Inside a Rock Mix: Drums


Fundamentals of Mixing Rock and EDM


Lesson Info

Inside a Rock Mix: Drums

If you want some steps to play around with, we talked about developing standards, you want to just hear what an unmixed track sounds like. These guys were kind enough to do a remix contest, so also, if you want to play with them, do some cool remix and said to him there, having a context right now, if you go to that, you are well, you can download us one of the tracks I did with them. I think there's like eight stems or something of the sound, so if you want something to play around with, but there have been very kind to do that, so with that we're going to go inside one of my rock mixes, I have a couple of these prepared for you, we're going to zoom around and look at what's being done inside them, so you guys can get some ideas. Inspiration from this so this's that song everybody's cool by nobody does this. Um there facebook dot com dash, nobody does this. I also highways just watching the youtube video so let's, talk about the drums on this track. So, um, the drum performance, would...

n't we track this? The drummer was a little unconfident because of that he wasn't quite hitting the drums as hard as I liked, but he still give a great performance and like by the time we're done editing and, you know, we probably took an hour and a half or so to edit it. We tracked the song down to a click, you know, I was actually very happy with the performance, but, you know, we coached him through it and everything and got done so because I wasn't totally psyched on it. I have two methods I do for triggering is one. I will get a sample of what the kick in the sneer that the drummer actually played, and I will sometimes use that to trigger, or I will use a slate or easy drummer type program and convert the drums committee and then have that trigger alongside the drums thie other thing I should point out to say is that yell if he did a great, great description on this in his last cost of advanced drum production, but part of the preparation is making sure that the phase on all these drums lines up on your triggers that the phase we're going the same way and that they're all lined. I went through every one of these hits and made sure that they all hit perfectly and as well, making sure that the velocities all hit perfectly. I really you're going to notice in the song I did not do a lot of drum automation because I make the drummer play the way I want to hear the automation I make them dig out there fills I really pushed them of her performance, I don'tjust take three takes and say cool and edit it. I really, really pushed them to do the dynamics and accents that I want to hear in a song, and if I don't get that either do that in the editing process so there's not going to be a cz much automation as I might do, and somebody song that I didn't totally track myself. So with that what the strums sound is made up of is, you know, we have ah kick stare to tom's high hat overhead, I tracked a room like with the stereo pair of earth works, but in the mix at some point I said, you know, I just don't need this it's not doing what I wanted to do for this sound it's pop punk! So pop punk is not the room, yes drum sounding stuff, so I decided to do away with that one there's also a drum sub, which is parallel compression running on the drums, and then I have one reverb that it looks like I turned off yesterday, but yeah, one of these examples I turned that off, but so the drum reverb on this is only going to the toms and the overheads. Usually, I might even have a separate reverb for the snare drum as well, that don't do it, but this time I was just trying to get a little bit more room on the overhead sound sound, then the tom's need a little bit more and most I didn't need to drum river, because there's so much room printed on the snare. Um, if we take a listen, get through that river there's, plenty of room sound for a pop punk song, which is even that much for himself. I'm gonna say that without the music and there's, plenty of room for a pop punk song on that stair with out having to have extra reverb, so I just didn't really feel the need to do that on this one, so let's, get into some of the choices that I made for this, trump said. Let me just also give you a course of this again, just so you can get familiar with it, so you could understand what you're hearing. Here we go, cool. So now that you can hear what that sounds like, and I should also bring up the fig yesterday, that if you're sitting here going oh, I would never mix assault to sound like that that's not what this is about this is not about or dig to be me this is about giving you ideas of how I process things that could inspire you to be you I'm not trying to make cones I'm not saying this is the way to do it this is just simply what I chose to do for this you could choose to do anything you want so the first I think we should probably go over is that you could see on every one of these drums there is a fox said going through it to it and they're all at different levels um and then they're going to a parallel compression now if you've been on the internet re reading recording things for five minutes you know that parallel compression is probably the most hyped concept an audio that has happened in the past decade I'm gonna blame michael brower who's amazing mixer for this because he talked about it a lot and then everybody went absolutely crazy for it but there's a reason that there's hype just like there's reason for most word about type things parallel compression works really, really, really well on drums, so what I'm doing here is I'm feeding just the drums and a little bit of, you know, kind of everything somewhat equally somewhat not down a oxen and then blending that ox end in with the sound now when I say but bigoted it's hard to say what percentage of the drum sound is this trump so because like you can't really quantify that so welcomes late levels are so different in the mix but I'm going to say I'm giving ah my guess is I'm giving a little bit more compression that I am dry signal because that's kind of the sound of this stuff for most of my mixes that's not the case but yet again it's aesthetic choice and it's emotional choice that is I kept saying I want more drive from these drums the compression gave you drive so let's look at what happens on this drug bust first is the first thing I do is do a really, really crazy q curve so what a lot of this wise is this is the sound I wanted to hear of my drum bus a zit went so you're probably looking this is one of the rules I discussed yesterday is you don't want to add based any compressor because it's going to move a lot and we have to work harder so why on earth my adding five d b of base and then shellfish off a bunch of it before I had a compressor I actually what the sound of a compressor working hard on this stuff because it's kind of the sound that goes in tow, this trump sub. And so, like we kind of talked about yesterday, is there's an exception to every single rule this the punchy nous you kind of get out of driving that bottom end into this compressor and what's also talk about this. This compressor that I'm talking about is a, uh, standard ssl bus compressor. I will fess up and say that this is not the exact what I really used in this mix. When you hear it, I used a digits on impact that's a tm on ly pocket, and we're on in delhi system, so I wasn't able to use that, but they basically function exactly the same. They're the same style there emulated off the same thing, which is the bus compressor on ss out. So, um, I will go over and pull down this master fader, so you could see the way it's working while I talk and as you can see, you know, that's, a generous about crushing, I might even say that when I read dialed this compressor that's a little higher that I'd normally go, I don't usually like to the sound of what it goes above forty b, so I'm gonna even loosen this a little bit because I probably just did not read dial this one, right? This is all part of that process of learning things as you go uh see up that's about generally where I like the sound of it when I hear it I would obviously tweak this by ear not by I but I know that for ninety percent of my life that's been the sound I've liked is somewhere around there so let's then talk about what happens after that compressed are actually let me stick with this acute so you're thinking why on earth am I doing all these crazy accused exists? I'm trying two overtime you were in the south the compressor what you start to like and there's a certain sound that compressing into that cueing into a compressor brings out with this high end bump I'm trying to bring out from that air and crack and both of the drums that just doesn't sound the same on the drums when you do it on their direct channels here you'll see that I'm doing a dip a two, four hundred hertz which is probably the most common place to cut drum frequencies because it's the sound of cardboard and drums and while cardboard and drug is concerned absolutely fantastic on some genres this is not one of them and the way I track these drums I didn't track him with a lot of you on this still needed to be done some drums you'll get especially if you're using drum samplers don't ever need this but this one in my opinion I felt like it was needed so the last element of this is as you can see I'm keeping some distortion of the head of this so this goes back to the discussion we had yesterday that a lot of time the sound you're looking for when people are over compressing it is actually distortion the sound I'm looking for on the storm sound is a little bit of blended distortion not necessarily just the sound of compression I'm doing a white compression and then I'm ah distorted because what the tone I want is is that distortion this gets back to yesterday the discussion that all of these big guys there s a sells the reason the ssl became popular because guys were turning up their wine puts line inputs and then down their fate ear's to distort the channels and this became the big sound that people love on s s sells needs ap eyes everything is cranking up that preempt and getting a little bit of grit on the sound this is me just doing that on the drum sub so that I get a little bit more harmonics on the drums so let's do this but so out these drums for a second um I should have a group for that forgive me for winning in like this and I'm going a little blind these days ok so that's not quite the group I wanted so what's get rid of that way that's not the group I want so I'm gonna make this myself uh so so we just heard this out of that that's the drum mix I have in that track right now let's take out this drum sub just so you can get a feel for what this is doing pretty big part of the sound of this mix and obviously that's up to you how much of that you want to use? The other thing I should explain what this compressor is I'm doing a very slow attack and fast release because that's the sound of an aggressive, overworked compressor and sometimes you want that sound of overworked compressor while we're on that subject I'll show another time I'm using a kind of overwork compressor so on the overheads I have a bomb factory seventy six and as you can see it's the same thing the slowest attack and fastest release so basically what you're wording compressors theory or always told well, you don't want to hear the sound of a pumping but sometimes to get excitement out of a non exciting performance that could be a different story so on these overhead because this drummer wasn't hitting is confidently as I want I want to get a little excitement out of it so this was my way of injecting something I've been literally doing this trick I think since like nineteen, ninety nine on overheads is just adding a little bit and so take a listen to this so as you could also see since I had to readjust some plug ins we are clipping a little bit on this but I want you to focus on I'm only getting about a d b of compression on this overhead and here's how much of a difference that makes that little bit of pumping just gives an excitement to a track that you know while it's subtle it's another one those accumulation of subtleties that really, really, really makes a difference that I know every theory and every internet pure that's going to yell at me about compressions goes this but this is how I get tracks that feel good me to work and the rules are meant to be broken so with that that's if you look through here aside from the tom's which I'm hitting with a very light amount of compression that's really all the brush up doing the top's is just shaping the attack with this compression I think there's a tom phil right at the top of this so let's hear this so as you could hear doesn't sound that compressed here is without that really, really subtle compression itjust shape some of the attack in the mix I'm barely doing anything to it, but you probably don't see a trend here lots of small amounts of compression not overworking not doing you know, I see so many people talking about how hard everybody's compressing things but what I've seen in all the mixers I've watched and you know, for my own personal experimentation a small amount of compression is a lot of what a lot of stuff needs not a big amount so you're probably also then thinking well, way just you're saying you're only doing compression on that you're also doing multi band compression right there so I don't always think of the multi being compression what while is the oppressor we think of compressor as taking the dynamics and controlling them? I kind of talked about yesterday how compressors air a lot of time the way we're shaping a transient not really controlling like compressing a tom with a compressor doesn't necessarily make it so that all the toms or the same volume I think that's a big myth but happens with compression a lot when people were reading theory instead of listening to it you still need to automate up tom's and even when you're hitting him hard they're not doing that you're going to still need to automate them all around and you can't just compressed to make it so you do less automation it's shaping how the transient hits most of time and with the multi band compressor what I'm really doing is I'm shaping how thea compressor kind of like controls the total keeps a consistency and told the reason I really like multi band compression on tom's particular with somebody who doesn't do a very confident drum performance is because they don't hit them consistently and while I can coach and punch the mid to hitting that there's just something about an unconfident player that it's never quite there the multi band compressor kind of instead of equalization adapts to their inconsistencies there playing and keeps those tom's sitting in a mix over better and that's the big thing with multi been compression that we always have to remember is that like it's always doing that thing where it's like shaping the uh tone in an adaptive way it's not just like equalization is you're always getting rid of three hundred sixty yards a multi band compressor is when there's too much three hundred sixty hertz each time it's adapting that and giving you when there's too much it's taking away mohr and it just adapts to your frequency it's so good for it consistent toads and toads that of a wide variety like guitar and tom's I don't tend to use it as much on stairs and things like that but this is perfect and if you was this tom part here you'll see that every time a tom hits it's doing something well different so what you're also seeing is you're going jesse that's not just compression that's expansion so alchemist has this thing called a bitter sweet bitter sweet is basically just a transient decider what you can see is I'm adding a little bit of attack and the upper mids with this bitter sweet by turning it up so that each time that tom, it gets hit there's a little bit more strike two the hit that happens. So this is in place of a transient decider, and the reason I do this of the times in here instead of on the transient designer is I don't like what the transit designer does the bottom end I sometimes do, but on this particular case, this was a great tool for doing this. This could also be great for bringing out just the high end of picking in a guitar is using this little knob here, you could adjust each one on every band, you could see that they're set totally different, depending on what multi bad up doing, and it just applies a little bit more of a strike to the hit each time let's, turn it off for a second, so you guys can hear the difference, so obviously that sounds a little bit more natural what we do it, but I think I was noticing with the natural sound in the mix is it just wasn't cutting through with that impact that you really need to make, you know, this is kind of an artificial, pop sounding mix it's not meant to be steve lbd recording drugs that sound like actual drums and a live bat in a room while we made you tons of other stuff like that, this is just not how it's done, so those are kind of the fancy tricks I'm doing, the drugs are going to just bring you guys attention to a few other quick things with these drugs because the rest of this is pretty basic stuff, so obviously almost every channel hasn't e q and they're all doing different things, some lighter than others, and, you know, we're going to get a lot more in tow, how I made the queuing decisions, things throughout this, like you could see, I didn't even think you the slate tom's here because I thought they sounded great and, you know, this is the high at q, which just has a big dip in the upper bids that was sounding ratty. The overheads are acute in a weird way. One of the things I should point out with the's overheads is I recorded them with mike, I was very not happy with it, a pair I was very not happy with that I will. What remain nameless did not embarrass otherwise great company, but basically got a matched pair of mike's that weren't very matched, so in the process of this, I also had to do some evening out of the overhead so this is the trip plug it so when you get a stereo pair and sometimes that image isn't centered, you need to do some compensation because the mic preys I record with boldly go in three d b increments that are not quite always three d b I wasn't able to get the overheads completely gave batch to give me a proper center image, so either turn one of the west side down and it will clear left the right side at unity gain, but in order to get a new image that was stereo in perfect, I should also note that when you're looking on these meters, this doesn't look totally perfect in er lineman, I don't always trust the meters to when I hear a perfect image for overheads. I trust my monitors and hearing a solid center image for where I think they should be placed, and I also even put on headphones if they're overheads are recorded bad, I'll gain them so that it feels even on the left and right side of the symbols. This is not something I have to do very often, but because I had, you know, I rushed it a little bit I used some new bikes of the overheads, I didn't see the problem with these overheads until it was a little too late. And I decided to just move ahead with the tracking and fix of the vix, which, as we know, is not always the best idea, but this is one of those ways you can cut, compensate, and often time is what I get something to mix that I didn't record myself. The first thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna whistle of these overheads and see if I need to move this trip a little bit left or right and see if I could get the image to sit a little bit more centered have a four solid kick it's there in the center and the symbols balanced on the left and right, and this just takes a little bit of listening, but I think it's really, really crucial it's something I don't see talked about all the time on the internet, but I think makes a very big difference and mixes so let's just go over some last little concepts, uh, on these drums before he moved to a more fun stuff, this distortion you see on almost every truck, this doesn't always happen, and, you know, you see, I'm using a ton of it on the dry stair truck, which we would over yesterday, but just a little bit of distortion on almost everywhere these trucks just kind of doing that sound of driving a line input on a console. This is a setting. I kind of just like it kind of worked for the song um and yet again on the symbols I wanted to slip him up, but I really like the way the saturn does it, but as you could see, I'm doing a very minimal amount of saturn on the symbols with this distortion. But yet again, instead of using compression, amusing distortion, the last thing I will point out is this is one of my favorite plug ins is thie phoenix tape emulation plug in particularly for high frequency sounds yet again, these overheads were way too bright for me, but this is what I get for we all have times when we decide I'm going to just try these as overheads as an experiment and sometimes the experiment doesn't work. This was the case, so I had to run a little bit of tape simulation to get these symbols, toby a little bit mohr of what I'm used to. As you could see, though this is kind of like the mixed knob on this it's very subtle, just accumulating those subtleties as always um so before I go past that is their drum questions in the chat room that I should go too or should I just keep cruising along? You guys have any drum questions ah, I was actually thinking that the ah in the way that you were doing the attack on the room was was really interesting I never thought of that the attack on the room or the, uh you're saying god the overhead oh yes, ok, this one yeah, I you know, it's not something I ever really thought of. Yeah, just the gear alumina ideas you, if you've referred to you know, are like you can't do that, you need to do it, yeah, this way and so, you know, just kind of going against the grain on that and trying that that's that's a great thing, especially to get the rhythm kind of more punchy, and I think that just sound be hearing a lot of aggressive music, and I agree that like steely dan yes, you don't want the compressive pop what we hear pumping so much these days, especially in like dance music like everything's about that side change since pump these days and this is one of those settings and, like, you know, slow attack fast release can really help pumps now used to excess. It sounds absolutely terrible and it's the worst sounding thing I've ever heard in my entire life, but a small mountain, you know, sprinkle here and there to give it like curry powder too much not so good even with this genre of music, it was just one of those things where it's like well, I didn't anticipate for that to be in there but the accumulation of the subtlety of that definitely helps push the track along awesome is there anything on the internet now we have a question from north and recording who said do you completely process each individual individual track before it even hits the drum bus as in getting your ideal sound every truck first um I kind of put up the drums and we'll see this in the next segment is that I kind of put them up but I just start adding things but like I said, I don't get to micro I just keep putting things on and on and on until it starts to work I do process, but I listened with that drum bus in the mix from the get go like you'll see in the next segment I'm gonna literally just import that drum bus at a pretty neutral setting and start dialing in as I get the drum sound from the get go and I'm kind of working on the drums working as a whole the whole time because this is kind of goes back to like the thing we talked about yesterday that you want to dial your tones with some master bus processing on because they're going to change so much and you're going to run yourself in circles if I this drum buses so much a part of the sound that if I don't, have it figured a little bit in the mix with some settings that are kind of close to what I'm going to want. I'm going to just run around in circles. I'm gonna keep adjusting things over and over and over. It's. Why you have to develop that science that we talked about in the formula of that having this in at some sort of setting that, you know, is going to somewhat close to what you want really helps. So you're not just dialing, and then you have to reinvent the wheel or you go, oh, man, drum bus doesn't sound because I just put it up and yeah, it doesn't sound good because you just got a drum sound without any drum bus compression, even though you know you probably need that to make your trump sounds on good. Start with the kind of early, but don't start with a really strong.

Class Description

While it’s easy to get distracted by the latest and greatest gear, plugins, and flashy tricks, the real key to a great mix is mastering the fundamentals. In this online class, veteran producer/engineer/mixer Jesse Cannon (The Cure, Animal Collective, Senses Fail) shows you all the essentials of mixing rock and electronic music.

In this 3-day class, you’ll learn how to set up a session the RIGHT way — including routing, gain structure, listening techniques, and other best practices. He’ll show you how to mix vocals, bass, drums, guitars, and synths. You’ll also learn how to use compression, reverb and EQ to make your mix come together, while achieving the punch and separation that takes it from good to great. The class is taught with Pro Tools, but the concepts easily translate to any DAW.

Whether you’re new to mixing, or are a seasoned pro looking for a refresher on the basics, this class will teach you how to seamlessly merge individual sounds into polished, cohesive tracks.