Wimpy drums in a big mix

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

jhcore
ass engineer
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:04 am

Wimpy drums in a big mix

Post by jhcore » Wed Nov 26, 2014 7:18 am

I've been handed quite a few tunes to mix, and there majority of them are quite lush and spacious. I'm having a really good time with them. However, there is one song in particular that I'm having a Hell of a time with. it's a quiet-loud-quiet thing (Tonally/mix-wise, I'm hearing it along the lines of Bob Mould's Black Sheets of Rain), but the way the drums were recorded are just not lending themselves to that kind of intensity. Not that the drums sound BAD (in fact, they are spot on for the slower, less intense songs), but they really have no real power, thickness or density to them at all.

So when things need to rev up and explode, the drums are just there, all wimpy and flaccid. The room mics don't have much to offer, and the overheads are basically just grabbing the cymbals. The snare sounds puny, like it was tuned tight and not hit super hard (but even that's hard to tell, because the levels are really low!), and squeezing out more UMPH! from the kick is proving to be a chore.

So that being said, the guitars sound fantastic and big, so I was looking for any advice to beef up these poor drums so they lead the charge in what should be a large-sounding song.

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 9200
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Wed Nov 26, 2014 8:39 am

Parallel compression - smash the bejayzuss outta a parallel copy of the drum submix (assuming you are ITB) and bring it up under the original drums.

Don't be afraid to vary the amount used, ex., more under the big chorus, less under the verse.

You can use the same concept on individual drums, ex., just on the snare and the kick, or just on the OH's, or some combo thereof, also.

Other tricks that can help include varying the stereo spread (mono verse, stereo chorus, or the opposite) and (perhaps via parallel) the amount of reverb, and/or amount of OH or room mic's in the drum submix.
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

jhcore
ass engineer
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:04 am

Post by jhcore » Wed Nov 26, 2014 8:50 am

Thanks for the reply.

Yeah, parallel compression! That has definitely served me well in the past. But here's another issue: I rely quite a bit on the room mics and overheads to give me a picture of the kit. With this session, these mic's information is just so minute that I wonder if crushing the sum submix won't just throw up a lot of noise.

And the snare is currently sounding way too much like Grant Hart's Husker Du sound (sans the depth!), and it's making me batty!

So, obviously I haven't tried parallel compression yet on this mix, but I will.

User avatar
joninc
deaf.
Posts: 1983
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2003 5:02 pm
Location: canada
Contact:

Post by joninc » Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:02 pm

Do have any sound toys plugs?

The decapitator and devil lock are helpful
Thickeners. Roll off top and add lots of lows
To add heft.

What eqs do you have?

Adding low end from pultec style eqs
Can add good beef.
the new rules : there are no rules

User avatar
DrummerMan
george martin
Posts: 1374
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:18 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Post by DrummerMan » Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:16 pm

There's also pitch shifting down the snare close mic. Even if the room mic still has a high pitched snare just having that along with it can add some depth.

Another idea is to reamp the drums, either just the close mics, just kick and snare, or the whole kit, through a nice overdriveable tube guitar amp into a nice reverberous (or at least enough to be drum friendly) room and then fold that back into the mix as your room sound.

That can definitely add noise as well, but if you use this (or any other noise-prone techniques) only during the choruses which already have big guitars, will it make enough of a difference to be detrimental to the mix?
Geoff Mann
composer | drummer | Los Angeles, CA

User avatar
A.David.MacKinnon
cryogenically thawing
Posts: 3512
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 5:57 am
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:08 pm

+1 on pretty much everything here.
I usually run a micro-limiter or 1176s set to all buttons in in parallel. I also often run a parallel comp on the kick and snare (Sta-Level is my fav). I will also often run a fuzz box or overdrive pedal on kick, snare and toms. I also re-amp into the live room when the provided room tracks suck. If I don't have access to a good live room I'll use a convolution reverb. Delaying the room mics also helps.
I've done the pitched snare thing and it can work well. If that doesn't do it try pumping the snare track out to a speaker placed on top of a good sounding snare. Play the track and record the results.

drumsound
zen recordist
Posts: 7042
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2004 10:30 pm
Location: Bloomington IL
Contact:

Post by drumsound » Thu Nov 27, 2014 1:11 am

Do what these guys ^^^ suggest.

kslight
mixes from purgatory
Posts: 2750
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:40 pm

Post by kslight » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:57 am

If all else fails sound replace? Not my favorite thing to do but sometimes it is necessary especially with other people's poorly recorded drums...You can even use it to build up layers rather than totally replace.

User avatar
JWL
deaf.
Posts: 1869
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:37 pm
Location: Maine
Contact:

Post by JWL » Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:29 pm

All these are good ideas. The first thing I thought of was two-stage compression, which is a variation on parallel compression that was written up in Tapeop several years back. There is an accompanying video that explains the technique well. It is well suited to songs with quiet parts and loud parts.

http://tapeop.com/tutorials/61/two-stage-compression/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvHlx3XHpBA

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 9200
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Thu Nov 27, 2014 4:06 pm

8)
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

User avatar
Nick Sevilla
on a wing and a prayer
Posts: 5103
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:34 pm
Location: Lake Arrowhead California USA
Contact:

Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:46 pm

If just making the loud does not cut it, then, if you are in a DAW, you can create either a parallel buss for parallel compression, and automate how much is used in each section, or another set of drums and process them differently for the choruses.

Again,"it all depends on the song". How BIG is BIG??? How SOFT is SOFT?

That will determine the amount of processing you will have to use to make the contrast work.

As to what to do precisely, well, again, the song will tell you. Distortion, massive low end boosts on the whole kit, parallel compression, different balance between the microphones to accentuate different drums, and tons of other stuff can be done.

Just remember to NEVER LOOK AT THE NUMBERS on whatever processing you use. Your mind will trick you into thinking you are using too little / too much. Just use your ears.

Cheers
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

User avatar
The Real MC
steve albini likes it
Posts: 399
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2005 6:50 am
Location: Tranquil secluded country
Contact:

Post by The Real MC » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:52 pm

If the snare and toms were close mic'd it would had been easier, for sure.

I can say that this is where the right compressors and reverb SHINE. I had a mix with wimpy drummer, the UREIs and Eventide 2016 were the keys to making that drum kit come alive. It really separates the men from the boys.

MoreSpaceEcho
zen recordist
Posts: 6495
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 11:15 am

Re: Wimpy drums in a big mix

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Fri Nov 28, 2014 7:51 am

do all the stuff written above. and don't be afraid to lay in some samples. i'm not a fan of that in general, but it can really help in situations like this.

also:
jhcore wrote: Bob Mould's Black Sheets of Rain
awesome record you don't see mentioned that often.

User avatar
Snarl 12/8
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3419
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:01 pm
Location: Right Cheer
Contact:

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Fri Nov 28, 2014 2:00 pm

Overdub?
Carl Keil

Almost forgot: Please steal my drum tracks. and more.

jhcore
ass engineer
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:04 am

Post by jhcore » Sat Nov 29, 2014 6:39 pm

Infinite thanks for everyone's advice! I tried pretty much every suggestion and now feel like I'm in the right ballpark. Ultimately, it was a combo of parallel compression, samples snuck in well beneath, reverb tweaking, and some eq. I still feel like the snare is too loud/too trebly, but well beyond what I was working with just a few days ago.

https://soundcloud.com/jhcore/ever-fell-iv-1

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 44 guests