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Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by undercurrent217, Aug 13, 2015.
And my point was that he didn't ask, once, about making programmed drum sound like real ones.
Right, my question was if using compression on programmed drums was warranted given the hits are much more even and less dynamic. My mixes tend to sound overcompressed so I'm trying to get to the bottom of things. Musically, the use of these recordings are pre-production and for myself to learn and get better at production and mixing techniques. This is not meant for the public to hear or be fooled into thinking it's a live drummer. It's to get the ideas down and to have something to show industry people if need be, until we record this batch of tunes with our drummer. I wouldn't be recording/mixing anything we put out anyway...at least not any time soon. The more realistic sounding, the clearer the picture is painted of the vision of the song. It's not like it sounds like our drummer has 4 arms. Performance wise, it's programmed pretty realistically. Just not necessarily dynamically. With that said, the use of samples over live drummers is getting to the point that a lot of the feel is taken out of drums these days in pro recordings and I've fooled plenty of people already.
When i'm mixing midi drums I am using a bit more saturation then i would do with natural drums. Just because the separation is just to good with midi drums, doesn't sound natural.
Im not using more compression then i would with real drums, just about the same i'd say. 1-4db's tops.
I also like to layer different libraries for instance using the room mic's from the superb Made of Metal blending with say Metalmachine. Just make sure the panning is the same on the cymbals. I find this pushing the lowmids and mids in a more natural way then just using one library. As long as you check the phase it should be all good.
And treat midi drums just as you would treat real drums. Use the "real" drums and augment them with samples on say kick and snare.
Realistic programming and using good sounding libraries is the key.
About EZ Drummer 2, I've been thinking about buying it, however I am not sure it's that great of an idea, considering that I already have Superior Drummer 2. It's just that EZ Drummer seems to be more user friendly, and more "casual" than SD2. I definitely do not use most of what SD2 has to offer... and I find it tedious to use.
Would EZ Drummer 2 be worth it in my situation?
Why don't you DL the demo and see for yourself?
regarding compression, it can be used with a fast attack to level out inconsistencies in playing, or to increase or decrease the sustain of the drum. even though you may not need to worry about the consistency of the hits, you'll more than likely want to alter the attack/sustain characteristics so a compressor there would be as valid as any other situation of using a compressor. also with room mics and the drum/parallel bus's you may want a compressor adding some pumping which can add some additional groove and life to things. again, it depends on what you're working with and what the song requires.
if things are sounding too over compressed, try using a slower attack if you are sure that compressing as much as you are on things is necessary. I'm always surprised how little compression most things need (if any compression at all).
all I'd recommend is constantly A/Bing with mixes you like of a similar style and adjusting whatever sounds different between them. I think the most noticeable things you'll pick out will be the balance of the drums, the frequencies they're occupying, and the amount of room/reverb before you're likely to notice the compression. easily identifiable compression would likely be with a parallel snare, if its a particularly pingy/ringy one or on the room mics. I'd make sure all the other things are right before worrying about compression, especially if you feel you may be doing more harm than good with it.
Sounds to me like you answered your own question. Superior is meant for the guys who want to start their mix with raw drum files and go from there - EZD has fewer kit pieces, fewer samples, and a bit of processing even on the "Original Mix" presets. If you don't need that much control, EZD is probably the better choice. Even the presets are pretty good - EZD2 itself has a surprisingly good metal kit, and the options with Metal Machine or Made of Metal are really good.
It's worth noting, though, that any expansions you've got for Superior don't carry over to EZD (as far as I know).
If you don't use features, then just ignore them. If you load up a normal Superior session you shouldn't have to do anything differently than if you load up a normal EZ Drummer session. The tools are there if you want them, but you aren't forced to use them if you don't want to.
Compression doesn't adjust the volume of the source (drums in this case) without side affects. When you apply compression, you're changing the tone of that source, too. You can adjust the transients at the beginning of the sound (attack), add/remove sustain (release), add distortions (fast attack settings), add pumping in time with the song, etc. Most compressors will roll off some of the high end of the signal, too; a few will add some high end (1176 style). And most compressors have a signature sound as well - with hardware or plugins modeled on hardware, you can get some saturation and phase shift just by running the signal through the compressor in bypass mode without even applying any compression.
So to sum up, I would still suggest running through a compressor(s) for the tone shaping possibilities even if you don't need to even out the volume of the track when it sounds better to do so (you'll have to experiment and get some experience here, as there are no hard and fast rules to go by, but The Systematic Mixing Guide referenced above will give you some rules of thumb to start with). Then, if it sounds too even volume wise, either adjust your ratio and threshold to get less compression or go back and edit the MIDI track to be more dynamic in the first place (with the compressor(s) still on the track so you hear the end result).