This site is supported by the advertisements on it, please disable your AdBlocker so we can continue to provide you with the quality content you expect.

Welcome to Our Community

Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.

Acoustic Drums for Metal: A Guide

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by Glenn Fricker, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. beechstudio

    beechstudio Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2005
    Messages:
    244
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Hey Oz.......got that part 6 done yet?

    You know....I've past this thread a hundred times in the past, but never bothered to read it till the other day. You did a damn fine job Oz!
    Excellent tutorial! :headbang:
     
  2. Ataraxia2320

    Ataraxia2320 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    Messages:
    405
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
  3. downstroy

    downstroy Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Finland/etelä pohjanmaa
    so do i understand this right. that you only micin HH becouse you put it loud to drummer headphones to make him hitting softer?
    if that correct then you micing hihat with overheads? sorry shitty text,hope you understand what i mean
     
  4. Glenn Fricker

    Glenn Fricker Very Metal &Very Bad News

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,147
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    22 Acacia Avenue
    Yes. Sure, you can use the hi-hat mic in your mix, that's fine too. But, if the hats are too loud in his phones, he's gonna back off subconsciously. Just don't tell him what you're doing.
     
  5. darthjujuu

    darthjujuu Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Messages:
    1,455
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Boston
    took me several sit-downs to make it all the way through this thread. absolutely wonderful. ETA to part 6, glenn?
     
  6. darthjujuu

    darthjujuu Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Messages:
    1,455
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Boston
    also i'd like to add/discuss the method of hand-gating toms, that is, manually editing out by hand wherever they're not being hit. really doesn't take that long, and it gives you the hands-on precision that a gate plug-in or an automated "remove silence" operation just can't be trusted with. great on a small kit with lots of cymbal bleed in the tom mics. just solo each tom track and comb through, snipping/sliding/deleting wherever they're not getting hit. the end result is a bunch of very short regions/clips that fade out after each hit or fast roll. i cut right at the transient and then do a fade out on each region, and am careful to make sure i make it short enough that another transient (such as snare bleed) can't sneak in there. this is important because i usually employ this method and then duplicate the snipped up tom tracks and blend with tom .gog tracks. when hand gated tightly/quickly enough, your blended .gog tracks will trigger with absolute precision.

    using this method, i can have the natural track providing a natural feel, dynamics, humanization, etc., and i can snip it real short so by itself the natural track would sound weird and quick and "stoppy" but it triggers an ungated sample that provides the overtone tail, as well as (in my case) the high end attack. this method really works great for me, i'm doing hayworths new CD (i posted their old stuff and you guys loved it, especially gareth, haha) and it's sounding super transparent and natural this way, especially if the drummers stuff sounds good enough to "take samples" of his toms and use those. it's really quickly cleaning up the mix and letting me get the exact results i want fast. i'll show you guize when it's done in a new thread over at rate-my-mix.

    final note: if your drum room isn't the best, such as mine, take those toms (or whatever drum/cymbal for that matter) and set them up in a dead closet / vocal booth and whack them in there. then use those samples. makes a big difference. but only if you're blending, or have ample room/overhead noise, or they'll be TOO dead.
     
  7. BlacktoothGrin

    BlacktoothGrin You hum it, I'll play it.

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    London, UK
    As I took so much from this thread I thought I would document my experience in setting about recording drums for my metal band to share with others who may be thinking about doing the same thing.

    http://drumnerd.blogspot.com/

    Glenn, so many thanks for your (and a few of you others) input and getting all this info together. It has been nothing short of enlightening.

    There is is also an amazing article in Sound on Sound this month on recording modern metal - between these 2 bits of documentation one will have the best information available to get tracking metal drums.

    Brilliant stuff!!!
     
  8. sentinel72

    sentinel72 Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Wow... What an amazing thread.

    Thanks so much for the work that was put into this guide.

    And I'm looking forward to following blacktoothgrin in his drum journey!!!
     
  9. ttrentt

    ttrentt Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Messages:
    403
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    I just want to thank you Glenn, and the additions from James et al for this thread. This is a fantastic wealth of knowledge. I just did pre-pro for my band using tips from here and have never had a better drum sound. Too bad right when I got home from our practice studio my harddrive crashed! Doh! Trying to recover the files.

    Trent
     
  10. CraigTNelson

    CraigTNelson New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    As a first post, I thought I'd throw down a simplified version of my drum miking method. It's not really that different from what's been discussed here, but I'll probably explain it a different way. A bit on my background (so you don't tune out right away, or something) I've been the head engineer at one of Atlantic Canada's oldest professional studios for a number of years now. I've recorded everything from jazz to metal.

    Step 1: Mic selection

    If you're lucky enough to have a mic locker, you've got a choice to make: do I want to use large diaphragm condensers or small diaphragm condensers on the overheads?

    Well, LDCs, by nature of the diaphragm size, react slower to transients (the attack part of a sound), whereas SDCs react faster. What this means is that SDCs generally tend to be brighter and more "realistic" sounding. BUT, if your SDCs are cheap, it'll really emphasize the brittle high-end that's a feature of many low-end mics. LDCs "glaze-over" the transients somewhat. If I want super bright "radio" drums I'll usually go for SDCs, and LDCs for more of a "vintage" sound.

    Don't go any farther in selecting your close mics until you know what your overheads are doing. We'll come back to this.

    Step 2: Overhead placement

    Cardioid mics "hear" mostly what they're pointed at. An obvious point, but an important one. I'm going against-grain here and will tell you to ignore the 3 to 1 rule for drums, it doesn't work for drums. Phase (time) differences between the mics are the essence of a wide-stereo image. NEVER go for "sight" over "sound" if a rule is in disaccord with what you hear.

    I always start (audience perspective) from the left side of the kit. As you get to know your room and your mics, you can use your imagination to guess the kit vs. room sound as you raise the height of your overheads. I like my overheads fairly low (maybe 6-10 inches above the cymbals, 20-inches or so from the toms... somewhere around there - YMMV). So, back to our cardioid mic: take a drum stick and hold the stick so it extends down the "line of sight" of the mic. as if the mic was a laser-beam, point the microphone where you'd guess there's a nice balance of left-kit items (toms vs. cymbals, individual cymbals, toms, etc) and take a guess at how high up the mic needs to be.

    So far we have done two things:
    1. Guessed at the kit-balance-point for the left overhead
    2. Guessed at the height (direct vs. ambience) of the left overhead

    Do the same thing for the right overhead. Use the stick to help visualize the line of sight of the mic... balance hat, tom 1, right-side cymbals, etc. I could care less about keeping the snare in the middle of the image. Snares (usually) aren't in the middle of the kit, so I don't sacrifice kit balance to make it that way - the close mic will pull the snare into the centre anyways.

    So, we know have a basic line of sight and balance point for both overheads.

    Step into the womb (control room) and record the drummer playing. Listen back for kit balance. Think, what seems weak? Is tom 3 too quiet, is the hihat too loud? etc. Move the line of sight of the mics to achieve a better balance.

    So, the mics are balanced. Now we adjust our "lense". Pretend there's a string from the drums, into the mic, and out the back of the mic. Moving the mic along this imaginary string (so we don't change our "balance") in or out, we can create a sense of closeness or depth, depending on what we need.

    When the band says "wow, are we only listening to the overheads!!??" your job is done and you can move on. Rule no. 1: you are not allowed to mute or take the overheads out of record from this point on. You always must hear your close mics against the overheads.

    Step 3: Everything else

    As the drummer plays, listen to each kit element and think about what you need to reinforce. The kick, since it's the furthest thing from the overheads, will probably sound weak. Well, let's get a kick mic on the go. Pick your favourite (I like a Shure Beta91 and Shure Beta 52a) and position it so that it fills in what's missing from the overheads. Do this for every kit element that needs it (cymbals included).

    A note about cymbals: even-order harmonics (ie. good sounding harmonics) extend vertically from cymbals. odd-order harmonics (ie. bad sounding harmonics) extend horizontally. So, when miking near cymbals, be aware that they sound goddamn horrible from the sides.

    A note about recording bass: have the drummer play while you get a bass sound. I like to have the bass head on a chair right next to me in the control room so I can play with the tone to match it up with the drums.

    If you work this way you'll need to do pretty much nothing to the drums and bass to get them to sound awesome. Never press "record" until you're happy with the sound you're getting. Also, if your room, player, or instrument sounds like crap you are SUNK. Fix those three things before you put up mics. Your job is to capture the sound of an instrument in a room, if the instrument or the room sounds bad, you can't do your job properly.

    Thanks for listening, guys. Hope my ramblings helped.
     
  11. Glenn Fricker

    Glenn Fricker Very Metal &Very Bad News

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,147
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    22 Acacia Avenue
    That's wonderful for rock, but the thread said, "Metal" my man. We're dumping everything in the OH below 600hz, so worry about mapping out the cymbals & getting them to sound the best. The aforementioned diagrams are a great way to start.

    If I was doing Jazz, country, rock&roll, or even Stoner, I'd go your route. If I'm doing a full-on 200 bpm metal song with gravity blasts and non stop double bass, I'd dump the OH below 600 hz & stick with the close mics. There's not much space in the mix for distance mics, either.


    BTW, could you share with us your studio and/or metal credits? I'd love to check out your work & get an idea of your perspective.

    Thanks, & welcome to the board!
     
  12. CraigTNelson

    CraigTNelson New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    i've been recording for over a decade, but only about 3 years as a full-time professional. I'll admit that I'm new to metal, as we're known as an "indie rock studio" and most of my work at definitely been indie to stoner rock. give me another few days to finish up a metal project I'm working on and I'll post some clips. I'm working (simultaneously) on my first 3 serious metal projects and none of them are "show-ready" yet.

    I know it might not be my place to disagree with your methods, but just because you want to put the drums on steroids later doesn't mean you shouldn't record them properly in the first place. Using the "classical method" to track drums will give you a lot of choices come mix time. It's easy to hipass the overs and throw a few samples on the kick and call it a day, but I rest easier knowing that I've got a great sounding natural kit to fall back on if my tricks don't work.
     
  13. Glenn Fricker

    Glenn Fricker Very Metal &Very Bad News

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,147
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    22 Acacia Avenue
    If you'd read the thread, you'd see that getting the kit to sound great is the #1 priority.... and recording them properly from the get-go is the aim (again, read the thread.)
    But, metal takes a different approach than other forms of music. Take this as advice from a guy who's been recording metal professionally for the last 11 years. The "classical approach" is not the best approach for metal.

    I'm not a fan of sample replacement, (yet again, read the thread) either. Especially on snare & toms. yech. By all means, get the kit to sound great. But, when placing your overheads, your priority should be the cymbals & getting a good, balanced stereo image with them.

    -0z-
     
  14. John_C

    John_C formerly Skeksis268

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    3,457
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Coventry, UK
    not that my opinion holds much weight (and nor should it) but i'm gonna step in on glenn's side and say that all recording is a compromise and you have to choose your priorities, which for metal overheads is cymbals
     
  15. CraigTNelson

    CraigTNelson New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    I still don't agree. I've found that the best compromise is to use 2 overheads for the full kit picture, close mics on all the kit elements and an additional 3 cymbal mics (HPed to hell, of course).

    But to each his own, I guess. I have a natural resistance, as I'm sure we all do, to being told what the *right way* is to do something. I'm telling you MY way, it works for me, it works for the metal projects I'm working on, but it might not work for you. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel for you guys here, I'm just trying to let you guys know a few things I've learned from doing this as a hobbyist for a decade and professionally for 3 years or so.

    And I DID read the thread. Every post. If I did things the same way as everybody else I wouldn't have posted "my way"; I did exactly that because what I do is different and I hoped somebody could learn from it.
     
  16. Glenn Fricker

    Glenn Fricker Very Metal &Very Bad News

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,147
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    22 Acacia Avenue
    All I'm doing is passing on what I've learned from some of the bigger names. Hell, the 600hz rolloff thing was Andy's idea, not mine. Works like a champ in a dense mix.

    I resisted like hell at first too. I was hooked on XY pairs for overheads for quite some time until James showed me all about spaced pairs. Never be afraid to try something new.
     
  17. plague_rider

    plague_rider Coffee

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Messages:
    1,842
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Newcastle
    First off, i showed my drummer friend this and he can't wait to record again with some of these ideas (and he loves the abuse you give drummers Glenn)

    As for the discussion in the last few posts... i gotta say that i used to be a 2 OH guy, but recent recordings using multiple mics with a closer placement has given my drum mixing more depth, and with the Hi-Pass i'm finally listening to the cymbals and stereo placement and smiling my tits off...
     
  18. pad9

    pad9 New Metal Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Guatemala, C.A.
    I just wanted to say thanks to Glenn for a wonderful tutorial. It actually saved me a lot of hours of mixing.
     
  19. schnykeees

    schnykeees Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Replacement software and the samples themselves have come along way in the last few years. @Glenn, do you still despise having to resort to replacing kicks or snares?
     
  20. Glenn Fricker

    Glenn Fricker Very Metal &Very Bad News

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,147
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    22 Acacia Avenue
    The short answer: Yes. I prefer to use samples as a last resort.


    Anyway, I've been throwing an idea around for a bit & wondered if you guys would be interested:

    I'm thinking about transforming this guide into a series of videos for youtube. Pictures & text are one thing, but a step by step video would really get my point across. (and we could have a few laughs along the way.)

    What do you guys think?

    -0z-
     

Share This Page