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Mixing Toms

Lesson 31 from: Studio Pass: Periphery

Adam "Nolly" Getgood, Matt Halpern

Mixing Toms

Lesson 31 from: Studio Pass: Periphery

Adam "Nolly" Getgood, Matt Halpern

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Lesson Info

31. Mixing Toms

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of this lesson is mixing toms in a studio setting.


  1. How much corrective work is typically needed for toms that are recorded in tune with an appropriate microphone?

    Not much corrective work is needed if the toms are recorded well.

  2. What is the purpose of stripping the silence from the toms?

    Stripping the silence allows the toms to sustain longer and blend into the next section of the song.

  3. How does the instructor adjust the EQ on the toms?

    The instructor boosts a bit of extra top end and cuts around 700 Hz to remove an ugly part of the tom sound.

  4. What is the purpose of high-passing the toms?

    High-passing at around 40 Hz removes excessive low-end from the big tom.

  5. Why does the instructor use parallel compression on the toms?

    Parallel compression is used to fill in the sustain of the drum and reduce the dynamic range.

  6. How does the instructor handle phase issues with parallel compression?

    The instructor has not encountered phase issues and ensures proper latency compensation in the DAW.

  7. Do the toms have gating applied to them?

    There is sideband gating to reduce the top end, but it does not affect the sustain of the toms.

  8. Is the parallel compression sent pre or post fader?

    The parallel compression is sent post fader to maintain the balance between the tom track level and the amount of parallel compression.

Lesson Info

Mixing Toms

I was really happy with how the toms came out from the session yesterday and honestly if you record toms that are really in tune with an appropriate microphone you're really not gonna have to do very much corrective work to them. I'll just talk briefly about the stripping of the silence that I did on them, And let you hear kinda how long those sustain on for. (percussion sounds) So you can see I kinda faded it out as it was going into the next section. I try to have it tail over into the section that comes right after the down beat of the next part. So you'll hear a bit of crashing coming in but by that point it's fading. Sorry I didn't mean to do that. It's fading out and you're not gonna hear that in the context of the mix. We're also by the way listening to these toms completely raw. You can see there is no processing at all apart from the master verse stuff that we've got. (percussion sounds) Find some with a nice flot on here for us. (percussion sounds) There you can hear an examp...

le of somewhere where I used a much longer tail just cuz we're going into a section where the drums stop and I don't wanna hear the toms disappearing out really quickly so I would have used a longer fade on there. But hopefully you can also hear those toms are sounding really good already. If anything I'd say maybe they're just a little bit bloated sounding so first of all I'll look at what I might do because all those toms were recorded with the same microphone I generally find that they take a very similar treatment. The positioning was consistent from one to the other as well. I'm gonna go to this section here which has a lot of toms. It's the tribal section from the song. (percussion sounds repeating) And hopefully you can see here what I'm doing to the toms. It's really not very much I'm just bringing up a little bit of extra top end. I'm cutting a little bit around 700, I'll show you that's a very ugly part of a tom sound for me. That area, especially with coated toms can be out of control. I'll boost it so you can really hear what that's like. (percussion sounds repeating) It really brings out the worst. What was that we couldn't see again. That's somewhere around, that's about 700. OK 700 hertz. But what I would have done to find that would have been, in fact I'll do it now I'll boost then I would have jogged the frequency around until I found somewhere which sounded ugliest and then turned that into a cut. (percussion sounds repeating) Everywhere sounds uglier around there so it's a case of finding the worst offender. Then will you use a slightly broader queue there? Maybe, yeah. I just do it by ear. This key controls the queue. I didn't go super wide on it. If I can I like to try and leave some of the character of the drum in there. I don't want to scoop all the mids out. You'd hear a lot of recordings where they probably would. And especially down here as well you might find a lot of 300 being taken of the toms but to me that's again where the life of the drum is. So, again I would have boosted around here and I'll do that again now to find the muddiest area and cut that a little bit. (percussion sounds repeating) So to me about there. If I cut that a bit. (percussion sounds repeating) It still sound very much like the same tom sound to me. And this is also showing to me that if the tom sound you record isn't good, you're really gonna be fighting it. It has to be good at source. It takes a lot of attention to detail especially to maintain the tom tuning throughout the recording process. I am high passing it. I don't know why I'm high passing it so low. Probably around 40 is probably appropriate. Just so the big tom doesn't ring out with too much low end. But that's pretty much all I would do to it as far as the EQ goes. I do apply just a little bit of faster tech compression but actually I think I made a mistake here I was gonna use a limiter instead to do this cuz that tends to have a bit of a cleaner sound. Here I'm gonna use the waves L one limiter which is a basic, good all purpose limiter. And the thing with toms is they are melodic and I find that unlike the snare and kick I'm not necessarily trying to exaggerate the attack of them they actually have a ton of attack and if I exaggerate that then all you hear is the attack in the mix. So I try to do the opposite I want something that's gonna be really fast, like some kind of compression or limiting that's super fast to take the peak off and exaggerate more of the sustain so this is kind of reducing the dynamic range of the drum. So, this is again on the bus, and I'll hit play and bring this down until I feel like they're sounding more rounded. (percussion sound repeating) That's working pretty well for me around there. What I have on every channel is kind of an even more drastic version of what I have going on with the snare which is just gonna take out all the top end between the hits. That's kinda the last piece of the puzzle. Maybe I should have put that on a bit earlier though because that does also mean you do less EQ-ing. The sustain of the drum naturally has less of those really ugly frequencies in it. So this is the toms' sound now without parallel compression or reverb but with the top end being taken out after the hit and with just rough EQ and limiting. (percussion sound repeating) It's really not that drastic difference from where we started and if we listen to that in context, (heavy rock music) Now even though we've taken off some of the transient using this limiter to me this is where the parallel compression is gonna come in to really fill in the sustain of the drum. So let's listen now with parallel compression. (heavy rock music) I might even limit it a little bit harder. I'm hearing still quite a lot of the attack of the drum coming through. And then finally reverb is gonna help with the tail end of the drums and get more of an airy sound to them when they're stuck. So this would be the final tom sound. (heavy rock music) That's pretty much all I need to do to the toms for this, for me. I find some other areas with some tom hits so you can hear them in a different context. (heavy rock music) So you've heard a whole load of toms being hit in there. Vinny has a question, "Nolly do you hand separate all the individual tom hits and then apply manual fades or do you use gate with a longer release?" No I hand, I do that by hand. You do it all manually. I did that last night. Then you're also using a gate as well. There's not gating on, well. Well it's the whole side band gate. Yeah, that's more to reduce the top end. But it's not gonna affect the sustain of the tone. Awesome. E Willison wants to know, "Nolly do you ever have a phase issues with parallel compression?" No, I've never had that be an issue. Logic has very good latency compensation I know that Pro Tools can act strangely sometimes with parallel processing if you don't have latency compensation on but there's no reason why, unless there is something wrong with the blatancy of the plug in is reporting to the door it should line up just fine. Awesome. That would actually be one reason why I like to do it in the box rather then in using out board gear because inevitably the send out through the gear and back is gonna introduce a delay that could give you some kind of negative phasing direction. K, Do you send pre or post fader when sending a parallel compression? I send post fader. I wanna keep that balance between the level that I want of the instrument and the amount of parallel compression. I don't want to pull the toms back or make the toms louder and then have way more sustain coming through on the more, pull them back and, wait, the other way around. I want to keep that when I turn up the tom track I want the amount if sustain to stay.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Halpern Drum Samples
Micing Guitar Cab
Nolly's Mic List

Ratings and Reviews

Connor Smith

I haven't even finished the course and already my mixes have improved dramatically. Night and day difference. I haven't watched the portions with Matt as I'm using drum samples (GGD specifically), but I have no doubt it's great. Matt is always incredibly helpful and is a brilliant drummer. I thoroughly enjoy listening to Nolly, he's very articulate and his approach to audio engineering is flat out brilliant. I'm so happy I purchased this course. Before my mixes were good (balance and things of that nature) but lacked life and energy. I just wasn't getting the professional level sound I was searching for. Now, I am proud of my mixes and actually think they're getting to the point where they sound professional and don't sound like they were produced by a dude in his bedroom with about half of year of recording and audio engineering experience. The metal genre is difficult to mix as there's a lot going on and the "current metal sound" is very crisp and clear while still being very heavy and punchy. It isn't 80s dad metal where guitars are hissy and flubby. lol I am a huge Periphery fan and it's a privilege to watch Nolly share his knowledge. I really enjoy his approach as its very simple but very effective. He doesn't have insane mixing strategies, he just does what works and it's applicable to any DAW and is helpful for almost any genre of music. Brilliant course!

a Creativelive Student

This was an amazing course! I loved hearing from both Matt and Nolly on their thought process behind drums in general. I love the point they drove home about getting a great source tone. That seems to be forgotten in a lot of recordings and they try to fix it in the mix. Jolly did a fantastic job of making it look "easy" to take already great sounding source tones and making them really shine! Cant wait to put these concepts into practice in my own projects. What a great source of knowledge here. Thanks for this great class!

Adrian Gougov

Best course and overall learning experience I've had in a long long while. Nolly and Matt are superb. Nolly is an astonishing mixing and recording engineer and a great teacher. Not only does he explains his methods carefully and in detail, but also lays down key concepts in an understandable language. Definitely worth the investment if you wanna learn how to mix modern heavy music. Definitely worth the investment if you wanna learn how to track drums properly. Definitely worth the investment if you wanna see one of modern metal's best drummers track a whole song from start to finish. Props to Creative Live for bringing this material to us.

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