the kick.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I've had the HH side mic more out in front of the kit before, making more of a 90 degree angle between the two outside mics. I end up getting a lot of the low end of the kick in that mic out front though. It unbalances the two. I suppose I could EQ the low end out, but my aim is to get as good a capture I can w/out EQ. When I think I've got that I'll see what needs touched with an EQ.

    So my Snare and HH are unobstructed to the mic on the HH side. The Tom and my body block a direct path to the mic on the floor tom side. I'd expect that to have some effect, maybe not a lot.
    If I look to shield the HH side mic from the HH, I lose even more of the crack and openness of the snare. ("shield" isn't the best word for what I want to do there, but couldn't come up with a better word)

    Another thought I'm having is my close snare mic migh not be doing what I need. I'm looking to it to add body to the sound after the more open/clear whack I get from the side mics. Perhaps I'm wrong in that thinking? Should I be adjusting the close mic for a more complete sound? Not just the middle and lower frequencies?

    -r
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    I'd be curious about what others would suggest here, as I'm far from an expert at recording drums, but a few things:

    Another thought I'm having is my close snare mic migh not be doing what I need. I'm looking to it to add body to the sound after the more open/clear whack I get from the side mics. Perhaps I'm wrong in that thinking? Should I be adjusting the close mic for a more complete sound? Not just the middle and lower frequencies?
    I know some people like to mic the side of the snare rather than from directly above, so you get a bit of a blend between the top and bottom. The top will add some body and weight, while the bottom will add a bit of 'snap' or 'crack', or whatever you'd call it.

    Other than that, I'm still guessing your solution is some combination of hitting the hi-hat not as hard - and making sure you hit the snare noticeably harder, optimizing mic placement to reject some of the hi-hat, and making your close snare mic work better for the overall drum sound so you can use it more in the mix.
  14. #14
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    I preferred miking my toms from the side instead of top.
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    I preferred miking my toms from the side instead of top.
    this.

    of course, the room plays into it.

    certain reflections, from the walls, ceiling, etc, etc, ad naseum...

    ultimately, a good capture depends on the drummer hitting the heads very consistently, ONCE you have the levels right.

    it'd be great if you had a X-Y pair OVER The drums, instead of to the sides,
    just to eliminate some of the 'opposite wall' sound..

    and run them hot, and then thru a limiter, again, the levels have to be just right.


    i've actually done a session similar to what i described above, without hot levels, and without limiting, and did it all post....
    and that actually worked out well,
    because the room sounded really good.

    so many variables.....
  16. #16
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    It's really all about the playing dynamics and the sound of the kit itself. You can, by way of mic placement, massage imbalances to some degree, but instead you may end up with mic placement that isn't favorable to the overall sound. You throw out the baby with the bath water.

    The fact that you get some kick in the front/side "kit" mics is rarely a problem to me. Also, if you use a tunnel for the kick, you get a lot less of it in both the front/side mics and the room.


    otek
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    Here's a rough drawing of what's set up now. My mics on the side are equidistant (by eyeballing) from the snare in either direction. They are facing straight at each other. There's a snare mic and two mics for the kick.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Drawing1.jpg 
Views:	40 
Size:	8.6 KB 
ID:	13171
    I've had the HH side mic more out in front of the kit before, making more of a 90 degree angle between the two outside mics. I end up getting a lot of the low end of the kick in that mic out front though. It unbalances the two. I suppose I could EQ the low end out, but my aim is to get as good a capture I can w/out EQ. When I think I've got that I'll see what needs touched with an EQ.

    So my Snare and HH are unobstructed to the mic on the HH side. The Tom and my body block a direct path to the mic on the floor tom side. I'd expect that to have some effect, maybe not a lot.
    If I look to shield the HH side mic from the HH, I lose even more of the crack and openness of the snare. ("shield" isn't the best word for what I want to do there, but couldn't come up with a better word)

    Another thought I'm having is my close snare mic migh not be doing what I need. I'm looking to it to add body to the sound after the more open/clear whack I get from the side mics. Perhaps I'm wrong in that thinking? Should I be adjusting the close mic for a more complete sound? Not just the middle and lower frequencies?

    -r
    You're putting the front of kit mic on the hihat side. Move it to the front of the kit. You don't show any rack toms in the diagram - is that correct? I put my front of kit mic around 16"-18" IN FRONT of the rack tom(s) and about a foot above, angled down, pretty much dead in front of the kit.

    Also, your diagram shows the snare mic placed near the kick, so it's actually pointing back at the drummer which also causes it to point at the hihat. If that's really where it is OF COURSE it's picking up lots of hat - move it around so that it's under the hat so the hat can be more or less in the null of the mic. THINK ABOUT YOUR PICKUP PATTERNS!

    Also, what kind of mic are you using on the snare? I've had reasonable results with a C541EB/CK1 and very good results with a KM84. I tend to mic the middle of the shell rather than the top of the snare, and balance thew heads with mic placement. Placement and off-axis response of the snare mic is key to controlling the hat.

    You don't specify the type of snare mic. If it's a 57 you might consider something else, 57s have nasty off-axis response.

    It also might be that you need different hihat cymbals if the problem persists.
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    I think placing the "front" kit mic actually in front may help with the kick not being centered. Diametrically "opposed" mics, such as in the plot provided, can lead to some unpredictable imaging results.

    otek
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    The fact that you get some kick in the front/side "kit" mics is rarely a problem to me. Also, if you use a tunnel for the kick, you get a lot less of it in both the front/side mics and the room.

    otek
    I'm curious, is that because you 'fill out' the center with the close mics, or because you don't mind an off-centered sound?
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    Default Re: Working at my drums.

    I'm curious, is that because you 'fill out' the center with the close mics, or because you don't mind an off-centered sound?

    Why are you assuming that the sound is "off center"?
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