Drum Premix & Phase Alignment


Gear Gods presents Studio Pass: Kurt Ballou


Lesson Info

Drum Premix & Phase Alignment

Yeah, so we'll start talking about mixing now and the first thing I'm going to talk about is some drum pre mixed stuff kevin here in my audience was just, you know, just talking about how like your record is only as good as your drum sound is and hello, we'll talk in here about how you kind of get away with crappy guitar sounds and called them stylized if you have a great trump sound, it'll it'll still feel like you have ah great sounding record, so make sure you spend a lot of time getting you drums right? And then if you have the drums right that's your foundation, everything else will fall into place much more easily um I also before we get started, I do want to mention that in all things mixing, I'm going to present them in sort of a linear fashion like mickster drums that makes your guitars that makes your base so forth and so on. But in reality, it's really very interest process where you do a little bit teach thing and sort of frame out the mix and listen to how the mix is feeli...

ng overall and then do you know a little bit more to everything else and you know it eventually you'll get to the point where the mix is sounding pretty good and then you're really just listening to the songs and whatever grabs your ear whether it be a little you know, little symbol sound tweak or a vocal automation or whatever it may be you know you're you're able to do any of that stuff on the fly and don't as you're mixing don't compartmentalize your mixed teo just a drum mics and a guitar mix in basements and and also keep in mind that all of those elements are inter related you know sometimes and when um working with a band the drum roll will say like, oh, I want to be around for the drum mics but after that you know you guys can do whatever you want to do with the guitars and it's it's not like that you know a drum mics, a guitar sound effects, how you mix the drums and a bass sound effects how you mixed the guitars and so forth and so on they're all interrelated things so don't lose sight of the big picture sonically and also don't lose sight of the artistic goal of the song as you are creating your mix. So um first thing I want to talk about about drum pre mixing is before I start sometimes even I will let me just back up one second for the purpose of today's course and maybe mixing everything inside pro tools or in the box or tb as we call it the principal's going to talk about can be used in any doll whether using logic or q base a reaper pro tools or whatever protocols is the one that I use and I would encourage you if you I think that you're going to be working in another studio besides your own place to learn pro tools because for better for worse it is the studio standard these days so if you're going to be an engineer who travels into different places protocols is something you're probably gonna want to learn in my home studio I do use pro tools but I also have analog mixing equipment both outpour gears in mixing console that I do the bulk of my work and I do some sub mixing inside pro tools and I do I do use some plug ins mohr sort of I do some of the clinical type stuff and the clerical stuff look gating and some effects and stuff like that I do inside pro tools but the bulk of my tonal shaping and level setting I do with my analog equipment it doesn't have to be done that way but that's when I started recording pro tools wasn't really available and I started on tape with all analog year so it's the way that I grew up recording it's the way that um the way that uncomfortable but you know everybody has a different situation does so don't feel like you have to do with the way that I do it okay so before I start when I'm in my home studio, before I start reaching for hardware accused and compressors and that kind of stuff, I like to do some in the box set up stuff that's going to affect the sound quality of the raw tracks before I get into my real analog mick stuff and the very first thing that I do is sort of polarity checking and phase alignment within the box so let's, take a look. I'm going teo get the stencil well, green circle around my cursor so you can see what's going on let's look a pro tools right now and I'm going tio, we'll start just sort of at the top of the screen, which is thie kick track so there's an inside mike and outside mike on this session and let's, just zoom in on the very first few hits this a little like based on flourishes let's go let's, just kind of zoom in on one of the first single hits, okay, um, and I'm going teo change my timeline to be in samples mode, okay, and then suman even a little tighter and you can kind of see, especially if you zoom vertically and kind of see where the attack of the inside kick mike iss versus the attack of the outside kick mike and looks like it's about a thirty six sample delay between those two microphones it's you know it's always a little tough to tell maybe the attack of the cake is actually here I mean on the inside and the outside might actually be there but you at least want to get an idea for what the scale is in the offset there and um you do need to decide sort of in looking at the way forms you can tell that they're not it's not the exact same signal but they do have sort of the same polarity so the initial attack of the kick is going down which actually pulls the speaker in you might want to actually want to experiment with just flipping the polarity of a single track at seeing if the initial attack pushing speaker out sounds better than pulling the speaker and you can see that the that the way forms while they don't look the same are sort of you know some somewhat similar looking and you can see that the kick out is subtly delayed from the kick in that's going to cause a slight phase discrepancy between those two microphones and you will hear since it's such a short delay you will hear that phase discrepancy as e q uh so let's um let's uh we just make a little loop I'm goingto okay my transport is already set for play to be looping inside pro tools that has kind of like a minimum threshold for how long something khun b before it'll actually plays a loop but I'm goingto play just just the inside kick track now okay all right so we got a little loop going now let's add um let's hear just the outside kick track okay so the inside out outside track certainly sound different there's mohr bottom in and residents from the outside track and maura attack from the inside track uh let's hear them together well it sounds like in the mix the the inside mike is kind of dominant I'm gonna turn that down a little bit turned the the outside one up just a hair to make them set a little bit more evenly and this is going to help us with our phase alignment if the volume of the two tracks is more similar okay so next step is if you remember the inside kick mic is a little bit ahead of in time of the outside kick mike so I'm going to throw a plug in in the delay portion called time adjuster short onto their this is like the older did iraq version of it which I like better and gives you a chance to flip just the polarity here if you want to you can do it gain adjustment I'm not going to touch that but you can hear that adjusting the polarity of the inside single changes thie curve of the total bass drum signal you can also do a sample alignment if you remember I measured the distance between thie inside mike any outside mike is about thirty six samples so I can slide this little guy around which which will impart a very small delay on the kick inside track and we'll see if lining that up with the outside track makes it sound better okay, so I've slid that out quite far and you can really hear difference in the bottom end of the mid the lower mids get scooped away and the bottom end is a little bigger sounding but my fear is not that punchy um my monorail system in here isn't super great, so I can't hear the subtle nuances of it all that well, but I did this at home and I, um I determined from my home listening that I thought eighteen samples well, actually I thought thirty six samples because I was working actually ate two at home and I'm at forty for one, so it should be eighteen samples was thie appropriate offset to get the right balance of of punch and fullness and bottom end so let's just see what eighteen sounds like I think that's pretty cool I'm going to keep that and rather than leave this plug in on instead of instead of leaving that plug in on, I'm going to go back to the beginning of song going to shuffle mode grab a little piece of that and say let's, make that eighteen milliseconds and then press delete and that's going to scoot that track back just zoom in on the beginning of the track, you see that little see that little offset right there, that's eighteen milliseconds and now I can remove this plug in and without not that consumes a whole lot of dsp, but you know, now the tracks are where they're supposed to be without without any reliance on any plug ins, and I'm sort of trusting that my my home self I made the right call on what, that what that offset iss I'm going to do that. Oh, that I'm going to bring my levels back to where they were before and move on and do the same trick on the snare drum for the top on top bottom mike's I'll go through it again just so you know what I'm doing but a little bit more quickly this time for snare I'd like tio see if there's any sort of steady snare sections or phil's looks like the snares pretty dense in this section still with make a little make ourselves a little little loop here of, say, four force near hits so here's just this near top mike and here's just a sneer bottom I have to turn the bottom like up here's two together how can you use a ton of the bottom sneer in the mix but I'd like to line it up just be safe um and there's quite a small offset hear something in the range of sixteen milliseconds um according to my notes what I ended up doing was sorry I said sixty milliseconds much say sixteen samples according to my notes um it should only be five milliseconds or if I've seen it will offset so which is really not very much taking five uh let's um there luke going again and uh I can't really discern difference in here maybe you can at home um let's just let's just reverse the polarity of this though and we'll see how that sounds so you can you can hear that when the top bottom snare mikes are phase aligned they definitely sound fuller and you'll have fewer faith discrepancies over the course of the entire drum set and you'll be able teo combine all the elements together with more of the sort of the tone of the feeling of a minimally might drum kit about all the phase discrepancies of a billion mikes on the kid so the same thing where I uh excuse my bottoms near mike back five samples in shuffle mode and er done removed remove that plug in from the top snare mike and then um bring the volume of my bottom stair mike back down with you is like around minus thirteen or so

Class Description

In this two-day course, prolific producer Kurt Ballou will take you behind-the-scenes of GodCity Studios to show you exactly how the magic happens. This all-access studio pass will immerse you in every aspect of Kurt’s distinctive sound — from choosing and setting up gear, to tracking and mixing.

Kurt will show you the basic and advanced techniques he uses in his studio every day, and teach you how to apply them to your own recording — regardless of whether you’re working in a studio or at home with a DIY setup. Using anecdotes from his years behind the board, Kurt will also teach you his best practices for working with bands to extract the best and most inventive sounds.


Keith Foster

First off, even though I'm neither a beginner nor a recording professional, this class is absolutely worth the money you spend on it - especially if you plan on making heavy music. There are enough tips, tricks and guidance in here to get your money's worth many times over. That said, as an indie artist who goes to a studio to record drum tracks, then does the rest ina home studio I found some of the things disheartening. Much of the class follows a "I do this thing using item / amp / microphone / plugin (X), it's pretty cool" vibe, and it sounds cool.... until you check the price. As an example, the 'stereo buss processing' section sounds fun to try, except for the part where the three pieces of gear cost about $8K. As a result I found myself figuring out how to incorporate the essence of what he was saying without the gear budget to do so. Maybe I'm not the intended audience but a little more concept and less gearhead would have been even better. That said you should totally get it, it's a low price for so many hours of great content.