Originally Posted by axlepaas
I know you've elaborated in the past about your drum recording technique. Is there anything about this particular record that u did different? Would also love to know a little more about your distressors on the drums! is it a parallel bus? Are the distressors giving you that unique attack that seems to be consistent on the TBS records?
I started out trying to do some more different stuff with the tracking of these drums, but I found most of my tried and true stuff ended up being the best in the end. As I have mentioned Mark plays very hard. I find that when drummers play hard the volume increases more with the cymbals than it does with the actual drums. The balance between the 2 becomes a bit of a problem. It forces a particular type of micing. Lots of close mics and baffling to try and keep the cymbals from washing out all of the punch and explosiveness of the drums. When I have tried to encourage drummers like mark to play the cymbals softer it just causes them to hesitate and the performances aren't as good. It is better for me to figure out how to accomodate his playing style instead of the other way around. So I recorded these using all the same tricks I have used in the past when I am trying to emphasize the punch and explosiveness of the drums.
The mixing approach was a little bit different this time around. I was really enjoying this Fairchild remake UTA is developing. It is the tube compressor I have been searching for on drums. Original Fairchilds are amazing at what they do. They have a smooth gushy quality that can be really amazing on bass and vocals. On drums, unless you are trying to recreate an old beatles recording, it is usually a little to smooth for modern rock stuff. This reissue uses 6BC8 varimu tubes instead of 6386s and has some new attack/release combinations that are really great on drums. It is the first tube compressor I have used that really sounds aggressive when its really stomping on the drum mix or even the individual kick and snr sounds. Ultimately, because it is a tube device it does have a more natural smooth quality to it. I find that the cymbals are preserved better than when using a VCA based compressor ala Distressor, dbx 160, SSL type thing. Anyway, I used this Fairchild thing a lot on the drum mixes.
El Paso is a good example of using it specifically on the kick and snare. The fairchild was on a blend of the kick mics and on a blend of a couple of snr sources. All the other mics (OH, room, toms) are then blended in and sent to a specific drum buss. That drum buss is mult'd and comes back on 3 pairs of stereo faders. The main pair has a pair of distressors on it. In this case the distressors were set pretty light because most of the compression was already coming form the Fairchild. The other 2 stereo pairs had a Compex and an EMI stereo limiter. Those compressors were set for absolute destruction and blended in very very little. I mostly use those to thicken the back ground ambience. They are usually about 20db quieter that the distressor pair.
The other approach that was used on this record on songs like "You Go Me" was to use the Fairchild on one of the drum stereo mix returns. The individual mics are compressed a bit more sparingly and then I would compress more aggressively with Fairchild on the overall drum mix. I also typically have a "no compression" drum buss as well. This is how I do my version of parallel compression. I think I kind of do it backwards. Instead of sending your main tracks to the main buss and blending in compressed signals, I send the drum mix to a compressed buss and then only send selected things to a non compressed buss. I am always starting off trying to keep it simple.. ala EQ some shit, send it to a compressor and be done. It usually doesn't end up working out that way but I think it is better to start simple and add complexity only when it is needed. The bussing on the UTA console makes this very easy. There are 3 independent stereo busses with their own level and pan controls. I can have lets say buss 1-2 be the buss that has the blend that is being compressed by the Fairchild or Distressors or whatever and then have buss 3-4 be the buss where I send little bits of signal to open up particular things that are getting squeezed a little too hard. Usually I'll send what ever is the significant low end component of the kick drum to the "no compression" buss or if the snr drum starts to get lost towards the end of the mix I'll send some of that to the no compression buss and then it pops right out. It is important to note that when mixing on an analog desk I feel it is better to have any parallel items follow the same path to avoid any phase cancellation in the high end. Basically if you send a blend that goes to a sub mix buss which is then sent to the main mix buss there will be additional roll off in the extended high end that can cause a phase shift closer to the audible range (this is typically done to protect the console from RF interference). If you take those same sources and then send them directly to the mix buss they can cancel high frequencies as they blend with those same sources arriving at the mix buss via a sub mix. We could have had the UTA console flat out to 200K if we wanted but for some reason it doesn't sound as good. The EMI console I used for a while had a very aggressive LP filter built in to the signal path for RF protection that made it impossible to do paralleling without identical paths. That thing started rolling off pretty quick after 20K and I gotta say the high end sounds absolutely beautiful on that console. The UTA console is higher than that because people expect to be able to combine things without thinking about identical signal paths. We came up with a 2 stage filter that gives the best all around results.
Sorry about that I'll try not to geek out about console stuff too much
In a video on the TBS website, I saw Adam singing into an SM7 without the pop screen on it. Was this the vocal mic used for the whole record? any comp to "tape/pro tools"?
Adam and John did use an SM7 for all of the lead vocals, although we definitely used a pop screen when doing final vocal tracks. I also ran a separate room mic (an M49) for all of the lead vocals at the same time. I needed to be able to place the 2 singers in identifiable spaces at specific times in the song. Some of the choices of who would be featured where was still being figured out right up to the last second. This way I had the option of having either singer play a more supporting role by making them organically sound further away whenever I wanted in the mix.
Thank you for all the great questions and interest in the project. I hope the info is useful. I'll try to do some more tomorrow. I gotta get to work!