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Thread: I really need some help with technique. Looking for pointers.

  1. #1
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    I really need some help with technique. Looking for pointers.

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    Okay, so I'm pretty new to recording and have little to no idea how to use what gear I do have.

    Mics:
    MXL 990
    MXL 991
    Nady Star Power 1 x2

    Pres:
    Studio Projects VTB1
    FocusRite stock on Mbox x 2

    Interface:
    DigiDesign Mbox

    Software:
    Protools LE
    T-Racks



    Okay I'd appreciate some advice for recording with what I DO have, not what I SHOULD have.

    Here is a sample of something I've recorded one take, yea I suck so spare me.
    http://www.flattentheskyline.com/music/pipes.mp3

    As you can obviously tell the guitar is thin and meh, there is alot of buzz, I have no idea how compression works or how to use threshold, knee, and gain to make it sound better.

    Here are some areas where I'm confused on.

    On the Mbox what kinda input levels do I want on the sources? High/low? How do I tell? Where should my levels be on ProTools? How the hell do I compress/limit/eq so I can get something that sounds good?

    Sorry for sounding like a complete newbie but I really like to play and record and want to get something that sounds good.



    ---

    As it stands I've been using the 991 at about a 45 degree angle up 12 - 16 inches from the 12th fret with the source gain set at about 75%

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    Blue bear will show up with a link to mixing 101. Read it. Then read it again. Repeat.

    You might want to read the manual that came with the M-box, that will tell you all about the how to set levels on the unit.

    For an accoustic guitar, I would set the levels so they peak no higher than -6dbfs. I would also be using 2 mics. 1 at the twelfth fret, like you have it and another pointing at the bridge.

    If you don't know how to use a compressor, don't use one. It sounded like all that room noise was being brought up by bad compressor settings.

    It will take a lot of time and a lot of study before you will be able to record tracks that you will be proud of. It isn't really hard, it is just involved.
    Jay Walsh
    Farview Recording. I am also the forum spokesmodel for Terasyne Amplification

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    Alright, cool. How can I learn to use a compressor? I've been looking around for weeks and I really can't find any good explinations.

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    This is from Blue Bears site.

    Mixing 101

    That oughta keep you busy for a while
    Jay Walsh
    Farview Recording. I am also the forum spokesmodel for Terasyne Amplification

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    Okay I tried again, and I ended up with a low rumble and a radio station picking up in the background. Some of the noise are the 4 case fans in my computer but aside from that is this any better?

    http://www.flattentheskyline.com/music/ok.mp3

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    That is better. Is there any way to get away from the computer? That room isn't quiet enough to record something like an accoustic guitar in. I don't know where the radio station is coming from, was the radio on in the next room?

    Are you doing anything to the mix? I see that you have t-racks, did you use it?

    You can take out some of that rumble with a low sheving EQ set at around 150hz or 200hz
    Jay Walsh
    Farview Recording. I am also the forum spokesmodel for Terasyne Amplification

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    Nah the radio is being picked up by the mic or the mbox or something.. I can hear it in the headphones when I record. Anyway, I did use T-Racks to edit it a bit, and yea I can move away from the CPU but I'm not really worried about making a noise free recording at this time, just getting some good sounding guitar first, then I can move away when it is more convenient.

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    Here's the big secret of compression:

    You should *barely* hear it working except as increasing your overall volume within the parameters you need. The average person may not even hear it working much. THAT is how the pro's set 75% of their compression, the other 25% is super squish city reserved for things like submixing drums in stereo and mixing it back in at low levels to beef stuff up.

    Jim's rules for compression:

    First let's define what a compressor does--which is to affect the amplitude of a signal by selectively reducing it. Compressors tend to have the following controls:

    Compression ratio: this determines how 'hard' the compressor is supressing the signal. Usually described as a ratio such as 2:1, 4:1 and so forth. What this means is, after you cross the threshold setting, how many db's you have to go over to effect 1db of volume change. Thus a 4:1 ratio means that once you go over the threshold for every 4db over you will only get 1 db of amplitude change.

    Threshold: this sets the decibel level that the compressor starts to work. Signal underneath the threshold will be unaffected--signal above it will be hit by the compression amount determined by the ratio. Needless to say, setting the threshold above the peaks of the signal will NOT do jack shit to the signal. You gotta set it in the path of the signal, so to speak. This is always expressed in negative db, thus a -24 threshold will compress any audio above -24db, and leave everything below it alone. (*Note, soft knee compressors start to work a bit before the threshold!)

    Attack time: how long, in milliseconds, it takes for the compressor to kick in. This keeps your transient peaks unaffected and is the trick for getting a "punchy" kick or snare (the front end crack will be uncompressed and thus louder than the following signal).

    Release time: once the signal falls below the threshold how long, in milliseconds, it takes for the compressor to 'let go' of the signal. For vocals and other similar instruments you want this to be fairly long like 200-250ms. For drums 75-125ms is great.

    Special note on soft-knee compressors: some compressors have a soft knee function. What this does is start compressing the signal lightly as it approaches the threshold, and as you get closer to the threshold it will compress harder and harder until you reach the threshold and the full compression ratio will be utilized. This provides for fairly transparent compression and is great on vocals. Personally it sucks for drums unless you are squishing a stereo submix of drums.

    Another note on stereo compressors: you should *always* link stereo sides of compressors when processing stereo signals. Once a side reaches the threshold BOTH sides get the compression. Failure to do this can lead to, for example, drums that leap in volume on one side but not the other... very assy unless that's what you really wanted. (Why god, why???)

    Moving right along.....

    Here are some guidelines off the top of my head:

    2:1 ratio--overheads, distorted guitar, soft vocals, most synths
    3:1 ratio--clamping down on overheads, acoustic guitar, most singers
    4:1 ratio--bass, snare, kick drums, toms, crap singers
    8:1 ratio--bad bassists, screaming vocalists, squishing the life out of stuff
    12:1 ratio--out of control peaks or when you want to sound like limiting but still keep some life to it

    Compression ratio and threshold are intertwined, so set both accordingly!

    If you need dynamic range--LOWER the ratio
    If you need more regularity in levels--RAISE the ratio
    If you just need to shave off some peaks--RAISE the threshold
    If you want to affect a lot of the signal--LOWER the threshold

    Here's the tricky parts that require hard decisions:

    If you want more smooth sounds--LOWER attack time (under 6ms)
    If you want more punch--RAISE attack time (between 7-50ms)
    If you need "more" compression--LOWER attack time more
    If you need "less" compression--RAISE attack time

    If you need 'invisible/natural' compression--RAISE release time
    If you need 'audible/percussive' compression--LOWER release time

    Now pull out yer ears:

    If it pumps and breaths--RAISE release time (unless you want that)
    If the compression seems to disappear--LOWER release time

    Finally the number one rule for compression:

    ALWAYS match relative volume levels (by ear) before and after compression using makeup gain--meaning that they should be peaking about the same. If you record using my "-15 to -12dbfs with peaks no greater than -6dbfs" rule this is easy; if you tend to record sloppy and "hot" you may need compression to keep you out of the red. Don't do this to yourself.

    The idea for this is that LOUDER often equates to sounding better to us, fooling us into setting duff and mookish compression settings. When dialing in compression make sure that the before and after levels are identical so you can hear the compression and not the jump in volume.

    Here are some guidelines on setting makeup gain:

    The lower the threshold the more makeup gain you need.
    The higher the threshold the less makeup gain you need.
    The higher the ratio the more makeup gain you need.
    The lower the ratio the less makeup gain you need.

    Further modified by:

    The faster the attack the more makeup gain you can get away with.
    The slower the attack time the less makeup gain you can use.
    The faster the release time the less makeup gain you can use.
    The slower the release time the more makeup gain you can use.

  9. #9
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    Well, when dealing with electronic instruments your EARS have to be your guide, that and mastery of basic mixing principles--which means EQ and COMPRESSION.

    I'll give you a brief primer on how I do things. Don't confuse this with the right way or wrong way.

    *NOTE: Keep in mind that when I record synths (analog or digital) I typically apply a 8-12khz boost on my A&H System 8 24/8 mixer. This is partially to counter the 'lowpass filter mud' that can happen when using electronic instruments, and to take advantage of the excellent EQ on that mixer--which has a very musical, sweet high end.

    In fact, I typically do a lot of "tone" EQ when tracking. By this I mean I am adjusting the tone to sound great as a recorded sound, without too much bearing on the final mix. Sometimes this can bite you in the ass, so be careful. After years of recording stuff you develop a knack for this kind of thing and intuitively know how much you can get away with.

    It is very rare for me to track ANY drum machine or synthesizer without some type of analog EQ... because I like the sound of analog EQ, especially the ones I have at home and in the studio.

    This is part of the reason I don't do a lot of additive EQ later in the mix game... it's done the moment I record. If you don't like to work this way you will have to do a bit more toneshaping during the later steps. However, this doesn't really affect the general theory I'm putting forward for mixing--it's just something to keep in the back of your mind as to how I came up with my own method.

    1.) First thing listen to your recorded material and make some decisions. What needs to be up front? What needs to be in the background? What are the important parts of the mix? Have you recorded everything you need in a clear, high quality manner?

    IF YOUR RECORDED TRACKS AREN'T UP TO SNUFF GO BACK AND REDO THEM!

    Nothing slows a mix down faster than tracks that have a lot of issues. If it's noisy, pops, bad performance or whatever you owe it to yourself to fix it before you mix it.

    Unless you are getting paid by the hour you don't want to play the "fix it in the mix" game. Trust me, I've polished as many turds as a toilet at an overeaters anonymous seminar, and it is never fun. You will kick yourself and end up re-tracking it anyways, so why wait?

    2.) Set levels manually for a rough mix in **MONO** (don't stereo pan yet). Don't touch any eq or compression at this point. KEEP IN MIND THAT YOU SHOULD MIX AROUND YOUR *VOCAL* LINE OR MELODY (if an instrumental song). At all times remember that songs are to sell a vocal performance and everything should be subordinate to it.

    KEEP IN MIND MIXING IS EASIER IF YOU START WITH THE "CORE" ELEMENTS OF A SONG AND NAIL THOSE FIRST.

    Thus, start with the main percussion (which may be all of it), the bassline, the main melodic instruments, vocals, background vocals, primary guitars--anything that is the strong parst of the song. Things like background noises, samples, special effects, random noises and the like should be *MUTED* and put on the backburner until after you complete this entire process.

    The reasoning is that if your core material sounds great, you can fit the 'support' stuff *around* it and the song will still sound good. After all, it is bassackwards to have the greatest sounding pad that just rules if the vocals and drums are totally buried by it.

    Thus--MIX FROM MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS TO LEAST. LESS IMPORTANT STUFF MUST WORK AROUND MORE IMPORTANT STUFF. THE VOCALS ARE ALWAYS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT.

    3.) Once you've gotten a rough mix going on, listen to it again and note any deficiencies--is the low end tight? Is it muddy? Is something that is important not popping thru? Is something popping thru too much? Does a part go from too loud to too soft? How's the high end balance and clarity? Does the midrange sound cluttered?

    4.) Now that you've mentally assembled your laundry list of mix complaints, it's time to do something about it.

    5.) First clean up your low end. Run an EQ on all the tracks with nothing but a HIGH PASS FILTER on it. Stuff that should be part of your low end like kick drums, bass and so on get a HP filter around 35 or 40hz; stuff that shouldn't be cluttering your low end much like strings, sweepy pads should get a HP cutoff around 70 to 200hz. Vocals can be cut off around 150hz pretty safely. Guitar gets cut off around 70hz in general. Remember: you don't want excess garbage cluttering your low end--this is one of the main sources of audio mud.

    IN GENERAL THE MORE BACKGROUND A TRACK IS THE MORE YOU SHOULD REMOVE ITS LOW END!

    I've had pads start rolling off at 400hz before because all I really wanted was a little midrange color and some upper harmonics (so I boosted them around 11khz or so later on). Heck, on high hats I typically roll off starting at 500hz for that crisp, clean and transparent high hat sound.

    6.) Now that things are looking clean on your low end re-examine your VOLUME issues, which means listening and start grabbing for the compressor.

    7.) Stuff that still seems to pop in and out of the mix need compression--target these and compress them so that their volume stays put. (Read my compression tutorial for additional details.)

    IN GENERAL I COMPRESS **EVERYTHING** IN MY MIXES AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT.

    I am a big believer in fairly low compression ratios though. 2:1 on a lot of things. I always lightly compress analog synths because they are very erratic; if it's an analog synth doing a bassline I will squish it pretty good. In general VA, softsynths and digital synths need **LESS** compression than analogs, but let your ears and mix decide.

    8.) Stuff that should be prominent rhythmically like kick and snare definately get some compression as well. Make them slam hard as hell.

    9.) Get your low end instruments thumping be it bass guitar, synth or whatever. Make that low end steady, yet punchy. Try not to have more than 3 "low end" elements if you can.

    10.) Now that you've gotten levels to be pretty consistent re-listen to the material critically and ask yourself--what needs more seperation, and what needs more integration?

    11.) Now it's time to EQ. A lot of mixes sound tinny and thin because of overuse of EQ. If you've gotten your volume levels sounding great manually, and then used compression to make it even more tight, there shouldn't be a whole lot of EQ that you need to do.

    12.) First thing--listen to the mix and try to identify weak sounding areas that sound BAD. Is there a little fizz to the guitars? Kick drum a little muffly sounding? High hats sound clangy? Prepare another mental list....

    13.) Now use *subtractive EQ'ing* to locate and eliminate these discrepancies. Use the narrowest and smallest cuts you can get away with to bury the offending freq's in the *mix* (not solo'd by itself--always, always look at things in the context of the mix). When you have eliminated these frequencies (and there will probably be a few, perhaps none if you're lucky, sometimes on poorly recorded stuff there will be some in almost everything) we can move on.

    14.) Now that the shit frequencies have been zapped listen to the song again and listen to see if the seperation/integration issues have been taken care of. Sometimes you can get lucky and a few problems will work themselves out; if not, the overall quality should have gone up a few notches.

    15.) Now it's time to EQ for *SEPERATION*. Listen to the mix and figure out what elements are fighting for space in the low freqs, low-mids, midrange and high frequencies. Choose the one that you want to be more dominant in that frequency band--now go back and slightly cut that track in that band, while (sometimes) applying a slight boost (we're talking 1-2db's) to the dominant track. Keep doing this until you've gotten them all. Re-listen to the track.

    16.) Now you want to integrate some of the elements so they work together more. An example is bass and kick drum. But how do you integrate AND seperate these sounds? Easy--give them boosts that are close on the lower end of the spectrum on or near the same frequency (for example: kick drum at 80hz with a boost, bass synth at 100hz with a boost); next move up into the midrange and boost one element someplace and the other one someplace else (such as boosting kick at 4khz and bass synth at 2khz). Play around with these techniques until you have things really cooking.

    17.) Now listen to the WHOLE mix. Focus on the different frequency bands, paying special attention to the high end. Does the bass sound tight and clear--with the bass and kick working together yet with distinction? Does the voice mix well in the midrange with the other instruments? Is the high end crisp and clear, but not domineering and tinny? Can you hear the "air" and upper harmonics of the instruments in the over 10khz range?

    18.) Now use EQ positively to *add* any of these missing characteristics... such as boosting some cymbals at 12khz, or a string synth at 9khz or wherever there is a bit of a pocket that needs filling, or place for something to shine a bit more without queering the mix.

    BE CAREFUL WITH SUB 1khz BOOSTING. Too much boosting in this area can mess you up... too much cutting will give you a thin sound. This is a difficult area to master. When in doubt, leave it alone for the most part.

    19.) Now, at long last, STEREO PAN your tracks. Try not to weight any one side more than the other. Keep low frequency or primary instruments centered, or close to center. Bass and kick should always be centered... and snare as well. Give a nice panorama of sound but don't get carried away. Panning over 50% is often too much. Panning less than 30% is what I do most of the time except in specific circumstances like mic'd drum overheads (due to stereo bleeding) which I'll put at 60-75% or so.

    20.) Correct any deficiencies that may have arisen from the stereo panning. 80% of the time if you've done the steps pretty good you won't have any correcting to do. The song will suddenly have "mixed" itself when you stereo pan everything.

    21.) Now go back and fit the less important elements into the mix. DON'T TOUCH THE CORE ELEMENTS--make the less important ones fit around them with compression and eq.

    22.) When you're done, put the mix down for a day or two and go back and listen. Correct anything you don't dig. Compare it to CD's you like and see if it measures up. Make sure it's not too bright of a mix, make sure there is good low end, make sure it doesn't sound muddy, make sure the midrange is well defined, punchy and clear.

    Most of all--have fun. There is no right or wrong way to mix YOUR songs.

  10. #10
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    Yet another installment of mix goodness.

    The important thing to remember for mixing drums is that while you can enhance and solidify sounds with a good mix you are not going to get *that* far from your source recordings--so make sure that your drums are tuned, free of rattles and pings, not too dampened or dead, and sound great *before* pressing that little red record button.

    Let's take a look at a typical track list of drums:

    1: Kick Drum
    2: Snare Drum
    3: Tom 1
    4: Tom 2
    5: Tom 3
    6: Overhead Left
    7: Overhead Right
    8: Room Left
    9: Room Right
    10: High Hat

    First thing to do is stereo merge your overheads and room mics into single track stereo files. Now your track list looks like this:

    1: Kick Drum
    2: Snare Drum
    3: Tom 1
    4: Tom 2
    5: Tom 3
    6: Overhead Stereo
    7: Room Stereo
    8: High Hat

    Now mute everything but your overheads--we are going to start with these.

    OVERHEADS:
    The overheads are in many ways your primary mics because they capture the ENTIRE drum kit. To capture a natural, big sound you have to insure that your overheads sound amazing. A *LOT* of this depends on the effectiveness of your miking and recording techniques, but let's pretend that you did a great job.

    For heavy rock drums a BombFactory (BF76) or Universal Audio 1176LN model is a great compressor to start with. Try setting a 4:1 ratio with the input a little bit shy of 12 o'clock. Adjust the output gain to be equal to the gain of the uncompressed signal by bypassing the effect and watching your meters.

    For a more pop sound the Focusrite D3 plugin offers a bit more control and sublety than the 1176 model. Try setting a ratio around 3:1 with a threshold around -22db. Adjust the output gain to equal the gain of the original signal. Now let's move on to EQ.

    Eq'ing overheads is fairly simple and requires *broad* bandwidth equalization. Excellent tools for equalizing overheads include the Sony Oxford EQ (mode 3, Neve emulation), the Focusrite D2 (for a poppier sound), and the BombFactory Pultec series (tandem MEQ and EQP1).

    First thing, no matter what style of music, you should yank down a wide boost in the vicinity of 500 to 900hz on your overheads. This will eliminate boxiness and tighten up the drum sound. I would venture to say that 50% of a "professional" drum sound is tied up in this cut--so make sure to get it right! Typical targets are actually 600 and 800hz, but this can vary depending on the source and desired sound.

    A typical example for a tight rock sound would be a 800hz, -8db cut with a bandwidth around 2-3. Less severe cuts require slightly broader bandwidths.

    I typically apply a highpass filter around 80hz on overheads to cut down on the low end mud. A 12db/octave cut should suffice and clean things up while still remaining natural sounding.

    Finally, a 2-3db boost for your high end will increase your sparkle and sheen. Try aiming at 10, 12 or 14k (but be careful at 14k--things can get *too* airy and brittle up here).

    For punchier overheads a small boost around 4k or 5k can work wonders. Aim it at 4k if you want more kick, and 5k if you want more snap on your snare and toms. Keep this boost fairly wide and gentle--no more than +3db.

    Once your overheads are inline and sounding good we'll move on to the room mics.

    ROOM MICS
    The room mics should support the overheads and help build a sense of depth in your mix. The secret is not to get carried away with them. Compressor and EQ choice are very similar to overheads--in fact, I will use almost identical tools and settings for my room mics.

    However, I recommend that you go light on your EQ. Drop a highpass filter on it and cut your 500-900hz midrange like you did with your overheads. Don't feel the need to add any undue highend--that's what your overheads are for. The idea for the room mics are to make them sound tight and clean, and a little bit in the background of your real microphones.

    The secret to good room mics is that they should add subtle ambiance. When we set up our reverb busses we'll come back to them. For now we are moving on to the kick drum.

    KICK DRUM
    When I talk with younger engineers they often complain about getting their kick drums to sound right. Most of "that" sound they are looking for involves some serious EQ and compression; needless to say you have to pick not only the right settings but the right EQ and compressor for the job!

    For rock styles of music the BF76 is one of my standard kick compressors if I'm looking for a big fat kick. If I need something a bit more dainty or controlled the Focusrite D2 is an excellent compressor for kick drum. If I'm looking for something a bit more vintage the Digidesign Smack! can be incredible (or totally wretched).

    Set your compressor with a fairly fast attack, and the release time should reflect how "boomy" you want the kick to sound. Faster styles of music should aim for having a quicker release time so that kicks don't "mush" together. A 4:1 ratio is a good place to start, and the threshold should be set fairly low (-25db or so). Make up gain should be applied so that the compressed signal is at the same volume as the unaltered track.

    Now throw in some EQ. My favorite are any of the Pultec EQP-1 clones out there (Bombfactory is my standby although the UA ones are excellent as well). I will set the Pultec for a fairly fat 100hz boost (around 4-5 on the dial) and a huge 4k boost (around 5-6). Tighten up the bandwidth on the Pultec around 4.

    Sometimes boosting the kick around 63 or 80hz will work instead of the 100hz boost. A 63hz boost can be a real chestbuster and shouldn't be used for fast music involving double kick--it's just TOO MUCH. Needless to say, if you need this level of precision you will have to look somewhere other than the Pultec style of EQ, because they aren't particularly precise.

    Okay at this point things should be sounding good but... perhaps a little out of hand. The kick will be boomy. Now it's time for some surgical EQ to remove a little bit of what we don't want. For this secondary EQ I often use the GML Massenburg EQ (because of it's pristine, transparent quality) or the Oxford EQ in mode 2 (SSL mode). If I'm looking for something a bit more vintage I'll set the Oxford to mode 3 (Neve mode) to do my cuts.

    The secret to a tight kick is the absence of lower mids. Zone in around 400hz and absolutely punish them with a -6db to -20db cut. Adjust the bandwidth until you have achieved a level of tightness vs. boominess that you need.

    If you want a less modern kick sound, a deep and narrow cut (-12dbish, Q of 3.5 or more) around 200-250hz will get that sound.

    Finally, engage some high and lowpass filters. A highpass filter around 55hz with a 12 to 12db/octave cut. You don't want or need that ultra low end garbage in your mix... because of the 100hz boost you will still have some energy down there after this rolloff; the filter just ensures that you have the right amount. Most of the time anything over 9k is useless on your kick drum so drop a lowpass filter with a 12db/octave around 9k. You don't need that cymbal and high hat junk anyways.

    Let's move on to the bitch of the bunch....

    SNARE DRUM
    Snare drums are probably the most challenging drum to mix because of the sheer range of options and sounds that will confront you. The snare is technically the most important single drum for determining the *sound* of the drum kit. You biff the snare and your drums will sound like garbage no matter how pristine, fat or cool.

    Snare compression should range from 2:1 to 6:1. Choose your compressor wisely! The Focusrite D3 provides very precise compression but doesn't do much to *fatten up* the sound like the BF76 or Smack! will. I generally prefer to use vintage FET based compressor models over optics as well.

    For rock snare my modus operandi is to set the BF76 to 4:1 and absolutely crank the input (which governs the input *and* threshold) to about 80%. Needless to say you will have to lower your output to accomodate this insane amount of compression. Also, don't try this unless you are gating your snare effectively before hitting the compressor (unless you want the shittiest sounding high hat bleed in the universe). The resultant snare, when properly done, is HUMONGOUS!

    Because of the variance of snare EQ I will provide a handy dandy frequency guide:

    <99hz: You don't want this!
    100hz: Absolute lowest place to boost snare. Very 70's/80's sounding low end.

    250hz: Tighter place to boost low end--results in fairly warm, woody snare sounds.

    400-600hz: A lot of boxiness lives here--I usually cut this range no matter what type of snare sound I'm looking for.

    1.2khz: A good place to get some thwack! in your sound. To get that Nirvana/Dave Grohl sound a boost here is recommended.

    2khz: Generally this brings out the top end of shell resonance. I don't like this range myself, but it is great for punk/lofi snare.

    3khz: You can get some edge and head noise here, but I find it interferes with the vocal too much. I usually ignore this.

    4-5khz: This is the motherlode for *CRACK* sounds. A healthy boost here will add tons of definition and punch to your snare. Watch out--boosts here often make the high hat sound terrible; if you are gating your snare like I often do this isn't much of a concern. For extreme metal snares I've gone as much as +13db at 5k!

    6-9khz: A lot of snare rattle and sizzle lives around here. Personally I don't like this range except for jazz drums. Another good place to boost lofi drums, however.... it adds trashiness to the snare.

    10-12khz: This is often the top end of the snare and governs a lot of the brightness. A subtle boost here is often advised, but be careful because too much results in thin sounding snares.

    13khz+ I don't recommend any boosts up here. Too airy and thin. If you did your homework with your other boosts you will be fine up here.

    I also recommend limiting yourself to boosting only one low range, one midrange and one high range frequency. I always recommend a cut around 600hz to cut some boxiness. The trick is to find the *best* boost area and find a precise freq in that range to boost. If you boost too many areas all you've accomplished is messing up your phase angles and increasing volumes! Try to accomplish the most with the least boosting.

    My standard snare EQ is the Sony Oxford because of the wide range of control. I will use it in mode 3 (Neve mode) religiously.

    TOMS
    I highly recommend editing or gating your toms to reduce high hat and cymbal bleed. The frequencies boosted on toms often make high hats sound pretty godawful.

    To get that explosive tom sound a 3:1 to 4:1 compression ratio is advised. I usually seek to use a compressor different from my other drums to further add a difference in tone. I find the McDSP Compressor Bank's DBX 160 mode to be pretty useful for toms, although if I'm doing something more poppy the Focurite works best.

    For EQ I usually highpass filter the toms around 150hz. Normally I don't boost any low end, but I may zap them around 500hz. In many ways toms are *very* similar to snares in their frequency response. As a rule of thumb I will give a healthy boost to either 3K or 5K depending on what works for the song. Remember: 3K can interfere with the vocals so don't use this range on songs that have a lot of "tom riding" during the vocals!

    I find the Focusrite D2 an excellent tom EQ, although for more natural sounds the GML Massenburg is good. Pultecs are sort of wasted on toms and lack the finesse required to get a good tom sound.

    Toms dont' require tons of high end--I often lowpass filter toms around 10 or 11k just to clean up my top.

    HIGH HAT
    You should already be hearing ample high hat in your mix from the overheads and room mics--thus making this mic more of a polish than a primary sound source. The high hat mic is mostly there to add direction and some sheen to the high hat.

    I'll usually put a 2:1 or 3:1 compressor on the high hat. Nothing fancy... the Focusrite D3 works out fine for me.

    I find that a highpass filter around 400hz cuts out some nastiness. I often will cut the hat around 5-7k to "adjust" for any increases from my snare or overheads. Sometimes you may want to take down 9k if the hats are too bright.

    A mild 14k boost can add sheen to the hats however. Nothing more than 2db.

    ORGANIZING AND BUSSING
    After I have my basic mix set up and adjusted I will create 2 stereo busses--one for "crushing" the drums together with compression and another for reverb.

    Let's call these:

    Buss 1-2: Drum Krusher
    Buss 3-4: Master Reverb

    I will buss kick, snare and toms to the drum krusher.

    Then I will buss everything except the kick drum to the master reverb.

    DRUM KRUSHER
    On the drum krusher I will place a single compressor followed by a highpass/lowpass filter (Sony Oxford filters). I usually look for putting a vintage compressor on this buss like the BF76, Smack! and the like. Generally you want to crank the ratio to 8:1 or higher and just smash the drums (but not too much).

    Then you will want to put a 24db/octave filter around 200hz to cut out some of the mud, and a 6db/octave lowpass around 9khz to cut out any strident frequencies and keep my high end clean.

    Mix this around -12db along with your other drums. It will add some heft and weight to your main drums.

    REVERB
    Throw on an appropriate reverb set to 100%. You will control the amount of wetness per drum by how much signal you send to the reverb buss. I often aim for the "DC Live Room" setting in TL Space, which provides a balanced, medium sized room sound.

    I usually send only a little of my overheads to the reverb buss, but will buss a lot of the room mics. High hats tend to like reverb as well. Put enough snare and toms to balance out the kit but not wash out the sounds. Aim to keep things tight, yet with enough 'verb to provide some depth, size and space.

    PANNING
    Typically you want to keep the snare and kick center, while putting the overheads and room mics in stereo. Toms generally sound from right to left (highest to lowest). The high hat will typically be placed to the right.

    Reverse these pannings if you are doing things from the drummer's perspective; i.e. the British panning method.

    When you are panning your toms and high hat don't just pick arbitrary positions--LISTEN to where the drum sounds with the overheads and place the drum in that position. Do this for all your toms and high hat--the correct stereo placement will add that extra 5% to your drum mix! Your kit will also sound more natural.

    Beware of hard pans for toms and high hats. It sounds pretty stupid and unrealistic.

    If you mic'd the kit properly with your overheads and room mics panning should take you about 1 minute to do.

    WRAP UP
    Remember: drums sound heavy because of the CONTEXT of the rest of the song. Mix your drums to the sounds in the song and make them appropriate. Also remember that there is no such thing as a universal template--many of the things I suggest may be totally wrong for your mix! I break my own guidelines all the time if the song demands I mix things a little different. Use your own ears to decide what works and what doesn't for your mixes.

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