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tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian

 
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joninc
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:24 pm    Post subject: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

i am working on a song that calls for a snappy yet not too aggressive drum track. i have been listening to a lot of Belle and Sebastian this past few months and loving the dry crisp and up front drum sound on a lot of the album Write About Love. I know tony hoffer produced and mixed it.

here's a pretty good example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg8hemLRFr0

this too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd4QMN_lErc&list=PL644A75BA10589BC3&index=4

this one almost sounds like a hihat is layered over top of the track - it may just be some weird gating but the hi hat seems to swell in and out in the cernter. or maybe
there's a blend of synthetic drum machines happening. there's some kind of hand claps layered on the snare i think.

it's almost 70's in it's focussed, dry sound. no room tone to speak of and drums
are dampened and short in their decay. played without too much bashiness.

they are snappy and somehow also gentle too. the music isn't intense but has a good energy to it still.

anybody know any of Tony's tricks? i realize that the source is primary and the player is key.

i am kind of more looking for insight into recording and mixing techniques here.

I'd love to know what his overhead mics are and how he's using gates and compression in the mix. does he use samples to supplement his kick and snare sounds?
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joninc
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:26 pm    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

there's sort of a really nice midrange quality to this whole album too - sort of tapey and classy but with an extended bottom that you wouldn't here on a 60's album.
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joninc
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:38 pm    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

One more note of detail - my room is pretty controlled and i have been using Coles and 414's as overheads mostly for the past number of years to get nice full drum sounds.

but once in a while I pull out a pair of SDC (akg 460) as they are a little snappier in terms of top end detail and transient but obviously have less body to the low mids and bass.

Weirdly - the cardoid SDC seem to exhibit more of a roomy tone than the coles do (which are Fig 8 ). I have noticed this before but it's been a while since I used this mics for overheads.... ARRRGGG.

I want the crispness and snap of the SDC with the direct focus of the ribbon mics.

I think I am really fighting that right now the most - i want the drums to sound really CLOSE.

tips? build a fort around the drums with blankets maybe? the OH spaced pair are about 2.5 feet above the cymbals and maybe 3 feet apart - maybe i'll drop em really low and do XY... I just don't want them like 4 inches above the cymbals...
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A.David.MacKinnon
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 9:43 am    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

Pretty cool. The kit sounds like a weird mixture of 70's country and drum machines. Go listen to some 70's Waylon Jennings records. It's a similar vibe.

This is a total shot in the dark but the snare sounds like there's a drum machine layered in or it's gated and also triggering a gated white noise track. I used to do this in my tape days, signal generator set to white noise running through a gate with the snare on the side chain. I'd mix the white noise under the real snare track. It gives you a drum machine like snare without fucking up the dynamics of the original.
I'd guess either of those things because with the exception of the rolls the snare level and tone never seems to change. It's very drum machine like.
I've worked with drummers who can get this kind of sound out of the snare but that kind of tuning is beyond my ability to describe. Part of the trick is loosening the snares but it's a fine line before it starts rattling with every kick hit. If you can get the snare in the ballpark gating it will get you the rest of the way.

The kick sounds like it's single headed with the mic inside the drum a fair bit pointed at the beater. It's a really 70's country kick sound.

I didn't really notice the toms but the logical thing would be single headed concert toms mic'd from inside.

Beyond that, I think you're right about baffling the kit off and getting the mics in really close. I don't know that I'd worry about the OH giving a meaty picture of the whole kit. If the SDCs are too roomy and the Coles are too beefy I'd try 414s in cardioid or hyper cardioid. Even better if you've got them or can source them is something like an AKG D224. It's got a nice mellow top end and can sound great in an application like this. It's my go to OH when I'm going for that dry 70's country thing. Use your close mics for the majority of the individual drum sounds and let the OH cover cymbals and the snappy top end of the kit. I'd go with a spaced pair so you've got good detail on the hats and ride. The second track sounds like there might be a spot mic on the ride because the hats are fairly quiet vs the ride and I wouldn't expect that kind control out of just a pair of OH.

My go to country set up is D224 OH (spaced or mono), mics on kick and snare (whatever is handy and suits the application but the kick is usually something vintage and unhyped like an EV664, 421 or D12), and a mic in the wurst/crotch position (again, something like a 664 or 421, you want a controlled low end, good mids and a mellow top). I don't usually mic toms in this situation but if I did I'd go 421's inside. No room mic.
A set-up like this with drum machine elements layered in (or gated white noise) will probably get you pretty close. It's all a total guess though. I have no idea what the set-up was on that record.
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RoyMatthews
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 10:09 am    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

My gut reaction is that it sounds like samples on the kick and snare. Either blended or total replacement. It'd kind of explain why the toms don't really stand out in relation.

There is this article which might give some insights on how he works.
https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may08/articles/tonyhoffer.htm
But the B&S album out at the time was The Life Pursuit which sounds a lot more produced.

My favorite album of theirs is Dear Catastrophe Waitress, which sounds pretty good too.
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joninc
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 2:17 pm    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

thanks for the tips - i did see that SOS article and did a bunch of reading on the gslutz board about his work with Beck and Air too. Some similarities on all of those, drum wise. seems like he favors U87s as overheads a lot of maybe a mono Coles.

The thing about the mono ribbon that doesn't jive for me is that the ride is still super clear (at least on those belle and sebastian songs) and I haven't gotten that kind of clarity on the ride with the mono OH (which usually sounds great right above the snare). I was wondering last night about using a M160 for an overhead - it's super directional and dry sounding and not as fat as the Coles.

I have never used those 224 mics Dave - i'm curious about them.

I think it's really about: a nice old kit, a lot of dampening and a super dead space and playing pretty lightly too. then compressing/gating the snare and kick to super size them a lot.

I am probably used to using the overheads as a larger part of the drum sound, after experimenting a bit here I feel like I could probably make it way more like 80% close mics and 20% overheads where I might usually do closer to 50-50.

I am doubtful that he would completely replace the drums with samples but definitely could be enhancing them somehow with effects, drum machines, etc..
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RoyMatthews
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 2:32 pm    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

Also, it can't hurt to dig into their instagram. They do post studio pics, such as...
https://www.instagram.com/p/lXqI_lBV3X/
Though I believe that's from their latest sessions. I've been too lazy to dig down further.

I'm a big fan of 160s as overheads. And not so much a fan of overheads. I pretty much use them as cymbal mics and any 'kit' image is from a mono overhead and/or a close room mic. Anyhoo, I digress.

Go with your gut. Think about it and try some things. You have good ears and obviously know what you want. Trust yourself and you'll get there.

EDIT: I lied and tried digging deeper into their instagram. It only goes so far and not far enough. Looking at the kit in later photos I'd totally focus on spot cymbal mics since there seems to be so few. And more than 160 (I think) in the pics of the kit I linked to. I'd close mic and have a mono OH to fill in stuff. Though I like it when the image moves from the close mic to the centered mono OH. At least, when I record.

Sorry. I was bored.
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joninc
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 3:01 pm    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

holy crap that's a pile of mics!

ben allen produced and mixed the most recent album. a different sound but also good. i love his work on the Washed Out stuff.
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A.David.MacKinnon
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 3:04 pm    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

joninc wrote:


I have never used those 224 mics Dave - i'm curious about them.


They're dual element dynamics from the 60's/early 70's. They're on everything that came out of Olympic and lots of other UK studios of the era. They're really flat and sound amazing. I use them on drums, horns, as spot mics on strings, acoustic guitars and inside the grand piano. They're the shit. Some of the best mics I've ever owned or used. Like all old AKG stuff they're 30+ years out of production and parts are unavailable so try before you by.
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joninc
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 3:13 pm    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

hey dave - how low are you going on your OH placements for that type of set up - above the drummers head or ??
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Gregg Juke
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 3:15 pm    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

I'm inclined to agree with most everything already posted, although I think the snare might have less white noise than maybe just a bottom snare mike added, with some compression-- probably accomplish almost the same sound "au natural."

I don't hear enough toms anywhere to judge whether they are single-headed concert toms or not, but if that's the era sound you're going for, it couldn't hurt. Just don't tune them too tight...

If I was to boil it down to a simple formula, I'd say, a close-mike set-up that leans heavily on the close mikes, rather than room tone, with no (discernible) 'verb added or utilized. The bass drum is definitely that click-y 70's/pre-80's thing. You can assist that by adding one of those kick drum beater pads, and maybe using a wood beater, or a well-worn hard felt beater. I know a lot of guys used to like to use an EV RE20 on kick(!)...

GJ
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A.David.MacKinnon
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 3:26 pm    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

It depends on the room and all that but if I need to go really close I'll put them in XY or ORTF on a stereo bar and go just a little bit above the drummers head or parallel with the top of their head. With spaced pairs I tend to go a little higher to avoid the OH becoming cymbal spot mics. The D224s have a reasonably tight pick-up pattern so I can go a bit higher that I would with a condenser and not have room sound become an issue.
My room is really, really, really lively so for dry sounds I have to get the kit under the ceiling cloud, baffle all around and get the mics quite close.
You're also on the right track with your thinking on the close to OH ratio. You need way more close mic than OH for this sound. For this kind of thing I'll often use the wurst/crotch mic to get the big picture of the kit instead of the OH. It's more direct/dry sounding and adds tons of body.
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Gregg Juke
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 2:56 am    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

"Wurst mic." (!!!!)

That's the _best_, A. David! I will be enjoying that all week...

GJ
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A.David.MacKinnon
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:18 pm    Post subject: Re: tony hoffer drum sounds - belle and sebastian Reply with quote

Gregg Juke wrote:
"Wurst mic." (!!!!)

That's the _best_, A. David! I will be enjoying that all week...

GJ


Yep. I think I typed that one a few times before it really clicked and the light bulb went off.
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