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  • Recording a drum kit with 8 tracks

    Hi,

    I've been following this forum for awhile, but just recently started posting.

    Anyway, my band is going to be recording a 7 song EP soon and want to get the best drum sound possible. We have a Yamaha AW16G that we'll be using to track the drums with. This unit can record 8 tracks simultaneously. The drum set sits at our practice space, and my home studio is where I plan to record everything else. The plan is to record the drums first, and then record guitar, vocals, etc.. later. I'll be dumping the drum tracks into cubase after they are recorded, and then doing the rest of the tracking for guitars and whatnot at my studio.

    The room we're recording in isn't the greatest sounding, but its not too horrible. I plan to set up baffles or something around the drums to keep the room sound from getting picked up too much.

    The question remains then how we get the best possible drum sound with the setup we have and the equipment we own. I'll give you a run down of the mics and pres we own.

    Mics:

    Dynamic
    (3) Shure SM57
    (1) Audio Technica ATM25
    (1) AKG D112
    (1) Electovoice Colbolt C04
    (1) Sennheiser E609

    Condensers
    (2) Marshall MXL V67g
    (2) Behringer ECM8000
    (1) Audio Technica AT4033
    (1) Nady LD Condenser (not sure the model)

    Mic pres:

    (1) M-Audio Audio Buddy (2 Chan)
    (1) Aphex 107 (2 Chan)

    Next comes the drum set it self. This is what I really need help with because our drummer has a lot going on. We play metal and he uses a double pedal on a single kick drum. He has three mid toms and two floor toms. Then he uses a rack for about 7 various cymbals and a ride that wrap around the set. Then there's the hi-hat and the snare as well (obviously).

    So since he has way more drums than we do tracks to use, I probably won't be able to mic all the various toms and whatnot. So we have 8 tracks to work with, and i'd really like to use one of those tracks to put scratch guitars on or something. So that brings the track count down to 7. I'd also like to set up two overheads, and need advice on the best mics for that. So really we're looking at only 5 tracks left to record the rest of the set.

    Hopefully i've explained everything well enough. If anyone could give me some suggestions on what to use, and where, i'd greatly appreciate it. I wouldn't mind spending a little more on pres or mics if it would help. And if you we're wondering why we don't just go to an actual studio and track the drums, it because we're too poor at this point, and this is only really meant to be a demo, but we're labeling it an EP.

    Thanks.
    Ryan
    MindCycle Studios

  • #2
    As a general rule of thumb with lots of drums, think simple. The most important elements are the overheads, snare, and kick drum. Try the ECM-8000 or MXL mics for the overheads and take time placing them. They will provide the majority of the kit sound. Put a 57 on the snare and a kick mic on the kick (try the ATM 25 first).

    Now if you want to record a scratch guitar track, be very careful to isolate the amp sound from the drum mics otherwise you'll have a bleed problem...whenever I record 'just the drums', I'll set up the bass and guitar direct and have the band use headphones. No amps and no bleed!

    OH's, snare, kick, bass, guitar....6 tracks, leaving you with 2 to play with. If you have the open tracks, it never hurts to experiment. You might try positioning a couple mics to better capture the toms...maybe a 57 aimed between the second and third rack tom and another between the two floor toms (or even try one of the other kick mics here).

    The biggest problem I see is you only have 4 channels of mic pres...
    "That's a matter of opinion. Like "a supermodel is less attractive than a sore-infested, poo-covered morbidly obese bald chick" is a matter of opinion."
    - Audacity Works

    "Ain't nobody ever walked down the street humming the sound of a microphone... it's all about 'the music'."
    -Fletcher

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply. I was actually planning on running everything else (guitars, bass) through a powered mixer we have and using headphones. I should have mentioned that.

      As for the mic pres, the Yamaha recorder has pres built in, but they aren't the highest quality. I though i'd be better off using some outboard pres. I have 4 channels worth so far. Is there some other pres you would suggest? Maybe another audio buddy which would bring the count to 6 outboard pres, then I could use one track for a mixed guitar/bass scratch track, and the other track would have to use the onboard pres. I'm not even sure if the audiobuddy is going to give a better result than the yamaha's built-in pres, I really don't know much about it.
      Ryan
      MindCycle Studios

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm with the rock on this one. Keep it simple especially if you're new to recording drums. Concentrate on getting a good sound from your overheads and add the snare(sm57) and one of your kick mics in as reinforcement. Do some homework on the placement of overheads for drums and do alot of experimenting with the overheads alone for the best possible sound. Like rock says, try both the ECM8000s & V67gs here. The 8000s are omni so if your room isn't great sounding the 67s might work better.

        The Audio Buddy's are definitely a step up from the pres on the G. Don't be married to the idea that you need to use the outboard pres only on your condenser mics. The G has 2 channels of phantom power and will work fine on condenser mics in many applications. Although you're probably fine here, many times the dynamic mics are the ones that need a little help with outboard pres.

        Finally, if you're a G owner you need to visit here often:

        http://forum.aw16g.com/

        Good luck!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mindcycle
          The room we're recording in isn't the greatest sounding, but its not too horrible. I plan to set up baffles or something around the drums to keep the room sound from getting picked up too much.


          Big red flag. The room is going to come into play no matter what you do [well, I guess it won't if you use triggers and blow samples... but other than that, it's in play].

          If I were at the helm of this, the first thing I would do is convince the drummer that A) one rack [two if he's being a total dick about it] and a floor are all the toms he really needs to express what needs to be expressed. B) that new drum heads are abso-****************in'-lutely mandatory... and I mean top and bottom on the toms [another reason to cut down the number of toms], top and bottom on the snare [as well as a fresh snare strainer], front and back on the kik.

          So... once you get done arguing with Lars light... and get down to actually recording drums... do your best to work within the context of the room. Bro, I have some formal training in acoustics and I wouldn't try adding **************** to a practice room... all you might do is make it a bit 'boxier' sounding. Small rooms are going to sound like small rooms... check out Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" for details.

          Tune the drums so they sound good in the room. If the drums don't sound really good in the room, you've got no prayer of getting a recording of them. Should be the best the drummer has ever heard his drums. I'd suggest opening the tuning up a bit... a little more 'live' than usual... a little 'ringier' than usual... but that's kind of a production decision. FWIW, I've found that when you tune them a little live and a bit ringy, they sit in the eventual balance better... but YMMV.

          As for mics a pre's and guillotines... just **************** around until you've got the sound you're looking for. Record some, listen back to it... record some more, listen back to it... repeat a bunch of times... take one step forward and two steps back until you've got it nailed... then move forward.

          One other note... I've met damn few drummers that cost less than at least union scale that can actually hold time from the front of a song to the end. If I were recording a drummer all by his lonesome... I'd find a way to sequence a loop and have the drummer play to the loop. As a band, you're going to lock with each other from being in "the moment"... visual contact and all that... when you're overdubbing stuff... time variations will be magnified in a big way and make the entire process much harder than it has to be... use the loop later, throw the loop out... whatever. The idea is to get a solid performance from the drummer... artistic ideas as they occur, but without a solid performance from the drummer... you're pissing up a rope.

          Best of luck with it.
          .
          CN Fletcher

          Professional affiliations:

          R/E/P -- professional Recording Engineer and Producer forums... serious hobbyists welcome

          mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
          We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid

          "I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals. I'm a vegetarian because I hate plants." -A. Whitney Brown

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree totally with Fletcher. The room will prove vital.

            I might try using all available mics (besides overheads) on toms, mixing them to a stereo track. You could use an ext. mixer for this. And simply putting a trigger on the Kick n Snare and recording them to their own audio tracks.

            The overheads will pick up a great deal of snare and the sample can be used to accentuate the 'pop' element that can get lost.

            The adv. for triggering kicks are obvious. No bleed, not stuck with the tone, frees up a pre (you can take the trigger right into a -10 line in) etc.

            So- 2 overheads + 2 Stereo Toms + trigKick + trigSnare = 6 tracks.

            My current project, we are recording with a midi kit and real cymabals/ snare. Making life a whole lot easier.

            Comment


            • #7
              Here's what I'd do:

              Record a click or rhythm pattern.

              Record scratch guitar/bass/guide vocal to that click.

              Feed that to the drummer, to play along with.

              Mic the drums like this:

              1 - Kick, ATM-25
              2 - Snare - 57
              3 - Hat - ?
              4 - Stereo Deck Toms L
              5 - Stereo Deck Toms R
              6 - Floor Tom, D112
              7 - OHL, V67
              8 - OHR, V67

              Try to get him to use just one floor tom. Everything Fletcher said about new heads, etc. Use the goo pres on the K, Sn and OH's.

              I would NEVER use a trigger to go to "tape" when cutting basics. If you've got it set just slightly wrong, all your work will be useless and you will have one very pissed-off band. It's tough enough to be on top of everything during a chaotic basics session, and this is just asking for it. If the snare and kick are on their own tracks, it's simple to replace them after the fact.

              MG
              "Thank You, NASA!"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by MarkGifford-1

                I would NEVER use a trigger to go to "tape" when cutting basics. If you've got it set just slightly wrong, all your work will be useless and you will have one very pissed-off band. It's tough enough to be on top of everything during a chaotic basics session, and this is just asking for it. If the snare and kick are on their own tracks, it's simple to replace them after the fact.

                MG


                Settings? I just record the impulse as audio from the transducer.
                Perfecly varies with attack, and makes a clean spike for rendering to midi.

                If I have the mics/ channels, of course I would mic as well. But generating a solid midi track from a mic'ed drum is a hassle I have done a thousand times and now would rather avoid.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for the suggestions. I've got a little better feel now for what to do. Our drummer did tune his set to the room once we set everything up in there. I'm not the most well versed in tuning a drum set, so i'll trust his judgement when it comes time to record. As for getting new heads, I do believe that is probably what will happen. We want to capture the best possible sound, and i'm sure the rest of the band will chip in money wise to do so.

                  So is the general consensus to just use the room and not try to set up baffles or anything like that? A rough estimation of the room size is about 15 feet wide and 25-30 feet long. The room then opens up with a 7 foot or so opening into another room. The drum set sits in the back of the room for now, farther away from the opening. Sort of looks like this:

                  ---------------------------------------
                  |....................15ft.....................|
                  |...............................................|
                  |...............(Drum Kit)................|
                  |...............................................|
                  |...............................................|
                  |...............................................|
                  |...............................................|
                  |...............................................|
                  |...............................................|
                  |25ft.........................................|
                  |...............................................|
                  |...............................................|
                  |...............................................|
                  |...............................................|_ ____
                  |
                  |
                  |
                  |................................................. 7ft.
                  |
                  |................................................_ ____
                  |...............................................|
                  |...............................................|
                  |...............................................|
                  ---------------------------------------
                  (sorry if that looks strange, I had to use dots so it would space out right)

                  The ceiling in the room is sort of cool, in that it has a two level little step design thing in the middle of the room. It's in the middle of the room, and covers around 15ft of the 25ft. length of the room. I thought that it might break up reflections a little.

                  I guess my question being, where would a decent spot be to put the drums given the dimensions of the room. If the room is definitely coming into to play, (which I have no doubt it will even with baffles) do I have a chance at getting a good room sound?


                  As a response to Fletcher's comment. One thing I don't think will happen is losing one of the rack toms. He does most of his drum fills using all three rack toms he has. We could maybe have him concentrate on only one of the floor toms, but the rack toms are probably going to have to be in the mix. Since I can't mic them all, i'd like to find a good position to place maybe one mic for all three rack toms, and one for the floor. It will probably need to just be experimented with, but any opinions on that would help. Oh, and the suggestion of micing each one and then mixing them to stereo as squealie suggested is a good idea as well. Might have to try that. BTW, thanks for the loop suggestion Fletcher, thats a damn good idea.

                  My last question (sorry this is getting quite long), is if any of you know of a program, or vst insert within cubase, that can replace a kick or snare sound. Sort of what sound replacer for pro tools does. I don't run pro tools though, so sound replacer isn't an option, just wondering if there is something like this for cubase. And if I use a trigger instead of a mic, what would I need to do that?
                  Ryan
                  MindCycle Studios

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Bro, if he can't say what he has to say with 1 rack and a floor... then he should examine what it is he's trying to say. I've never met a drummer that was worth a flying **************** that couldn't say everything they needed with 1 rack and a floor... now, don't get me wrong... there is a time and a place for the drum kit from hell... a demo just ain't the time, nor the place.

                    Best of luck with it.
                    .
                    CN Fletcher

                    Professional affiliations:

                    R/E/P -- professional Recording Engineer and Producer forums... serious hobbyists welcome

                    mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
                    We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid

                    "I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals. I'm a vegetarian because I hate plants." -A. Whitney Brown

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I get what you are trying to say. It does make sense. We'll see if he'll be willing to compromise.

                      Bump for me, so someone can answer some of my last questions.
                      Thanks.
                      Ryan
                      MindCycle Studios

                      Comment



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