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Drum sounds of Superunknown
Old 13th March 2013
  #1
Gear Head
 

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Drum sounds of Superunknown

The drum sound on Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" (and entire Superunknown) in one of the greatest I've ever heard. Huge, punchy, with Bonham-esque feel to some degree. Did you spend a lot of time during preproduction, or actual recording, selecting and choosing from various drums, heads and mic placement?

What important do you recall from the session? I've read somewhere you were cutting drums and bass together, and then layered the guitars on top of it - did you ever after having recorded guitars and vocals got back to the drums to cut it again using different drum set?
Old 14th March 2013
  #2
Michael Beinhorn
 
fexurbis's Avatar
 

Thanks for the kind words. There wasn't a lot of prep work prior to recording, but once in, getting the sounds took about five days. We tried a few different kits, but went pretty deep with snares. We decided on 2 Keplingers, a Black Beauty and one or two others which may, or may not have been used. We definitely used Keplinger's Pipe snare on Black Hole Sun- a very deep snare with a lot of crack and presence.

As for heads- I'm pretty sure we stuck with Remo Ambassadors which drummers hate using because they don't last very long but generally sound great. Generally, all the drums were re-headed and tuned every day prior to recording and whenever the tone started to slip. Mic placement and choice was a big deal and took awhile, too. We also experimented with recording formats- there was a Sony 3324 laying around which I wanted to try to see if it reproduced transients faster than tape. It did, but sounded awful.

Tracking that song in particular, I recall constantly being so sure that it was an amazing piece of work. There are some things you work on where you just know they have something very special to them- this was one of those things. When I heard things like Matt's fills going into the final chorus, the bass overdubs, the Leslie arpeggio motif and finally, the vocal, I was more and more and more certain of how remarkable it was.

We sometimes cut bass together with the drums, but that was usually with the full band and only on a few tracks (Superunknown in particular). We re-tracked everything after this so we could get better performances and better sound for each instrument. Black Hole Sun was cut without bass- I think it was one song where Matt played better when he didn't have to concentrate on the other instruments or vocal. Once the drums were tracked, that was it- we never re-tracked anything.
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Old 14th March 2013
  #3
Zep
Gear interested
Wow... thanks Michael for the info.

Did you say Matt tracked 'Black hole sun' without references? I'm a big fan of this technique, it allows the drummer to play with better groove.

Although there's another general topic about 'Superunknown', a couple of questions dropped here with the permission of 'keap':

I know you said that '4th of July' didn't slow down or 'vari-speed' at all, but, what about 'Black hole sun'?? It's 1/4 up in tunning, and it seems a little forced in tempo.

And, what an awesome kickdrum (better!!... bassdrum) in 'Fell on black days', it's by far my favorite drums recording. Did Matt record the bassdrum with the resonant head on and without the hole, and more importantly, without muffling?

Another topic is the helium-like voice in the song 'Half'... I read somewhere that effectively, it's helium in the chain.

Sorry for my english. And thanks for supporting.
David.
Old 14th March 2013
  #4
this is a question I would've asked myself. Awesome! thanks for the reply Mr. Beinhorn! This is a solid album. I have it on vinyl and it rocks. Fact is I asked Dave Collins about the mastering and he said he received a 16/44 mix, just a testament to how awesome the recording and production was on this record.
Old 15th March 2013
  #5
Michael Beinhorn
 
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Zep-

Actually, Matt did play with a click, although I think he would use it for a tempo reference and turned it off when the recording started. I agree regarding clicks, although some drummers can still play in the pocket on a click. My own feeling is, it really depends on the player and the type of music being recorded.

None of the songs on Superunknown were slowed down. Any variance in tuning is due to how the band tuned their guitars. I'm actually happy to hear that some of the record sounds slowed down to you just because of the low end connotations.

All the bass drums had back heads with a hole cut out and a degree of muffling. I tend to like muffling making very slight contact with the head so there is some room for vibration but on this record, it was probably tighter.

As for "Half".... I don't know about any helium. I think Ben can really sing like that.
Old 15th March 2013
  #6
Michael Beinhorn
 
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Gerry-

If what you wrote is true, you have told me something about one of my own recordings that I don't even know about. That's funny and disturbing at the same time. I have those same DAT master mixes in my closet at home- they sound awful compared to the analog tapes. Which makes me wonder where the analog master mixes are?
Old 15th March 2013
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundWeavers View Post
Fact is I asked Dave Collins about the mastering and he said he received a 16/44 mix, just a testament to how awesome the recording and production was on this record.
If I recall correctly it was the vinyl laquer that he said was cut from the 16/44 CD master. Or was there another thread where he said the CD was mastered from DAT?
Old 15th March 2013
  #8
Michael Beinhorn
 
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Now, I'm going to have to ask him and find out. I really had no idea.
Old 15th March 2013
  #9
Michael Beinhorn
 
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Dave Collins was kind enough to inform me that the record was mastered from the original 1/2 " 30 ips analog final mixes.
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Old 15th March 2013
  #10
Gear maniac
 
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Thanks for the info!
How involved was Jason Corsaro on these sessions?
Old 16th March 2013
  #11
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by fexurbis View Post
(...) once in, getting the sounds took about five days. (...)
Due to my average understanding of English i need to ask:
"getting the sounds" means choosing drums and heads that have end up on the album or do you mean getting the tracks on tape?

In the process of "getting the sounds" have you checked the drum sounds with the (scratch) bass and guitar parts? Like "let's find if this Keplinger sounds nice with the Les Paul plugged into Marshall"? Or did you check the drum sound on it's own?
Old 16th March 2013
  #12
Lives for gear
 

One of my all-time favourite rock albums for sure.
Old 16th March 2013
  #13
Michael Beinhorn
 
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Jason engineered it, so yes, heavily involved. We differed quite a bit on aesthetics- he wanted to go very simple with about 4 mics on drums and I wanted a fuller sound. IN the end, we incorporated some of what he wanted (U67 pair over the kit through Neve 2254E's) with the more expanded drum sound.
Old 16th March 2013
  #14
Michael Beinhorn
 
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In this case, getting the drum sound meant getting the sounds of the full kit starting with individual components and using that to create an integrated sound with everything. Nothing was referenced to other instruments- in a way, I let the drum sound determine how the rest of the record would go.
Old 18th March 2013
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundWeavers View Post
this is a question I would've asked myself. Awesome! thanks for the reply Mr. Beinhorn! This is a solid album. I have it on vinyl and it rocks. Fact is I asked Dave Collins about the mastering and he said he received a 16/44 mix, just a testament to how awesome the recording and production was on this record.
The CD was mastered only from the 1/2" 30ips analog tapes.


DC
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Old 18th March 2013
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcollins View Post
The CD was mastered only from the 1/2" 30ips analog tapes.


DC
Thanks! Was the vinyl cut from the mastered CD?
Old 18th March 2013
  #17
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcollins View Post
The CD was mastered only from the 1/2" 30ips analog tapes.


DC
DC would NOT let it happen from a DAT if he knew there was a much, much, better source!! He cares too much...

Best-
Jonathan
Old 19th March 2013
  #18
Michael Beinhorn
 
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Thanks again, Dave- great job.
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