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WildBill
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#1
11th June 2007
Old 11th June 2007
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Gate Drums or Not?

I have an ongoing argument with my friend about whether or not to use analog gates on drums before recording. He insists that it is necessary to keep cymbals out of his drum mics, drums out of his tom mics, etc...

I argue that a good, well-placed microphone will suffice with a little compression in some cases, but not gating. Gating can have the effect of making the drums sound unnaturally louder when you hit individuals drums as the gate is opened and closed. The drum kit is an instrument as a whole, so I do not want to treat it like a bunch of instruments.

You can always strip silence in post if necessary...

Any thoughts?
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11th June 2007
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I tend to not gate anything except for the Toms and Kick.

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12th June 2007
Old 12th June 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildBill View Post
The drum kit is an instrument as a whole, so I do not want to treat it like a bunch of instruments.
I couldn't agree more. A kit is a single sound entity.
In most cases, if there is too much cymbal noise in the drum mics, the drummer needs to adjust their own playing balance, or adjust the way they set up the kit.
Gates are a very blunt tool. They are more useful for live work IMO.
Although they can come in handy for cleaning up drum tracks after they are recorded.
I agree with you though, I find ducking the volume in DAW or editing out the empty spaces is more elegant.
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5th July 2007
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I feel it´s necessary to gate the toms. Otherwise they kill the sound of the rest of the kit. Preferebly with a trigger to the key input of the gate during recording. This makes the gate open before the sound gets from the head to the mic, in theory anyway. Gating during mixing without trigger might cut off the transient.
I also gate snare and kick when I want a clean, tight sound.
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5th July 2007
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I feel like it depends on how you want your drums to sound.

there are plenty of recordings that I have heard that do not rely on gates to get a great drum sound. but I've heard some records that have some really cools sounding drums where gates were used all over the place.
Gates are a tool. An inessential tool. That is, They are not required to get the sound to tape. They certainly have uses though.
to argue exclusively one side or the other seems silly to me. Although I personally prefer not using them for my music. I would never rule out the idea of using them.
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5th July 2007
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A good drummer will not need any gates. A not so well balanced drummer might need some gates.
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5th August 2007
Old 5th August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildBill View Post
I have an ongoing argument with my friend about whether or not to use analog gates on drums before recording.
I would never ever use gates during recording. That's a majorly bad idea. Do it during mixing.
And it all boils down to what type of music it is. If you're recording a jazz band, it's not very likely you'll be using gates, but if it's metal with really aggressive sounding drums, you'll probably have to gate to acheive that impact of the tom hits.

If the tom mics are fairly high in the mix and you got the whole kit leaking in, the hits won't have the same impact. Of course they'll have impact, but the leakage from the rest of the kit will make give it a little less POW! if you know what I mean.
And also, if you're adding heavy compression - slow attack/fast release to get that SMACK! of the hit, you'll simply have to gate, otherwise you'll bring the leakage up to the same level as the tom itself.
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5th August 2007
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i never use gates on the drums while recording , i tried it a few times but ook them of and asked the drummers to put their crash cymbals a bit higher to seperate them from the drum mic's and focused the mics more directionally ... i also use cone shaped foam around the back for the mics for a bit more seperation ( foam i used was jus normal box packing foam) ..... tho that does ad a slight boxy sound....

try a combo of those techniques ... they might help you ?
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5th August 2007
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It's not always a bad idea to gate the Kick and Toms. Kick usually requires some not-so-tender eqing. You can get some pretty funky snare sounds through the kick mic. Toms as well. It really depends on the kit, player, and mics. If you do have a decent gate and you see that the bleed is causing tonal issues, it can save you some time during mixdown.
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5th August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildBill View Post
I have an ongoing argument with my friend about whether or not to use analog gates on drums before recording. He insists that it is necessary to keep cymbals out of his drum mics, drums out of his tom mics, etc...
Your friend has no idea what he is saying. Gating drums to tape is a very bad idea.
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24th August 2007
Old 24th August 2007
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24th August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fretbored View Post
It's not always a bad idea to gate the Kick and Toms. Kick usually requires some not-so-tender eqing. You can get some pretty funky snare sounds through the kick mic. Toms as well. It really depends on the kit, player, and mics. If you do have a decent gate and you see that the bleed is causing tonal issues, it can save you some time during mixdown.
It's ALWAYS A BAD IDEA TO GATE THEM WHILE RECORDING!!!!!!!!. Do what you like in the mix but if you lose some of the drummers ghost notes or you print some gate chatter the drummer might punch you in the nose.
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24th August 2007
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Gate on drums = 80s sound

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25th August 2007
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I never gate drums while tracking. As Lou points out there is always a risk of gating out something that you want/need. So much safer to do that a mixdown time.

Even if you have the gates perfectly set to not miss the soft hits, the dirty little secret is that most gates will cut off the first ms or two of the tom attack.

That first couple of ms is very important to me. YMMV. There are 'windowing' gates that will keep all of your attack, however it comes at the cost of a slight delay to the track.

But in the DAW at mixdown, you can do anything. Trigger the gate with a time shifted (early) version of the tom track so it opens on time- or even a bit early. I generally prefer to draw in tom automation, rather than use gates. I rarely have the tom mics all the way off and I gradually ramp them up and down for the most natural sound.
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25th August 2007
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Quote:
It's ALWAYS A BAD IDEA TO GATE THEM WHILE RECORDING!!!!!!!!.
What he said
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25th August 2007
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I played in a band where we did a live recording, and the recordist gated the kick to tape, Um, very bad idea. Its really hard to predict sometimes how it will work while tracking, and some times the kick was very choppy, Me mixing it, was pretty frustrated. luckily there was enough ambient tones to help smooth it out. I also think gating to tape is a very bad idea.


I usually just volume graph a kits toms if I don't want them up the whole time, A gate might be easier, but I prefer to ride the levels and I can have precise control with them. Though often I will leave the toms levels at a certain point, and only bring them up louder if I need to in a certain place. I think keeping the kit as one cohesive instrument makes it sound more like that.....
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30th August 2007
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like almost everyone here, i don't gate while tracking unless a certain effect is desired. its always better to have everything than to have to fake it back with some verb. often times i find the snare bleed in the first rack tom adds a useable top end to the snare sound. problems i usually come across are in floor toms and the low mid resonance getting picked up as all the other drums are played; for that i use a moon gel cut up in smaller pieces or the old narrow Q>>boost>>scan>>narrow cut.
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30th August 2007
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Gating while recording=bad!

Downward expansion and possibly gating in the mix=often (but not always) good!
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11th September 2007
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Gates

Rent a couple of comps and see if it's what you want .
Youmight wanto go super caridiod on the drum mics as well and work on mic placement too .

Someofth eold jazx recrdings just one OH mic for the whole kit and these recrodings are still magic to hear !
I thinkt he bleed overi s a part of the kit the drum & cymblas complement each other or it wouldn't be a drum kit !
A lotof 70 rockrecordings did closemicingth head andhadth eheads alltunedown soth e wouldoverlaod t emics and it'sall deadrum sounds good druminbut gofy drums thatwer recrded .

I think you got your self a real can of worms
to deal with maybe try both or even jst gate oneor 2 mics the trick is the gate level not to quick not to fast and not record the bleed over at the same time .
Elaphant dancing on roller skates !
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12th September 2007
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Gates (during mixing, not tracking) are sometimes a necessity depending on the drummer, drum setup, and style of music.

Yes, a drumset is an instrument and many people (myself included) like it to sound like a single entity. However, if you're using close mics you've basically already decided against representing the kit that way. We close mic drums to be able to have the option of altering the overall balance of the components of the kit. Otherwise, we'd all just be setting up room mics and/or binaural heads and calling it a day. If you're close micing the snare, odds are you're not going to want too much of the hat or the opposite ride cymbal in there; this can apply to the kick and toms too. A little bit of bleed can be a good thing, but we don't always encounter drummers that can effectively mix themselves and balance their own playing so we as engineers should be open to using gates and knowledgeable of their functions. Also, if your snare mic is picking up cymbals you're introducing more potential phase problems into your kit sound, which is definitely not (always) a desirable thing.

Many gates will also let you dial in whatever level of bleed you desire. If you want to keep some kit bleed, just set the gate to reduce 5-10 db instead of completely closing off. This will help you find a happy medium between an unnatural sounding kit and a washy, bleed-ravaged kit sound (if your drummer isn't the studio-savvy type).

My two cents,
Cory Spotts
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12th September 2007
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i never gate during recording. i will quite often gate toms during mixing.

like others said, gating and compressing toms can give them a little extra punch that they don't otherwise have.

i will rarely gate snares--typically only when i can't get enough isolation on it b/c the drummer's beating the snot out of the hats. and if i do gate it, it's a mult'd track that gets the gate (and compressor), that way i don't lose the body of the snare.

i will also rarely gate the kick. i can usually get pretty good isolation on it using proper mic placement and a couple packing blankets/comforters.

but toms? almost always.


cheers,
wade
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12th September 2007
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gate kick, snr,toms

I gate it all... then add samples of either the original drum or other layered stuff.


But I like lots of eq and compression so... take it for what it's worth.

and gating while recording is like walking on a tight rope 500 feet in the air.

J.
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21st September 2007
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Thank you very much for all the input. At least we can agree that gating while tracking is a no no.

I've found that Waves' SSL4000 plug in has a very quick gate that I use on my toms all the time now. Does it have some "look ahead" feature to prevent gating the first peaks?
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22nd September 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildBill View Post
Thank you very much for all the input. At least we can agree that gating while tracking is a no no.

I've found that Waves' SSL4000 plug in has a very quick gate that I use on my toms all the time now. Does it have some "look ahead" feature to prevent gating the first peaks?
I don't know that plug, but if it does not have look ahead you can make your own.

simply make a copy of the track you are gating, slide it slightly forward on the timeline, and feed THAT signal to the gate's sidechain input. (but keep it out of your mix, obviously) The gate will open from the "early" track's hit.

You can play around with how early you shift the trigger track, and how you adjust the attack time of the gate to get a very natural sound.

If you are gating multiple toms, I would shift the triggers all by the same amount
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26th September 2007
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I like to gate my bottom snare mic to get rid of extra snare rattle from the kick hits. But I would never do this while recording.

Same with gating toms. Unless the drummer is a very consistant hitter you could end up missing stuble strokes that will make those tracks sound strange. It's always best to gate while mixing and only IF you need to.

The other thing to do with tom mics if you have the time and patience is to edit them hit-by-hit manually. You'll get better results then using a gate. I'm assuming here that we are talking about a pop or rock track...
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26th September 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vaka View Post
I would never ever use gates during recording. That's a majorly bad idea. Do it during mixing.
Exactly- no sense in gating to tape and making a commitment that early in the game. Wait till the mix if you absolutely need it.

BTW- depending on the genre- gates can be great for adding dynamics, etc.
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