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Mixing question for drums
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#1
4th March 2010
Old 4th March 2010
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Mixing question for drums

So, I don't eq lots up front mainly because I know that doing so will result in overly processed drum sounds in a mix. I have been getting great drum sounds that I am VERY happy with, but. I have noticed sometimes when I want a more natural sound on drums they sound too "processed". They still sound good and I have gotten a great natural drum sound but this just happens sometimes. Has anyone had this problem and am I just going crazy? I'm sure it's just a case of me needing some more experience and getting used to what works and what doesn't. But, does anyone have any insight into this that might help? Thanks
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4th March 2010
Old 4th March 2010
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The more simple your mic'ing scheme the more natural they will sound. If you have every drum mic'd top and bottom as well as 6 room mics it will not sound as natural. No one (hopefully) puts their ears next to individual drums to enjoy and listen to them, the listen to the kit at a distance. It helps to have a close mic here and there to fill in a little bit from the image of the listener but over doing it makes it sound less natural to me...

However...

That un-natural sound is very common and it is what I personally perceive as a natural "mixed" drum sound - though it isn't natural to the kit experience itself.

In another thread someone mentions that you should practice/work by bringing the drums and other tracks together and balance them without eq to make them gel better. I mix in mono to a large extent to create a more balanced and deep mix. In the long run I may use a lot of eq or compression or other tricks to make the drums explode or shrink (un-naturally) but generally after the the mix is balanced. If your drums aren't balanced and pre-mixed with the faders at "0" then you need to re-examine how you are tracking your drums. Get them balanced going in and your task of mixing will literally be a zillion times easier. That isn't much help when you already have something I realize but it is a place to start.

For current mixing duties, I recommend starting off in mono with no eq, panning, compression and get the kit to sound the way it "sounds".
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4th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vum View Post
I mix in mono to a large extent to create a more balanced and deep mix.

For current mixing duties, I recommend starting off in mono with no eq, panning, compression and get the kit to sound the way it "sounds".
Correct me if I'm wrong but if my understanding is correct, you're suggesting
that mixing in mono and focusing on the levels is more effective than setting
levels while in stereo?

That sounds similar to what I try out sometimes in PT with the S1 imager. I make it straight center so it simulates mono, it also helps to pin point where
the snare is at in relation to the kit too.
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4th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vum View Post

In another thread someone mentions that you should practice/work by bringing the drums and other tracks together and balance them without eq to make them gel better. I mix in mono to a large extent to create a more balanced and deep mix. In the long run I may use a lot of eq or compression or other tricks to make the drums explode or shrink (un-naturally) but generally after the the mix is balanced. If your drums aren't balanced and pre-mixed with the faders at "0" then you need to re-examine how you are tracking your drums. Get them balanced going in and your task of mixing will literally be a zillion times easier. That isn't much help when you already have something I realize but it is a place to start.

For current mixing duties, I recommend starting off in mono with no eq, panning, compression and get the kit to sound the way it "sounds".
I believe that was me!

Dude, this is some solid advice and I couldn't agree more.
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4th March 2010
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First - accept that close mics will not sound "natural." As said above, we heard drums in a room, no right next to the drum (unless we're the drummer). Second, MOST genres don't bother with "natural" sounding drums. Maybe, in the mix they sound natural-ish, but definitely not in solo. Third, you may have to get your guitars out of the way to not over-eq your drum sounds, it's a pretty common issue.

BUT LASTLY, are you gating your drums? Try using an expander to cut the bleed down rather than gating it entirely. When you gate, you lose the initial part of your attack, and the tail of your release, which makes the drum sound synthetic.
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4th March 2010
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Bus compression is unrivaled on drums. I will sometimes have a parallel compression bus for kick, one for snare, one for toms, one for OVH and one for the whole kit.
On that note, if you want more a "natural" sound, think of the ways ear hear. You dont run a round a drum kit following the sticks placing your ears 2 inches away from each drum each hit. Natural to me says "at a distance"
Use your room mics more than your close mics. The close mics will create the attack and sustain of each hit, not the color or envelope.
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4th March 2010
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Don't forget room mics...
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4th March 2010
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Quote:
Correct me if I'm wrong but if my understanding is correct, you're suggesting
that mixing in mono and focusing on the levels is more effective than setting
levels while in stereo?
It's just part of my work-flow to constantly go back and forth from mono to stereo. I think that when I start a mix in mono without panning, I get a better relationship with levels than when I don't. It's just a personal preference - but - it's one that works nearly every time for me. I think if you can get the early stages of a mix to "sound like a mix" in mono, everything else you do is just going to enhance the mix rather than cover up deficiencies when you switch to stereo. Of course, if the music is poorly recorded it sounds good in neither - then I just hope for the best!
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Hmm. It was mentioned before in the drum tips thread, but high-passing overheads tends to sound more "produced," which I partially equate with unnatural.
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4th March 2010
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I agree. When I HP the overheads things get too parted-out so to speak. I'm mixing something right now where there were a pair of u87s in blumlein configuration out about 10 feet in front of the kit. If I HP those the kick sounds flat and not fat.
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4th March 2010
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Great suggestions guys. I don't have this problem all the time it's just a strange thing I've noticed every now and then. I really think the times I notice it more is when I don't have room mics. That said I am very much in for the whole less is more thing. I just got finished doing a recording where I had my Fat Heads in blumlein with a snare top(beta 57) and a kick mic(Rode NTK). I love that sound!


Quote:
Originally Posted by mikethedrummer View Post
Bus compression is unrivaled on drums. I will sometimes have a parallel compression bus for kick, one for snare, one for toms, one for OVH and one for the whole kit.
On that note, if you want more a "natural" sound, think of the ways ear hear. You dont run a round a drum kit following the sticks placing your ears 2 inches away from each drum each hit. Natural to me says "at a distance"
Use your room mics more than your close mics. The close mics will create the attack and sustain of each hit, not the color or envelope.
Do you find that using that much bus compression ever muds up mixes? I have tried this, and I usually find that I like parallel compression only on kick and snare. My overs usually sound nice and full with out. But, I do understand that this comes with the type of music I'm doing. Most of the music I do tends to be in the indi band arena (ie. Spoon, Mute Math, Sigur Ros, Radio Head, ect ect....). I know that these bands cover a wide range in the sonic spectrum too.
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