Drums - Lay of the Land
So if you were watching yesterday, which I hope you were at the kickoff, you know that I already got all the pre-pro into the machine, here it is, you can hear it, we're good to go. So there's nothing really to do here. So now, we should figure out what we're working with in this studio. So we got a Trident ATB console here and I think that, just because it's a console, doesn't mean that I want to use everything about it. I've never used one of these before and there's mixed reviews about these. And, I personally didn't feel like it would be a good idea to just show up and use it on faith, that because it's a console and it looks cool, That it's gonna accomplish the goals. I have very, very specific tastes on what I like to get with my drums and vocals, and so I brought some of my own gear. So as you can see here, I brought a rack of these VP-28s, my own NEUS, I borrowed these two API copies, and they have enough Neves here for me to be happy. So this way I know that we have enough API...
in these channels for the drums and cymbals for me to be able to get what I want, and then we'll put the rest of everything on the board itself. So another thing that we've got to keep in mind, this is in getting the lay of the land still, is that we have only 23 channels to play with. And for me, that's not very many. I'm used to 32. So when I do a drum session, I like to have 25, 26, sometimes live inputs going at the same time. So good to know that I'm not gonna be able to do that. We're gonna have to get creative with how we route everything and we're going to have to make intelligent choices about what we can omit and what the priorities are. And that's gonna be a big part of getting things to sound right, is prioritizing. The other thing is when you go to a studio that's not your own, they're gonna have their own Mic Locker, and in a lot of these nice studios, which there are less and less of every day, they typically have really good, expensive, classic microphones. Anyone who records metal, though, knows that a lot of the microphones that work best for metal kind of stuff, are not always the most expensive mic. Some of them are just like, the workhorses. I know some purists will kill me for saying this, but the 57s, i5s, 421s, microphones like that that are very, very commonplace, sometimes these places don't always have that many of them, also I really like D6s on drums, there was only one here so I had to borrow another one, Matt brought an M80 for the snare, and a few other microphones. So, whenever I go somewhere I always check out what the gear list is. And if I'm not happy with it, I'm gonna find a way to supplement it. You should never, ever go to another studio and just assume that it's gonna be cool and adequate. Because yes, it is definitely adequate, you can definitely record without supplementing, but you may not be able to get exactly what you're going for if you don't supplement it. So that's what we're gonna do, we're gonna use about six channels of API that I brought in, 2 channels of Neve that I brought in, their existing 5 channels of Neve, and then the rest we're gonna use the Trident and hope that it sounds good. So that's the lay of the land as far as the studio goes, as far as the control room goes. Now we're gonna go into the live room and check out what the actual room sounds like, what kind of drums we have to play with, what kind of heads and all the above. So let's go in there. So here we are in the live room. And I don't know how many different live rooms you've worked in, but every single one that I've worked in is just a radically different beast.
So I feel like, first thing you're doing when you get the lay of the land here in any drum room is just to just kind of figure out what about it sucks, and what doesn't suck.
Right, yeah. When you walk in you wanna feel the room and see what it has to offer on its own. So this is where everybody starts the clapping routine trying to figure out what the room is doing on its own.
Yeah, because that's gonna determine where we set up the mics and if we need to make any physical alterations of the room. I mean, we can't tear down the walls or bust the ceiling out but at least we have Gohos over there and we can tighten the room up a little bit.
And also, we just want to find where the low end is the best, if there's any weird reflections, any strange buildup which we already found, so for instance, and I know that this is a construction issue in this place, like if you go over here and clap, (claps) Probably can't hear that, but there's this weird flutter coming from that corner And then we discovered the same thing in that corner.
And in that corner.
And in that corner over there.
Now, apparently they used to have carpet or treatment
Right, that took care of that.
Yeah, so some people who have recorded great sounding records here told us that they set up drums in this spot but that was when they still had the carpet and didn't have those reflections. So I don't feel comfortable with that because we like to put room mics behind the kit sometimes, and that's nasty. We don't want to pick that up.
I think we also noticed that there's a weird low-mid 300-ish buildup.
Yeah, you can actually kind of hear it on our voices right now.
It's very booming, it could be beneficial for the snare drum, if the snare drum tuning falls in line with the room buildup, and doesn't conflict with the tune all that much it could be one of those beneficial low-end things that we get from the room itself, but we wanted to make sure that we had the ability to control that if necessary. So that kind of pushed us away from this area over here and more towards the center of the room where we could actually control some of those buildups a little bit more.
And of course, don't forget if there's a weird buildup it's gonna build up in every single microphone. And you're gonna be dealing with it across everything. So you want, like you said, as much control as possible. And literally the way we did it was taking that drum and hitting it
Exactly like this. Brought it over to where they said it sounded good and... (hits drum) Gave it a whack, noticed kind of a weird buildup over here, said that they also set up drums here so we brought it over here... (hits drum) Notice that the buildup was a little bit more controllable, a little bit more even-sounding.
Yeah, to my ears that sounds way better already. So yeah, we determined that's the spot. And we'll see.
It's always a crapshoot when you do this stuff. One of the good things about having your own room is that you do this stuff every time, and eventually you just get to know where the sweet spots are and where the crappy spots are. So we're just using our intuition and our ears to tell us that that spot should be okay. Despite what other people have told us.
So, step two of lay of the land is literally behind us, big thanks to Tama and MEINL for hooking this up
We've got 3 different drum kits here to choose from and an array of cymbals.
Yeah, so a new piece of Tama, and MEINL artists a lot of times when you're working with people who have deals, they wanna use their stuff, which is great. So Tama sent us this basically 3 different sets of toms to choose from, and 2 different bass drum sizes, they sent us a set of birch, a set of walnut, which are kind of exclusive one-offs, and a set of Birch Bubinga, and then the kick drums are both Birch Bubinga, one's a 22, one's a 24, and then we have three different snare drums a steel, a flat black-plated brass, and then a nickel-plated brass and then as far as MEINL we have a new set up in the back which is always a good place to start with what the drummer's used to, and then the array of options for in case they don't work out, in case what you use live doesn't work out in the studio, we have other options to go with.
And one thing that's really, really important for me is to not assume in advance that something's just gonna work. Just because the drummer likes something doesn't mean that it's gonna sound good recorded. So I like to have options. Also, another thing which you guys will notice later is that when we actually get set up, I'm gonna ask that they don't tell me what cymbals are on the stands. I just wanna hear them. I don't like to have any preconceived notions, I like to have as many options as possible. Now, let's talk about real life for a lot of people who are watching this class I know a lot of you guys aren't gonna have multiple drum kits in the same size to be able to check out and you're not gonna have this kind of luxury this is a luxury that you get to have when you're making pro recordings. However, what I'd like you guys to take away from this class is that there are major, major differences that we're gonna get into between every one of these drums. Every type of wood, depth, the heads we use, every single aspect changes the tone. Some drastically, some a little, but it all adds up. It's all cumulative. And so even if you're not gonna have three drum kits or have different drum kits brought in and brought out or whatever, you're gonna have one studio drum kit at least you'll be armed with the knowledge of what these different elements do to the sound so you can at least make a good choice. So we're gonna show you how much of a difference it makes and what types of differences they make.