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Author Topic: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums  (Read 3582 times)

dnafe

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In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« on: December 28, 2005, 08:54:41 am »

I asked this question over at Recording 101 and thought I'd post it here.

How much time does it take to set up the recording chain on a set of drums for a new client?

Don

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j.hall

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2005, 11:01:21 am »

just to get mics on stands and all the pres and comps patched in i'd say about 1 hour.

to get all the sounds i want it typically takes 4 to 8 hours.
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Fibes

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2005, 11:16:40 am »

As a room owner there are at least two answers to this question for me. If I'm doing a quickie demo for the band it takes about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to get the drums set up and ready to track. This is after all, a demo(nstration).

If we're going for album status and there is room in the budget we'll grab a night before tracking starts and get the drums kicking in about 4-6 hours and map out which tracks can afford the same type of setup and plan on tracking them together to save time. We try to make sure we have choices for snares, sticks, extras and kicks mapped out for smooth transitions so no one gets bored during the tracking process.

And then sometimes we just wing it.

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pg666

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2005, 02:12:43 pm »

Quote:

to get all the sounds i want it typically takes 4 to 8 hours.


damn.

i can't say it's ever taken me more than 2/2.5 hours (either playing myself or recording other people). if you do all your head replacing/tuning on your own time and not try to reinvent your drum mic'ing techniques on every session it shouldn't take too long.

of course, 4-8 hours is still nothing compared to big budget records that spend weeks getting drum(like) sounds. what's funny is that none of those types of records even come close to the awesomeness of john bonham or elvin jones' outtakes..
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Fibes

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2005, 02:56:40 pm »

Quote:

if you do all your head replacing/tuning on your own time


Therein lies the problem. For every self sufficient drummer i work with there seems to be a bunch of other guys who own drums and have never tried to tune them or change the heads, ever. We've got a great studio kit and I keep it ready to roll but the sessions that take the longest are the ones where we have to get the drums and the drummer on point because they never thought it mattered.

I'm a guitarist and although it's in my nature to bash drummers, i really can't get over how a lot of them don't care at all until it's mix time and they are ready to point the finger at me.

OTOH the dudes that know their shit make me look real good in no time.

It's still apparent to me that although i have a "basic" go to set up that when we get past demo every kit/drummer requires a little out of the box thinking. Just in the past couple of sessions due to weird kit arrangements I've had to drop a 121 on the ride in mid session, use two overhead pairs, switch to bottom micd toms and a few other things to make it work. It's great to have a starting point but the end result is the most important IMNSHO.
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Fibes
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j.hall

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2005, 04:02:59 pm »

i can mic a kit and get workable sounds in 2 hours.

i prefer to take my time and move mics, listen, audiotion compression, EQ, move mics, change mics......

i think the drums drive the sonic decisions you make for the whole record.  if you don't get exactly what you want there, everything gets worse.

i just like to take my time and print drum sounds that i know for certain are doing what i want.
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scottoliphant

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2006, 01:48:30 pm »

"4-8 hours is still nothing compared to big budget records that spend weeks getting drum(like) sounds". it amazes me that people might spend this much time, and then when i hear the drums on modern rock "radio" they sound like ass, or like midi drums. I'm still rocking the 4 mic setup (2 overheads and snare / kick). takes me about 2 hours to set up. the overheads aren't ever really the issue for me, but since i only have 1 mic on the snare and kick respectively, I spend most of my time trying to get them to sound the best. I hate crappy cymbals, wish there were things to do about that =) Speaking of drums, anyone know who recorded the Dirty Three record, horse stories? the drum sounds on that record are sick.

pg666

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2006, 03:45:41 pm »

Quote:

Speaking of drums, anyone know who recorded the Dirty Three record, horse stories? the drum sounds on that record are sick.


was it not this guy?

i love recording drums with 3 mics (or two if one is a stereo mic). i wish more bands played open sounding music (and had solid, consistent drummers) simply so i could do it more!
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NelsonL

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2006, 01:39:52 am »

pg666 wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 12:45

Quote:

Speaking of drums, anyone know who recorded the Dirty Three record, horse stories? the drum sounds on that record are sick.


was it not this guy?

i love recording drums with 3 mics (or two if one is a stereo mic). i wish more bands played open sounding music (and had solid, consistent drummers) simply so i could do it more!


That's what I was going to say too-- about that dirty three record.

And, yes-- totally agree.  

In fact, I'm going to give you my password and you can write all my posts from here on out.
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Frob

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2006, 05:18:01 pm »

j.hall wrote on Wed, 28 December 2005 13:02

i can mic a kit and get workable sounds in 2 hours.

i prefer to take my time and move mics, listen, audiotion compression, EQ, move mics, change mics......

i think the drums drive the sonic decisions you make for the whole record.  if you don't get exactly what you want there, everything gets worse.

i just like to take my time and print drum sounds that i know for certain are doing what i want.



this is some really good advise, also for some reasone the hardest thing to do seems to be re-doing drumms. sometimes if a week from now if the drums sound like crap then it is just better to redo the whole song.

Dave Martin

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2006, 07:08:35 pm »

My house kit is down this week, but I'll have it back up for a session on Friday morning. I'll get them out and kinda put them where they need to be (and put mics up in the general vicinity around 8:00AM on Friday. The drummer will get there at 9:00, and we'll be done for a 10:00AM downbeat. If the kit is up and miced (as it usually is), it's a lot less work...
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Fibes

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2006, 07:29:20 pm »

Dave Martin wrote on Tue, 03 January 2006 19:08

My house kit is down this week, but I'll have it back up for a session on Friday morning. I'll get them out and kinda put them where they need to be (and put mics up in the general vicinity around 8:00AM on Friday. The drummer will get there at 9:00, and we'll be done for a 10:00AM downbeat. If the kit is up and miced (as it usually is), it's a lot less work...


You are a machine.

Don't fault us humans.
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Fibes
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pg666

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2006, 09:00:09 pm »

the best drum recording advice i can think of..

don't start recording at 9 'o clock in the morning!! yikes!
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Dave Martin

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2006, 12:14:19 am »

pg666 wrote on Tue, 03 January 2006 20:00

the best drum recording advice i can think of..

don't start recording at 9 'o clock in the morning!! yikes!


This is a special case - 95% of the musicians that work here are session guys. They might not EVER be awake at 1:00AM, but at 10:00AM, they're ready to rock...
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Fibes

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2006, 11:49:11 am »

hahahaha!


Last night I tracked a drum session solo and timed my progress from top to bottom. I had the drums set up already but micing the kit, getting sounds and tuning took all of 32 minutes.

Four piece kit for a blues record with mainly brushes.

The setup:

Kick D-6-- outside the front head through an API 512.

Snare 57-- through an API 512- Distressor in but not compressing

Overheads- Bova balls on a stereo bar over the front of the kit through 512s and trakkers grabbing the dynamic brush hits

Done

One Caveat-- The drummer is a seasoned vet of this sort of thing and walked out smiling about the drum sound.

Not a freaking eq.
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Fibes
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pg666

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2006, 12:40:49 pm »

Quote:

..but at 10:00AM, they're ready to rock...



there's something about this sentence that's just not working for me..

hehe
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j.hall

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2006, 01:36:39 pm »

color me a slow-poke.  i just like to take my time and get exactly what i'm going for

i print compression, EQ, whatever i want.  i'd prefer to take my time and get exactly the right thing and not a slightly over EQ'd sound that screws me in the mix.

i also like to find out if a different mic would do the job better.  i take pictures (camera phones and digital cameras are awesome) i take notes and we move around knowing we can come back to something we previously liked.

i don't think drums are something you can standardize.  when doing jingles and the like you have to be fast and i can see where dave might need to have a standard setup to get rolling quickly.  but honestly, "house drum kits" and "standard setups" are not things i've ever used or plan to use in my career.
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Fibes

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2006, 02:53:09 pm »

j.hall wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 13:36

  when doing jingles and the like you have to be fast and i can see where dave might need to have a standard setup to get rolling quickly.  but honestly, "house drum kits" and "standard setups" are not things i've ever used or plan to use in my career.



J.

Last night wasn't a standard setup for me but it was the studio kit and mics I've used before. The kit used to belong to the drummer so in a way that was a reunion. She played blues and Jazz for years at the best stops in Chi town and even remarked how well i tuned the drums for a measly guitarist.

It was a rare and bizarre event but the omnis did wonders for the brushes and the brass sounded like it was dancing in the air.

The fact that no eq was also an anomoly and i'm sure i'll have to get some of the meat out of the snare brushes for the final mix but I'd rather have it than not.

BTW the OHs are the sound and may be ALL of it.
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Fibes
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j.hall

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2006, 04:20:38 pm »

i'm not faulting you kevin........that would be a first....

i'm just speaking my mind, when have i ever done differently?
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Dave Martin

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2006, 08:10:41 am »

And to be fair,  it's 6:55 AM as I type this, and I'm off to the studio in about 10 minutes for the 10:00AM session. Drums aren't set up, mics are in the closet, and some of the stands I'll need in in my garage (must remember stands). There shouldn't be any problems, but the reason taht I'm gonna be there at 7:00 instead of 8:00 is to make sure that there aren't. Musicians cost money, so the quicker I can have them recording, the better for everyone.
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starscream2010

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2006, 09:45:12 am »

Dave Martin wrote on Fri, 06 January 2006 07:10

it's 6:55 AM as I type this


No one should be typing anything at 6:55am, it's entirely too early to be THAT awake.
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Fibes

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2006, 09:59:01 am »

j.hall wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 16:20

i'm not faulting you kevin........that would be a first....

i'm just speaking my mind, when have i ever done differently?



Same here. I wasn't being defensive, just descriptive.

The drums last night were kicking and had a ton more eq and compression. Same drum kit but theoretically last night it was Mars Volta as opposed to Bonnie Raitt.

I had to move the OHs down, swap the snare, move the kik mic and add a tom. The tuning is what took the time.

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pg666

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2006, 10:07:27 am »

i played drums on a session once where everything got started at 10am. it was just awful; i was making mistakes all over the place, the studio was still really cold so the drums kept going out of tune, and the overall energy level was just really low. it took about twice as long as normal to get passable (not great) takes. we took home the reference cds and realized a few of the songs were too fast and needed redone.

so we redo the session a few weeks later and start at 12:30-1 ish. knock out the songs in 1 take and everyones happy.

sleep is very important!!
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j.hall

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Re: In the spirit of "tracking" - setting up for drums
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2006, 10:14:00 am »

when i cut records we have a strict 10am start time, and we wrap each day at 8pm.  so thats a 10 hour day, and every one gets to go home and actually have an evening.

so what this really means is:

every one (including me, i don't get there early after the first set up day) files into the studio at 10am.  we talk for a bit while i get a reel of tape up and things ready to go.  the band is powering up tube amps, tuning up guitars, changing strings, tuning drums....whatever.  we'll have a cup of coffee and a quick chat about the days events and goals, and off we go.  this all puts us recording around 11am.  we wrap up quickly around 8pm and do it all over again the next day.

we take one break for lunch around 2 or 3.
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