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broham
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#1
27th August 2009
Old 27th August 2009
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Salvaging Bad drum Tracks

Hi Yall,

So I've recorded this great band and botched some of the drum tracks.
The band is this really really fun noisy band that feel somewhat as if the pixies were covering hank ballard songs in their garage... or something..
So its pretty sloppy anyway.

Now the drummer couldn't tune his drums and if I tried to tune them he mighta thought I was crazy, so I left them. I mean they play in burnt out barns and pizza joints so that IS their sound. And we had one day of tracking for all of the instrumentals in a soggy little shed.
I mic'd it with an SM7 and it sounds carboardy.

Worse though are the cymbals. I just totally messed them up, I was experimenting with capturing a Full kit sound by having the two kel hm1s pointed towards the middle of the kit, I am sure I read about this technique a few times and I assume full responsibility for not doing my job as a listening engineer. Part of the reason for this technique in my mind was that we used no tom of hi hat mics. Just one more mic a 57 point at the side of the metal snare, which just sounded the best. And is still a great sounding track.

So the OHs, problem. Bad phase (when summed to mono on headphones they become weaker) and no true stereo spread. They are also pretty similar sounding tracks. And obviously not the best tracks in general for a number of obvious reasons. Although still usable I am having abit of trouble placing them in the mix without them muddying everything else up.
Automation should help sort that alot but Im not there yet.

A sober afterthought, this technique should maybe be practised with more then 10 foot ceilings.
So the vibe is great, all of the other instruments were recorded live and sound awesome.. But I want a few tips on how you guys would deal with this issue.
The goal of this record for me is to preserve the rough mistakes of this awesome band and not the rough mistakes of the engineer.

Thanks in advance!!
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27th August 2009
Old 27th August 2009
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Cool broham...

So good to see a dude accepting the blame for his ****-up...that is a brilliant start...i recently had the same issue...except it was the band that f'ed up in the recording...here's what i did...

1) Soundreplace the bass-drum. This is the root of the kit for me. Get a good sample and get it in there. Don't run the kick thru the Drum-Buss. Let it be natural on it's own.
2) Gate the snare and then beat the shit out of it. Through some EQ on it and get it to snap...
3) i had no real overheads to deal with that were useful so i beat the shit out of them and the room mics with the Distressor and then cut a lot of the hi's from the rooms to get the "flare" of the snare from them. Don't forget that most of the drum sound can come from the overheads.
4) Run the whole drum-kit thru a bus and then kick the shit out of that with ANOTHER compressor. Then feed this to a some verb, plate or room depending on what you've got, this'll give you a fake room sound if you don't have one.

This managed to save the mix for me and the band loves it! i now imagine that there will be a series of flames that will follow my suggestions...only trying to help. Let me know if you need anything more...
peace.
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27th August 2009
Old 27th August 2009
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Compress the overheads with a slow attack, and squash the shit out of the room mic and use it as an effect. Hell in this situation I would use the lofi as an advantage to the style of the band and go crazy with it. Distort the cymbals with a distortion plugin, put some reverb on the kick, just different stuff
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27th August 2009
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Yeah it sounds like it's less about 'fixing' it at this point and more about embracing the messiness and work on making it sound cool instead of 'right.' Experimentation for sure. If you don't have a good stereo spread, work on making the drums sound cool in mono maybe. If you're using plugins, Digitalfishphones could help you get a little "grittiness on purpose" going on.
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27th August 2009
Old 27th August 2009
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You can fix it, just depends if you have the time and patience.

Pick which of the 2 you like best (or hate least) for kick, toms, overheads. Then make copies either to other tracks or to a DAW so you don't geek the originals. Then depending on your mode of operation, if DAW go in and manually silence everything but the sound you want on the kick and toms tracks, if OTB then gate/expand post some focused EQ, and on the overhead you'll probably want to run a severe high pass filter.

There will be some nasty artifacts on the toms/kick tracks but you can eq some of it out and probably compress what's left for some punch. When you bring it back in, mix the drums to mono so any weird cymbal bleed or timbre changes are not as noticeable.

Then put reverb on the whole thing and when the band asks WTF just tell them it's all the rage now and they owe you points.

If you want some imitation stereo, take one of the OH tracks that's been heavily high-passed and put it through an autopanner or stereo phaser set on mild.

After spending several hours doing this you will no doubt be disappointed in the results and want to stick pencils in your ears but it may save you from re-cutting or losing a client.
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27th August 2009
Old 27th August 2009
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some comps/limiting. gating and some reverb can fix any drum sound
even without samples. Parallel compression/reverb can fix anything

Gate and then comp all the drum tracks individually except overheads and room mics. High pass the overheads so only
the cymbals/hats come through. Eq all the individual drums. Notch cut the low mids 200-400 depending on tuning. Eq Boost the snare/toms attack sweet spot. 2-4 k depending on the drum. Id have to hear the drums to be sure obviously. May need some boosts at 100hz maybe need some cuts who knows till you hear it?

Send all the drums to a group buss. Add a comp/limiter to the buss slam the shit out of it. Then add a room reverb after the limiter then after the reverb add and other comp/limiter and bring it up so the drums sound hot but at the same time soften the attack further if required.

This method fixes any drum sound recorded in any room

Sometimes you have to add a little room reverb to the snare and kick tracks after the gate and after the eq and comp. The room verb setting is the key to not having the drums sound fake even though they will be at this point. Using plates and stuff before the gate is what makes the snare sound like 80's cheeze. Also the order of the reverb and limiter makes a big difference. the concept is to recreate or simulate a good sounding room with reverb since you say your room was not good. Reverb and gates alone can fix anything

No drum sound is too bad to make sound good even without samples.

The comp/limiter is also the magic on the buss. It will really make the drums sound like they are in a good sounding room even though you gated all the individual drums tracks and sucked out the drums in the OH's with the high pass. You essentially want to erase the
real room from the tracks and make a new one. The limiting will help this and get the drums slamming hot. It's the only time loudness wars are acceptable is on a drum track.

post your tracks I'll fix them
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27th August 2009
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Wink nice...

Maybe we can all have a little fun with this...post the trax and we'll all have a crack at getting the drumz to sound wicked! Anyone else up?
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27th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by britdick View Post
Maybe we can all have a little fun with this...post the trax and we'll all have a crack at getting the drumz to sound wicked! Anyone else up?
I really like this idea.
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27th August 2009
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I'm really in to that too. Also, I'm kinda curious to what the drums actually sound like hahaha.
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27th August 2009
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I would try to simply ditch one of the OH-tracks and run the drums in glorious mono instead of phasey stereo...
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27th August 2009
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well I recently had a band who I mic'd the whole kit up and they decided to move the mics I caught it about half way through the recording and basically told them they were paying to do it over again if they were not happy with it. Turned out they were not and paid double to get what i would have gave them if they would have left the Fn things alone. I am all for serving my clients but assholes dont get an ounce of respect from me.
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27th August 2009
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Im game to try and resurrect them
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27th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amun Ra View Post
I would try to simply ditch one of the OH-tracks and run the drums in glorious mono instead of phasey stereo...
+1 on this...notch EQ is also gonna be your friend...
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28th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
+1 on this...notch EQ is also gonna be your friend...

+2 for mono overhead...
broham
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28th August 2009
Old 28th August 2009
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Thanks,
I would love to send you all tracks... But I recorded these at 24/96 theyre kinda big... although only four tracks per song.. 8 songs 3-6 minutes each...
Anyways,
Ive never mixed a mono O/H and I could use abit of advice attempting that technique, if you guys have any.
I will make up some mp3s at somepoint to atleast to satisfy your curiosity.
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28th August 2009
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Wink pick ur fav song and just post the drums...

We'll stem them and see what the results are....
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28th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by britdick View Post
Maybe we can all have a little fun with this...post the trax and we'll all have a crack at getting the drumz to sound wicked! Anyone else up?
yesssssss
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28th August 2009
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28th August 2009
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28th August 2009
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If I was you I'd squash your 24/96 files down to mp3's and let some people here have a tinker with them. They can post up what techniques they used when they post a mix back up and if you like what you hear you can then try to apply that to your own 24/96 files.

Bags of fun all round.

I personaly have salvaged some pretty dodgy drum tracks that were tracked elswhere over the years with very pleasing results. Would love to give it a go for you.

Alex.
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28th August 2009
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+1 to everything Allen C. said. Almost *any* drum sound can be salvaged. In your case though I'd definitely agree with the two guys who suggested mono drums. It worked just fine on the last KoL album.

Frank
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28th August 2009
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But in the future...

Use the Glyn Johns technique and you'll never have this problem again.
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28th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by staticwhitesound View Post
Yeah it sounds like it's less about 'fixing' it at this point and more about embracing the messiness and work on making it sound cool instead of 'right.' Experimentation for sure.
+1 embrace the grit.
some distortion or overdrive. reamp thru mic-ed cabinets. harmonizer, flange...
see: Tom Waits & NIN.
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