"smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

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alexdingley
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"smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by alexdingley » Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:48 pm

I've got a small home studio setup, but it's been getting some upgrades lately, and I'm thinking of finally ditching my Toft ATB console, after ~10yrs with it.

The big question I have revolves around how best to achieve my beloved "smashed drums" tracks... Presently, I have this Toft ATB (which is a small 8-bus console) and I track my close mics & overheads discretely through the board's direct-outs — but then I also use the console's busses to take a group and smash it through a pair of dbx-160x's (or whatever nicer stereo comp I may borrow for a session) and I track that too, right off the bus outs. It tends to be a nice little touch for my rock drums.

I'm now summing through a Dangerous 2-Bus+ and i'm thinking about upgrading my front end over the next 1-2 yrs. The Toft pre's / EQ's are nice, but I'm thinking about moving into some nicer 500 series stuff, and maybe even some higher-end other rack pre's / channel strips. — the only trouble I see with that possibility is: If I'm going directly off of a bunch of channels into my interface — I won't have a way of bussing things together to feed "the smash channel".

What are other people doing, who have only discrete pre's going right into a DAW? Do they just dedicate an extra room mic or two & smash those & track em?

Not only am I wondering if folks just dedicate a mic/pair to this... I'm also wondering what mics and what signal chains they're using for a smashed drum track.

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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by joninc » Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:37 pm

So many ways to getting your crunch on. I almost always have a dedicated channel or 2 for sonic weirdness.

Standard audio level-or rules for crushing drums.

I have a 441 poking over the kick pointing at bottom of snare through whatever pre -> level or for mass destruction.

Or a ribbon or LDC in the Fok thru this or distressor....

or coles as room mics through ubk fatso or valley audio dynamite

Or six send kick/snare to Sansamp

or 57 foo through rat pedal or dynacomp

or Moog step ladder

or cranked tube pre (610)

or tube comp (adl/bg2...)

Or ..:.
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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by Matt C. » Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:33 pm

When tracking I usually have a pair of omni room mics (oktava mc012 on the floor at the edges of the room) dedicated to this sound, sent through a simple tube preamp (homemade, based on the Collins 6Q-1, simple two-stage single ended design) to get distortion.

If I want to get a similar crush effect using the "standard" close mics like you describe, I just wait and do that during mix time. Not super satisfying but it works.

To do what you're doing now you need some kind of summing amplifier, whether it's a full-on console or an outboard passive summing box using mic pres for makeup gain, or a DIY thing you put together, etc

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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by losthighway » Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:00 pm

Is there a way to do a mult send to a smash box as you're tracking and take that back in as a separate track?

If you're sure you like this you could tailor your room mic setup to print through a comp.

Or during mix.

Also I like a Symetrix 501 as a smasher.

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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by drumsound » Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:38 pm

Dedicating a mic or mics to a smashing is quite different from doing the parallel bit you do now. Both are valid and useful.

Without a mixer of some sort, your current method will need to wait until mixdown, unless you can set up a real time aux out from the DAW to feed the parallel comp. I think you're going to end up with latency issues doing that. You could also try to set it up in the session, using plugins. It wouldn't be recorded to its won track, but it would be in the project.

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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by frans_13 » Sat Dec 29, 2018 6:06 am

At mixdown i usually have a "smash bus" i automate things into. Tracking with some distortion depends what i want, if it's buttery overtones over a wider dynamic range it will be a tube input somewhere. If it's over a narrower dynamic target, a lot of gear is open for abuse. For a bunch of different overtone structures this
https://www.diyrecordingequipment.com/p ... e-mkii-kit
works well. I'm also into using existing tracks to distort and special tracks. Like those already mentioned (room mic, mic between kick+snare, mic between floor tom+kick, etc.etc.)

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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by drumsound » Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:31 pm

frans_13 wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 6:06 am
At mixdown i usually have a "smash bus" i automate things into. Tracking with some distortion depends what i want, if it's buttery overtones over a wider dynamic range it will be a tube input somewhere. If it's over a narrower dynamic target, a lot of gear is open for abuse. For a bunch of different overtone structures this
https://www.diyrecordingequipment.com/p ... e-mkii-kit
works well. I'm also into using existing tracks to distort and special tracks. Like those already mentioned (room mic, mic between kick+snare, mic between floor tom+kick, etc.etc.)
I'm curious about this. Do you build the "host unit" and then the different color are already plug and play?

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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by frans_13 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 4:51 am

I built the host and got three of the little things, which were the Cinemag transformer and driver, the "15ips" and the JFET if i get it right. All pretty simple to build, if you already did the occasional pedal or mic pre. Of the three i like the JFET the most, but each their own. It would be nice if the JFET had a broader dynamic range where it gradually adds overtones, but i'm just a spoilt kid and comparing the JFET to a expensive tube pre is unfair. As such the JFET has a "dynamic window" where it does it's job, below it's more neutral, above it can't translate the dynamics into more/other overtones but just treats different peaks as if they were the same level - or in short= less musical. It's still nice for the right things.
A lot of colors to try, hear what they are good at. At mixdown, things like these are "pepper and salt" to me, i just don't use them subtle in application, only in mix level.

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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by digitaldrummer » Sun Dec 30, 2018 7:12 pm

I just setup the SoundToys Devil-Loc Deluxe on an Aux bus and send whatever i want to crush through it. It's not always drums, but that plugin works so well on a parallel drum bus.

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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by alexdingley » Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:29 pm

frans_13 wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 6:06 am
For a bunch of different overtone structures this
https://www.diyrecordingequipment.com/p ... e-mkii-kit
works well. I'm also into using existing tracks to distort and special tracks. Like those already mentioned (room mic, mic between kick+snare, mic between floor tom+kick, etc.etc.)
Awesome to see other folks using DIYre stuff — I have been reading through a lot of their material online, and since they're local to me (I'm 20min from their HQ in Philadelphia), I'm strongly considering building a pair of their 'colour' preamps with this "implode" FET comp 'colour' circuit, which is basically an emulation of an 1176 with all the buttons pushed-in. — maybe I'll just use them as a stereo "drum room smash" channel

The thing I'll sorta miss is dialing-in exactly as much kick/snare/overhead into the bus as I wanted....

who knows? — Maybe I will do something along the lines of 'mult-ing' my eventual collection of mic pre's and having them simultaneously hit a small mixer, where there can be a smasher inserted & then passed back into the audio i/o.

This has all been super insightful. I don't think I wanna do it on the back-end, in the mix, or via plug-ins... I really do wanna try to snag it in the analog domain, prior to tracking.

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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by alexdingley » Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:45 pm

Oh, and good news! I think this all just got a lot easier to envision.

Several of the 500-series Rack Chassis units have dual outputs...

So, I'd likely be able to just pop the DB25 outs (of the chassis) directly into my Antelope i/o (which is also db25 — saving some cabling mess) and then use the identical XLR-outs to feed a small mixer & use that to A) run a smash-channel or B) create an analog matrix for headphone mixing.

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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by joninc » Mon Dec 31, 2018 4:28 pm

that MIGHT work... I have the Radial 6 pack workhorse and there's a weird impedance thing that happens when you have the XLR and DB25 simultaneously connected, it doesn't work and gain is all messed up. I actually called them about it and verified that it is not designed to do both at the same time... maybe other companies or models do this though.

(I track through mine via XLRs and when i mix I disconnect all the XLR and use the DB25 connectors.)

It's certainly easy to do parallel stuff ITB and you can even build a crunch buss into your tracking/mixing template so that it's there automatically and you don't have to re-set it up everytime and can hear it right away...

that's a big thing for me - i want to hear the sounds as close to the final product as possible, as soon as possible - not the "don't worry, it will sound great when I do this or that" - i just want to push the faders and hear it sounding great right away so I also like to track things with the character built into it (compression, eq, distortion whatever).

I think that doing that actually helps inspire the next overdub or performance and helps me build stronger songs.
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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by alexdingley » Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:29 pm

Good point! I should reach out to the couple of manufacturers that I was thinking about, and ask if “dual output” is within their spec or not.
joninc wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 4:28 pm
that MIGHT work... I have the Radial 6 pack workhorse and there's a weird impedance thing that happens when you have the XLR and DB25 simultaneously connected, it doesn't work and gain is all messed up. I actually called them about it and verified that it is not designed to do both at the same time... maybe other companies or models do this though.

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Re: "smash channel" options, for drums... sans console?

Post by drumsound » Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:39 pm

alexdingley wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:29 pm
Good point! I should reach out to the couple of manufacturers that I was thinking about, and ask if “dual output” is within their spec or not.
joninc wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 4:28 pm
that MIGHT work... I have the Radial 6 pack workhorse and there's a weird impedance thing that happens when you have the XLR and DB25 simultaneously connected, it doesn't work and gain is all messed up. I actually called them about it and verified that it is not designed to do both at the same time... maybe other companies or models do this though.
You could try the Purple Moyin http://www.purpleaudio.com/products/moiyn/

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