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How early do you go for samples?

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by Novocaine, Sep 23, 2016.

  1. Novocaine

    Novocaine Member

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    When mixing drum recordings for Metal, I've noticed that it's pretty hard or even impossible to get the consistency and punch that kick and snare samples afford, without adding samples. I'm guessing that this is because most drummers can't hit the kick and snare consistently hard enough to get that big attack, no matter how much compression and eq you add. Of course there are some songs that benefit from more natural drum dynamics, but most Metal post-1990 is entrenched in that sampled drum sound.

    So, I wonder how early in the process you decide to add samples. Do you try to get your sound from the recordings first with all kinds of processing, and add samples when natural is just not good enough, or do you go for samples from the start?

    Also, if you blend samples with the recorded shells, do you still heavily process the shells (compression and eq to make the kick consistent and present) or do you leave them relatively dry, so as not to compete with the samples when it comes to mix presence, and only to give a more natural sound to the samples?

    I've tried most options but not sure what's the best one.
     
  2. mva801

    mva801 Member

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    These days for metal I don't even bother recording a real kick drum. They're useless unless you have a fantastic drummer. 98% of the bands I track just don't have the time, money or talent to make natural kick drum sounds work. When I switched over to just recording midi from a kick pad, it made my drum tracking life a million times easier.

    All other types of music though, I try not to sample the kick.

    Toms I almost never sample, And the snare I've gotten much better at mixing, so I only try to blend maybe 50% or less of a sample, usually just for that extra consistency, top end and ambience.

    The drummer (consistency and how hard they hit) are really such a huuuuge part of the drum sound. Usually while tracking I'll be using the midi kick and I'll blend a snare sample in, then when I mix I'll try to get as much as I possibly can from the snare and then bring in just enough of the sample to help it poke out a bit.
     
  3. FrancescoFiligoi

    FrancescoFiligoi Count Blastula

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    Yours are all valid questions, this is my approach:

    I try to achieve the best I can with the recorded snare, if it's still not enough then I'll scrap my tweaking, then blend in samples with the original snare (blend % up to taste), then re-tweak and that usually does the trick. To be more precise, I blend them into one snare sound, and then just process that as one snare with one chain.

    On kicks, it depends on the genre but most of the times it's 100% samples.
     
  4. MrBongo

    MrBongo idiot at work

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    I usually pre-mix drums first anyway, so I fiddle around with EQ a bit and then decide. It doesn´t help with the rest of the mix when you have shitty raws that will be replaced later, and then you re-do it all.

    In general, I avoid samples. When I have control over the recording, it all has to sound good enough to be usable by itself. Mics, placement, gadgets like kickpad and (minimal) muffling, and of course drum tuning - we will check it all before recording.
    For my own band: no samples at all. The kit just sounds great
     
  5. bryan_kilco

    bryan_kilco Member

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    I'll never understand how some guys get natural drums to sound good for metal. Maybe it's my drummers mediocre kit, the room we track drums in, my mics, etc.....but I always end up with a muffled/thin sound and pretty much reach for samples almost immediately.
     
  6. Machinated

    Machinated Member

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    I'll spend a lot of time tuning and choosing the right drums/heads for the drummer and song, and attempt to get the best drum sound possible. With samples, there's some I'll use to enhance the size of the room or if I need more ring or a certain sonic characteristic - I'll try and pick these as early in the production as possible so the intended drum sound is a cohesive vision from the start (rather than trying to transform it at the end). I'll always pick samples that blend tastefully into the drum sound I was initially going for, just to enhance those certain characteristics, or to make them more uniform. It's hard for drummers to excite the drum and room adequately every hit.....

    After that, ill be looking at one shot samples - these are more invisible and blend into the drum sound without being too noticeable (just adding consistency in attack/sustain/volume between hits). I try and get these decided as early as possible in a production, but they're also the most likely to be changed during the mix if something isn't working for me.
     
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  7. mva801

    mva801 Member

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    Probably the best response I can give to this is for you to go watch Nolly's Creative Live on tracking drums. He goes heavily into how the kit, tuning, mic choice and playing have such an effect on the drum sound. Matt Halpern hits REALLY hard and consistent. To the point where almost every hit already sounds like a sample. Then you don't have to work as hard in the mix. A few gating/ bleed reduction tricks, and you're good.
     
  8. KHE

    KHE Member

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    can you explain the setup you use? i tried couple different setups, kickpads, pearl trutrac,but was not 100% happy. especially the drummers complained about the feel of the kickpad compared of a real kick. (i can imagine its hard if you never played on a kickpad before). how do you handle it? but i loved the workflow, editing is sooo easy, no kick in the room/overheads etc. thanks!
     
  9. mva801

    mva801 Member

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    I just use a Roland kick pad, running to the stock Roland module. Send that midi out into the interface, then put the pro tools sampler (structure I think?) on the instrument track with a kick sample. I use structure because it has no latency, compared to trigger or the like.

    the drummers I've done it with have no problems with the feel, but it does help that the roland v-drum pads are mesh and not just rubber. They're very quiet, and have a decent bounce. a cheaper pad might be more of a pain to play. I know Jason Seucof does this a lot. The new carnifex was tracked this way.

    The record I'm doing right now, this method probably saved us at least a days worth of drum tracking time, and a full days worth of editing time. You don't have to keep repeating takes just to get the kicks perfect, as it's SO fucking easy to edit the kicks afterward. Typically the parts played with the hands are much easier, and you can basically ignore any kick issues. Zero bleed.
     
  10. MrBongo

    MrBongo idiot at work

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    well yeah, it could be all the things you mentioned, but less so the room. Even in a shitty room you can at least get quite a bit of power into the closemics. Of course, tuning, mic placement and stuff is crucial, but you probably knew that. You do need the right mics for the job and maybe some spare models to have a choice, but you can get a great sound out of cheapo drumkits! Drumheads are more important than shells.

    This is an early pre-mix from my band´s recordings, for the rest of the band to play to, or for rehearsal when the drummer isn´t there. Real drums only, very little processing ... almost exclusively bleed reduction on the toms:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/vpjpfudnljv2xzd/drums_now_or_never-001.mp3?dl=0
    (I can´t promise this is going to stay online forever)

    Get your raw recordings as close as possible to what you want to hear in the end result. Later on you can still do a lot of processing if you want to have more extreme, "modern" sounds instead of the kinda-natural kit we have. But the basics are the same:

    - Be sure to have rimshots played on the snaredrum, whenever necessary!
    - The kick hits also need the right amount of force, not too girly but not extremely hard either. There´s a range in between that sounds best.
    - Toms usually want to be hit hard and in the center.
    - Kick pads can be helpful, however I found the Remo ones to sound a bit dark and muffled.
    - Try a boundary mic for kick drums as a secondary (Sennheiser e901, Shure Beta 91A etc). Yes, here comes the point where you probably need more than 8 channels. But I don´t even need any EQ to get a decently snappy attack when using two mics.
    - A well placed snare-bottom mic can work wonders as well.
     
  11. schwinginbatman

    schwinginbatman It's shittay!

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    Typically quite late. I prefer to get the natural kit as far as I can go then add/replace if I need to. Natural kits are more fun to process, it's more satisfying to listen to a badass sounding kit that was all your processing, but it doesn't always work out like that. My band's album we just did had completely sampled shells; he uses triggers on the kick, the toms didn't sound that good (nor did he hit them that hard), and the hi-hat bleed was so bad in the snare it was totally worthless (also the engineer accidentally put a limiter or something on some snare tracks which made it even worse).
     
  12. Heabow

    Heabow More cowbell!

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    This. Although the drummers I work with are not good enough to get good results at the source so the samples take 80% of the drum tones most of the time (to fix poor consistency) and that's a shame to me.
     
  13. mva801

    mva801 Member

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    I'll post up some drums I've been working on lately. Recorded at a pretty decent studio. The kick is 100% sampled as I just recorded the midi. 5 points if you can guess the sample!

    The first track has no samples on anything but the kick. The drums are mixed about 70% of what they'll be in the final version. Not much going on, just bleed reduction on toms and snare, a little eq on everything, and some parallel compression. The second track has the snare sample blended in. You'll see I don't use much of the sample, maybe 35%. Just enough to make it poke out a little more, and be more consistent. In the mix after the guitars are tracked, I'll be using the sample to trigger a room verb and plate verb to tatse. The drums now have no reverb, just the bit of mixing I described earlier. It's a kind of thrashy sounding band so I don't want it swimming in ambience.

    Also FWIW the guys kit was pretty cheap, and the toms were in bad shape. Out of round, hard to tune. But with brand new heads and some careful work I think the toms came out ok.

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/22572061/Theosis/New song no sample.mp3

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/22572061/Theosis/New song with sample.mp3
     
  14. KHE

    KHE Member

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    sounds great mva801!
    thanks for the details. i guess it's one of the higher end kick pads from roland? (kd140 / kd120, pretty expensive) 1+ to everything you said about workflow with kickpads. another advantage is that you finally can use the low-end on the room-mics :) can you share a clip of the unprocessed overheads? i'm curious on how loud the acoustic click is compared to the rest of the kick. thanks!
     
  15. mva801

    mva801 Member

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    I'll try and post a clip when I get a second! The pad is one of the nicer mesh ones from roland. Worth it though. It's almost silent in the overheads and it feels like a real drum.

    There is definitely a difference in the tom sound. A lot of the roundness of the toms makes it in the overheads, so without having to hi-pass them so aggressively because of a sloppy kick drum, you can let all that goodness into the tom sound.
     

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