Do you ride drums in a mix?

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joninc
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Do you ride drums in a mix?

Post by joninc » Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:14 pm

I have been thinking about mixing lately and questioning some of my methods.

example: I don't typically ride drums a lot

I tend to bring in and out certain tracks (maybe room mics for the bridge for example) but leave the overall level fairly static. I might effect certain moments for interest and variety or I might ramp a large build up in volume for a more dynamic crescendo but I have started wondering why I don't play with them more.

Do you leave drums fairly static in a song or will you boost them up in big moments and pull them back in quieter spots?

Do you think some of the bigger name mix guys (nigel godrich, michael brauer, rich costey) play with the volumes of drums much?

What about bass?

I guess I may partly not do this because of the loudness wars, thinking that mix/mastering compression will diminish these differences in volume somewhat so it's more effective to bring things in and out (effects, different mics etc) for dynamics.

I certainly want to capture a dynamic performance in tracking but I tend to not push
those elements up and down much at mix...

what about you?
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Nick Sevilla
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:41 pm

All the time.

Unless specifically told not to, or if the style, like a jazz trio, does not require it.

Mostly, on RAWK tracks, or anything that has to have mor OOOOOOOMMPPHHHHHH in different sections.

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Post by joninc » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:54 pm

could you give an example? I'd love to get some fresh ideas on how other people work.

like... "i drop the drums 3 db in the verse and ramp up +5 in the chorus"
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Post by kslight » Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:36 pm

All the time. I do it in usually pretty subtle increments on the drum buss for "feel" and such. Assuming I'm not correcting the drummers performance, but emphasizing it. I've got the philosophy that you can't make something "loud" without quiet. If I want the chorus to hit hard that probably means the verse has to be softer.

Sometimes I'll do a few individual tracks as well, or I'll have a smash track that really doesn't work in the verse but can fill it up in the chorus.

Yeah, I'll do bass too, guitars, anything really. All depends on context of the song.

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Post by Nick Sevilla » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:49 pm

joninc wrote:could you give an example? I'd love to get some fresh ideas on how other people work.

like... "i drop the drums 3 db in the verse and ramp up +5 in the chorus"
I could not tell you in dB what I do. Usually it will be different on each section.

Sometimes, I do ramp up levels with the mouse to see how it works, but in the end I use faders and ride them through the song. I might say, add a volume ride with the mouse, and feel how that feels first, but then go back and ride through the transitions and listen to the vocal and other instruments as I am doing this, so I don't change the overall texture or feel of the song too much, more like making sure the drums follow the energy of the rest of the band.

Sometimes only a dB or two at most is needed, to keep the drums "poking through" the rest of the instruments enough so that they don't get lost in the mix. to me the key is the hihat. If it is in there enough, then the drums might not need to much pushing. This is of course if the kick and snare are already there, but the cymbals and smaller plays (fills, flams etc) of the player are not coming through.

Sometimes the song does not have enough push at the choruses, so I'll ride the drums more, sometimes as much as 5 dB, if that is what it takes to make the chorus pop.

The other thing is, if you have 12 or more mics on a drumkit, you won't need to push all of the drumkit too much, since you are pushing up 12 or more sound sources at the same time, so they add up to a lot with even a tiny push.

I say experiment on a song you mixed already, and see what difference you can make with playing around with the drums on it. It really is about your intuition and feel. And learning to listen to a drummer's dynamics too, if they are there. Dramatize their increases and decreases in volume they already are playing, by adding / removing a dB or so to those sections.

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Post by vvv » Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:35 pm

I can't really ride faders when I mix ITB, me; it's a matter of actually setting levels in various parts (a limitation of my DAW).

So, and FWIW, I often - even usually - drop the drum two-mix 1 to 2 dB in the verses (I'll often isolate the kick out in mono and augment it under the lowered verse drums to keep the kick level steady).

I also like to sometimes go through the song and raise particularly dramatic or important fills up as much as 3-4db.

If I am working with multi-track drums in a mix, I tend to leave the kick static, and adjust as above around the OH's (assuming the kick is hi-passed out) and snare. I seldom adjust the room mic's, but pump up the toms and/or snare for important fills - IOW, fills that are transitional, or in need of drama.
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Post by Rigsby » Tue Apr 12, 2016 11:44 pm

It depends what's the base track of the song. If it's an acoustic guitar/vocal base track then I'll likely ride the drums to accommodate the changes in dynamics in the guitar, which I find happen more when tracking guitar and voice at the same time. If the drums are the base track, then I'll probably ride everything else to fit the drums (unless there's clearly a place in the song that needs a bump or a drop in drum volume).

For me (I suspect for most people) it's about what seems right in the moment for that particular song, it's very difficult to provide any rules or specific decibel shifts as each song and every recording is different.
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Post by roscoenyc » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:51 am

As mentioned above I might gain up a room mic in place where the band stops for some drama. Usually ITB for that.

For a more subtle thing I sometimes ride the faders of the drum bus parallel compression up or down as needed. That changes the loudness and the aggression either way.

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Post by drumsound » Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:08 am

I think this is a classic example of the TOMB "it depends" answer. If the drummer has taken care of the dynamics, and we haven't added so much shit that his/her dynamics still make sense, I can leave it alone. If there have been urns in production, I will rid the drums as needed. Like Roscoe, sometime I'll do it via drum parallel comp fader, other time via the channel faders so the comp is fed more signal. Each gives different results, as sometimes one is better than the other. On occasion I'll do things like mult BD and/or SD for some parallel processing and bring them in for just the chorus and/or bridge. Riding, or even muting the room mics can be super effective as well.

I remember reading that Andy Wallace often does a lot of automation to the overheads. That's a pretty interesting approach, though I'm not super fond of it myself.
vvv wrote:I can't really ride faders when I mix ITB, me; it's a matter of actually setting levels in various parts (a limitation of my DAW).
What DAW doesn't allow you to ride faders? Is there some sort of pre-war DAW I'm un aware of?

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Post by vvv » Fri Apr 15, 2016 4:22 am

Well, first, I have no faders, just the ubiquitous mouse.

But also, yeah, I'm still using Cool Edit Pro 2.1, what is the last edition before Adobe Audition; The solution is similar, as I recall, to drawing volume envelopes in PT, altho' you do it with location points that have numeric values (ex., +2dB - there is GUI for it) in the mixer window.
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Post by drumsound » Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:16 pm

To me, that's the same as fader moves. I never write automation with the virtual faders, I always write it in on the waveform.

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Post by vvv » Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:23 am

That is the net effect, yeah.

But not quite the same as three guys movin' sliders, like.

P'rhaps I'm a little insecure. :twisted:
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Post by Rigsby » Sat Apr 16, 2016 9:27 am

I do so love having a finger on every fader, playing the mix like an instrument, but yeah, I tend to draw it in too.
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Post by JWL » Sat Apr 16, 2016 1:49 pm

I often use my Faderport, which has just one fader, to write automation curves, especially on critical tracks. I usually go back and edit the curves, though.

For my mixes, just about everything is subject to riding. Particularly if it has compression on it, that obviously reduces dynamic range so I then use automation to restore some dynamics. For some melodic instruments (guitars, vocals, etc) I will do a lot of riding, rhythmically in real time with the groove. Things like drums tend to be more broad strokes since drums are inherently pretty dynamic.

Andy Wallace is the master at automation, imho....

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Post by Rigsby » Sun Apr 17, 2016 12:14 am

You compress them automate? I always do it the other way round.
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