Sound blending or replacement

drummingman

Gold Member
As a drummer I love the natural acoustic sounds from a real drum. But more and more I'm seeing people insist in studio that acoustic drum's either be blended with samples or fully replaced with samples. For example, I cut a full albums worth of drum tracks in a home studio. The mic setup was basic but the plan was to just eq things to get a good sound. After cutting the whole album the guitar player insisted that we blend the acoustic drum's with samples because he feels that because it was a basic mic setup with not top of the line mics we did not get a great sound. He likes my playing, just not how the guy recording me did the actual recording. Just to say, he is used to hearing modern metal albums where pretty much all the drums are triggered. After going back and forth with him about it for weeks I finally gave in. So he is manually blending all the drums with samples hit for hit. I'm watching the situation like a hawk to make sure that this whole process does not kill all my dynamics and feel in the tracks. He keeps assuring me that he can get it all sounding right because we are blending and not replacing. The whole process is taking forever. Personally I would rather just do it all through EQing because I think it would sound fine. But since he grew up on triggered drum sounds natural drum sounds, even EQed, sound weak and lacking power to his ears.

How common is sound blending and replacing in most situations currently? Am what I'm currently dealing with pretty normal in the modern music scene in most all styles nowadays? It almost seems that unless a drummer has a very large budget to go into a top of the line studio using top of the line mics in a killer room working with an experienced engineer that this is the way that most people are currently doing it to save money and time. If this is what most modern recording is coming too on the whole it seems that it would just be better to have a good E kit for recording and only take out the acoustic drum's for live show's. As much as I don't like that as a drummer, because of my love for real drum sounds on their own, I have to wonder if that is where things are currently?
 

AndeeT

Senior Member
I feel for you, that is a travesty. I grew up on modern metal music and its taken me years of drumming to realise that isn't at all what drums sound like.

I think a lot of metal fans nowadays don't know what a drum kit actually sounds like. I still love the music, but my love for drums means I will constantly remind myself of how processed those drum sounds are :-/

I'd says its very common in those genres. Couldn't say for others.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
This guys sums it up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bT9LUiWXkyo

Unfortunately it's all too common to use drum samples nowadays. All it does is take the human side out of the playing and make a mockery of good drummers and producers.

.....and yes he is replacing your drum parts with samples, blending? My hairy left one!

How are you meant to pull sample replacements off live? Get someone to replace all of your guitarists parts see how he likes it.

If you listen to anything pre-2000, that's someone playing/singing that part and production was an art form.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
drums don't sound like recorded and processed drums.. What the audience hears at a show is even different than how a drum set sounds. Gates, compressors, eq, make them sound different than at the throne or in a room..


You want a live natural drum sound? get a few overheads and with good placement it is easy.

You want that modern metal/rock sound mic up all the drums and start putting on effects.

With good drums, good tuning, proper mic placement, a half decent room, and knowledge you can make your current drums sound like samples. The reason people do it is because it is easier, and there is no bleed,out of tune drums etc... Or if your mic placement is WAY off it doesn't even matter.

The more mics you have the more you need to worry about the phase too...... 99% of the time if i hear a bad mix, I can zoom in and literally just see how out of phase it all is...

Once again, mic placement is HUGE for this, then you adjust everything to your main focus drum, (usually a snare) and listen to how thick, big and nice the mix got with that.


but, aside from mixing, yes, samples are used ALL the time, I'd say more often than not.. sometimes a blend to beef it up. sometimes full replacements, sometimes using your own sounds for samples.

taking your toms into a second room, tuning them and recording them at many velocities makes for a nice sample pack. plus if you tune them the same all the time it's a very easy blend.


No matter how good a guy is at mixing there will be some bleed which is a big thing for getting a super clean, super punchy and loud mix.

Samples also make punch ins sound cleaner etc.


I waver on both sides of the fence. my one band I love using natural tones, my other one I feel I might as well get the same advantages of every other metal band out there... I do prefer to blend though and still get some of my natural dynamics and sounds. at the end of the day, When I play a gig i want it to sound like the album and I want the album to sound like ME and not a robot.


If you are using samples and quantizing, then you might as well not even bother playing and just drop in midi packs and put no drummer in the album sleeve though. lol
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I think there's a ton more sampling happening than all of us realize.

I guess my answer to this situation would be you'll just have to see what the final product sounds like. If it sounds better, then great. If not, get rid of the samples. Whatever serves the song best is what should happen.

I'm hoping that there is a way to A/B the songs (before and after sampling took place), so you can decide which way is better.

In addition, it looks like someone else has been in charge of production. After producing a boatload of albums by myself, I'm happy to turn that part of the process over personally.
 

drummingman

Gold Member
I insisted on no quantizing or anything like that. I would really like to just do the drums with EQing and whatnot but the guitar player was being very difficult about the situation so I finally relented to do Blending.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Last time I went into the studio they tried to pull this garbage, he actually said "we do it basically every time"... My response basically was that is garbage and I want to hear my performance, not my performance "enhanced" with someone else's recorded sounds. I said there's only two reasons we should have to do that. 1) The recording engineer sucks or is lazy and cannot get a good capture or 2) My drums aren't tuned right and don't sound their best. Since I was more than happy to re-tune however he thought I should, only one "issue" could remain.

I stuck to my guns and nobody has ever said "geez, you should have done sound replacement". The opposite, in fact, I get raves about the drum sounds.

What we have to remember here, though, is that these guys in smaller studios like this see absolute garbage drummers and drums that are not tuned well most of the time. From their stand-point more often than not it's possible they really do need to do sound replacement and it's just habit. Sort of an unfortunate reality I guess.
 

drummingman

Gold Member
I just spoke with a guy that I know who was a drummer in a major band and he was telling me that pretty much everything in rock and metal drum wise now day's is sampled in studio. Kind of a shame really as it adds in more complications that really don't need to be. The drummer now has to worry about a sound engineer screwing up their playing by not correctly coping ghost notes and general Dynamics. But if that's the way that things are I guess I better get hip on how to make it work for the best.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I just spoke with a guy that I know who was a drummer in a major band and he was telling me that pretty much everything in rock and metal drum wise now day's is sampled in studio. Kind of a shame really as it adds in more complications that really don't need to be. The drummer now has to worry about a sound engineer screwing up their playing by not correctly coping ghost notes and general Dynamics. But if that's the way that things are I guess I better get hip on how to make it work for the best.
This happened with me. First time in said studio there was no triggering at all. Drums sounded great until the mix was finalized. My toms got buried in the mix, and was told if they were triggered it could be fixed. Second time I opted for the triggers. They kept failing and/or registering false hits. After recording and about a week of mixing, we went back to said studio to hear the results. The engineer was really excited for us to hear one particular track. This was because he took it upon himself to chop up my triplet foot rolls. After lots of "discussion", he said he would put it back. It was never fixed correctly. So my drums sounded like electronic garbage on top of being messed with. Not a happy experience at all. I'll take buried over garbage any day.
 

drummingman

Gold Member
This happened with me. First time in said studio there was no triggering at all. Drums sounded great until the mix was finalized. My toms got buried in the mix, and was told if they were triggered it could be fixed. Second time I opted for the triggers. They kept failing and/or registering false hits. After recording and about a week of mixing, we went back to said studio to hear the results. The engineer was really excited for us to hear one particular track. This was because he took it upon himself to chop up my triplet foot rolls. After lots of "discussion", he said he would put it back. It was never fixed correctly. So my drums sounded like electronic garbage on top of being messed with. Not a happy experience at all. I'll take buried over garbage any day.
Man that sucks. It's honestly this kind of thing that I'm afraid of. That's why I'm watching the situation so closely that I'm currently in.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
How common is sound blending and replacing in most situations currently? Am what I'm currently dealing with pretty normal in the modern music scene in most all styles nowadays? It almost seems that unless a drummer has a very large budget to go into a top of the line studio using top of the line mics in a killer room working with an experienced engineer that this is the way that most people are currently doing it to save money and time. If this is what most modern recording is coming too on the whole it seems that it would just be better to have a good E kit for recording and only take out the acoustic drum's for live show's. As much as I don't like that as a drummer, because of my love for real drum sounds on their own, I have to wonder if that is where things are currently?
How common? It's ubiquitous. Not only in metal, but in pop and country as well. Even when the drums have been lovingly recorded in a nice studio.

No, it's not better to have an e-kit, because blending the natural drums in with the samples is what keeps it from sounding absolutely terrible and fake.

Learn all you can about sample enhancement, and watch the process closely. They're your drum tracks, so you may as well ensure they sound decent.
 

drummingman

Gold Member
Im actually talking with the guitar player of the studio project and letting him know that I can live with the kick blending but not the snare and toms. I honestly don't even want to do it on the kick but I'm trying to meet him in the middle. By the way, this is just a 2 man project. He is also playing the bass parts. But we wrote the songs together.

If he is not cool with this I'm honestly just thinking about getting my drum tracks from him, they are on his computer, and finding someone else to write with to the drum tracks that I have already cut.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Just as in everything else out there, there's vast differences in sample library quality, especially where velocities & room are concerned. Equally, how the samples are blended, particularly matching velocities with the original acoustic capture, is key to a great result.

As we all know, a great drum sound starts with a great sounding kit & room. Those two elements are what's often missing, frequently beyond the means of many, & absolutely not on the radar of bedroom studio creators.

I've heard blending done really well, but often heard terrible results. I recently contributed to a superb library that was recorded absolutely with the aim of replicating real performances in mind. It takes huge attention to detail to pull that off, & all the source elements / context you'd expect in any top drawer drum capture / production session.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
It's complete nonsense and another example of how digital perfection gets coveted at the expense of life in the recordings. It's a way for bad engineers to come up with "drum tracks" that sound closer to the overproduced garbage they get compared to.

It's just as pervasive, and just as bad as all the quantizing and outright hit replacement that's also nearly default.

It really can, and really does hurt the artistic and "real" quality a recording might have had. I would say that drummers need to start asking what is wrong with their drums and the studio's ability to record them before chasing the perfection dragon by layering in someone else' performance of individual hits.

Just because we might covet and think an immaculate model with perfect makeup and a full makeover is a pleasing sight doesn't mean we can no longer respect and find real beauty in an un-enhanced person in their natural state. It's to the point now where we take this same made up model and use the computer to make them even more "perfect" way into unrealistic standards. Now we're doing the same thing with music and it's mostly just because we can with computers.

Ask for reasons and make sure they make sense if you don't prefer layered samples don't be quiet about it. It's your music and your recording.
 

drummingman

Gold Member
Sadly this almost seems like a lost cause. There seems to be a constant fight to get natural drum sounds while everyone else in a band, including the recording engineer, is pushing to do samples. I know that someone in this thread said that it's ubiquitous now day's. From all I've been seeing through research that seems to be true. In my opinion it's a sad state of affairs.

That said, whenever I have the choice I will choose natural drum's. I think that so many people don't even know what real drums sound like on an album anymore. That's why when they hear real drums it sounds wrong to them.
 

calan

Silver Member
It's generally more cost effective to get punchy, tight, clean, modern sounds with samples. If your source recording wasn't done well, or if your engineer just isn't hip to how to EQ, compress, gate, and side chain everything appropriately, then you aren't getting those sounds. Or, if the client isn't willing to pay for the time it takes to get there, samples might be the path of least resistance.

Most if the metal I'm listening to is still being done with real drums and microphones, but I'm not so much into a lot of the deathcore or super techy stuff. Bands like High on Fire, Between the Buried and Me, and Intronaut are still getting excellent analog sounds, not to mention anything Kurt Ballou engineers. That being said, I'm not opposed to samples or sound replacement, some of the super fast tech stuff would sound worse without it.

Personally, I've only ever done sound replacing once, with middling results, but that could be said for that entire recording. I'm still game to do it again if the situation calls for it. Most of my composing and demo work is already done digitally anyway. I've also invested in my own microphones and know enough about placement such that I can be assured a consistent and usable source recording in just about any room. If an engineer has better mics or different preferences, so be it, but I always have the fact that I can go back and track on my own in my back pocket, whoever ends up at the mixing desk
 
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