Comping Takes and Q&A
One thing, just to kind of talk about the extra takes I did. The first one, I thought, I could of, like I was saying, I could of nailed the second verse a little bit cleaner. A little bit more aggressive into the chorus with the fill with that transition. And then doing that second chorus I felt like was much better. Just nailing all the 8th notes on the kick drum.
Making sure that they're all really driving in there.
Yeah you can see right here on the waveform mills, super consistent.
And there was a couple fills too, that I just wanted to make sure that were really defined and clear, sometimes, when you're doing, like those, sort of flammy fills like (beat boxing), things like that, it sounds funny. When you do things like that, there's very little space between the notes so it's really important to try to, you know, make sure everything stands out clearly. And for the, kinda, the bridge section, I just wanted to make sure it had that attack that it needs. It's a very op...
en section. I know everybody's laughing at me for making the booms and bops and things like that, but you know with that groove it's really important to be as open and as fluid as possible with the movements. Kinda talking about staying within that, kind of, space behind the beat of it, so I was really trying to capture that the second time through with the China.
Yeah, that's great!
And then the end was just simply, kind of how you would push me to do it when we recorded the record. One way kind of really simple, straight forward, clean, being very wary of the vocal parts, and then the second take was completely with no regard for the vocals, and that might be something that, when you get to the end of a tour, if you're really bored, you kind of do live and the band members are kind of laughing about that and it's like 'oh show off a little bit', but it's not really that cool.
I think it's really cool. I'm not gonna lie. I think that's really cool.
I just think it's one of those examples where it works in the song without the vocals, but once the vocals are there it's a very thin line between playing busily tasteful or playing very busy and stepping on toes, so that's not, just I want to make a point to say. That's something you could do, but it might not be the best decision for the song and again, you really wanna let the song dictate what parts you play. Like that sound govern, really what final take you go with.
So are you labeling right now? Sorry (speaking over each other)
No, I was just gonna say, as I'm looking at time and how much comping we have to do and how many questions I wanna get through. I think we should take questions and then comp in the next segment, does that sound good?
That's totally fine. I mean, the comping is going to be, it doesn't even really need to happen on the camera.
All I'll really say is when it comes to comping, as a general rule, a technical rule, I always try to make a comp on a snare hit.
That's just a really good technic to try and do it. The snare, if there is some difference in the symbol decay or something. The snare is always so loud and distracting that it really helps me in the transition, so I'm just making sure we have everything we need which we definietely do so.
Perfect. Nailed it. Good job.
Thank you. It's nervewracking. Like I said, when everything's going, you're rolling, everybody's watching you, it's kinda like, 'Oh I hope I don't screw up something stupid,'
You know, cause you can, under pressure.
Yeah, that was good. So Thomas has a question, 'Hey Nolly, how do you use the samples inside a session, using a program like, Slate Trigger to fatten things up or actually replacing tom hits, which have too much symbol bleed in them. How do you use them or how-
Yeah, it's kinda both. I probably wouldn't use Trigger on this session at all. Sorry if I really like these drum sounds, I might make a Trigger file and there might be some point in the future where I'd send something to mix, where the kick drum is just played really badly or maybe they only used one microphone and I could make a Trigger file of just like the outside kick mic or something to supplement. So we'd have like the real track of just like the inside mic and I could create like a fake outside mic or something like that. When I use samples with Trigger, I try to keep them natural. I don't process them, I just export them as they are raw, so I can blend them with the natural drum tones and then process the two together in a realistic way. In the case of this session, I'm probably most likely to look at the section where he's hitting the spock and through the, and trying to hit it through the toms. I've got a feeling the bleeds gonna be crazy on that. It always is. It's a shame because Chinas and floor toms go really well together, there's so many great beats where, you know, you're hitting two things on the right side of the kit. Not just you, but other drummers. It sounds great in person, but microphones hate that. In that case, if the bleed is really bad and every time there's a floor tom hit, you hear kssh coming through from the China, I might well just... I'll cut up these samples tonight, but I might just physically drop it in and make sure the sample aligned. I wouldn't use the same sample every time, but... I don't like to do that, I like to keep everything as natural as I can, but if I really need to that's what I'll do.
Awesome. What input, like DB levels are you aiming for when you're recording each track? It seems, like some of the tracks are being recorded quite hot.
That was just a Pro Tools issue though.
I hope that's a Pro Tools issue.
I generally like to go about minus six peak on anything. This whole thing like, I don't know if it seems really slow to the people watching, but for us it's going by like that, and we're not really having time to do all the checks and measures that we might do so it might be that later when I'm back home, I'm like 'Oh this is really hot' in clipping. I hope that the sound mic is alright.
Reality is you won't wait til you're home. You're gonna listen tonight when you leave and then...
That's what I mean. Like tonight, as soon as the cameras are off I'm gonna be listening to this stuff, but hopefully people at home can understand that we would take a bit of extra time and make sure that everything is completely good before signing off on it. Yeah generally minus six is about the limit I'd let these peak. I try not to track things too hot, that aren't going to be too loud on the mix. I hate when you sent a session, or get files to mix from a band and you import the drum tracks and everything is basically normalized and you hit play and all you hear is high hat closed mic, like ride closed mic, you know, all the spot mics end up being so loud and you have to pull the faders all the way down and clip gain stuff. I'd like it if I could just import files, pan them, and have some sort of mix going, so it's not always possible, but I try not to track, like the bottom snare, super hard for all those spot mics on the symbols.
I just focus on the main things that need to be really hot.
Cool, somebody wants to know if you can recap all the microphone names?
Which, do you have them all, I'm sure you have them all memorized, but we... Yeah if you missed that earlier...
Yeah, and we can even create a text file that can go with the session. I don't know if people want that, but yeah, so on the kick drum we have a Shure Beta 91A, which is a condenser microphone inside the kick. We have an AKG D112 and then we have a Sennheiser E602 Mark I outside the kick drum. On the snare, we have a Shure Beta 57, it's actually an old one, it looks a little bit different than modern ones, the sound is not that different.
Some people may know it as a Beta 57.
Okay. Beta. (speaking over each other) (laughing)
On the snare, and then there is Sennheiser MD441 underneath the snare and that's quite an old microphone. They still make them, but that's a more vintage one again. The toms all have Josephson E22S's on them, which those side address condenses. Then the overheads are a pair of AKG C414 EB's which are the very first iteration of the C414's they made. Those are the originals with the gold ringed capsules, which were only made for a short time, kind of the Holy Grail of those ones, so I was very happy when I finally got myself a pair of those. Then the close mics are all Beyerdynamic MC-930's so there's two of those, there's one on the China and hi-hat and then the two under mics on the spot and ride are Shure KSM109's which belong to the studio, which I haven't used before but they're pretty flat, I think, condensers. Then the room mics we've got a pair of Neumann KM 84's on the stereo bar, a Neumann U87 in figure 8 above that, and then the Gafells I forget-
Yeah the microtech Gafell (speaking over each other)
Yeah they're not written in here are they? We can find out the model number. You know you really don't hear very many people using those. Again, they belong to the studio or belong to Zack?
Yeah those are Zack's.
[Man With Glasses] Yeah I've just called them Gafells in the session, so I forget what they are. They're weird, like very bulbous looking microphones, but they're cool.
UMTZack just said UMT800's
That's the one.
Yep, UMT800's. What's your opinion on drum replacement and when would you recommend using it and how do you mix it well in a mix?
So you just talked a little bit about replacing like...
My opinion of drum replacement is really tied to like the reason why I would have to do drum replacement which is generally that things are done, not very well, which, I dislike...
I think the whole point of this class is to show how to avoid needing to do drum replacement.
I would replace something if, I guess, three reasons. One, the drummer was not performing well enough, in other words he wasn't hitting consistently enough to get a consistent tone and volume out of the drum. Two, the drum sounds really bad, which is either like, poor choice of drum, poor tuning, poor choice of microphone, or it could be like, if this was the case I'd try and use a bit of it, but if there's a ton of bleed in that mic cause they haven't positioned it in an optimal way. I'd still try to use a bit of it just to have that there, but I would supplement that with a sample, but I wouldn't necessarily replace. And then the third reason would be, it's kind of tied, but if they just tracked something really well, but it was, once we start mixing it becomes apparent that actually, what they tracked and what, their vision of the final sound was, is just not congruent, like they tracked a super high pingy snare, which is great, but then the drummer says, 'Oh I want a real low fat, Dave Grohl snare'.
There you go.
Yeah, did it. You know that would be the other reason to do it. I'd say the drum that gets most commonly replaced would be the kick drum. I very rarely like to fully replace things though. Augmentation is way more the way I like to go and I have a whole stock of samples that I've made. Even just in my bedroom, a load of the samples that I've used, and I do occasionally use samples, especially on stuff that I mix for other people, are samples that I've made myself just in my mix room which as I mentioned earlier is a very dead room and it would just be close mics only, let's say on the snare drum, and it would be me doing my right handed snare hits. Which are good enough for that purpose and I'll create like a TCI of that, leave it raw, and then I can treat it like it's a real snare. I don't really like when I have a sample that's super pre-processed and not really does that not give me very much direction but then it becomes almost like a parallel EQ, almost. Like you're blending that with a raw sound and those two things, instead of working together, you're kind of just, yeah it's almost like you're applying an EQ, like you're really boosting some areas up in it, so I prefer a sound that's totally natural that I can blend with that. I also really like to match the tuning of the sample to what I'm replacing so if there's a really badly recorded snare drum that I'm trying to keep the vibe of an I want to sample replace it, I will tune a snare drum from my collection to be very close to what I'm hearing in the raw track and maybe the people listening don't even, like the clients done even realize that I've replaced the snare, but that happens very rarely.
That's cool. This question got seven upvotes. Spider asked it. A tuning question, how do you deal with cross talk between the rack toms and the snare drum, depending upon the tuning at times hitting the rack toms activates the snare wires on the snare?
Yeah, that happens. I don't care that much about it. It's actually not as annoying as you think it is when you hear the mic tracks. It's like really loud in person, but drums are so much louder than you think they are. Like when you see the peaks on a waveform, it's so much louder, like sometimes weird resonances that you hear in drums or rattles, or snare wires buzzing a bit too much, doesn't really come across, but I don't tune, like we were talking earlier like the rack tom being tuned to like a D, and the snare being an E, I probably wouldn't tune them both to a D because the rack tom is gonna be much closer in pitch. On this kit, what we just tracked, like the floor tom is an E, the snare is an E, but there wasn't too much cross talk or anything going on. If it was really a problem I'd just shift one or the other by a semi-turn as long as it didn't clash with the cue of the song.
Cool. One more question. I'd like to ask, how to know which position is adequate for overheads, both in height and placement around the kit? Thanks in advance. So, I guess sort of what's in a range and then an idea would be like four feet in here?
Yeah, I really like the four feet thing. One thing I didn't mention, by the way, was the distance between them, which is not really answering the question, but while we're talking about overheads, because Matt's kit's really wide, they're actually about four feet apart. I don't really like going that much wider than four feet. You start to lose the focus in the middle. A lot of kits are closer to three feet apart. There's something nice about having an equilateral triangle, I don't think it makes any difference sound wise, but it's like the Holy Grail. I'd be happy for no reason if that worked out.
You've said Holy Grail more than Dave Grohl so far.
Yeah. You've gotta bring back the Dave Grohl's.
Always been talking about the AKG's so, I think that says something.
You have a love for...
The Holy Grail. Well, yeah. Overhead mics, by adjusting the height you're kind of bringing in, there's two things that are gonna happen. One is you're gonna get a different picture of the kit. The other thing is you're gonna get more or less information coming back from the room into the overhead mics and depending on the quality of the room that you're tracking in or the reverberation within the room, that could be a good thing or a bad thing. As you get further away from the kit, the symbols start to dominate a little bit. You start to lose focus on the shells, the symbols don't sound as direct but just the top end is still carrying where you're losing some of the body out of the drums and you are gonna get more of the information coming back from the room into them. In a really big room, that reverberation might be really far, time wise, from the hits. It might not be too distracting. In a small room, that's not treated, it could be horrible. You could get a lot of kind of, zingy frequencies coming back from the symbols into the overheads. For me, four feet is about the Holy Grail, because you get a really good balance of the shells themselves. You get some of the room back. I did a session recently in a lovely studio and I was so happy with how much room was coming through at that distance. It really did a lot to the symbols a bit more life but in a bad room it's not so far away to make that a problem. I'd say start around there, if you're really finding the, I don't know, it's experimentation and personal taste. The other thing that will happen the closer you get, the wider the image is gonna get, and the less of the middle information it gets, so if your drummer has a lot of symbols, like right in front of him, you might start to get less of that. Further away, you'll get more, but you'll also get more crosstalk so symbols on the right are gonna be going into the left overhead and vice versa so the stereo image will start to narrow. Try the four feet thing, if you hate it then I don't know, I can't imagine anyone hating that, but...