Drum Mix Feedback Wanted

wikey

Member
Hello, my band and I are gearing up to record our next single imminently, and I am looking for some feedback on our recorded drum sound, and any suggestions for how to improve it before we start tracking. I've uploaded the raw stems of all the tracks to Soundcloud, along with a full mix (fader only). If any of you can find the time to listen to them and offer your thoughts, it would be much appreciated!

https://soundcloud.com/frenchletterofficial%2Fsets%2Fdrum-recording-prep
And if any of you here are mixing engineers, please feel free to send me your details, as we are considering hiring someone else to mix this next project.

Thanks!
 

wikey

Member
Also, I have two more inputs to play with if I should choose. What, if anything, would you recommend micing up, in addition to what I already have? I really only have SM58's to play with after accounting for all the other mic's used. Would it be worth micing the bottom of the snare with one?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Tracks aren't loading. Or, they're HUGE.
 

johnjssmith

Junior Member
Here's a few things to consider:
a drum sound isn't "good" or "bad" per se, rather it's more or less suited to a project's sound, so for example a top notch speed metal bass drum sound would sound thin and small and little in a country rock or jazz context, despite being top notch for speed metal, so we could comment on the general usability of your recording, so to speak, we can't account for the context where it will end up.

Then, what sounds questionable might sound that way because of a few different reasons, so to pinpoint them it will be helpful to have a picture of your recording setup, or a general list of the mic types and placement (e.g. a cardioid dynamic snare mic 2cm above the batter head pointed at the center, two subcardioid overhead condenser mics in ORTF position...).

A big, big factor in your recorded sound will be your actual sound, aka your drums, heads, tuning, playing...
Knowing about that would also be helpful to pinpoint the origin of some possible flaws.

Finally, as important as a good quality recording is, a top notch performance is more important, and that seems to be a significant issue with your recording:
you're dragging when you play the toms around 0:10 and 0:17, a few times when you play the bass drum between those fills, the toms again around 0:24, you flam the hh + rim click a couple times when the section changes, you drag when the pre-chorus(?) section starts, then you rush around 0:56, drag around 1:05 and 1:10, and during the whole ending fill.
I wholeheartedly recommend you work on improving your consistency before worrying about your recordings, as the former is going to give you the biggest improvement at this point.

Now, about your actual question...
the bass drum mic sounds like one of those "all in one" mics like the AKG d112 that are so convenient for live sound but sound so unnatural and processed...
You already get quite a bit of attack from that but not much low end, also considering the genre you're playing doesn't sound like speed metal, so the beater mic is redundant and I'd say it would be better spent on the bass drum reso head, getting a bit more oomph rather than the click from the beater.

The snare sounds pretty weak, couldn't say if it's the snares that are too loose, the tuning is questionable, the mic isn't picking up much of the crack, or the mic is ill suited for that particular snare.
Again, it would help knowing what gear you're using and how it's set up.
That mic is also picking up a lot of hh sound, so you might want to try a few different positions to also mitigate that.

The room doesn't sound ideal, you're getting a very sloshy hh representation and a few weird resonances, like that around 0:44.
Consider having someone else play a simple pattern in your stead while you go around the room to find a position where you don't hear any of those and put your room mic there.

As for the other mics, you might want to experiment with a snare bottom mic to pick up more of the crack from the snare wires, and a knee mic to pick up the whole kit from a bit of a different perspective.
Maybe also a hh mic, but a 57 would hurt more than it would help there so just try it if you have a spare (pencil/small diaphragm) condenser.

All that said I'm an audio engineer, I do recording, mixing and some production work, and I'll be happy to send you a few examples of my previous work together with my rates for your consideration, expect a pm from me later today!
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
Reduce the Tom resonance. The sympathetic vibrations are muddying things up.
Tighten up the snare Wires.
Lose the beater mic, and simply EQ the kick mic better.
Based on the overheads, play the kick louder or the rest of the kit a bit quieter.

‘Does the room have any acoustic treatment?
 

wikey

Member
Thanks a lot guys, that's a lot of useful information. I will detail our setup, what mics we are using etc. Firstly though, I should state I am not the drummer. I play guitar and sing. I will mention the dragging and rushing to him, but in fairness that might be due to the fact that we were just doing test recordings of the verse and chorus, and he probably wasn't focusing too much on playing tight. But I will mention it to him regardless.

Our setup is as follows:

--------------

The kit itself is a Pearl Vision Birch with a DW Brass over Nickel Snare in place of the one that came with the kit. The snare is 14" by 6.5". We put a new Evans EMAD on the Bass Drum Batter side, a new Remo on the Snare Top, and an Aquarian on the Bottom. The tom heads are pretty new too. There's no dampening on the kit at all at the moment, other than a tea towel in the bass drum, pressed up against the Reso Head.

Mic wise, here's what's going on:

1. Bass Drum Reso - AKG D112 positioned just inside the Soundhole (pretty cool that you could pick that out by ear btw)

2. Bass Drum Batter - SM57 pointing directly where the beater meets the batter head

3. Snare Top - SM57 about 2 inches away, pointing directly at the rim, and directly away from the hats.

4 & 5. Overheads - A pair of Seinheiser e614's in the Recorderman position; one above the Snare, and one to the drummers right, also pointing at the Snare. I used some string to ensure the distance between the Kick and Snare was the same to each overhead. I've also got the mics as close to the kit as I could without encroaching on the drummer, to minimize the sound of the room.

6. Rack Tom Top - PGA56

7. Floor Tom Top - PGA56

8. Room Mic - Audio-Technica 2020 set up in the bathroom down the hall. I like roomy rock sounds and I think that will be suitable for the song we're recording, and this was one method of trying to mimic it that I came across. I have tried putting up mics in the room itself, but it's a small space and it really doesn't sound good imo.

I saw some suggestions elsewhere to do away with room mics entirely, get as dry a sound as possible, and then use an IR Verb to create a nice sounding room when mixing. But I don't know if that's a good idea or not.
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Unfortunately, mic wise we have very limited options. Aside from the ones all accounted for above, we have another Audio Technica 2020, and a bunch of SM58's. We also aren't really in a position right now to make any significant investments in new equipment.

I did at one time use the AT-2020s as Overheads instead of the e614's. They are Cardioid Condensers. The e614's I'm using now are Super Cardioid Condensers, and one of the uses they are recommended for is Overheads.

I imagine the following things would be good to try, given your advice:

- Dampen the Toms to reduce the resonance
- Get rid of the Beater Mic and put it to better use, perhaps by micing the bottom of the Snare, or another spot on the Bass Drum Reso head
- Tighten the Snare wires a bit. They are a bit loose to be fair, they rattle loads even when I'm just walking around the room. We were trying to avoid choking them. Maybe we went a bit too far!
- Try some better mic positions with the Snare top side, both to fatten it up, and reduce HH spill.
- Move the kit to another part of the room. As much as I hate the prospect of doing this, it may be necessary. I don't think I can hear the resonances you reference at 0.44. I don't think my ears have tuned in to stuff like that yet.
- Try a knee mic. Never heard of this before but I'll definitely give it a go
- Try a different overhead configuration. I'll look into the ORTF position. The reason I'm using Recorderman at the moment is that lots of people recommend it for home studio recording.

Also, yes, the room is treated, though how well I could not say. Not knowing much about the subject, we read about bass traps, made some ourselves with Rockwool, and threw them up all over the room. Here are some pictures, with the kit set up in the room:

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One side of the room is a bit bare as far as treatment goes, and I've long wondered if that could be causing issues. In particular I do not like the fact that the ceiling above the overheads is untreated. But this is all guesswork from me, I really don't have much of a clue at all when it comes to stuff like this.

Whilst we are on a tight budget, one thing I would definitely consider investing in is some more bass traps, or other treatment, if you guys would recommend it.

I guess what I'm wondering is: If I sent these tracks to a mixing engineer, would they find them good enough to work with, or would they find them completely unusable and replace everything in drum replacement software? I appreciate what you say about every songs drum sound been dictated by the style and what not, which makes it hard to answer such a question I suppose.

Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions guys, much appreciated. And John, I've got your message, cheers, gonna check it out now!
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
If I sent these tracks to a mixing engineer, would they find them good enough to work with…
Anyone except busy pros will find them “good enough” to mix into the salad, but your setup should produce better than that.

Find the sound that you like (or the drummer) then tune & tweak the kit and mics until you like the sound. Mutes, towels, tape, anything that works. If it’s muddy and buzzy and loose, that’s what’s gonna come up in the mix. If it’s clean and tight and in tune, that’s what’ll come up.

You got this.
 

wikey

Member
Anyone except busy pros will find them “good enough” to mix into the salad, but your setup should produce better than that.

Find the sound that you like (or the drummer) then tune & tweak the kit and mics until you like the sound. Mutes, towels, tape, anything that works. If it’s muddy and buzzy and loose, that’s what’s gonna come up in the mix. If it’s clean and tight and in tune, that’s what’ll come up.

You got this.
Thanks a lot, you've inspired me!
 

johnjssmith

Junior Member
As you mentioned you would like to avoid spending more money than you already have, here's what I believe you should do to try and get the most out of your equipment:
try different OH mic positions and try using the 2020 rather than the e614, what pair and what position will yield the best results is anybody's guess and you really can't know until you've tried them.
What you're looking for, considering your room, are the pair and position that will give you the highest direct sound/reverb ratio, as clear and punchy as possible.
A mono overhead is also an option.

Try different positions for the mic top snare, maybe putting it closer to the drum and pointing it more to the center of the batter head than to the hoop, from that you're looking for a big THUD, not necessarily that much crack (which you'll be able to get from the bottom mic or add in post), rather the lower portion of the attack, the snare's body, so to speak.

You should experiment with stereo room mics - in some cases I prefer a mono OH and stereo rooms rather than stereo OH and a mono room, which in your situation would mean a bit more of a trashy, unfocused, ambient sound.
Think about the sound you want to get in the end, and consider that option as well.
Using a reverb on the drum mix instead of room mics in an option, but it would sound a bit less consistent since you'd be using a significantly different space from your room(s).

Definitely check the snare drum tuning and wire setting.
On a related note, how old are the snare wires?
If they're old (Kenny Sharretts has at least one video on the topic, do check it out) substituting them for a new set will make a significant difference.

Moving the kit to a different part of the room is unlikely to make any relevant difference because of the room's size (very small) and shape (parallel flat walls).
Is it not an option to move the drum set in another, bigger room?
To get a taste of how much of a difference that will make just move the snare into the next room, or into the bathroom, and notice how different it sounds.

The issues with recording drums in small rooms are caused by comb filtering mainly, and then a fluttery, metallic reverb sound, and you won't be able to remove those completely, or even get close to that unless you quite literally fill that room with acoustic treatment gear.
Bass traps are effective at dealing with frequencies that only a bass drum, and maybe lower toms, would produce, but you're close-mic'ing them so the room becomes much less of an issue.
Ceiling treatment is a factor, but it's down below in the list of issues as long as your overheads are pointing down and you're not using omni mics.

As for drum replacement it depends on the engineer's (or producer's, if you have one) approach.
Consider that you're recording a mid-low end drum set with low end mics in a room that's just big enough to fit the whole set with the drummer, so it's my opinion that, unless you were looking for a really trashy/indie/lo-fi sound, doubling each drum and maybe replacing a few entirely would improve the mix's quality.

If investing some more money is an option, given the limitation of your space and of your current gear, I'd say you're going to get the biggest bang for the buck by booking some studio time and recording the drums (and maybe the rest of the track) there.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
How big of a drum sound are we talking about? When the Levee Breaks? Have a conversation with your band about what specific songs have the sort of drum sound you would like for your recording.

Is it not an option to move the drum set in another, bigger room?

If the goal is a big, rock and roll drum sound, then the OP needs to find a bigger room. Not too big, like a gymnasium, or a church -- like 20 to 40 feet by 20 to 40 feet. Tall ceilings are a plus. Carpet all over the floor isn't good either, because even a large room will sound pretty lifeless.

There's just no faking your way to a big, rock n roll drum sound using a tiny bedroom and plug-ins. The very best reverb plug-ins available are pretty weak, compared to the reverb of a real room. And big, rock n roll drum sound relies more on the room mics in the final mix than other styles.

I like to use a stereo pair of room mics, or, I also like to use a single room mic that can do omni mode, to get a nice, reverberant sound. If you don't have an omni mic, you can try pointing a cardioid mic at a wall, or even at the floor. Get pretty close to the wall or floor when doing this, like less than a foot away. The goal is to pick up more of the reflected sound, and less of the direct sound.

I've recorded in warehouses, barns, and industrial/commercial plants. But recording studios are pretty cheap these days. Unless you're in NYC, LA or Nashville, you can get into a sweet studio for about $500. Use their mics and their room, and overdub everything else at home.
 

wikey

Member
Thank you for the continued responses, this is all very useful advice. After addressing some of the points raised in your previous posts there was a noticeable improvement in the sound straight away.
As you mentioned you would like to avoid spending more money than you already have, here's what I believe you should do to try and get the most out of your equipment:
try different OH mic positions and try using the 2020 rather than the e614, what pair and what position will yield the best results is anybody's guess and you really can't know until you've tried them.
What you're looking for, considering your room, are the pair and position that will give you the highest direct sound/reverb ratio, as clear and punchy as possible.
A mono overhead is also an option.
Will definitely experiment with using the 2020's instead. Would you in that case recommend using the e614's for the room mics?
Try different positions for the mic top snare, maybe putting it closer to the drum and pointing it more to the center of the batter head than to the hoop, from that you're looking for a big THUD, not necessarily that much crack (which you'll be able to get from the bottom mic or add in post), rather the lower portion of the attack, the snare's body, so to speak.
Yeah I tried this position after your first post, I don't know if the sound we got had much of a thud, but it definitely sounded better than the position we had it in previously!
You should experiment with stereo room mics - in some cases I prefer a mono OH and stereo rooms rather than stereo OH and a mono room, which in your situation would mean a bit more of a trashy, unfocused, ambient sound.
Think about the sound you want to get in the end, and consider that option as well.
Using a reverb on the drum mix instead of room mics in an option, but it would sound a bit less consistent since you'd be using a significantly different space from your room(s).
Will give the mono OH / Stereo room setup.
Definitely check the snare drum tuning and wire setting.
On a related note, how old are the snare wires?
If they're old (Kenny Sharretts has at least one video on the topic, do check it out) substituting them for a new set will make a significant difference.
We can't tune the Snare at the moment unfortunately. I should probably have mentioned this in our first post lol. Basically, the threads have gone on several of the swivel nuts, making some of the lugs impossible to tune. We've been gradually replacing the nuts with new and better ones, but actually finding places that have them in stock has proven very difficult. So we're making do with a snare that we can't tune properly. We have the cheap Snare that came with the drummers kit available, but tbh I think that has a whole host of issues of it's own lol. We've had the DW Snare two years, so I suppose the wires are about as old. Worth noting the Snare has barely been used in that time though. I'll check the Kenny Sharretts vid out!

While on the subject of the Snare wires, nothing I tried tuning wise eliminated the buzzing from the Rack Tom's sympathetic frequencies, until I slipped a thin piece of card under the Snare wires. This reduced it massively, and the Snare still sounded pretty good to me. However, the card would gradually slip and eventually fall out in the process of recording. Any tips on keeping it in place? Or conversely, would you recommend not doing this at all?

On the subject of tuning in general, I invested in a drum dial a while back, and I have found it useful on the Toms. I've been tuning each head to the same frequency.
Consider that you're recording a mid-low end drum set with low end mics in a room that's just big enough to fit the whole set with the drummer, so it's my opinion that, unless you were looking for a really trashy/indie/lo-fi sound, doubling each drum and maybe replacing a few entirely would improve the mix's quality.
When you say doubling, do you mean double tracking? We've experimented with doubling the Kick and Snare, and I've been using samples to beef them up too in recent months. I use Addictive Trigger to do so. I have been tempted to embrace the limitations and go ahead as if a trashy lo fi sound is the sound I want! I have to say, I don't hate the results we've been getting lately, and more importantly, my drummer has been very happy with the sound we've been getting. At the end of the day, as long as things are improving, perhaps I should be content with that. But on the other hand, I don't want my songs to fail to reach their potential because of a lacklustre recording. We are going to be releasing this music, and I don't like the thought of putting songs out that are let down by poor production.

There's a lot to consider I suppose. My approach at the moment is to record the songs to the best of my ability, and if I'm not happy with the final results, consider them demos.

By the way Luca, I listened to some of your work, it sounded very good. If we are looking to hire someone to mix in the future, we'll definitely be considering you.
If investing some more money is an option, given the limitation of your space and of your current gear, I'd say you're going to get the biggest bang for the buck by booking some studio time and recording the drums (and maybe the rest of the track) there.
I would love to do this, I really would!
How big of a drum sound are we talking about? When the Levee Breaks? Have a conversation with your band about what specific songs have the sort of drum sound you would like for your recording.
On some songs this is exactly what we want yes! I understand the limitations of our setup make it nigh on impossible. The bathroom mic was my attempt at trying to emulate this sound. Smashing said mic with an 1176 plugin did seem to produce something big sounding.
If the goal is a big, rock and roll drum sound, then the OP needs to find a bigger room. Not too big, like a gymnasium, or a church -- like 20 to 40 feet by 20 to 40 feet. Tall ceilings are a plus. Carpet all over the floor isn't good either, because even a large room will sound pretty lifeless.
The biggest room in my house is 20ft wide, 13ft long, with an 8ft ceiling. I have set us up in that room before for rehearsals, it's got a laminate floor, and I can easily clear it out for a recording session if need be. Of course there's no treatment in there. Conceivably I could pull the bass traps down and set them up in the room though. I would love to find a big space to record the kit in, but I don't know of anywhere I could approach in my local area off the top of my head. Even hiring a studio with a nice room in my town isn't really feasible either. I don't know of any with a big space. There's possibly one that comes to mind. Again though, money is very tight, I'd have to save up. In an ideal world, that's exactly what I'd do though: hire a good studio, track the drums, and overdub everything from there.
I've recorded in warehouses, barns, and industrial/commercial plants. But recording studios are pretty cheap these days. Unless you're in NYC, LA or Nashville, you can get into a sweet studio for about $500. Use their mics and their room, and overdub everything else at home.
How do you go about getting access to barns/warehouses etc? Do you just straight up ask the people who own them if you can use them or something? I'd love to try something like that! Again, I'd love to hire a studio, but even £500, or $ in your case, is not feasible for us right now. We're broke haha.
 

johnjssmith

Junior Member
If you do use the AT2020 as OH I would certainly use the e614 (or mostly any mics) as rooms sooner than I'd use the 57, though it's not like there's any rule about it, so try it and you may find that you like the sound of, say, a single 57 room the best.

If you can't tune the snare then go and get yourself in a position where you can, else what you're asking is no different from "I'd like to get the best possible lap time with my car, how can I set it up to get it? By the way the tires' pressures are wildly different and I have no way of inflating or deflating them."
Buy replacement lugs from DW if you can't find the swivel nuts alone, you won't be able to get a good snare sound if you're unable to tune it, it's really really important.

When I say doubling the drums I mean adding samples to the drum track without removing the original sounds/hits; the alternative would be replacing them entirely, maybe possibly keeping the OH and room tracks, though imo that would sound a bit uncharacteristic considering the style of music, and I'd generally avoid it if possible.

Also thanks for the kind comment, you know where to find me, should you decide to hire me!

If booking studio time isn't an option, switching rooms is most likely going to give you an improvement.
In an ideal world I'd also agree with brentcn about wanting to avoid carpets and such if you're going for a really big, fat, woooshy drum sound, though in the real world, where rooms are much less than ideal sounding more often than not, I'd definitely place carpets and curtains around to reduce the room sound compared to the direct sound.
You can add reverb in post, as (un)convincing as that might be (and I believe a few digital reverbs sound very convincing), but you can't fix a bad room in post.
 
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