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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => j. hall => Topic started by: bert on May 22, 2006, 09:25:09 am

Title: drums cutting through?
Post by: bert on May 22, 2006, 09:25:09 am
i want my drums to cut better through a mix with a lot of other sounds (guitars, etc.). i guess tape compression would do a lot, but since i don't have a fancy vintage tape recorder, what could help?

thanks,

b
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: pg666 on May 22, 2006, 10:10:13 am
this is more of a playing/tuning/mic positioning issue imo, although compression does help. being extra careful with phase and de-emphasizing room mics can help as well.

i don't think tape 'compression' is the answer anyhow. too much of that can make drums real 'smudgy'.
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: TheViking on May 22, 2006, 10:36:33 am
B,

What kind of a drum sound are you going for?   Can you give some examples of the sound you like / are trying to get from the drums?   There are many approaches and many are correct for many different situations.   Narrow down the equation for us.   Thanks!
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: spoon on May 22, 2006, 12:13:52 pm
bert wrote on Mon, 22 May 2006 08:25

i want my drums to cut better through a mix with a lot of other sounds (guitars, etc.). i guess tape compression would do a lot, but since i don't have a fancy vintage tape recorder, what could help?

thanks,

b


Though others have suggested "tape" compression will not address the situation (and it very well may not depending on the song), I would suggest auditioning the FATSO for the "fancy vintage tape recorder" effect.

Regardless of solving this particular problem, it is a good tool for many things.

Regards,
David
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: wwittman on May 22, 2006, 03:11:57 pm
the things that make drums cut through a mix:

arrangement
level
attack
brightness

unless the sounds are very rounded off or lacking impact, I'd suspect attack isn't the issue.

making them brighter is one thing to try (especially in the upper mids)... but I DON'T think there's a quick "trick" or box that is missing.

it's not because they're not recorded to tape, and it's not lacking a Fatso or anything ELSE that specific.

the drums cut pretty well on about 100,000 records that didn;t use a Fatso.

it's hard to know what to tell you without hearing something, but I can be pretty sure it's not a single, simple answer.
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: j.hall on May 22, 2006, 08:23:22 pm
i agree with william......

it's difficult to say.  a lot of times basic balancing within the mix is required.
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: rankus on May 22, 2006, 08:40:53 pm


How long is a piece of string.....
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: compasspnt on May 22, 2006, 10:30:47 pm

...especially super-string.

Balance and tone are the answer.

Compression on drums generally makes them "cut through" LESS, not more, because compression is reducing the dynamics, and to a great extent, the transients.
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: Beezoboy on May 22, 2006, 10:58:44 pm
To make drums cut,

In a DAW set up 4 auxsends. Put an aggressive compressor on each channel with varying levels of compression. Then try sending the kick to 1 while the music is playing and see if it jumps out in the mix. If that didn't do the trick, try 2. If it still isn't right, try 3. If it still isn't right try 4. If that doesn't do it, then maybe compression isn't the ticket, or that particular compressor isn't the one. I'd say that 90% of the time you can make your drums cut through better this way. If you use a mixing console, use a buss instead of an aux send.

Remember that by setting up an aux send you are mixing a compressed signal and an uncompressed signal for a blend of the 2 sounds. This is very different than just slapping on a compressor on the insert, which will generally yeild poor results.  

Remember that mixing isn't salvaging a sound, its sculpting a sound. An artist takes what he is given and makes something beautiful with what he has. You have to learn how to work with what you have by using different techniques.

Sometimes (actually most of the time) I have a less than stellar snare track for example. I might use 3 instances of the track all treated differently so that each track is an element of the final snare sound. Snare 1 might be hi-passed and lo-passed and smashed with compression for a tubby body sound. Snare 2 might be gated with a fast decay and EQ'ed just to give a good crack sound to the track. The track 3 might have the top brought out and barely mixed in to help with the "white noise" kind of sound. I may have a couple different bottom mic tracks too mixed in. All this will be done to sculpt 1 crappy snare track into something more usable in the song. Even then all of these tracks may go into a parallel compressed aux send mixed in for taste. Then there could even be reverb on that.

This approach will almost always acheive much better results than just trying to layer on a ton of effects on one track.

Also remember that hi-passing the bass guitar and guitar tracks help to clean up the low end mud that helps mask things like  bass drum and toms. Maybe try hi-passing the bass at 60hz and try hi-passing the guitars at 100hz for a starting point. If the guitars or bass sound too thin, go lower for a starting point. If this doesn't seem to make a difference, go higher until you hear the difference and back down a little from there. If you get to 300hz and don't hear a substantial difference, get your hearing checked or get some new monitors or both.
 
Good luck,

Beez
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: dcgzr on May 23, 2006, 06:53:11 am
Maybe the attention should be turned to the other instruments.

Try pulling out other tracks one at a time and listen to how the drums cut. Chain saw guitar sounds tend to wipe out drums easily.
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: j.hall on May 23, 2006, 04:17:05 pm
dcgzr wrote on Tue, 23 May 2006 05:53

 Chain saw guitar sounds tend to wipe out drums easily.


and unapologetically
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: scottoliphant on May 23, 2006, 04:36:17 pm
you guys talking about jackal?
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: NelsonL on May 23, 2006, 05:44:21 pm
I heard a story about Jackal sending crates of chickens to DGC... to get them pumped up I suppose.
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: Fabricoh35 on May 24, 2006, 02:32:48 pm
Nice thread.  Very good replys and ideas.

As you were.
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: Daniel Asti on May 25, 2006, 05:06:18 pm
wwittman wrote on Mon, 22 May 2006 15:11

the things that make drums cut through a mix:

arrangement
level
attack
brightness

unless the sounds are very rounded off or lacking impact, I'd suspect attack isn't the issue.

making them brighter is one thing to try (especially in the upper mids)... but I DON'T think there's a quick "trick" or box that is missing.

it's not because they're not recorded to tape, and it's not lacking a Fatso or anything ELSE that specific.

the drums cut pretty well on about 100,000 records that didn;t use a Fatso.

it's hard to know what to tell you without hearing something, but I can be pretty sure it's not a single, simple answer.


I agree with everything here.

There were wonderful sounding records made by just going over and over an acetate. The problem is usually with certain tracks and sounds in the mix cancelling eachother out.

I have a few tricks that I use:

1. Take every plugin or processor out of the mix. Set all the eqs off or flat and keep no effects or dynamics in.
2. If you are monitoring loud or with a sub cut the sub and turn your nearfields down to background music level.
3. Just as an exercise, reset the volume of all your channels from the gain, not the faders. Set the faders even. I always remind myself to set the volume from the gain pots and "mix" with the faders in small adjustments. (Do this even if you're in a DAW...)
4. Listen to every part on it's own and make sure you are really hearing it well at a background level from the monitors.
5. Now slowly start adding in other parts. Set a loop and listen to how things play off of eachother. Keep adding things until you begin hearing the problem. This is a good way to find what I call a "trouble track".
6. Now when you start adding in your eqs effects and dynamics make sure you are adding them in to actually do something and not just to have it there.

I'm not suggesting that eq, effects and dynamics should not be used in tracking. That can create a great instrument all its own. This only refers to mixdown.
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: beau on May 26, 2006, 03:45:15 pm
assuming that re tracking the drums is not an option. and the band wants the song mixed as is........

you tracked the project yourself, so you probably don't have this problem.  but i get a lot of tracks that were tracked by other people, and apparently they have never heard of phase.  

so one thing that helps me get drums to punch, is making sure all the tracks are in phase with each other.  and lining up the tracks so they are all hitting at the same time.  it is amazing how much of a difference a few milliseconds make in the body and punch of drums.  but use your ears and not the wave forms.  

i know that people have said that compression will make your drums cut less, but if you are savvy, you can shape the transient of the drum with a comp by playing with the attack time.  

also if you are really trying to avoid triggers, there is a piece of gear that spl makes, called the transient designer.  i rarely use it, but sometimes its the only thing that will make crappy drum tracks punch.  

and after all that being said, we really cant give you any useful advice on your situation without hearing the tracks.

peace,

beau

Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: bloodstone on June 03, 2006, 04:02:47 am
bert wrote on Mon, 22 May 2006 14:25

i want my drums to cut better through a mix with a lot of other sounds (guitars, etc.). i guess tape compression would do a lot, but since i don't have a fancy vintage tape recorder, what could help?

thanks,

b


I recommend putting the drums on a subgroup if you haven't already.  You can then compress the subgroup to give extra oomph.  Play around with that.  In some cases I'll compress all individual drum tracks and the subgroup if that's what it takes.
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: maxdimario on June 03, 2006, 04:40:29 am
if the sounds are dry and you're going for punch and impact on the drums you're going to have to choose where you want the drum to stick through frequency-wise and make sure the other sounds don't occupy that frequency area at the same time as the drum hits.

My thing to do automatically is to avoid situations where there isn't enough room sound, as the room mics carry more information for the ear without sucking up energy from the frequency spectrum.

a lot of close mic drums look almost like modulated sinewaves on a display because of the heavy fundamental tones.

the ear hears complex non-sine waves best in a mix of sounds.

so if you close mic make sure the drums you are using have enough complexity to the sound that they will stick out in some way.

don't dampen the drums unless necessary.
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: j.hall on June 05, 2006, 10:59:40 am
i'd rather cut drums in a really small, very well controled room then a big room with bad acoustics.

getting drums to cut through is a matter of experience and patience.

often times i think it's more a matter of the sounds your mixing around the drums then the drums themselves.
Title: Re: drums cutting through?
Post by: rankus on June 06, 2006, 02:41:06 pm
j.hall wrote on Mon, 05 June 2006 07:59




often times i think it's more a matter of the sounds your mixing around the drums then the drums themselves.


My thoughts too