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Recording drums in a bad room!
Old 1st September 2011
  #1
Gear Nut
 
GMK's Avatar
 

Recording drums in a bad room!

Heading to start drum tracking with a band with the only studio available for them at the moment. It is also where I tracked their last recording and I know that it does not have great room. I'm particularly worried about the drums, what can I do mix wise or tracking wise to improve/negate the effects of a bad room sound? Unfortunately I also know they want a nice "roomy" sound, anyone know of any studio magic that can create artificial room mikes?
Old 1st September 2011
  #2
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jdier's Avatar
 

I record drums in a smallish room. The room is drywall, low dropped ceiling, and carpet. We brought in a lot of wood features in the form of old fashioned WOOD bass traps, wood gobos, wood deflectors... Not a pile of science, but the end results have been pretty good.

I am still learning and trying different things, but on my last project, this is how I did it.

I set up 2 Oktava 12 mics for overheads and they make up about 75% of my drum sound. I augmented that with a kick mic and 2 snare mics. for the room mic I set a LDC about 5-6 feet in front of the kick at the height of the snare and put a heavy wood gobo behind the mic, at an angle.

When I mixed I did not compress the overheads at all. I lightly compressed the kick and snare (maybe -2-3db on kick and -3-4db on snare). On the room mic I used a compressor that allowed me to mix dry and wet sounds.... I started with the dry sound at 0db, and for the wet, I compressed the heck out of it. Just crushed it to get it pumping. Like a 20:1 ratio. I fed that compressed room mic into a big room verb.

I brought the kit up and got it sounding full and dry and slowly start bringing up the compressed room until I got the verb level I want. Once it was in I found that the verb was just a bit dark so I brought up the dry level on the room compressor and it brighted it up perfectly. The verb was a bit heavy at that point so I dropped the room mic level and got something I was pretty happy with.

This is a rough mix of one of the songs from the session:

Think about it | R. Mutt
Old 1st September 2011
  #3
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Ben B's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GMK View Post
Heading to start drum tracking with a band with the only studio available for them at the moment. It is also where I tracked their last recording and I know that it does not have great room. I'm particularly worried about the drums, what can I do mix wise or tracking wise to improve/negate the effects of a bad room sound? Unfortunately I also know they want a nice "roomy" sound, anyone know of any studio magic that can create artificial room mikes?
I think "artificial room mics" are best created with room mic samples. In my experience, digital reverb never sounds quite like room mics. Occasionally you can get away with using amplified leakage from one or more of the close miked tracks to impart some ambience, but it's rarely truly satisfying.

Maybe you could convince the band to pony up for one session in a better room just to get the drums done?

-Ben B
Old 2nd September 2011
  #4
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben B View Post
Maybe you could convince the band to pony up for one session in a better room just to get the drums done?
This

Otherwise, deaden the room, and use parallel compression, maybe distortion or pitch shift on the parallel signal. Play with the high and low passes on the parallel also.

You could also try putting the room mics in a different room.

matt
Old 2nd September 2011
  #5
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Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

Lots and lots of albums have been recorded in the setting you describe.

Just cover all your bases. Close mic the kit, have fairly tight overheads set-up to lessen the room sound. Then setup your room mics. If the room mics sound like crap, you're still covered.

A technique I love is to forgo overheads and set up a pair of Glyn Johns mics. Then, if I need a more overhead-y sound I just hpf them up to eliminate the drums. But if I want the roomy GJ sound, I have it.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #6
Maybe is there some kind of hall connected to the room, that is sounding better ? I often use ambient mikes outside the room where drums are
Old 2nd September 2011
  #7
I also use a small room that doesn't sound amazing but I try my best to make it work. Try using room mics facing away from the kit (toward the wall) but pan it to match the rest of the kit. You'll have to play with it to get the phase right, but they can be fun to squash and automate in and out of the mix. The drummer's talkback mic can be fun for that too.
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