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Thread: Drum Mixing Feedback

  1. #1
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    Drum Mixing Feedback

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    So, this is my first time recording drums. Be merciful. :-)

    Style should be rock, but not super heavy rock. Maybe folk rock.

    Here is a test file:
    http://www.profoundmystery.org/testmix/drums3.mp3

    It took me about two hours to set up the mics, and I just ripped these out to practice mixing, one take and everything, so don't focus on my not-too-steady rhythm. :-)

    Mics:

    * one Audix F12 inside the kick pointed at the beater
    * one homemade subkick (7" woofer) in front of the kick
    * one Audix F10 on each tom (floor, mid, and high)
    * one Shure SM57 on the snare
    * two Studio Projects C4s for overheads with omni capsules, set up according to:
    http://www.homerecording.com/bbs/showthread.php?t=39030

    (where you put the right overhead directly over the snare drum, and the left overhead over the drummer's shoulder, both equidistant from the snare drum and bass drum to keep them in phase)

    Everything but the overhead is gated to reduce crosstalk, compressed a little to bring out the attack and shape the decay, and then EQed a little. The snare is also processed with a little tube plugin to try to warm it up a bit.

    This is really a dry run... I'm going to be recording several tracks in a few weeks for demo purposes, but since I've never recorded drums before I thought I'd get a little feedback first.

    I mixed this on brand new M-Audio BX5a's I got from my wife for my birthday, so I haven't really heard if the bass is done correctly yet.

    So, thoughts? I'm most unhappy with the snare; it's okay, but I'd really like it crack more. Is the key to that to tune the drum differently? Do I need to do anything else in particular about tuning or mixing?

    Thanks in advance.

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    Hey there. They dont sound that bad at all. Everything seems nicely balanced. The only thing is every is a little muddy. Then again that could be my speakers. But it might help to cut out a little bit from 300-500hz on all the drums. I'm no expert so I could be completly wrong Hope this helps
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    Thanks, Mr. Pie.

    I'm mixing in Cubase SX 3, so I routed all the drums through a group channel and EQed a slight cut centered around 300Hz. As expected, things cleared up a bit.

    I also went in and tightened up the kick and the floor tom a little, and I added a bit of verb to the snare (I was listening to something silly - Billy Idol's "Rock the Cradle of Love" on the radio on the way back from work, and they use a TON of reverb on the snare, so I thought I'd give it a go) and I think it cracks a little more because of it.

    Oh, and I also low shelf cut the overheads, because I thought they might be contributing to the mud. They have about 70% less drum now, so they're mostly stick and cymbal.

    Can you give it another listen and see if it's clearer now?

    http://www.profoundmystery.org/testmix/drums4.mp3

  4. #4
    RAMI Guest
    It's good for a first recording. But it's a little bit muddy and lacks some definition.
    May I suggest using less mics, you might be getting phase cancellation with all those tom mics and overheads, etc...Which maybe the reason for some of the muddiness. Personally, I would go with 4 mics (5 if you insist on 2 for the kik). I bet you'll enjoy the result more. Without re-recording, mute the 3 tom mics and see if there's more clarity. You might have to re-arrange the overheads depending on where you have them pointing now, though.
    Also (and these are just suggestions, not trying to TELL you what to do), get rid of the gates. A little cross-talk is ok and might help the sound. The gates give it a "drum machine" feel, which is the opposite of what you want with real drums. Gating the snare can be a nightmare when you start dealing with little "ghost" strokes. Either you won't hear them because they're gated, or the threshold will be set so low that everything else will open the gate anyway.
    If this is your first drum recording, you did a great job, but I think you should strip it down and start by getting a good sound just in the overheads without any gates.. Then, add the kik, snare, etc...

    Keep us posted...good luck.

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    Thanks Rami. I took your suggestion and muted the tom mics, and didn't like it at all.

    But, since I recorded in digital I just imported the audio to another session and tried building from the ground up without the tom mics.

    A little while ago I tried to take lessons from a flake here in Chicago (took my money for a series of lessons and only ever gave me one) but I watched him mix drums once, and he built the mix from the kick up, adding the overheads dead last. After reading some more on the net (and this experiment) it seems to me it's best to see if you like the overheads, and then just add the few spot mics that are needed.

    So, this new mix is the same recording as above, but with no tom mics and no gates. In fact, the only processing involved was notching the snare at around 240 (which is where it is tuned, and I get crazy ring) and a broad cut of about -3db at 300Hz for the whole kit. Y'all are right; I like this much better.

    It sounds much less muddy, but I'm never sure what people mean by that anyway, so maybe I'm completely off base. Listen and see?

    http://www.profoundmystery.org/testmix/drums5.mp3

  6. #6
    RAMI Guest
    Asuka...I have to disagree with the "add the overheads last" theory...I'll go out on a limb and say that 99% of good drum mixes start with getting the kit to sound good in the overheads before anything else. (actually, it should start with getting the drums sounding good before you even plug in a mic.)
    Having said that, your recording sounds pretty good, might just need some eq and compression.

    When I suggested muting the toms, I didn't think it would sound better, neccassarilly, since you set up the overheads with the tom mics in mind. I just thought it it would give more clarity or seperation.

    Can I ask you this: What configuration do you have your overheads in?
    Last edited by RAMI; 04-08-2006 at 13:36.

  7. #7
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    The overheads are set up according to this thread:

    http://www.homerecording.com/bbs/showthread.php?t=39030

    I know some people use XY and some use spaced omni, but I really like the sound I'm getting from the overheads in isolation. That said, I haven't done any recording with live drums before (even though I'm a drummer!) because I didn't have a reasonable space to do it, so I don't know if I'll be able to mix them into a song without muddying everything up. We'll see.

    BTW, did you listen to the last mix? The one without the tom mics?

    It seems really obvious now; I think I'm always going to check and recheck until I get almost everything I want in the overheads and then use the individual drum mics only if needed. The problem is I'm having to track then go back and listen because I'm both drummer and engineer!

    That last remix I did from the overheads first and didn't include the tom mics, and I think it sounds better. I think that might have more to do with the drum heads being old than anything else, though.

    Anyway, thanks for all the feedback. I'm going to go mess with the mics again in a couple of days and might record another quick take or two to practice mixing. I'm recording rough tracks (just my vocals and guitars) to send out to friends to evaluate for songwriting purposes, then I'll start laying down the drum tracks the following week.

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