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Input Really Needed on this....
Old 7th September 2004
Gear Nut

Input Really Needed on this....

So...On Wednesday(Today being monday)...i go into a studio to lay down drum tracks for my bands album...then am taking the tracks from there..and doing guitars, bass, vox at my studio...knowing that...this is going to be a rock story of the year, incubus, 311, but better of course :D:D:D...

This is the top studio in Colorado, guy is running a 40 input AMEK Mozart automated analog console with Neve Modules, and every microphone i could want...he's got some preamps and other gear listed

Was wondering if any yall had some suggestions to what would be some good mic choice/preamp choice to get that really powerful, big drum sounds...without way too much compression...I was thinkin this...

-414's As OHs(or maybe u87s, or stereo ribbon mic)-ran through 2 737s???
-421s on top of toms, U87s on bottom(for nice resonance, and some xtra body)-maybe through the Grace 801 pres..
-414 on the snare top, small condensor on bottom(maybe sm81, somethin in that range)-ran through board pres
-Then RE20 on inside kick, u87 or other large condensor about 1-3 feet-not sure what pre's
-No Room mics, i rarely use them anyway...can emulate with my r4000...
-Also maybe small condens neuman on hihat...

I have 3 days in this studio to get 14 drum tracks sounding damn good...expensive as i am trying to do things right the first time...

Any suggestions, techniques, etc...would be greatly appreciated...sorry for the length of this...

Thanks all.
Old 7th September 2004
Here for the gear
paradigm's Avatar

first off - compression is a major factor in making things sound big. obviously it can make them sound small as well which is why it needs to be used correctly.

Kick - d112 or d12 or 421 inside and a 47 fet outside but just outside the hole. i generallly eq the inside for attack and the outside for low-end then combine the two via a buss and compress. dbx 160's or 160x's work great. 3-7 db of compression. the eq's on the mozart should be fine but i'd use the api's.

Snare - try combining a 57 and a small condenser together for the top and if you need a 57 for the bottom. again api eq's and the dbx'x will work great or possibly a distressor.

Toms - i'd reverse and use the 87's on top, pad them and use the board. grace stuff sounds soft to me and i've never been happy using them. use some compression on the buss to tape and don't be afraid to give them a whack.

O/H - 414's are great and use the board.

USE ROOM MICS!!!!! set a pair of 87's up and play with the distance. compress them a bit harder and blend in just under.

one last thing - if you have a great board and a limited amount of time to record something - use the board. don't overthink.

good luck.
Old 7th September 2004
Gear Addict
largeunit's Avatar

Make sure you have a great sounding drumkit and great drummer - and make sure what's coming out of the speakers sounds like the drums sound. I agree on the "don't overthink" advice. And I would keep the compression very light - you can always add later.

The chances are, if this is an unfamiliar environment to you, that things are going to sound different to you when you get home, so I would minimize the critical, "no-turning-back" choices like going for it with the compression.
Old 7th September 2004
Here for the gear
paradigm's Avatar

fair enough LU but im assuming that he understands and listens to a control room before doing anything. thanks for mentioning the kit - also pay the extra money and get a guy to tune them. have him listen to how the guy plays and if he is good then he can tune to how he plays.
Old 7th September 2004
Lives for gear
GearHunter's Avatar

I like the RE20 idea on the inside--OR an Audio Technica ATM25 or a Sure SM7. I find a D112 to be tubby, rubbery and "doinky". I have never liked that mic on kick and still can't figure out why people use them. They have a plastic mid and a rumbly, non musical low. If you have to use an AKG, a D12E or an old D25 is the way to go.

As far as outside the kick, the FET47 rules, but if the studio doesn't have one, an 87 or other large condenser is good. A great substitute for a FET47 is a Sony C48, but most studios don't have one.

And a great pair of 414s on the overheads, well placed, will be the key to a big excellent drum sound. (You might need to spot mic the ride, and any small cap or heck, even a 57 works).

Old 7th September 2004
TonyBelmont's Avatar

A nice pair of C414EB's would be perfect for overheads! I wouldn't run those through 2 x 737's though.... Damm, no Neve or API preamps?????
Old 8th September 2004
Gear Guru
Drumsound's Avatar
Originally posted by paradigm

USE ROOM MICS!!!!! set a pair of 87's up and play with the distance. compress them a bit harder and blend in just under.

good luck.
I'll second that. You CAN NOT get the sound out of a reverb box!

Also, find out what has worked in that room (in general for drums) according to the staff engineer, who should know the place pretty well.
Old 8th September 2004
I would simply try to get the house engineer solidly on your side.

Simply tell him that you are keen to make the best use of the ALL cool outboard & mic's the studio has, perhaps bringing in some CD's he/she can listen to for reference while they have their morning coffee.

Let THE ENGINEER run with that, I would be wary of tying their hands too much,

Smartest thing to do is elevate the engineers "engineering vibe" and let them get on with the task.

Sure fire way to get a house engineer pissed off at the start of a session is to jump over their head to make the gear used decisions... (scratching your chin looking at racks mumbling, "I wonder if that would be better on the snare") He knows the place better than you.

You COULD say you were interested (and willing to pay for) the time to audition mic' pres on the key sources - kick / snare / OH - and encourage him to have fun with you doing that with you in jolly a co-engineering, gear shoot out spirit.

Or alternately if you really DO want to call the equipment used shots - (IMHO unwise) tell the studio that you don't require an engineer and that you will be engineering and for them to only allocate you a (cheaper) in house assistant / junior engineer that you can boss around.

If it is the best studio in Colorado - open your mind to making FULL USE of the best engineering, gear choices, mic selection, compression choices - in Colorado also!

TIP: as you are the 'producer' on the session rather than overtly concearn yourself with the engineers job, dont drop the ball on your the producer jobs to do, don't forget to provide

Various snares
New heads
A WIDE selection of cymbals / rides / hi hats
A rested drummer without a hangover
BPM / tempo maps of all the tunes
Enough Sticks / hot rods to last you
Hard drives / midi / smpte / tape reels that you need

TOP TIP: Why not make the extra effort to drop off a demo CD in person earlier in the week and say hi & shake hands with the engineer (just for a second he may be deep in session) . That shows a) you care about his input, b) have your **** together and c) are perhaps a person that might be worth listening to about gear selection ideas!

Old 8th September 2004
member no 666
Fletcher's Avatar
Hi Brian... I took a peek at the link... I guess what you meant by them having "Neve" modules was that their Mozart has the "RN" version of the Mozart modules... big difference... as for having every microphone you could ever want, that must be a zen thing I don't have the capability of understanding.

If you're the client/producer of the session... let the brother behind the desk do his thing... he's been there before, he knows the room [have you read any of Walter Sear's articles? one of the things Walter talks about is engineers who know their rooms vs. the 'migrant' worker syndrone... facinating reading], he knows the gear, what he doesn't know is your band though he may know the goals.

If you're engineering the project with a house assistant, suggestion number one... do not walk in like your **** doesn't stink. That house assistant can be your best friend or your worst nightmare... fukk with him when you walk in, and chances are better than even that the brother will not go out of his way to watch your back... treat him with respect, bring him into the circle, make him believe that he is an important and valuable member of the team and unless he's totally green, he'll be there with all the "helpful learned tricks" of the facility... I'm not saying that you should accept any form of incompetence, what I'm saying is to be careful about walking in with the attitude that your **** don't stink... just a thought.

Personally, when I walk into a room where I've never tracked drums I walk around the room... clap my hands, hoot and holler and try to pick a spot where I would put my drums... then I invariably ask the house assistant where everyone else puts their drums. I always start with the spot I've selected, but have on occassion moved the kit to where the drums are "normally" positioned in the room. Sometimes just setting up a kik and snare in both areas and listening to them acoustically in the room is enough to make that decision... the times I've moved them it's generally been after doing a full setup and deciding that I hated the sound.

I have been in a couple of situations where we've moved the drums more than twice and still not gotten a great sound... at that point you need to make a huge decision... that decision is whether or not to pull the plug on using that room and book a different room. Some rooms just suck and there is nothing that is going to be done about it then and there... I can think of 3 or 4 really big and quasi famous rooms where I wouldn't track drums without a gun to my head... they're "big time" rooms, but they just suck hamster dick when it comes to getting a drum sound [fortunately one of those room is not an apartment building... never sounded better!!].

As someone else mentioned... make sure the drums are well tuned... I realize that today is Wednesday which is kinda late to be making last minute changes... but if you really want this "album" to come out the way you're hearing it in the back of your mind... get some different head combinations than your drummer is used to using... without hearing the music or being part of the project I'd be hesitant to suggest anything, including potential head selections... but will say that one of the things I have found about drum tunings is that you never know what will work for a specific song until you hear the drums in that song and make final adjustments.

Mic selections... well the only thing I'll comment on there is that I would suggest avoiding really bright mics like 414 EB's if there is a Paiste or Sabian cymbal in the program... those are really bright and somewhat brash cymbals who's bright and brash quality will be exacerbated by the bright character of even original capsuled silver bodied 414 EB's [though if the capsules have never been cleaned, all bets are off... those mics have to be at least 25 years old by now... so they may have lost a bit of their original high end shimmer].

The only other things I would caution are to not be in a hurry... better to get one or two great performances than six or seven mediocre performances... and if possible, try to listen to the drums in context with as much of the band [guitar and bass, etc] as possible making tweezes to the sounds for each song.

I noticed they had a couple of MX-80's on their gear list... you might want to think about splurging for a roll of tape, perhaps they have a rental reel, and running from the busses to the tape machine, recording with the record head then within a couple inches pull the signal off the tape with the repro head to the A/D converters... if the musicians are wearing headphones they'll have to be monitoring the output of the desk, or you'll have to configure some kind of monitor situation that avoids the "latency" of the distance between the record and repro heads on a 2" deck... but if you're going for "big", that should help.

Compression is something I would look to apply when mixing... but if you feel comfortable tracking with it, by all means go for it. Personally, I have too many other things to concentrate on when tracking drums so I generally avoid compression of any kind... but I ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer either.

Best of luck with it!!!!!!!!!
Old 8th September 2004
Gear Nut


Hey you guys are all so awesome...thank you for all the great tips..takin them all into account...

Off to the studio now...

Crossin Fingers :D:D:D

Thanks all.

Old 8th September 2004
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Originally posted by Fletcher
If you're the client/producer of the session... let the brother behind the desk do his thing... he's been there before, he knows the room [have you read any of Walter Sear's articles? one of the things Walter talks about is engineers who know their rooms vs. the 'migrant' worker syndrone... facinating reading]
Got a link to one of those articles handy? Or is this more of an AES jornual thing?
Old 8th September 2004
Lives for gear
chadly's Avatar

I believe that the Sear's artical was in a recent Tape Op.
Old 8th September 2004
Lives for gear
Scinx's Avatar

Originally posted by chadly
I believe that the Sear's artical was in a recent Tape Op.
There was one - as was discussed in great depth here - but I dont believe it is the same one that Fletcher is talking of. That one more had to do with digital audio/gear (being terrible) if I recall correctly.
Old 8th September 2004
Let us know how you get / got on!

Old 9th September 2004
Gear Head
JMS's Avatar

Here's the Sear article from Mercenary's site
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