Fatter Drums : Fast Attack Settings
Let's, start with that drums because I feel like drums are one of the hardest things to mix, but one of the most satisfying things to mix well and they're huge part of just about every genre of music and even every drum sound can sound different when you get drums, right? I think the rest of you mix comes together, you could have great accusing compressed vocals and guitars, but if the drum sound pretty lame, pretty weak, the whole mix seems to suffer. But if the drum sound really solid, really fat, it seems like you can't really go wrong after that. So I'm a huge fan of drums, and for years I was never satisfied with my drum mixes, and every time I do it makes it feel like I get closer and closer to that. Next, right here in my head, the one thing that you may be looking for is, how do I get? I've got a kick sound, or I've got a snare sound. How do I get that sound to sound fatter? Um, and to be honest, there's a hole half of this discussion that revolves around recording it depends o...
n what snare was used when you recorded, you know, and as a mixer, if you didn't. Get to record the music then you don't really have any choice or if you already recorded it or you only had one snare drum to choose from and you did your best on that day and this is what you're left with and that's all we're gonna talk about is how do you take what you have and get the most fatness out of that snare drum or any drum in particular but obviously starts with recording because some snare sound smaller and thin and some snare sound really, really fat but I want to show you what a compressor does how it can actually change how small or big instrument can sound just one individual instruments so let's take let's take the snare drum let's look try to make it sound fatter let's get to reverse and let's meet all the other instruments here just got drums and let's base sadly I've got a compressor already set but let's just listen to this narrow down by itself I think we got a great stared drum sound on that that day I've already got some e q on it which we'll get a look at him he hugh master class but that's cute is a little bit of compression happening on the drum bus here we looked at that in the last session if you look closely, the snare itself isn't loud enough to trigger the drum bus compression it's right below the threshold so actually the drum bus isn't really doing any compression on the snare by itself so we can almost pretend that that's not even there were literally hearing a snare drum with just like you and maybe the mixed bus compressor is compressing a little bit hardly at all so really it's almost like a naked sarah jam sandwich live with the q so by itself it sounds fine, but if you have a snare drum where you hear lots of the attack so lots of that smack with stick literally hits the snare but then it kind of dies off and you would like it to sound fatter. What we can use is a fast attack setting on a compressor to make our ears think like it sounds bigger because here's what we're going to do is look at an actual audio way because I feel like that will be helpful to look at um this snare track to be fair is actually a group um of to snare the top on the bottom snare so I used to mike's on the snare that day and I've routed them both to a one tracks like and I like to hi those tracks and pretend like this just one snare sound but if we just zoom in on the actual snare itself, you could you could take either one this top one in the in the the pink whatever is thie tops near mike you can see right here this is the main transient right that's where it hits and then you can see the decay where this sound decays off what we're going to do with a compressor with a fast attack setting remember a fast attack setting means the invisible man in the compressor who's riding your fader grabs that fator and quickly pulls the volume down when he hears the snare drum so we're gonna have the the snare drum turned down pretty quickly the moment it almost the moment it hears a snare the compressor is going to turn it down really quickly so it's going to catch mohr of this transient than, say, a slow attack so it's actually going toe? If I had a slow attack, it wouldn't catch any of these transients it's very, very beginning with this fast attack we're going to do is try to turn down the very front of the snare john and they won't really affect the tale of the snare drum it's going to catch the very beginning of it at least close to it it's not perfect turn that part down a little bit and then with the makeup gain, we're going to bring up the overall level of snare itself, which in essence is going to make it sound like we turned up this part of the snare the tail which is going to trick us into thinking it sounds fatter so I just want to kind of paint a picture of where we're going so let's let's mess with this right? I've got the setting already set up here, but I'll start from scratch um readies a three to one so let's let's grab a compressor and let's leave it a three to one ratio and by default and this compressor do we have a slow attack? Um let's see where the threshold is it's catching it a little bit it's turning down, you know minus two d b minus two and a half let's this is what happened with your super fast attack see how much more is turning down the snare you're seeing minus sixty b you could see the output of the snare track is a much quieter itt's grabbing onto this transit it's pretty quickly I'm usually not going to go extreme like all the way hard core to the left I'm just going toe kind of go around here again I don't really cares much where the numbers are just know it's going to be much faster attack? Um I might make a more medium release will play with that later and see what sounds right, but what I want to do is then set the threshold and this attack and make sure I'm getting a solid maybe minus sixty b of gain reduction I'm ok with turning it down the peak down a lot and we'll adjust from there, so that actually is good. I'm turning it down a solid amount remember what we've just done with those settings. If you zoom in on the actual way form, we basically taken this and school isn't it down, and if I actually make the release little faster, that might help to I'm just taking that and making that a little smaller, closer in line, too. The volume level here final step is going to be the makeup game we're going through the same process that we've done and all the other examples I'm going to turn up the snare track to make up the volume that I've lost and you could see it in the input and output I'm losing that sixty b five t b on the snare drum I want to bring that back up let's try try five that's pretty close trying I'm trying to balance them so that the output is about the same volume is the inputs I'm bringing it back to the level it was at, but remember, we're turning down on lee the loud stuff which is with a fast attack is going to grab on to those quick transients and it's going in essence, turn up the sound of the tail so let's listen to what we've done on the snare and bypass the compressors here is with the compression and I'll take it away do you hear that change it's obvious it's making the bleed of the snare drum louder because again we've turned down the peak but it's pretty you can hear the high hat a little bit more you can probably hear the kick from a little bit more kids turning up the tail of the snare drum to be a closer level so if you were to look at the way form it would look different if it would spur print out a new wave form this this trail of the tale of the decay of the snare drum hit would seem fatter we've seen closer to the you know the size of the beginning transient in essence that's all we've done with a fast attacks were ableto turn that puppy down and bring up what we hear is the decay of the snare drum so in all my original one here the mix I have a very similar thing about maybe a slower release you can play with that and I'm doing a little more compression that I've got on the actual uh one of the mix but I want you to hear it if we have a fast release, you hear what that does slow release a little too slow is keeping a little choked so you find a happy medium on this compressor release this compressor does not have an auto release no um just have to play with you hear what sounds good when in doubt leave it up the middle it's going to probably the most neutral setting and then if it's if it's choking it too much you can back off you can make it a faster release and if it's if it's releasing too quickly like you'd like it to to have a longer to you know release time you can just tweet from there but I usually leave it up the middle to start with so in the mix because again that's mostly what matters let's take a listen to the drums and let's just as everything else meted and so here's now the whole drum group and what I'll do is here all the drugs and then I'm going to be bypassing the snare drum compressor hear how it sounds with beer fatter any questions on what we just did there like jorge smiling yeah, I get it so this is kind of a rule of thumb but if you think if in your head you're hearing because if you think like a musician you might think what I want too fat or sounding bass you could do this on bass guitar I think I need to squeeze the initial transients down a little bit more so that I can use makeup game to bring up the tail it's almost the same thing with base and that may not be what you want to do in the base then you might be cutting off too much of the transients, but it might be what you want if you want a fatter base, you can do the same thing with a faster attack compressor setting you turned down initial pluck on the bass guitar and that way it's closer in volume to the sustain of the guitar and you bring up the makeup gain. It sounds like all of a sudden he turned on sustain on your base that's why a lot of solo electric guitar bass guitar players have a compressor foot pedal in their pedal board that's what they're doing they're trying to bring out more sustained so they're playing a lead riff and they hold a note it rings out longer because they're compressing the transient with a fast attack so they can use makeup game too give us more volume on that tail of whatever the notice so when you want to think fat sustain think fast attack, they make up the difference that makes sense you know, for like uh or elektronik type of sounds for the snare if you wanted to sound more not necessarily fatter but just more snappy um more just kind of just cutting through makes more snappy do you did you something similar or I would do the opposite we have that that's what we're gonna show you on all show on an acoustic guitar as my next move but exactly you're thinking if you want something snappy than you want mohr transient to come through which is actually the opposite of what we're doing here we're actually reducing some of initial transients so it we're bringing up the tail yeah absolutely going put where do the opposite on the next thing and you could apply to drums as well you might have a riel law sneering a sneer job you might wanna do slow attack makeup game to bring up the transient of snare drum question the chat they want to know why not said the attack on the snare as fast as possible how do you decide how much to dial it back? Great question do and see what it sounds like so like if you said it is super super fast in theory you're right like the faster the attack, the more of the trains that you can turn down too much of a good thing isn't always a better thing you know like if you do super super fast you might lose all the transient of the snare you know let's let's do it right here we'll see what this sounds like here's the stair with this one this compressor as fast as it goes, it almost still sounds musical, so I actually don't mind it there but if you go too fast you'll hear it you will snap out all the snare won't even cut through the mix it all will have sacrificed what a sneer actually does which is cut through naturally for all that sustain that you're trying to get you swung too far just to get a fatter snare so usually I like to go faster but not super super fast and it depends on your compressor setting because you might just squeeze all the life out of you want to kill the transients you don't mind some coming through but if you wanted to grab most of the trains at the beginning so it gets turned down but I would say experiment crank it is far I love taking things to the extreme like when I learned something I'll do it too much and you can hear it on like mixes well, I've learned a technique or tried something I'm overdone it on a mix but that's how I learned and then a future mixed they usually back it off to more natural musical version of whatever I was doing so some mixes suffer for my experimenting but it's part of it good question a few more questions came in here this one's from pang and they want to know is there a way to compress the sustained in the decay of a drum sound so that I get a tighter sound without resorting to a gate um I mean, so a gate would clean up sort of the in between of the hits so you wouldn't hear you know, the stuff in between the snare hits you can I do that manually with tom's? You can see in this session where I literally just cut out audio with editing features of my dog, so this is only one tom's hit this is when a tom hits I've literally cut right up to the moment that it's hom hits s so all of this would have been tom bleed u s o I all the leads take it out I do that on tom's a lot that's probably the only track that do that for um and that good what that will do is because I've got compression on the toms is I can compress them mohr if I need to and it's not going to turn up bleed when that tom's aren't being hit so yes, oh, and you might find that with a snare drum if you if you really want a lot of compression on the snare and you're getting a great snare sound but then it's just turning up their bleed and that's near mike a little too much it might mean ok, tio keep that compression setting the way haven't I might need to use a gate beforehand or after or edit some stuff out to clean up some of the bleed so I keep compression that's why samples that could be using sample drums like you constructed a drum beat you can compress like crazy because there's no artifact there's no drum bleed because it's just literally a snare hit with live drums like this you have more problems you can run into seats have to be you have to be careful compromise sometimes yeah let's get another one here we have a follow up also paying one to know how would you compress the bottom snare versus the top snare to get that fat radio ready snare sound so that's that's a preference thing like I like I showed you I I like to pretend like they don't exist I might both the top in the bottom on this specific day because then the sound together to me sounded really cool and then when I come time to mix I don't I route both of these tracks it says is the output here around them to a bus called snares and that's feeding him into this track called snares. So then I can hide these two tracks so that all I see is one track as if it's really one snare drum track because I had personal liketo work that way we're all just use one a q on one track one compressor and pretend like it's one snare sound but you could totally compress the baba snare separate independent on the tops near because then you would bring up more of that brightness of the snare drum so again you need to have a reason to do what you're doing so like you would only do that because you like I really want to hear more of that snare sound and I want the stain of that underneath the snare drum but I don't wanna miss the top mike then you would just compress the bottom but if you don't need to do that there's no reason to go compress them separately when you could just compress them together great well we got one more snare question here we'll get to this when compressing parts of a drum kit like a snare is it ever a problem that you bring up the volume of the other parts that bleed into that specific mike I don't I'm not afraid of drum bleed really that much that's part of what makes especially with pop and rock records which makes the drum sound exciting it's it's energy and it's in the mix anyway I mean if you listen to this in context with you know the whole trump next you don't notice the bleed changing anything you don't because you're hearing those instruments on the other track so if anything the compression that we're doing and the next session when we get into it also you know the thing that brings up a lot of that the bleed. It actually enhances the perceived energy of the mix, and so much of your favorite records. If you listen to really rock and drums, you're going to hear a lot of just that energy and it's, a lot of drum bleed happening all over the place. But that's, what makes the drum seem exciting if you analyze it, it's, it's, not this perfectly controlled, quiet, pristine thing. I like to treat it as one instrument, and if it gets messy, it's ok, I think it's too much of a problem. Are you distracted by then, you couldn't fix it, but I don't worry about the bleed. All right, great, great questions.