Mixing old school death metal drums

Goreliscious

Senior Member
I've recently recorded my band's EP, very DIY and minimal gear but got good results cos I got tonnes of help on the Home Recording forum. Thankfully a mate is gunna mix the EP for us, but for my own personal interest I'd still like to have an idea of how to achieve the sorta sound I'm after.

This is the big rock drum sound I'm after: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJp6cfXHXsY Let's skip the schpiel about DIY recordings never sounding as good as pro recordings, tuning my drums, mic positions, recording levels etc. Trust me, I've done everything I can to get the best possible sound out of what I've got!

I'm basically after advice about compression, reverb and the individual track levels VS the overheads. I know the mantra that 80% of the kit is in the overheads.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Cheers
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
How you mix what you've got depends on how you recorded the drums. Did you multi-track record a separate signal for each drum? What mics did you use and where? How many mics, how big was the kit? You can take a drum sound pretty far if you've multi-tracked, but if you've only recorded two, three, or four signals for the entire kit, you've limited yourself, and no amount of mixing (short of sample replacement/enhancement, which is not very old school) is likely to meet your expectations.
 

Goreliscious

Senior Member
5 piece = 1 up, 2 down. Simple cymbal setup.
Micd each drum individually, 2 overheads, 7 mics total.
Overheads = a bastardized version of XY and spaced pair to give as wide an image as possible whilst avoiding phase cancellation on snare.
Cheers
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
In your example, do you hear how the kick has both oomph and definition? How the snare has both body, a crisp snare sound, and attack? How the beefy hi-hats cut through the guitars, while at the same time the crashes don't overpower the mix? These are going to be your biggest challenges, since you only used one mic each on the kick and snare, and no room mics or hi-hat mic.

Yes, you should EQ, gate, and (mildly) compress each channel (overheads probably won't need gates, unless it's a slow, gentle setting that stays open until there's a pause in the song). Gate gently! They don't need to close completely between hits. As for the snare, mic placement is critical. How does the snare signal sound in isolation? If the mic was too close, or pointed down on the head too much, you won't be able to get much out of it.

After you've done all of that, and things are sounding pretty good, create a reverb return (usually room reverbs sound nice on drums), and send the kick, snare, and tom channels to it. Sometimes the reverb will be too long or too bright, feel free to shorten its decay (maybe somewhere between 500 msec to 1.5 sec), and apply a shelving EQ to cut down on the top end. If the snare isn't sounding great, you can create another reverb return for just the snare track, usually a plate setting will sound good here. Even a gated reverb is okay, since the snare will have two reverbs on it. Remember, a little reverb goes a long way. You want just enough to give the drums some space.

If things still aren't punchy enough, try parallel compressing the drums mix (without the reverb signals). If you're clever about this, you can create a separate return for the compressed drums, and send the drum signals in varying amounts to it (i.e. send the kick and snare most, the toms a bit less, and just a touch of overheads).

Hope this helps. It's really hard to give mixing advice when you can't hear the source material. Want me to take a shot at mixing a song for you? Send a PM if so.
 

Retrovertigo

Senior Member
for that sound i would say that you're OH's will make up far less than 80% of you sound. you probably strip a lot of low end out of your overheads to start. i would bring up my kick and snare first and get them in a good relationship. then bring up the toms. then start bringing up the overheads. at least that's how i would mix metal like this. at this point i wouldn't worry too much about eq'ing and such. i try not to solo a mic and then eq it. i like to do most of my processing while the track is rolling so i can always keep my eye on the context.

p.s. i would love to have a crack at doing a mix. just for the fun of it. check out www.mixoff.org and post up a song if you're into it. it will help get your mixing chops up if you decide to work on some of the tunes there. i put up a song called Renegade and it's fun to hear other people interpretation of songs.
 

Goreliscious

Senior Member
for that sound i would say that you're OH's will make up far less than 80% of you sound.
I was thinking that but I was waiting to see if anyone else would say it too! I know OHs aren't just cymbal mics but the comparative volume between snare and bass drum vs the cymbals is quite obvious!
 
Top