Does anyone........

Let's talk about kits and mics, new and old. What are you using? What do you want? What's the difference?

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Does anyone........

Postby Ausrock » Sun May 29, 2011 10:01 pm

As I started to say in the thread title..............does anyone, (God forbid), actually use the originally recorded drum tracks without resorting to triggered samples or editing the tracks in software anymore :-s
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby AnthonyMF » Sun May 29, 2011 10:32 pm

Yes!

I just finished a whole album of completely unsampled drums. Mind you, the idea was to go for a neil young/pink floyd inspired sound. Huge learning experience, had so much fun.

I think with a talented drummer it's easy enough to pull off that modern sound (or any sound!) and not need samples. Fighting the temptation during mixing is always harder I find, just throwing them on and experiencing a new sound can make the track seem more exciting than the samples are really worth.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby Junction » Sun May 29, 2011 10:57 pm

I cant remember the last time I replaced a real drum sound with a sample, it is hard work and like Anthony, it is tempting to, just for something different. When I am doing more than one song, I will change the setup, swap out snares, cymbals, maybe change the mic placement, so that the drum sound fits the song and so that I dont end up with the same drum sound for every song.

Invariably I may do a bit of editing to clean it up or soften the impact of a dud hit somewhere in the track, unless its a shit hot drummer.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby mylesgm » Mon May 30, 2011 12:02 am

I never replace. I make the kit sound like I want it to and/or blame the drummer. Then I get a different kit or a different room or a different drummer or different mics probably in that order. In fact I have always worked with what I have and if it doesn't end up going the direction I first envisaged I let the new direction feed my inspiration and see where that takes me. Maybe I'll post some of the weirder setups I've ended up with. i.e. alt-country album with tibetan calf skin drum as kick, kiddy drum set hihats, oldest crappiest ride I've ever seen, beatup snare that was kicking around the studio, no toms and the drummers sticks had my socks wrapped around the butt end. Everybody loved it including some people who dropped by for a coffee and couldn't believe the sound vs the tools. Then two weeks ago I recorded a straight up rock kit with a drummer who, when I asked if she had heavier sticks, pulled out a pair of taiko drum sticks and beat the crap out of the kit for an epic ending.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby seancook » Mon May 30, 2011 12:56 am

Im very firmly in the same boat as Myles here, I never replace as a remedy for poorly recorded, played or
bad sounding drum kits. I just avoid all three of those instances!

good drum kits, and make sure your drums are tuned to the room you are in, sway cymbal, snares, kicks whatever to change where appropriate and stick mics in the room where the kit sounds huge

doing a record right now with heaps of edited drums and a few samples, but its really overtop
samples distorted, filtered, sonically abused drums as an aesthetic, not because they didn't sound great or were played beautifully to begin with, but it was our intention from the start to go there.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby Kurt » Mon May 30, 2011 1:47 am

Working on my band's album and running with only real sounds this time around. There has been some editing and I'm playing with using samples recorded after all the songs were tracked to increase definition/consistency. Other than that very little editing timing wise, certainly no quantising anything at all.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby danander11 » Mon May 30, 2011 1:53 am

I don't trigger, but I do edit.. clean spill, etc.. Any replacing is done with individual hits I take from the kit at the beginning. Same drummer, same drums, less spill.

We're buying a new place as soon as our sydney place sells.. I'll build something better than what I have now out back.. with a better room maybe I won't be so eager to edit so much. Right now I have to work with what I have.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby mylesgm » Mon May 30, 2011 8:18 am

I do always strip silence from toms as well as some basic editing but never ever quantise or time correct. Cant stand the sound of that. Real sounds played by real musicians recorded by me is what I do.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby Chris H » Mon May 30, 2011 10:14 am

Most of my work is as Myles said, real sounds played by real musicians recorded by me. About 3 times ever i have triggered a kick to compliment the recorded sound. One of those times was for a live recording where i used the same mic set up on a Brady kit as i used the week before when recording a jazz band, a FET condenser back from the kick a bit. It had worked very nicely only this recording was the same drummer and kit playing in Chris Wilson's band so stage level was louder and the kick didn'd work well as recorded.
I am doing more jobs where i take on mixing other's recordings and the one i'm working on at the moment has very good drum sounds.
My sons band, a heavier out fit have had the drums replaced whenever they have recorded and he's said that's the way it's mostly done with bands he knows in that style.
I get the impression in that style moste recorded kits are heavily edited and drum replaced. It would be good to hear from those recording screamo metal etc as to how many of these bands might actually go for the originally recorded kit sounds without a lot of editing and triggered / drum re placer sounds.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby Drumstruck » Mon May 30, 2011 10:47 am

caught between the drummer and the deep blue sea.....

Yes to original sounds but 99% played on an e-kit.

Being the drummer and the engineer leaves (me) caught between the 2 approaches to the recording - I guess the same as many of you guys:
- as a drummer (artist? technician?) I want to play it right in one take, so most times I loop the song and keep recording until I've got the take I want to use - sometimes first take / sometimes 20th take - depends how difficult the song is
- as an engineer I want the recording as perfect as possible, so mixing (riding the faders / automation / strip silence / eq / fx) is the next step.

I don't quantize (sorry, I view that as cheating) and generally don't use MIDI substitution of kit sounds as I find I can get very good sounds from the TD-20x module (analog outs -> through the desk -> into the DAW). I also MIDI trigger the BFD2 kits that I've already set up but play that "live" also.

BUT, if I had a big $s commercial job and a hard deadline I'd probably compromise on the cheating...... :-l
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby Kurt » Mon May 30, 2011 10:55 am

I deal with mostly metal bands.. Replaced drums is pretty standard at the level I work at but I think as the budget goes up so does the ability to capture great drum sounds. I think augmenting rather than replacing is the fashion of the day. Having said that, I just recorded a young punk band with not so great gear. The drummer has very metal sensibilities so I used the drum samples Andy Sneap released a couple of years ago for kick and toms, kept the natural snare sound.

As I said in another thread, for my band's current recording we're going with all "natural" drum sounds but money is no object and time is unimportant, meaning I get to spend a lot of time working on it. (Thanks guys!)

Chris H wrote:Most of my work is as Myles said, real sounds played by real musicians recorded by me. About 3 times ever i have triggered a kick to compliment the recorded sound. One of those times was for a live recording where i used the same mic set up on a Brady kit as i used the week before when recording a jazz band, a FET condenser back from the kick a bit. It had worked very nicely only this recording was the same drummer and kit playing in Chris Wilson's band so stage level was louder and the kick didn'd work well as recorded.
I am doing more jobs where i take on mixing other's recordings and the one i'm working on at the moment has very good drum sounds.
My sons band, a heavier out fit have had the drums replaced whenever they have recorded and he's said that's the way it's mostly done with bands he knows in that style.
I get the impression in that style moste recorded kits are heavily edited and drum replaced. It would be good to hear from those recording screamo metal etc as to how many of these bands might actually go for the originally recorded kit sounds without a lot of editing and triggered / drum re placer sounds.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby ChrisW » Mon May 30, 2011 11:16 am

I had my drum performances edited going back to the early 80's.
The goal was always to do the best first or second take of course. Certainly I can't relate to the multiple takes with multiple edits approach, less so the beat detective-ing. But back in the 80's I used to be called in if a band's drummer couldn't 'cut it' on an album. These days the producer/engineer will resample and beat detective instead. That's probably better for bands. More often than not the band would split up, or at least the drummer would quit after I'd been brought in mercenary style.
The funniest thing was the advent of computer sequencing and sampling as personified by the Fairlight.
I suddenly found myself working alongside Fairlight programmers, sometimes competing with their tighter timing and tighter sounds. The worst aspect was when bands and producers started to get obsessed with the timing and you'd see star studio guys like Porcaro and Katche being recorded, then retimed in the Fairlight. What do you want, the Fairlight feel or the feel of a master drummer?

I have no problem with two or three of my best takes being chopped into one better take. Guys used to 'drop me in' if the song cooked but the first verse sounded like I was still finding my groove. Very often I'd nail a song but the producer would want to re-order the fills, so I'd drop in new fills here and there.
It's just a lot easier and less stressful for the producer now.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby adamcal » Mon May 30, 2011 11:50 am

I dont understand how some of you say "I never"

Unless you are working on a very limited scope of projects, for me every job is a totally unique entity, some will require a bit of this and bit of that, some will require none at all, and others will need it all.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby mylesgm » Mon May 30, 2011 1:59 pm

adamcal wrote:I dont understand how some of you say "I never"

Unless you are working on a very limited scope of projects, for me every job is a totally unique entity, some will require a bit of this and bit of that, some will require none at all, and others will need it all.


I say never because I mean it. My techniques may change with the projects I do (and let me tell you the projects I do vary vastly from straight jazz, to mellow, to bebop, to alt-country, rock, avant garde, classical, orchestral whatever and the techniques vary even more) but my goal is always the same: real music played by real musicians. Do I edit? yes. do I melodyne? occasionally. Do I replace parts with different musos? yep do I replace real performance with programming? nope I do not. Do I record programmed parts? yes but never as a replacement only as a new instrument.

Lots of people can rage about the loudness wars but what I'm sick of and will not contribute to is badly made music by poor musicians poorly engineered and produced and polished up so that it sounds like plastic. Water and Vodka look similar but the truth is in the tasting.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby The Tasmanian » Mon May 30, 2011 7:47 pm

I don't have a problem with blending a sample (my own recorded samples) with a kik drum. And rarely a snare.
Cant used beat detective - I don't want to even touch it.
But what is the harm in blending a sample with the recorded kik? Its not mucking around with the players performance.
Never??? is a scary word in this creative industry
-If this is the case then we should never EQ anything - because then its not "real"
If we EQ a bit of top end into a snare, then that cheating because the drummer did not get that brightness from the instrument.
Also - we should never add reverb (even naturally recorded) or delay or touch a fader - or any plug-in on anything again, or drive a mic pre, or put tape on a drum, or build a tunnel for kik, or hit analog tape hard, or pan, or re balance the faders, or ever touch a compressor - because then its not "real" and your cheating.

Its a crazy way to look at things because even choosing a mic we are making EQ decisions.

Being a purist is fine if you want a career in standard old school Jazz, or orchestral recording and mixing - but don't touch an EQ - or your replacing the sound with a new one. Put 2 mics over the kit and never touch the recording - or you are cheating!

Being a purist with one approach gets you no-where IMO. Same goes for writing music.
If you do the same thing on every recording year in year out - why bother?
Never is a scary word to hang on to in this creative industry

I will do whatever it takes for the sonic outcomes in a recording or a mix - that's my job.
But I don't f@#$ with peoples playing - unless I am asked to.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby Gian » Mon May 30, 2011 7:56 pm

Hey Chris,
I like your thinking!!
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby mylesgm » Mon May 30, 2011 8:47 pm

ah dont get me wrong Chris I'm in it for the creativity and the expression. The creative use of samples etc is a great colour to have in the paint tin. But what I'm talking about is not the creative element merely the can't play it right myself so we'll get the computer to do it. The creative use of all of the tools at our disposal is our stock in trade but fixing someones poor performance, lack of talent, general disregard for quality is a rabbit hole I refuse to fall down.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby ChrisW » Mon May 30, 2011 8:58 pm

Just playing devils advocate.....
I've worked hard to get my drums sounding right.
I've sourced sometimes rare gear and paid good money for it.
I've worked with the engineer, producer and artist on the session to get the exact sound required for the song and the artist. Then I hear the final mix and there's a completely different, often let's be honest undynamic snare drum instead of the one we recorded.
Also, I do get the impression some of the mixers aren't interested in working with the material as recorded. Their default is to slap their signature sounds on the final mix.
In the end though yes, I have to be realistic and I accept i will have my drums replaced, also that people will nick my sounds and use them on other people's records.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby The Tasmanian » Mon May 30, 2011 8:59 pm

I'm with you Myles
The word "never" scares the shit out of me!
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby ChrisW » Mon May 30, 2011 9:00 pm

anguswoodhead wrote:If it sounds good, it is good.


I actually agree. I just think it's a debate worth having.
Does it sound good because you've slapped a Bob Clearmountain sample on there, or does it sound good because you've spent the extra hour tweaking the drum mics, trying a different mic/pre and auditioned a few different drums and tunings?
To me the latter is the best, but I admit not always possible way to go.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby Chris H » Mon May 30, 2011 10:08 pm

I have had a few sayings that frame my general approach to recording.
The first is "passion before perfection" so applied to the drum re placer beat detective debate you'll know which way I would generally go.
The other is I like my sound source where ever possible to "move air"
For a bleeding obvious example, at it's most basic, 95% of the time i would rather mic an acoustic guitar rather than record the di. (not saying there can be a creative use of the di'ed acoustic sound.
And another is "The power is in the performance"
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby mylesgm » Mon May 30, 2011 10:17 pm

I have a love/hate relationship with the word Never but I think we do need boundaries. The statements like 'if it sounds good it is good' 'alls fair in love and war' 'there are no rules' are deceptive because they let us off the hook in the pursuit of excellence. Not that creative freedom and experimentation arent key elements of any art (especially ours as there are so many options in front of us) but we are in some ways the gatekeepers. Why does so much music sound bland and uninspired? because we let it and I for one dont wish to make/produce/listen to bland music and so I don't. Sure I've worked with plenty of artists that weren't perfect (all of them) and I've done my best to bring the best out of them, out of the process, the songs, the final product etc but beat mapped quantisation and autotuned harmonies in search of perfection? thats a rabbit hole I refuse to fall down. Every musician from the lowliest to the greatest makes mistakes and some of our most cherished albums are full of errors both musical and technical and this makes them human. Ever tried to understand a conversation in monotone? I'm sure the diction is perfect but the emotion is lost and therefore the true meaning of that moment of communication.

my rambling us0.02c or au$25...
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby adamcal » Mon May 30, 2011 10:28 pm

often drum triggering/samples is done, not just because of sound issues.

sure you setup the drums and got a great sound, but then.....

You played the snare too soft/uneven/too even, hit the hi hats too loud, hammered the ride, but pitter pattered the toms.

The songs direction developed as more layer went it, now the dry drum room you thought would be good needs to be a bigger wetter room or the reverse.

you slammed the F U C K!!!! out of the kik on the down beats after every roll, but the rest of the time you played like peter rabbit.

the ring on the snare you thought wound be cool for the song is becoming annoying OR you dampened the drums too much and now 3 weeks later after the session you want some more ring

Your metal skills are weak! your double kiks get softer as the section progresses, then loud again for the next section as you renew you interest in life, then softer again as you get bored/tired.

Your kiks dont sound like a harley sitting at the lights, instead it sounds more like a toddler running down a wooden hallway. Your blast beats are more like ass beats, the waveform looks a bit like the US$ chart

The new mic you were trying, seemed like a good idea at the time.

The dolby monster ate all the treble.

You just want to be all you can be! even when your not. :-bd

and so on
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby mylesgm » Mon May 30, 2011 10:30 pm

isnt that "dobly"?
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby AnthonyMF » Mon May 30, 2011 11:35 pm

adamcal wrote:often drum triggering/samples is done, not just because of sound issues.

sure you setup the drums and got a great sound, but then.....

You played the snare too soft/uneven/too even, hit the hi hats too loud, hammered the ride, but pitter pattered the toms.

The songs direction developed as more layer went it, now the dry drum room you thought would be good needs to be a bigger wetter room or the reverse.

you slammed the F U C K!!!! out of the kik on the down beats after every roll, but the rest of the time you played like peter rabbit.

the ring on the snare you thought wound be cool for the song is becoming annoying OR you dampened the drums too much and now 3 weeks later after the session you want some more ring

Your metal skills are weak! your double kiks get softer as the section progresses, then loud again for the next section as you renew you interest in life, then softer again as you get bored/tired.

Your kiks dont sound like a harley sitting at the lights, instead it sounds more like a toddler running down a wooden hallway. Your blast beats are more like ass beats, the waveform looks a bit like the US$ chart

The new mic you were trying, seemed like a good idea at the time.

The dolby monster ate all the treble.

You just want to be all you can be! even when your not. :-bd

and so on


That's what a producer is for! And pre-production!
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby reddirt » Tue May 31, 2011 12:59 am

I understand where you are coming from Myles and for me it extends into click tracks and laying down instruments individually. I think much modern music is forgettable because among other reasons, individual click track layering means a lessening, if not a loss of the essence of music.

Having said that, there are some great musos who defy what i've just said and play fantastically to a click ; Some years back I had the good fortune to record Bradley Polaine who some of you may know, on a project that had drum machine guides and he nailed it without reservation, virtually 1st take every time and made good music at the same time so there's always exceptions .

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Re: Does anyone........

Postby AnthonyMF » Tue May 31, 2011 1:09 am

AnthonyMF wrote:
adamcal wrote:often drum triggering/samples is done, not just because of sound issues.

sure you setup the drums and got a great sound, but then.....

You played the snare too soft/uneven/too even, hit the hi hats too loud, hammered the ride, but pitter pattered the toms. ....


That's what a producer is for! And pre-production!


Actually I should have replied to this with THE single most important thing I've learnt on my last project: Better isn't good enough!

Just because you made an improvement doesn't mean you're there yet! It's worth chasing that peak performance, the one that makes you shut the hell up and listen to the song. The one everyone in the room knows is THE ONE!

And you know what? It's more satisfying chasing that than it sounds.

Samples just don't get you there. They just lull you into a false sense of security, thinking "Well, it's good enough".
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby Drumstruck » Tue May 31, 2011 9:33 am

I think we need to separate the use of samples (triggered) from the use of correction tools in our discussion.

If we followed the rule of not using samples then (for e.g.) I couldn't write/record a song that sounds like the Rwanda drummers (log drums) but being triggered from my kit - which I happen to play with sticks using no quantizing etc - now, I'd love to have the space and funds to buy/record the "real" thing but I'm damned if I'm going to wait until I'm 100 to afford it. Same with timpanis - there's no way I could record them at my place let alone afford them so my e-kit triggers a high quality timpani sample that I articulate with sticks - is there a difference? is this wrong?

If I can't play that song in time and well enough to satisfy my muse then I'll play it again (and again....) until it's right. I guess that's my morality and how others do it is up to them. :ymdevil:
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby audioio » Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm

One of the biggest problems I have with my students is getting them to use outboard compression. They'll use every plugin under the sun but the real deal...? Go figure.

We just got a few new toys, including dbx 160As. They're so easy to dial in and they give you a sound. Even where the playing isn't great, or the tuning isn't quite what is required, they seem to make it better. A few very keen ones might occasionally try to replace or enhance with samples, but getting it right at the source makes such a difference. I think they're beginning to see (hear) this.
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Re: Does anyone........

Postby Drumstruck » Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:46 am

audioio wrote:One of the biggest problems I have with my students is getting them to use outboard compression. They'll use every plugin under the sun but the real deal...? Go figure.

We just got a few new toys, including dbx 160As. They're so easy to dial in and they give you a sound. Even where the playing isn't great, or the tuning isn't quite what is required, they seem to make it better. A few very keen ones might occasionally try to replace or enhance with samples, but getting it right at the source makes such a difference. I think they're beginning to see (hear) this.


I think this is the mindset of the computer generation - I work with so many who just love their computers and do everything inboard (all technology, not specifically audio). I often get comments like "get with the times / modernise" for liking analog equipment and other alternatives to using a PC ....... man, I use an electronic kit and VSTs (how much more modern can you get with drums?) but I still pass it through analog gear to make it sound better :ymparty:
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