Recording drums

Rexinator

New member
I'm gettig ready to pull the trigger on high-end preamps and A/D converters for my home system, and I'm trying to decide if 2 channels is sufficient or if I need more. The only utility for more than two channels is for the drum tracking. I already have reasonably good A/D conversion for mutliple tracks (up to 16), and I am wondering if anyone can comment on how much difference it makes if the drums mics are interfaced with good quality preamps (vs. basic preamps, like those on on Digi002 or M-audio Project Mix). I'm not looking for top-of-the line studio quality, but if the pres make a significant difference on the drum tracks, I'll go for a larger premium preamp configuation. Thanks!
 

SouthSIDE Glen

independentrecording.net
If you can afford it, 32 tracks of high end A/D would be great. 48 tracks would be even better! :D

But for most of us who cannot afford it, I like the compromise approach of having two channels minimum of "gold channels" (high-end preamp, D/A and clocking) along with a high-end microphone or three to choose from to use on these channels. But high end means fairly high-end. Moving from a $50/channel preamp to a $150/channel preamp won't make a *huge* difference.

Then reserve the use of these channels where they will make the most difference or have the best effect (e.g. non-screaming vocals, acoustic instruments, etc.) You can use such gold channels on drums if you got nothing better to use them on; a nice stereo OH feed, or if you're looking for that really special snare sound maybe.

But the best pres and converters and clocks (oh my!) in the world are only going to be worthwhile if you use the right microphones for the task. Sticking a 57 on a snare may give you the sound you want, but it's probably going to be kinda wasted to run that through a GML preamp; it may sound better, but probably not better enough to justify the cost of the preamp in that case. Throw up a couple of AEA ribbons as OHs on the other hand, and you'll hear the difference in preamps.

G.
 

Rexinator

New member
SouthSIDE. Thanks for that feedback. That's a really good point about being limited on microphone quality for drum recording. I've got a good Rode stereo mic for OH and a Sure Beta 52 bass drum mic, but the other close proximity mics for snare and toms are pretty much what you described, a bunch of 57s and a couple of cheap Audix mics. So 8 or more channels of expensive pres solely for drum tracks seems like a wasted expense.
 
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SouthSIDE Glen

independentrecording.net
So 8or more chanels of expensive pres solely for drum tracks seems like a wasted expense.
That's a pure judgement call. Can they cause improvement, if the new pres are good enough (and the old ones are bad enough ;) )? Yes, they can improve the sound. If you live and die by fine-tuning the sound of drums then maybe you might find it worth it.

My main view of it, though, is that is not IMHO going to be the way to get the most out of the new gear. You'll most likely hear a bigger difference using such god channels on complicated-sounding acoustic instruments such as piano or acoustic guitar or on really sweet vocals, stuff like that. Even then, you're going to want to have a microphone that's actually got subtleties worth preamping.

At this point the question pops into my head of why you are asking this specific question specifically about drums. If your problem is you're not getting the drum sound you want, I'd make it a pretty safe bet that you can make greater improvements of your sound through technique and treatment first before going out and throwing money at the problem.

G.
 

DrewPeterson7

Sage of the Order
I'd rep you, dude, but it seems I've done that a few times too many in the past and can't until I spread it around a little. I just feel like I always learn something from your posts, even if the questions you're responding to are such that I wouldn't think I would.
 

Rexinator

New member
SouthSIDE,
Thanks again. I'm actually pretty satisfied with the drum tracking that I've done. I agree that mic placement, EQ, compression and other "technique" can make a world of difference. I'm primarily a drummer who learned to play some guitar and keyboards and can sing reasonably well. I written about 50 songs, and I'm laying down all of the tracks myself. I'm not looking for commercial success, but just something that sounds reasonably good. I'm mainly dissatisfied with blurred or mushy mixes. I worked for years with a studio in a box (Yamaha AW2400) and decided to make the move to computer-based recording about a year ago. So I got me a big ol dual G5 with lots of RAM and bought into the M-audio Project Mix/ProTools configuration. Shortly thereafter, a buddy bent my ear about Logic being all the rage, so I adopted that. I learned quite a bit about mixing over the years, and I believe I'm applying reasonably good technique in terms of instrument separation (with panning, EG, effects, etc.), but my mixes are still sounding not much better than what I produced on the Yamaha. It's kind of frustrating after all the expense and time it took to get my arms around Logic. I'd be willing to spend another 3-4Gs to take it to the next level, but my focus is more on the vocals and instrument (not drum) tracks. My music is sort of "Eagle-esque" (kind of classic rock feel with lots of vocal harmonies). So my original question stemmed from my interest in obtaining at least 2 channels with improved A-D and preamps (it doesn't have to be god-like for my material). I've been eyeballing the Apogee Emsemble (mainly because of its compatibility with Logic), and that unit is less than my budget. But a friend (the same one mentioned above) has been suggesting that I should spend more to enable better quality drum tracks as well. I'm luke warm about that proposition because, as I said, the drum tracks are sounding reasonably good.
 

SouthSIDE Glen

independentrecording.net
I'd rep you, dude, but it seems I've done that a few times too many in the past and can't until I spread it around a little.
Don't worry about it, Drewser. I have the exact same problem with not being able to rep a couple of other folks for the same reason. Rep points have been rendered fairly meaningless on this BBS anyway by those who participate in rep point building threads like a bunch of little rep-point Blagojeviches. But I appreciate the thought :).

So my original question stemmed from my interest in obtaining at least 2 channels with improved A-D and preamps (it doesn't have to be god-like for my material).
LOL, I made an unfortunate typo when I typed "god"...I meant "gold" (though I suppose there are some people out there who don't realize the difference ;) ) It's just my way of saying a short channel of high-quality microphone, preamp, converters and clocking. Again, however, I wouldn't expect *huge* increases in preamp quality until you get into the upper half of preamp price range.

You sound like a reasoned and reasonable guy. If your stuff is Eagles-like, that kind of stuff could benefit greatly from a couple of gold channels. As to what it may or may not do with your drums it's impossible to say without being far more intimate with your situation, but it sure couldn't hurt anything...except your pocketbook; and that you can always mitigate in different ways.

G.
 

Rexinator

New member
SouthSIDE: Excellent words of wisdom and much appreciated! I'm going to take a shot with the Ensemble. I try not to be flaky about my purchases, but I do have 30 days to check it out and return it to Guitar Center if it's not what I'd hoped. I'm really meticulous and very respectful of that return policy, so they would get it back in mint condition. Chances are good that I'll keep it, though. Thinking longer range, I might get two of these to enable more luxurious drum mic-ing, and maybe add an even higher-end preamp (like the Avalon AD2022) for vocals and acoustic guitar. I haven't quite figured out how separate boutique pre's would interface with the Apogee, if at all. I'm assuming the Avalon output would be pure audio (no digital conversion), and I'm too ignorant to know if chaining preamps (Avalon into the Apogee) is an electronic train wreck. But I'll figure that out, and I don't want to keep pestering you. So what's with the rep point system? I'd certainly like to acknowledge the great help I'm getting. [Yes, I'm a wanna be Don Henley.......in my dreams.]
 

jmorris

New member
SouthSIDE,
Thanks again. I'm actually pretty satisfied with the drum tracking that I've done. I agree that mic placement, EQ, compression and other "technique" can make a world of difference. I'm primarily a drummer who learned to play some guitar and keyboards and can sing reasonably well. I written about 50 songs, and I'm laying down all of the tracks myself. I'm not looking for commercial success, but just something that sounds reasonably good. I'm mainly dissatisfied with blurred or mushy mixes. I worked for years with a studio in a box (Yamaha AW2400) and decided to make the move to computer-based recording about a year ago. So I got me a big ol dual G5 with lots of RAM and bought into the M-audio Project Mix/ProTools configuration. Shortly thereafter, a buddy bent my ear about Logic being all the rage, so I adopted that. I learned quite a bit about mixing over the years, and I believe I'm applying reasonably good technique in terms of instrument separation (with panning, EG, effects, etc.), but my mixes are still sounding not much better than what I produced on the Yamaha. It's kind of frustrating after all the expense and time it took to get my arms around Logic. I'd be willing to spend another 3-4Gs to take it to the next level, but my focus is more on the vocals and instrument (not drum) tracks. My music is sort of "Eagle-esque" (kind of classic rock feel with lots of vocal harmonies). So my original question stemmed from my interest in obtaining at least 2 channels with improved A-D and preamps (it doesn't have to be god-like for my material). I've been eyeballing the Apogee Emsemble (mainly because of its compatibility with Logic), and that unit is less than my budget. But a friend (the same one mentioned above) has been suggesting that I should spend more to enable better quality drum tracks as well. I'm luke warm about that proposition because, as I said, the drum tracks are sounding reasonably good.
I would be curious to hear your raw drums tracks. Dont be too quick to condem preamps or ad/da conversion on your sound.Not that they are not important but there is so much involved to getting a good drum sound like mic's, mic placement, the room your recording in, how you treat the material in the mixing stage etc.
 

SouthSIDE Glen

independentrecording.net
I haven't quite figured out how separate boutique pre's would interface with the Apogee, if at all. I'm assuming the Avalon output would be pure audio (no digital conversion), and I'm too ignorant to know if chaining preamps (Avalon into the Apogee) is an electronic train wreck.
No problem mixing and matching pres and ADCs; that in fact allows you po pick exactly what you want in each stage. What's especially nice in your case is that you'll have full metering available to keep the levels going in and out of each device ideal. I have not worked with the 2022, but Avalon devices in general are very nice indeed (as are Apogee).
So what's with the rep point system? I'd certainly like to acknowledge the great help I'm getting. [Yes, I'm a wanna be Don Henley.......in my dreams.]
I love much of Don Henley's solo stuff (e.g. "Everybody Knows", "Rain or Shine"...yeah I know they're covers, but I like 'em anyway :) ), and that's just the kind of stuff that can benefit greatly from quality mics and rooms into quality pres and converters.

Rep points can be assigned (or given away) by clicking on the scales at the top of any post you want to reward or punish. Anybody who receives "positive rep" this way is usually very appreciated.

The problem is there are some threads elsewhere on this BBS where some people get together just to give each other rep points on a daily - even hourly or "minutely"- basis to artificially boost their rep point totals to make themselves look like they hare "better" or "more popular" contributors than they in reality are. Why they care that much about their point totals is beyond me, but it effectively abnd unfortunately renders the whole rep point system basically meaningless and useless.

What Drew is commenting on is that the BBS software is programmed to force one to "spread the wealth around" to several users before it will let you rep someone a second time. This is intended to try an prevent loading of rep points to any specific person (whether they deserve it or not), but it unfortunately only throttles those who "play by the rules", the rep point Blagos have obviously found a cheap way around that.

G.
 

Rexinator

New member
Response to jmorris: My raw drum tracks are probably ridiculously amateurish. The mic placement was pretty much "by the book" (I didn't experiment a whole lot), and I haven't paid any attention to room acoustics (the room is reflective). I intentionally dampended the heck out of the heads for most of my takes, because I believed it fit the song material I was laying down. After messing with the EQ (quite a bit), I was able to get the bass to thump like I wanted and the snare to crack enough for my liking, but I'm sure that I will look back on this stuff someday and laugh my ass off. I know it sounds artificial, but I panned the mics on the 4 toms so my fills would have some motion. I just like that effect. It works pretty well if I back off the overhead mics during the tom fills. I may post tracks someday, but my home studio is remote from the PC I'm surfing on. Thanks for asking.
 

Rexinator

New member
What Drew is commenting on is that the BBS software is programmed to force one to "spread the wealth around" to several users before it will let you rep someone a second time. This is intended to try an prevent loading of rep points to any specific person (whether they deserve it or not), but it unfortunately only throttles those who "play by the rules", the rep point Blagos have obviously found a cheap way around that.
G.[/QUOTE]
OK, I got the rep point thing down. But I haven't figured out how you guys are exerpting parts of the previous message within a highlighed box. It's probably obvious that I haven't spent much time on message boards. Thanks for the education.
 

SouthSIDE Glen

independentrecording.net
OK, I got the rep point thing down. But I haven't figured out how you guys are exerpting parts of the previous message within a highlighed box. It's probably obvious that I haven't spent much time on message boards. Thanks for the education.
Instead of hitting "Reply", hit the "Quote" button. This will bring up a reply box like normal, but it will include the message you are replying to inside of some "quote" markup tags. The entire message will come up inside the tags, but you can edit it down to just those passages you want to quote simply by deleting the unwanted text.

Thanks for repping me, I'll get you started by hitting yuo back so you can see whazzup.

G.
 

jmorris

New member
Response to jmorris: My raw drum tracks are probably ridiculously amateurish. The mic placement was pretty much "by the book" (I didn't experiment a whole lot), and I haven't paid any attention to room acoustics (the room is reflective). I intentionally dampended the heck out of the heads for most of my takes, because I believed it fit the song material I was laying down. After messing with the EQ (quite a bit), I was able to get the bass to thump like I wanted and the snare to crack enough for my liking, but I'm sure that I will look back on this stuff someday and laugh my ass off. I know it sounds artificial, but I panned the mics on the 4 toms so my fills would have some motion. I just like that effect. It works pretty well if I back off the overhead mics during the tom fills. I may post tracks someday, but my home studio is remote from the PC I'm surfing on. Thanks for asking.
Ok, yeah I'd like to hear some samples.I think we would be better off ( as far as the drums go) to hear the source from the start then talk about where to go from there meaning are there issues at the recording stage etc before talk about converters.
Jim
 

Rexinator

New member
Ok, yeah I'd like to hear some samples.I think we would be better off ( as far as the drums go) to hear the source from the start then talk about where to go from there meaning are there issues at the recording stage etc before talk about converters.
Jim
Jim: I do have internet connectivity on my Mac, so I'll try to figure out how to upload some drum tracks. However, the stereo bounced tracks have been EQ-ed, so they are not exactly raw. I figure it won't do any good to listen to individual drums, since it wouldn't be possible to tell where they sit in the mix. Are there some good threads on this site or other sources you can steer me to for tips on drum recording?
 

DrewPeterson7

Sage of the Order
What Drew is commenting on is that the BBS software is programmed to force one to "spread the wealth around" to several users before it will let you rep someone a second time. This is intended to try an prevent loading of rep points to any specific person (whether they deserve it or not), but it unfortunately only throttles those who "play by the rules", the rep point Blagos have obviously found a cheap way around that.

You know, when I'm not being a shitty aspiring engineer :-)D), I also co-admin a metal guitar forum. The other admin has built two other forums previously, so I'm sort of the dead weight on this one and he did most of the setup, but while I was farting around the other day looking into a question someone had on signatures, I noticed that it's possible to not only limit who you can give reputation to, but also how much can be given in a finite period of time. I.e- it's possible to limit people to only giving out X number of rep points for a particular day, and if you jiggled X to be the right size, it'd be possible to prohibit people from giving out rep more than once or twice a day, at which point it'd probably begin to mean something again. Just saying. ;)

Of course, the alternative is you can just pay attention to how people interact, at which point it becomes pretty obvious who knows what they're talking about and who's full of shit, lol.
 

jmorris

New member
Jim: I do have internet connectivity on my Mac, so I'll try to figure out how to upload some drum tracks. However, the stereo bounced tracks have been EQ-ed, so they are not exactly raw. I figure it won't do any good to listen to individual drums, since it wouldn't be possible to tell where they sit in the mix. Are there some good threads on this site or other sources you can steer me to for tips on drum recording?

Actually,individual drums are fine.Kick, snare etc. It will tell me(us) what the raw sound is. I just dont like to jump on the "need a better preamp or converter" bandwagon. Lets hear what you have. You have eq. on the drum buss? Do you then eq. the entire mix in the mixing stage or mastering stage? I would not recomend that.
 

SouthSIDE Glen

independentrecording.net
Of course, the alternative is you can just pay attention to how people interact, at which point it becomes pretty obvious who knows what they're talking about and who's full of shit, lol.
Ya can't tell the players without a program :). Yeah, I don't belong to a whole lot of BBSs these days (I spend way too much time here as it is :( ), but those that I do sign up for, it's not until I've guested the BBS for long enough to get an idea for both the style and temperament of the board in general, as well as learn who's who and who's about what on the board.

As far as that rep point thing, *very interesting*, but I'd be careful; there's probably a whole bunch of people who might not be too happy with the idea of throttling their ability to build phony rep points. But again, if one learns the players by following the posts for long enough, you don't need the rep point system for anything anyway.

G.
 

DrewPeterson7

Sage of the Order
Ya can't tell the players without a program :). Yeah, I don't belong to a whole lot of BBSs these days (I spend way too much time here as it is :( ), but those that I do sign up for, it's not until I've guested the BBS for long enough to get an idea for both the style and temperament of the board in general, as well as learn who's who and who's about what on the board.

As far as that rep point thing, *very interesting*, but I'd be careful; there's probably a whole bunch of people who might not be too happy with the idea of throttling their ability to build phony rep points. But again, if one learns the players by following the posts for long enough, you don't need the rep point system for anything anyway.

G.

One of the nice things about being an admin is you can tell the whole site to go screw, and get away with it. ;) At the old site my buddy ran and I moderated, every 3-6 months we had to adjust the reputation levels, and we'd always get a ton of complaints and questions about "why did I lose green bars??!" and similar whining. I think there's merit in just doing it right in the first place, but more to the point I think people just take this reputation thing way too seriously.
 
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