snare consistency.

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snare consistency.

Postby Wiz » Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:04 pm

You lucky guys who get to track and mix really good experienced studio drummers...

what sort of consistency are you seeing in terms of

A) snare volume changes (not talking about intentional changes, e.g. verse v chorus etc But when its a basic snare part , what in terms of dB fluctuation are you seeing.

B) consistency of tone, I guess due to accuracy of the snare hitting in the intended spot of the drum and developing the same tone.

Interested in your thoughts...

eg

during a normal verse, hits wouldnt vary by more than 1 to 2dB, and sound should be almost perfect.

Why am I thinking about this, well, I was thinking about drum replacement with samples, and the (perhaps) unrealistic world of snare drum playing it may have imposed on music.

Also, my question goes then to compression amounts and threshold...


cheers

Wiz
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Re: snare consistency.

Postby ChrisW » Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:20 am

I always shoot for complete consistency of tone and volume.
It's hard to determine a difference of 5db with the naked ear.

The number one consistent volume drum in my playing is the bass drum.
Snare can be a mix of lighter hits and harder hits, but if there is a backbeat I will play it with the same tone and as close to the same volume as I can.
Hi hats add groove with lots of lighter and accented notes.
While sounding consistent, my drum hits may vary by more than 5db, but you can't really hear it. When we are sampling drums for Toontrack we try to play repeated hits 1 or 2db apart, but it's virtually impossible except by luck.
Regarding compression, I like to think my drum tracks need no compression as a fix. When using a drum sample library you should need no compression either. One can add compression as a matter of taste, for effect, but not to fix inconsistent dynamics.

The problem with the virtual drum libraries is that most people use them in the higher velocities (120 to 127).
It's like a bricklayer icing a cake.
Velocities 100 to 120 sound more natural. Unfortunately, a lot of the supplied midi grooves are also in the 120 to 127 range. It's like a virtual drum library loudness war. :(
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Re: snare consistency.

Postby Wiz » Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:54 am

ChrisW wrote:I always shoot for complete consistency of tone and volume.
It's hard to determine a difference of 5db with the naked ear.

The number one consistent volume drum in my playing is the bass drum.
Snare can be a mix of lighter hits and harder hits, but if there is a backbeat I will play it with the same tone and as close to the same volume as I can.
Hi hats add groove with lots of lighter and accented notes.
While sounding consistent, my drum hits may vary by more than 5db, but you can't really hear it. When we are sampling drums for Toontrack we try to play repeated hits 1 or 2db apart, but it's virtually impossible except by luck.
Regarding compression, I like to think my drum tracks need no compression as a fix. When using a drum sample library you should need no compression either. One can add compression as a matter of taste, for effect, but not to fix inconsistent dynamics.

The problem with the virtual drum libraries is that most people use them in the higher velocities (120 to 127).
It's like a bricklayer icing a cake.
Velocities 100 to 120 sound more natural. Unfortunately, a lot of the supplied midi grooves are also in the 120 to 127 range. It's like a virtual drum library loudness war. :(


Chris

thanks so much for the reply... is just the info I was seeking

cheers

Wiz
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Re: snare consistency.

Postby gigpiglet » Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:01 am

i actually don't like it being too consistent!
im not doing straight pop stuff though…
but i do like to "perceive" or feel a change in beats here and there
it makes it feel real to me
when its too solid i actually don't like it and end up fiddling around!
i do comp my snare pretty hard though (usually a little on the way in with a 160, and more in the mix with either a 160 again or maybe a distressor, then usually something across the whole drum buss - either ditressors or drawer 1960)
so after all that its the tone that shifts (by hitting the comps) more than the actual level.
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Re: snare consistency.

Postby Paul Maybury » Wed May 07, 2014 2:05 pm

In my world snare hitting consistency, both tone and volume, is super rare.
Kick level consistency is even rarer, and far more annoying when you need it and can't get it.
I don't replace or supplement drums with samples. Or haven't had to yet, I should say.
I am working on mixes at the moment where I have had to apply a brick wall limiter, a multi band limiter acting only on the 3k to 10k range and a final outboard limiter to bring back some tone and front to the kick drum, in addition to the drum being recorded through a very capable compressor.
All of this just to get consistent level and tone. Not to sound effected.
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Re: snare consistency.

Postby The Tasmanian » Wed May 07, 2014 11:05 pm

I would much prefer consistency of tone - than volume.
Its all about hitting the sweet spot.
Ive nearly completely stopped using any compression at all on snare, I love snare dynamics - same as not squashing a mix with a bus comp, in mixing or mastering.
So I get around level inconsistencies by volume rides on the odd too loud/quiet hits.
Just finished an album mixing on Chris V's killer Neve -) not a comp on any snare track.
(but I do like a bit on kick so it locks in velocity with the bass)

So Ive done the full circle, 5-10 -20 years ago i would reach for a snare comp on the majority of albums, now its rare. My mixes are much better for the restraint.
I will never track with a snare comp anymore, as it alters the tone and spill in various ways that can't be undone.
Level is really easy to deal with.

But snare tone - I hunt for it, and at times have to blend a replaced snare in with the real one to get tonal consistency if the drummer does not know where to hit the damn thing to make it sing.
Sometimes I even have to draw a circle on the snare with a texta to remind a drummer to focus on the sweet spot(s).
To my ears, music is dynamic -> mixing ditto -> listening ditto.
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Re: snare consistency.

Postby ChrisW » Thu May 08, 2014 8:31 am

> I'm available <

Anyway…..
As a drummer I would prefer to hear a supporting sample, helping consistency of velocity and tone, than to have my drums processed to hell and double compressed.
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Re: snare consistency.

Postby Wiz » Thu May 08, 2014 8:42 am

Been great replies!

Thanks, it really helped.

I found by instantiating a gain plug in first in my effects chain, then, doing automation to take care of most of the inconsistency, I got where I wanted to go.

I used a hair of sample replacement, and a tiny, tiny bit of 1176 compression prior to the sample replacement and I am good.

cheers

Wiz
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Re: snare consistency.

Postby Drumstruck » Thu May 08, 2014 9:05 am

ChrisW wrote:> I'm available <


> Me too <

But, unlike Chris, I can test your engineering skills in the use of compression to the limit =))
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Re: snare consistency.

Postby Paul Maybury » Thu May 08, 2014 11:40 am

Well, last night I had the pleasure of mixing drums that didn't need any help. That is how I'd prefer things to be.
Cheers,
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Re: snare consistency.

Postby number1son » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:45 am

Use a great drummer. In my case Danny Heifetz. Wow, like a (tasteful) machine. Tell him once and out it comes the next take. Grace pace and space.

Electronics never any substitute for great playing.
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Re: snare consistency.

Postby wez » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:43 pm

Back in the drum machine days (remember them?), when they started sounding pretty good (around the time of the Roland R8 I reckon) the dead giveaway was always consistency of level (modern drum libraries/virtual drummers are of course much more dynamic).

I owned a lot of drum machines during the 80s and 90s!
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