Recording: The Story So Far…
So the first step is recording the drums well – now for most people recording the drums is a bit of a challenge because you are not really just recording one thing you are recording multiple things all at once. You may have eight or more microphones being recorded all at once and each one of these mics is capturing just a small part of a bigger picture.
The right tool for the job:
There are lot’s of techniques for capturing the kick drum but really you should start with listening to the drum and seeing if it sounds nice – you can’t capture what isn’t there!
I like a resonant kick drum sound not just a thud sound, I like a fair bit of boom too – there are many ways to do this but I like to give myself options. I’ll probably go for a 2 mic solution; a dynamic mic (AKGD112 ) pointing at the beater from inside the drum and a large diaphragm mic pointing at the resonant head (subkick speaker-as-microphone).
– Snare drum microphone technique involve a humble sm57.
– Toms will be spot miked with AKG 440/450s and sm57s.
– Overhead – Ribbon microphone directly above the snare to capture snare and cymbals.
– Onboard zoom R16 Microphone as room mics.
With this technique I hope get a good picture of how the kit sounds with just 3 microphones – the over head, d112 kick mic and the room mics.
The other microphones are used for more ‘perspective control’ – if I want the drums to sound ‘close’ to the listener I’ll use more of the close microphones and conversely, to take the drums back from the listeners perspective I’ll use more room mics and overheads.
A recording tunnel made of chairs and carpets is needed to provide a dead sound – with the amp at one end with a sm57 on it and a ribbon. A further ribbon mic placed in the room outside of the tunnel for ambience. Phasing and mic placement must be experimented with for best sound before you hit ‘record’
Record bass guitar in a similar way but with an addition of a DI signal recorded as well as some bass parts sound fantastic with just the dry DI signal.
Vocals recorded as dry as possible – I’ll be using a ribbon microphone and an sm58 for tracking in a very small room with lots of hanging rugs and a pop shield in front of the mic.
There are a few things to do before anything – housekeeping. Ordering the tracks in a way that makes sense with colour coding. Grouping tracks together that need processing together i.e. the drum tracks. High pass filtering on every track the low thresholds to be determined later.
For many tracks I have a compression track or high brick wall limit and a distortion track for parallel processing with the effects ‘printed’ into the session. So for example, you would have the normal kick drum channel, a heavily compressed kick drum channel a distorted kick drum channel and blend this with the sub kick channel.
If I’ve done my job right earlier in the tracking stage I probably mix as dry as possible and use the natural ambience captured on the session mics but if this isn’t glueing the tracks together then I might add a little artificial reverb. Mixing is really all about balance and so long as the tracks sound balanced and compare well to other professional mixes I’ll be happy.
Another trick I’d like to try is using my old Akia 4000DS reel to reel tape machine – I’ve used this before to do to a ‘tape’ mix and I really liked the sound of it. I may bounce a guitar track off it to make the guitar sound a little more exciting but I might also just sample the tape hiss and use that the glue the tracks together – if things are not glueing properly.
I have just done a screencast of where I am at the moment…