submixing drums for studio recordings

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submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by I'm Painting Again » Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:16 pm

I've been playing with and testing methods for submixing the drums for bands playing all at once in my space.

The idea is to get a sound pretty close to how it will end up in the mix - basically just treat them like one instrument and even bake in the effects

Anyone mess with this kinda thing? What's your approach? Things to consider? Etc?

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Tue Jul 24, 2018 4:54 pm

Ive been doing a lot of 8 track recording lately and drums always end up submixed to one track. My only advice is that come mix time you’ll always want the kick louder than seems right during tracking. At least that’s been my experience. If I had the tracks for it I might put kick on its own track but it hasn’t been a big deal.
My stuff lends itself to a pretty simple drum mic set-up. Sometimes it’s as simple as an rca ribbon out front. Usually it’s been OH, kick, omni heart mic and a front of kit/room (or some combination of those 4). I’m the drummer and engineer and it’s all happening in one room so there’s always a bit of test recording to get things right. If I was just engineering and was in a control room it’d be pretty quick and easy.
It’s often amazing to me how little my drum sounds on multitracked records change from tracking to mixing. Sometimes there’s a big change but more often than not its pretty minor. I bet I could bite bullet and print a stereo drum mix more often than not.
Somewhere in the depths of bullshit on Gearslutz there’s a fantastic thread about recording disco drums. Some of the original engineers chime in with great info. Most of those tunes were on 16 track so drums were often tracked on 4 tracks, kick, snare and everything else (toms, oh, etc) mixed to a stereo pair. In that context and with that approach gates or expanders on the toms start to make lots of sense.

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by kslight » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:03 pm

I like recording with minimal mics when I can. 2 mics (Kick, Overhead) or 3 (plus snare) are fun. Not quite the same as submixing, but sort of...pre-submixing. I am very rarely ever like "so glad I miked the hi hat, or snare bottom, or toms" though I do anyway when I know I can't get away with minimalism. A lot of times they end up muted though.

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by I'm Painting Again » Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:13 am

A.David.MacKinnon wrote:
Tue Jul 24, 2018 4:54 pm
Ive been doing a lot of 8 track recording lately and drums always end up submixed to one track. My only advice is that come mix time you’ll always want the kick louder than seems right during tracking. At least that’s been my experience. If I had the tracks for it I might put kick on its own track but it hasn’t been a big deal.
My stuff lends itself to a pretty simple drum mic set-up. Sometimes it’s as simple as an rca ribbon out front. Usually it’s been OH, kick, omni heart mic and a front of kit/room (or some combination of those 4). I’m the drummer and engineer and it’s all happening in one room so there’s always a bit of test recording to get things right. If I was just engineering and was in a control room it’d be pretty quick and easy.
It’s often amazing to me how little my drum sounds on multitracked records change from tracking to mixing. Sometimes there’s a big change but more often than not its pretty minor. I bet I could bite bullet and print a stereo drum mix more often than not.
Somewhere in the depths of bullshit on Gearslutz there’s a fantastic thread about recording disco drums. Some of the original engineers chime in with great info. Most of those tunes were on 16 track so drums were often tracked on 4 tracks, kick, snare and everything else (toms, oh, etc) mixed to a stereo pair. In that context and with that approach gates or expanders on the toms start to make lots of sense.
thanks for the insight A.

I'll keep an ear out for the kick sounds -

I find it can sometimes be not solid enough sounding in a mix and i guess that overlaps with its perceived volume and probably what you mean ? Not just the actual volume right ?

ribbons in FOK position really work eh - been doing the same but with a Beyer M160 - RCA out front would probably be great wish I had one to try

I'll be on the lookout for the disco drums thread over on GS

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by I'm Painting Again » Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:21 am

Through my experimenting I've found so far that making a submix really gels the drumsound and sounds more analog too - pretty nice

I was missing some air and subs however and tried playing with an additional track (capacitor mic in the far corner) and that proved to be pretty great for adding those things in or just to reverbize and effect up to fill out the sound

prob should try gating the toms - I have two dbx gates - maybe a stereo bus for the toms on the mixer could work ?

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:24 am

What style of music are you doing most often?
Whats your regular mic set up?
Also, what are you tracking to?

Historically drum submixing was a necessity driven by low track counts. If you have the tracks to put the kick on it’s own it’s can be a huge help at mix time. In the heat of the moment and with a less then stellar control room it can be hard to get a handle on the interaction between kick and bass. Giving yourself a bit of control down the line can be a big help and worth breaking a self imposed rule.
Same with snare but to a much lesser degree. It’s nice to have snare on it’s own at mix time so you can add effects that don’t apply to the rest of the kit but I never seem to have much trouble with level and definition where the snare is concerned.
As far as gates on toms go, if they’re mixed with the overheads and the rest of the kit mics it’s nice to have some control over the cymbal hash bleeding into the tom mics. The disco drums thread I mentioned was really genre specific but has general principles that can apply to any genre that needs a tight/dryish sounding kit (like most heavy guitar based music) with limited tracks. They talk about using expanders (instead of gates) to drop the level of the toms 6 or 7 dB when they’re not being played. Gates can often sound too drastic especially if your dealing with a real cymbal basher. I’ve only been doing the drum sub mix thing in my own music and I never mic the toms on that stuff. God knows that I’ve recorded enough bashers in my time though and would happily apply the gates or expanders if I was submixing during tracking. There are so many times where the ride is so close to the floor tom that it’s louder in the tom mic then the tom. On those records I try to remember to record some clean individual hits of the toms so I can sample replace if I have to. That’s a totally different topic though.

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by I'm Painting Again » Fri Jul 27, 2018 12:04 am

ahh yea I hear all that - I'm limited to 8 tracks (Lavry blue w AES 16 on an old G5) 10 tracks i guess if i use the masterlink's converters for something - I'll use my Teac or Ampex 440 and reconvert daw busses if I want a tape effect on things - got rid of my 8 track so gotta do it that way and it's fine

the kit mixed sounds good (when I get it right) and putting it through the hammer v2 EQ seems to bend it to any mix usually - drum room is also the "lack of control" room btw

but ya and great point you have - the bass drum and bass instruments definitely need pre-planning to center them at the optimal registers with this method

I'm basically mixing it 90% in the planning and tracking choices - the rest in the box and with the analog processing loop

Jazz and rock kits / tunings - everything is balanced and good sounding in the room (usually LOL)- more on the small dead side though a 'lil lively with a mic in the far corner - I have a chamber actually (basement cement hallway) that I use to good effect - with the mk012's it sounds very Albini - i like to do this apart from the submix an when appropriate

I'm finding the coolest way to be creative and have fun is to get the core kit sound plain and submixed on a stereo pair - do a separate track for the far room - and or another track for an excitement mic that's squashed and blown out/ gated /effected nasty - then just paint with those elements to blend it up into "the sound"

I've been using 57 and EV676 for snare top and bottom
e609 hyper cardios for the toms
602 version 1 for in the kick or on the reso head when no hole
beyer m160 FOK

no overheads

sometimes a c12 clone or U195 for a room mic that also gets the air and lows from the bass drum nicely

toms use the Hill Audio mixer pres
snare kick and FOK use API's before the hill line ins - actually they hit line level shifting transformers before the mixer as they're technically incompatible otherwise - they might also hit a barrel pad if i wanna blow out the API's but that's rare
room or chamber will have the DW Fearn

I dunno if these gear details will help anyone understand what I'm trying to do i.e., provide people with a place to show up play live and after the last note it's 95% finished and sounds fantastic

I'm sure they'll help conjure swirling images of blinking lights and big knobs in studio tan fever dreams at least

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:57 am

Sounds like you’ve already got a really good handle on it. If the people you’re recording are on board with the approach you’re all set.
As far as adding the chamber are you putting it down in tracking or post? On my own stuff there a rare occasion where I want reverb or dub style delays only on the snare, my drums are sub mixed to mono so in those cases I make a snare sample track using Slate ( or pasting in samples by hand) and use that to trigger the effects. The sample is usually of my own snare and the dry version never ends up in the mix. It’s only there to feed the effects a clean snare sound.
Those occasions are pretty rare though. 99% of the time I just send the whole drum track to reverb and use hi and lo pass filters on the send to get rid of the stuff I don’t want.

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by Magnetic Services » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:02 am

I haven't recorded to tape for a while, but have definitely simplified my drum miking. I've pretty much abandoned the top/bottom snare approach (always felt like it took a lot of work to sound "right") and started just miking snares on the side. SM57 or whatever's at hand, under the hi-hat pointed at the middle of the shell. Of course there's some kick bleed, but it's usually helpful in the mix actually. I still mic individual toms for heavier music, but for a lot of stuff I've been relying more on overhead and room mics.

This discussion never gets old, does it?

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by Gregg Juke » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:53 am

>>>>I've pretty much abandoned the top/bottom snare approach (always felt like it took a lot of work to sound "right") and started just miking snares on the side.<<<<

THIS ^^^^ (IMHO).

>>>>>This discussion never gets old, does it?<<<<<

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by drumsound » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:05 pm

Gregg Juke wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:53 am
>>>>I've pretty much abandoned the top/bottom snare approach (always felt like it took a lot of work to sound "right") and started just miking snares on the side.<<<<

THIS ^^^^ (IMHO).

>>>>>This discussion never gets old, does it?<<<<<

GJ
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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by vvv » Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:45 pm

" If you have the tracks to put the kick on it’s own it’s can be a huge help at mix time. In the heat of the moment and with a less then stellar control room it can be hard to get a handle on the interaction between kick and bass. Giving yourself a bit of control down the line can be a big help and worth breaking a self imposed rule.
Same with snare but to a much lesser degree. It’s nice to have snare on it’s own at mix time so you can add effects that don’t apply to the rest of the kit but I never seem to have much trouble with level and definition where the snare is concerned."

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by Gregg Juke » Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:47 pm

drumsound wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:05 pm
Gregg Juke wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:53 am
>>>>I've pretty much abandoned the top/bottom snare approach (always felt like it took a lot of work to sound "right") and started just miking snares on the side.<<<<

THIS ^^^^ (IMHO).

>>>>>This discussion never gets old, does it?<<<<<

GJ
Its part of the fun of this gig.

No doubt! Especially for drummer-recordists, aye Tony?

Somehow lost in a TapeOp-world glitch was my response to that second quote, which should have been:

"No. No it doesn't." !!!!

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by Magnetic Services » Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:35 pm

Gregg Juke wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:47 pm
Somehow lost in a TapeOp-world glitch was my response to that second quote, which should have been:

"No. No it doesn't." !!!!

GJ
In TapeOp world we call that a "dropout" :lol:

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Re: submixing drums for studio recordings

Post by I'm Painting Again » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:55 am

haha a drummer recordist lmao here rn in an a bout of insomnia

tbh I'm never usually having a problem with definition on the kick sans for occasions where it's tuned with no muffling and no port hole - then I have to really make sure the beater is clicking loud and in balance with the lower pitches it produces

detuning batter lugs on the top/ very loose batter head sometimes works or taping something to the impact point etc.

the snare gets changed out most often and for what ever reason the bottom mic method is working to bring the definition I like most of the time - a shell mic - I try it like every dang time and it never sounds as good to me in my particular situation - I wish it would - Maybe with a ribbon or capacitor but generally a capacitor would need extra work to take the edge off and I don't have a suitable ribbon for that application

and A. - the chamber is separate - I've yet to try it live because that's definitely something I want to mix to taste after - like I said
I'm finding the coolest way to be creative and have fun is to get the core kit sound plain and submixed on a stereo pair - do a separate track for the far room - and or another track for an excitement mic that's squashed and blown out/ gated /effected nasty - then just paint with those elements to blend it up into "the sound"
I'll try to be more specific with any problems

one thing I've noticed is trying to blend in a tape delay or compressor on the analog submix I get a phase-y or softening effect on the entire submix and was wondering about that - it's kind of like blending two out of time tracks with raw and effected versions of the same source on a daw mixer but not as nasty sounding - the reverb though doesn't seem to have this problem

the actual analog mixing is my least practiced aspect with this affair - I guess I'm really after general technique guidance in that respect mostly

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