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Drums and the attack Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 10th September 2011
  #1
Drums and the attack

Hi, I'm getting old I guess. heh

I've spent most of my years doing this stuff, trying to get punchy, hard hitting drums for rock music. Used to spend a loooong time with tape, getting the "front" of snares and kicks right...that is, getting a nice attack outta them to cut through gtrs and bass etc.

I'm doing a record, (not mixed yet) where the drummer used a pretty muffled "Images and Words" type snare sound. Very little wire, very little ring...just a really hard attack, little sustain.

This sound has NOT been the norm for me for over 10 years. I rarely see it anymore. I thought I was sick of it, but on this Punk / hardcore thing it works.

Here's the thing...

Usually getting enough attack is something I work for, this just has it in spades. I am wondering if it is actually way too much, and I need to take some front off.

Anybody else do this? I mean, I can't ever remember when I have really wanted / needed less attack, but here it is.

If you are doing this, what are you using: spl transient des, fast attack on a comp, eq?

What's your weapon of choice, if and when you do this?

I certainly don't want to KILL the attack, as it is very cool, just maybe too much in digital.

Also, am I crazy? Can there ever be too much attack on the front in heavy stuff like this for you guys?

Never run into this problem.

On acoustic and stuff...sure, but rarely if ever snare...what with gates and all.

Thanks for reading.
john
Old 10th September 2011
  #2
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Amun Ra's Avatar
 

In digital audio the attacks can really be overpowering. I tend to reach for some kind of saturation first of all, since this better mimicks what goes on in the analog domain when recording to tape etc. Try distorting some of those transients a bit and see if you like it better that way...
Old 10th September 2011
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEWTON IN ORBIT View Post
I'm doing a record, (not mixed yet) where the drummer used a pretty muffled "Images and Words" type snare sound. Very little wire, very little ring...just a really hard attack, little sustain.
I'm not sure why anyone would want their snare to sound that "dead". Mike's snare on that album has no soul to it. At least it's not Awake that's being copied.

I personally like to take my snare through an LA610 and hit it with a gain reduction level of anywhere between 4-6, which seems to be a sweet spot for me. However, my snare doesn't sound like it has a towel on it. I really don't know -- I'm still learning a lot of the tricks of the audio recording trade as I've always done live lighting with audio on the side.
Old 10th September 2011
  #4
Thanks! I guess it would be cool to know how you personally go about doing this.

I can think of a number of things, analog and digital to try. Just really trying to get a feel for how other people are actually doing it, and getting results. That is if they are doing it.

This way, I can kind of jump straight into it, and see which works best for the material. Not trying to be lazy and cop out.

I usually would sit and experiment for a while, and rarely ask questions on here, but bookings are up (thank the powers that be), and time is more critical right now.

Thanks man!
john
Old 10th September 2011
  #5
Lives for gear
If you want to relax the snare sound,the UAD Studer works well
Old 10th September 2011
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt R View Post
I'm not sure why anyone would want their snare to sound that "dead".
I agree, and maybe this doesn't really sound like that.... It makes me think of it though for sure. Hell I dunno....it is just super clicky and with short sustain. Just trying to give an idea without posting his stuff up here I guess.

Like I said, it's been since the 90's that I have heard a snare like that in here. Pretty out of the ordinary for me.

Me...I like the Bonham type thing personally.
I find when you have a sound that is similar to that (sure is impossible to nail perfectly though) the options at mix are wide open.

So, yeah, you and I are pretty much on the same page.

Thanks for the tips.
john
Old 10th September 2011
  #7
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Amun Ra's Avatar
 

I would start of by stepping throug my saturation plugins and listen for what they are doing to the front of the wave. Also, distortion in parallell usually gives you the edge of being able to blend in a little of the lost attack if you need to.

If I don't like any of them I might try some really fast compression (1176 like) or in severe cases some limiting. Never generally like to limit my drums though.

It might be an EQ issue also. Or a combination of all factors. Or not :-).

my 2c.
Old 10th September 2011
  #8
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

I would go for a combination of some sort of enveloper/transient designer, whichever one(s) you have and then follow up with a compressor of the 'hugging' kind.....take the click down with the enveloper and maybe exaggerate the tail up, then grab it and hug it into a more musical than constructed feel with the comp......
Old 10th September 2011
  #9
Some good advice around here for sure.
In my case I generally set up up to four channels in parallel with three very different compressors and a mic preamp driven to smashing distortion.
It would go as follows:
Par1: tube, vari-mu compression
Par2: API2500
Par3: Heavy, dirty compression (Dyna-Mite for instance)
Par4: TAB376 preamp

Mix to taste depending the case.

Done right it should give you a snare sound that retains its original character but with much more focus. In your case my feeling is the distorted preamp could give you some crack in the low and high end that could fatten up the snare sound. Always check phase. You might wanna gate the snare before the rampage though

cheers
Old 10th September 2011
  #10
mml
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Whenever I get something like that there are a couple options that I think of. One would be to run a Sansamp track in parallel to give it more sustain and ring. The other would be to reamp a snare to get more tone to blend in, or sample replace with something like Massey DRT. If the drummer has the tone he really wants and you just want to tame it, sure, I'd probably run it through Massey Tapehead or something like that, or 1176 four buttons in parallel.
Old 10th September 2011
  #11
Thanks everybody that responded!

Yeah, I am going to mess around with a few things mentioned here.

A lot of people seem to be using harmonic distortion for this, others it's an envelope thing I guess.

Karloff, you mean longer sustain than normal to "hold out" (sustain) the tail?
Or real short to bump it up for a quick "rebound" that brings the volume to normal FAST?

Both can actually add length, but sound very different. The quick release thing just adds a little length, but "blown up" sounding, and then gone...

Just trying to get exactly what you mean...terms are hard over the web.

I have some tube gear, and a tube limiter here, although they do not normally get used for this. I thought I always liked my snares with a lotta detail, sounding like a snare, but if you guys are using distortion, I should try it.

I do use the CRAP outta Valley gear, and I saw this suggested.

I have an old oddball box AKG/Orban's attempt at a transient designer, and I have the plugins.

I'll mess with it.

I should also mention that mostly it's ONLY the attack that is in question here I think. The rest of the snare sound is actually working, and drummer is smiling, thinking it sounds "brutal".

IMO...maybe too brutal heh No need for it to hurt....

If anybody else has any suggestions, shoot.

Thanks for the help!
john
Old 10th September 2011
  #12
Fezzle
Guest
I use the SPL transient designer plug a fair bit, I dont like to go over the top with attack emphasis though, things start to sound too pingy/spitty for me.. As for saturation that works too, tuning down then using the SPL works nice too
Old 10th September 2011
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fezzle View Post
I use the SPL transient designer plug a fair bit, I dont like to go over the top with attack emphasis though, things start to sound too pingy/spitty for me.. As for saturation that works too, tuning down then using the SPL works nice too

Tuning down?

You mean in pitch? Before or after tracking? You mean tune the snare itself down before printing right?

I have messed with tuning before, and it can work sometimes with drum replacement, but I am normally trying to get it in tune with the snare in the OH's. Sometimes if they are out from each other, in a harmonic way, it can work though.

Thanks for the input,
john
Old 10th September 2011
  #14
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NEWTON IN ORBIT View Post

Karloff, you mean longer sustain than normal to "hold out" (sustain) the tail?
Or real short to bump it up for a quick "rebound" that brings the volume to normal FAST?
Either. Depends on a) the tune and what works and b) what options your tools give you. Different vibes on sustain depending on plug.............

Probably just 'hold up' the sustain and tick off the front a bit. But once you do that with a plug it is beneficial to hug it back into a more natural sound shape with a hardware comp.

Or just parallel comp it quite hard with a smooth/fast comp and pull the original down a bit.......
Old 10th September 2011
  #15
Thanks dude!

john
Old 10th September 2011
  #16
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ScumBum's Avatar
 

I'd use an 1176 comp and put the attack fast , that will tame it , then mess with the release to get what you want for sustain .

Or maybe do that old school trick where run just the snare track to a speaker , put the speaker on another snare , then record it . I'm sure you know that trick . It works pretty good .
Old 10th September 2011
  #17
Fezzle
Guest
ah right beg your pardon mate, Im talking about softsampling, I make electronic music and Ill tune the sanre down a whole tone or thereabouts then process... i find for really cutting attack on snares if its lower in pitch it sounds naturally fatter yet still very snappy.. I reckon try the SPL, 1176's really do give some 'gooosh' to a snare and given a slow attack allow the front of the sound to cut through well, or an API2500.. With heavy guitars and vox watch out where theyre playing around, if theyre really fighting then ... yes it could be worth tuning the snare a little before tracking to help give it its own little home frequency wise

you got some good posts here, good luck with it all!
Old 11th September 2011
  #18
Thanks guys.

Yeah, I have LA3's, but no 1176. I do want one, or a clone, as they are a long time studio staple.

Maybe I'll try the la3, and take the Valley off the insert.

I have like three 1176 plugins, but to me, having used many 1176's, they ain't quite the same. Mainly in the way you can squeeze the crap outta it, but the top end stays intact.

Lots of good advice to jar the brain, thanks. This seems to be a little more common than I thought. I know back when we weren't tracking to digital, everybody always wanted faster opening gates, and MORE attack.

At least most of the time for rock and metal anyway.

I am seeing I ain't the only one who wants less sometimes now.

BTW, not to derail the subject, but who's using any of the 1176 clones? If so, who's happy with what manufacturer's kit or assembled unit? I ask because the real deal has become STUPIDLY expensive.

My brother got one in 91' I think, for $150 used. Look at them now. Jeebus.

I know there are other threads, but I know a few of you in this one, and trust your opinions. Please just pass on answering, if it's gonna be

"Do a search".

Greatly appreciate it, there are some heavy hitters (pros) that responded, thanks for taking the time out.

Peace,
john
Old 11th September 2011
  #19
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always in record's Avatar
 

stillwell

Just skimmed through the thread, bit here is my 2pennies

Transient Monster | Stillwell Audio - It's About The Sound

I like this one to control attack on drums. Also useful to tame a loud crash.
Old 11th September 2011
  #20
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adam_f's Avatar
I kind of feel Digital (especially PT systems) homogenizes everything, and removes attack. Better converters make difference though.
Old 11th September 2011
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by always in record View Post
Just skimmed through the thread, bit here is my 2pennies

Transient Monster | Stillwell Audio - It's About The Sound

I like this one to control attack on drums. Also useful to tame a loud crash.
I'll check it out.
Thanks,
j
Old 11th September 2011
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by tubehead View Post
I kind of feel Digital (especially PT systems) homogenizes everything, and removes attack. Better converters make difference though.
Wow, I am getting the opposite I think. I am not getting the smoothing and (fluffy sounding attack) that I used to get with tape. Yeah that sounds stupid, but how else do you explain it in text?

It almost sounds like you can hear the particles "scatter" or something.

I miss it. I also miss the space around stuff, but gotta press on I guess.

I dunno.

Just a majorly hard "tick" or "click" at the front on digital for me, at least this time anyway. Usually it's way more manageable with other snares though. Usually lately has been just about right, with none of the 2 hrs of work to get cut like on tape.


I think I might know what you mean though.

I remember working with a guy near me, and he has the old apogees with the soft clipping thing. I think he over used it (on purpose?), but when it was triggering that limiter stuff, it did kinda soften the attack. Is this what you are meaning?

Doesn't sound like tape, but it did soften it some.

Using Lynx here now. Not Benchmarks, or Prisms, but still ok I think.

I'll post what I got with the band's permission after the mix. Maybe I am over analyzing it. I have a bit of OCD I think, so forgive me.

Thanks,
john
Old 11th September 2011
  #23
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u b k's Avatar
 

Snare was never the same when tape left the picture. Nowadays, there are only a few comps that truly reign in that leading edge they way I like, the 1176 is one of them. Vca's can do it if they're really designed with an ear, most of the ones out now have an overshoot that always pops on the front no matter how fast you set it.

I'm with the others who dial a good analog line stage as the finishing touch; for me it's console input clipping, if I didn't have a desk I'd use a pre. It always amazes me how much distortion you can get away with and not have it be overt in the mix. I like to bring most sounds to the brink, it's the only way I know to truly give a mix 'flavor'. Voice is the one where you need to be really careful, we're extremely sensitive to distortions in the sound of a voice.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 11th September 2011
  #24
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superburtm's Avatar
 

Drums to tape my friend.
Old 11th September 2011
  #25
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Sofa King's Avatar
 

Since I sold off the M79 2"16 track, I use the SPL transient designer, or the McDSP Analog channel to manipulate the edges of most tracks.

best,
Sean
Old 11th September 2011
  #26
Thanks UBK, and what's up Burt!

Yeah, tape would be ideal, but ain't going to happen to multi-track, as I sold my machine in 2006. I could dump them to 1/2" 2 track @30, and bring them back in. I guess I was kinda fishing for a way not to have to do this...

UBK, besides your comps (that you designed), what old vca's would you slap on there?

Did you keep any of your old vca comps...gain brains etc, or do you mostly just use your stuff now?

I remember you saying you once had an old 1280b console. I remember a song you posted mixed through it. Loved it. I sold mine last winter...wish I kept it, because it had some grit. Kinda punchy, a little like the api's, but dirtier...well a lot dirtier.

It was cool though, and you could do just what you are talking about with that little sucker. The trims on that thing could really dial in some serious dirt... err I mean "mojo" heh. Old Harris 4741 chips like the Neumann eq's etc. Slow dirty bastards...but kinda cool.

Long day, crashing.

Lot to think about, and in session all day tomorrow. I'll have to come back and read again when ready to mix.

Thanks for the help all!
john
Old 11th September 2011
  #27
Gear Addict
 

N.I.O, it seems like this is a technical issue of transients rather than a taste question of overall tone though I may be wrong.

Perhaps you could benefit simply from running through a lot of magnetics.

Could you come out of your digital source with a good DA at a healthy level, pad the signal with a good analog pad by maybe up to 20 dB, run into the line in of a 1073, apply almost no gain, out of it into the line input of another 1073, apply almost no gain, and then through both channels of a de-stereo-linked compressor like a Fairchild 670 clone or a shadow hills, doing tiny gain reduction on each channel? [and maybe skip actual compression, just run through the compressor's circuitry and components.]

Simply slowing down the electrical signal, decreasing the slew rate by running through magnetics, may give almost all the change you need.

You may need to boost like 1.5dB above 15k with a low Q shelf after all this...before a good AD.

Forgive me if I've misunderstood some element of what's going on.
Old 11th September 2011
  #28
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Joram's Avatar
 

Drums and the attack

Tape (emulation) or noise gate with slow attack.
Old 11th September 2011
  #29
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Resis's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sparrow View Post
In my case I generally set up up to four channels in parallel with three very different compressors and a mic preamp driven to smashing distortion.
It would go as follows:
Par1: tube, vari-mu compression

Mix to taste depending the case.
This is what I would have done, playing around with the attack on the 'compressed' track.
Old 11th September 2011
  #30
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szmola's Avatar
good topic!
i do it also with getting snare or drumbuss
through some preamps. in this particular situation
where we want to settle down that first large peak, transient,
i find that few different preamps will do the job
because to crush down that transient but to have that punch
we almost have to smack snare so different preamps
will give different distortions and colorations and sound of snare
will be a little more disburden than if we use just one preamp
several times. that would give same distortions over same place and it would
be rougher and rawer.

first, i usually get the snare nailed through compression/EQ.... other elements have also that treatment. in most cases overheads not because it will get smacked later so i don't want to have lifeless or harsh cymbals.
i set on drumbuss a little compression also.
when i have drumbuss ready to go i send it through preamp.
and when i set masterbuss (waves 2500, some stuff from ozone4, fab-L)
that i send once more, the whole song through another preamp.
usually all that tiny transients are poping out from the mix so after that another preamp they get down where the song is!
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