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Soundchecking the Drum Tones

Lesson 14 from: Studio Pass: Periphery

Adam "Nolly" Getgood, Matt Halpern

Soundchecking the Drum Tones

Lesson 14 from: Studio Pass: Periphery

Adam "Nolly" Getgood, Matt Halpern

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Lesson Info

14. Soundchecking the Drum Tones

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The lesson is about soundchecking the drum tones in a studio setting. The instructors discuss how to set up and test the microphone levels for each drum, and they listen to the sound of each microphone individually and in combination to achieve the desired drum sound. They also make adjustments to microphone placements and discuss the differences between different microphone models.


  1. How do the instructors communicate during the soundcheck process?

    The instructors communicate through a talkback system, where the control room personnel give instructions to the drummer.

  2. What is the purpose of soundchecking the drum tones?

    The purpose is to ensure that the microphone levels are correct and to listen to the sound of each drum individually and in combination.

  3. What are some differences between the BETA 91A and D112 microphones for recording the kick drum?

    The BETA 91A gives a slappy and punchy sound with a lot of transient, while the D112 gives a different character and is placed closer to the BETA 91A.

  4. How do the overhead microphones capture the sound of the drums?

    The overhead microphones provide a natural and balanced sound of the whole drum kit, including the cymbals.

  5. What adjustments did the instructors make to the microphone placements?

    They adjusted the placement of the snare microphone and the ride cymbal microphone to improve the sound and reduce bleed. They also fine-tuned the placement of the D112 microphone for the kick drum and tightened the stack of the china cymbal.

Next Lesson: Drum Micing Q&A

Lesson Info

Soundchecking the Drum Tones

So, can you hear me okay Matt? I can yes. Just so you guys know, I'm hearing the guys in the control room talk to me through this talk back. So if I'm responding to questions or doing things it's because the guys in the control room Nally and Alex are telling me what they need me to hit or what kind of sounds to make. So it's all happening in my ears right now. So you can probably hear that from the other camera feed I would think. Cool. So because we had a chance to do a little bit of set up everything is already patched in through the preamps that we're using over here. If you just want to quickly-- If you maybe just want to play a beat and try and use all the kit bases. We can just check that we're getting a level in every microphone and then we can record a little. We can get proper levels. Then record a little bit of playing and then we can listen back to that. Sure, cool. Sounded really good, just keep playing for a little bit. Everything is working. We're just going to g...

et levels to be roughly correct, and then we can have a listen. Pretty good in terms of everything working so. What we'll do is we'll role and if you can just play something a little bit like that. We can go through and kind of listen to each mic independently. Okay, cool. You ready? Yup, actually one second. Sorry one second, I need to get rid of some-- I need to go back to the beginning of this session. Sorry about that. This is what it's really like. Sorry? I said, this is what it's really like. This is exactly what it's really like. Okay, we're rolling. There is a couple of things which we overlooked, but most of that is going to be sounding really good. Cool, let me just suggest one thing in here too. You've got loads of time, don't worry. Cool. Cool do you need more? We will in a second for some-- Oh wait, the high hats were tracking. They're recording just fine. Oh they were? What weren't we getting? Floor one is a little bit weak, but that's okay for now. Well sort that. Maybe just boost the gain a little bit on there. Yeah, I brought it up a little bit. I'm just going to check through and make sure the first floor sounds a little bit quiet. I'm just going to check that there is not something wrong with the signal. I think that signal that you're not getting a lot of is, that's the hallway mic. That is yeah. That's right. It should be on desk three. Yeah. Sounds good. That sound, is that just the-- We're just getting some noise coming through. Typical teething problems. But I'm going to got through now and just start listening to what we've got. Okay, cool. So, as we spoke of in the earlier segment, the BETA 91A is going to get a really slappy sound from the kick drum. So we'll take a little listen to that now. Cool, hopefully you can hear it's like a pretty hollow and very punchy sound. Like there is a ton of transient on there. It's going to be very different now if I switch to the the D112, the other kick drum microphone. So, we'll just take a listen to that one now. You should leave the top back on just so I can hear what's going on in the room. It has to be held down I think. Okay. Yeah. I can try and hold it down. You can double tap. Oh really? There you go. Now you should be able to hear the whole thing. So hopefully you can hear that those two microphones are presenting a really different sound of the kick drum. They're both inside, but they're picking up a very different kind of character. I can see visually though that the D is a little bit closer to the BETA than the 91A, as you can see just that small difference there so. One of the things that we'll do is move that. You can see here the outside microphone is naturally falling a little bit further back. You want to have me move that mic a little bit? Yeah, if you don't mind. Just, if you have to you could push the Beta just a little bit further into the drum. Further in? Okay. Yeah. And we'll see where we're sitting. So in the mean time, we'll take a listen to the outside microphone, which sounds like this. So that is, as you can probably hear, got a lot more low into it. So again, a very different sound from the kick drum. The hope is that once we put these three microphones together, we're going to get a much bigger picture of the drum. All three microphones are supplementing the sound. Let's see what happens when we listen to just the kick drum microphones. So to me that's already getting pretty close. I don't know these monitors very well. I can play in headphones in a second and really get to know those sounds but, to me that's already resembling a really good kick drum sound. Just with rough levels of those three microphones. If we move on now to the snare. Just while they're adjusting. Is the kick drum microphone done? Okay. We'll come back to that when we change the snare microphone. That's-- I'm sure going to be fixed. So this is the regular SM57 on the snare And I want you guys to pay attention to the amount of bleed that we have there. And when we change the BETA 57 hopefully you'll hear a substantial reduction in that. So this is a snare microphone. Wait a minute, there is actually a plug in on that track, I believe. Let's bypass that. So what you're probably hearing here, hopefully hearing, is a lot more of the resonance of the drum, coming through than you might hear in person. Maybe in person, with that moongel on the drum it sounded almost completely dead. In the microphone you're still getting a lot of that resonance coming through. To me that's important. I like that resonance. By the time I'm finished mixing that, it's probably going to be more prominent, but by the time the guitars are in there, you're not really going to hear it, as much as just feel like the snare has a bigger foot print in the mix. So that's really important to me. When we listen to the mic underneath the snare, you have a completely different picture of the snare. I'll listen to that and then I'll bring in the top mic with out stopping it just so you can hear the difference, with and without. To me the snare is already sounding really good, just with the balance of those two mics. If I were to have used another 57 underneath the snare and mixed it at that volume, it would have sounded a lot more abrasive. That microphone underneath is really very fat and it's giving a significant amount of body and not emphasizing the harshness of the snare waves too much. So, already I'm really happy with how that's sitting. We haven't moved any microphones. This is all just kind of based on how things looked when we set them up. Now we can check out the tom microphones and hopefully what we are talking about with tuning is going to become very apparent. I'm hoping this is going to come across really well, when they're recorded so let's listen through the toms. Note that also while the drums are playing the toms are not being hit. Sorry, I'm just being quiet so you can hear the toms as they're being hit. Hopefully you can hear the actual bleed coming through into the mic. The snare, the hats, the cymbals the ride. None of it sounds particularly abrasive or horrible. If I was sitting in the mix. It probably wouldn't be very distracting at all. By the time I've EQ'd those toms it's probably going to sound a bit harsher. And I am going to strip out all the silence in between the hits when we come to mixing. But it's a really great benefit to have tom tracks sound that good straight off the bat. Hopefully you can also hear how the tuning of those toms sounds. Maybe go to the end where you hit through all four toms. If I didn't accidentally just move that region. I should point out I'm also not a Pro Tools user so. I'm very much a baby at what I'm doing right now. I'm just clicking and pressing play, but I can't really do very much more advanced than that. Hopefully I'm not going to get into too much of a mess. Nally. Yeah. If you turn off global record, enable to, it will help with the lag. Oh really, okay. That's good to know. Much better, thank you for the pro tip. Cool, so I'll just do that again. Those toms to me are sounding really good already. Let's just check it out. Cool. We've already got some panning going on those toms. And everything is sounding right. Let's listen to the high hats. So we've got. Yeah, let's just do it. We're going to bring that up in volume a little bit. To me that's' a really nice representation of the high hat. We're not getting a load of extra kind of low end that isn't present in a high hat when you hear it in person. But sometimes comes through in the microphone. It's nice and bright, but there isn't a whole lot of extra snare in there. In general, it's very focused on the high hats so I'm going to move now to a point where the high hats aren't playing, and let's see what happens. Alright, he's still in pedal hats. I wonder if you-- op no, pedal hats. But even though it's coming through really well to me, like you're getting a really crisp sound on the pedal hats which is going to be great once we sit those in the mix. The hallway mic is not working yet, but having just being in the hallway and heard the amount of background noise, I'm not sure we're going to get anything usable out of that anyway but, we'll deal with that when we get to it. Let's have a look now at this ride mic, which looks to me like it might be clipping. I don't think it is clipping. It's a very one sided wave form, but-- I wonder if it has something to do with the preamp perhaps. Seems to be shifted over to one side. When Alex comes back he might be able to, might have an idea what's going on there. But, even already you can hear the isolation. It's very focused on that right cymbal. That's what you get with the underside micing so. That's great. There is no use for the spock during this section so we won't listen to that nor the china I believe, or is there a china here? There we go, there is a china here. And you know what? Actually to me that sounds pretty quite decent. Normally as I say, I'm not a fan of the sound you get form a china spock mic, but that it doesn't have the kind of phasey wobble. It's not over the kind of gong like sounding-- And part of that is just that it's a really nice china cymbal. But I'm really quite happy with that sound, and I'm probably not going to want to move those placements too much so. Alright you did-- You did hear the spock. You did hear the spock. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Listen to that mic now. That's probably getting a little bit, this might be a little bit close to the cymbal. It's sounding a little bit spitty to me. Like-- It might be good to tighten it up a little bit too. I can't hear you. I was saying it might be good to tighten the stack up a little bit. Okay. To maybe get a tighter kind of crisp sound maybe. Cool. I'll probably move it away just a little bit. If you toggle off the talk back. Now I can't hear you, but it's all good. You can turn it back on. Alright, so we'll mess with that. So I'll make a note to go in and maybe move that a little bit further away to get a better sound on that. Let's listen to these overheads. So I'm going to pull out the stereo pair, and they are already panned hard left and right, I believe. I think they're actually cranked in volume as well, just so that we can hear Matt. So I'm going to pull those back a little bit. Is this the other right, yeah. I'm always reminded how much I like these microphones when I hear them on playback. To me, we haven't quite gotten the gain correct, the right one is significantly hotter, yeah. But the snare almost sounds like it's being compressed already to me. It's got a really great character. I'm not even paying that much attention to the cymbal straight away, the thing that strikes me is how lovely a kit balance that is. That technique which I showed of the four foot placement just seems to work so well for that so again. I'll find a section where you're hitting toms as well. Again, I'm always surprised at how lovely the toms sound in those overhead mics. There you go. So it's definitely a bit more focused on the bigger toms, but it is a really nice sound. And that's helped by the toms sounding really good at the source. And hopefully, what people are getting from this is not that I'm really lazy and don't want to move microphones but that by getting the sounds right at the source, it becomes so much easier to find mic placements that are going to work. We'll come back of course the snare as we spoke about and maybe we'll experiment with a different position on the D112 and the kick. So with that, let's move onto our room mics. So far we haven't had any plug ins on anything. I did put a plug in during pre-production onto this mic. I'm going to stop with the bypass. It's just a compressor. This is going to be the mono mic, the U87 which is in figure eight mode, which is going to be our kind of rock and roll mic. Let's see what we're getting in that one. It's cool. To me, having it be figure eight, we are getting that combination where you're getting that nicer tac from the drums, the kick drum actually sounds really good in that microphone, especially. And the snare sounds great, but then you're getting the ambiance coming back through the opposite side of the microphone, as it reflects around the room. I'll show you what happens if we apply some compression to this which we could actually do on the way in with a-- We're using a preamp that has a built in compressor but I prefer to track completely flat if I can so. Let's listen now with the compression. It's pretty cool. To me that's like a great old school kind of rock sound. I love it, I love it. Mike likes that one. I love it a lot. That's the Matt like. Let's now go to the KM84's. Obviously that's a huge amount of mics for us to listen to as we go through. Sorry if this is boring for anybody. This is always one of the exciting parts for me, which is kind of hearing the fruits of our labor on that end of things. Again these are in stereo, the hard pan left and right, but because of the way that we positioned it, it's not going to be a very wide image. It's still going to be stereo but it should be a very natural sound. Let's see what we get with this. The thing I love about this is that the cymbals sound great in them. So often room mics, you don't capture necessarily the best image of the cymbals. They can sound really washy or really harsh. These microphones in that kind of position, about six to eight feet back from the kit, and not keeping them too low, kind of having them, I forget how high they are. Yeah, with the chest kind of height. It's just great a picture of the kit while also preserving a decent cymbal tone. So, if I got to a part where he's playing on the china, and spock hopefully we'll still hear that. Note as well how well Matt is balancing himself. He's been talking about mixing with his playing and we're listening now to room mics, with no processing and I can hear the kick drum really nicely and you can hear that he's hitting it super consistently, because the attack is always there. The snare sounds great. The cymbals are there, but they're not overpowering the kit. If we listen again to that, with lots of drums this could just be a wash of cymbals. Matt is an excellent drummer, and you can hear that in action here. And again, we'll hear the toms in that final fill that he plays. So not so much a kind of representation of the toms in those mics. But that's okay, we have the far mics which are hopefully going to be really big sounding. The room that we're tracking in, it does have a big sound. It's not necessarily a very long sustain to it. But I do really like how it sounds. Just looking at these wave forms. It looks like we have things slightly unbalanced. We'll neaten that stuff up when we get to tracking. So these room mics, it's no as balanced a sound at all. It's got some kind of muddiness to it. But to me it sounds really rock and roll. We're getting great sound from the shells, because of the way those baffles are blocking the cymbals. The toms especially during those tom fills are coming across really big and explosive. It's not the strongest center image because they're kind of just placed in random places in the room. But when we combine this now with two KM84's and the U87 with some compression, I might need to balance the levels a little bit on this, but let's see what we hear. That's a pretty decent sound. If we listen now back to the whole kit. I'll just check that none of these mics are cranked pretty loud that we don't hear. For raw tones I'd say we're already on our way to a really, really good drum sound. So, we'll quickly swap the snare microphone for the BETA 57 and we will just tweak that D placement a little bit. I'll scoot it for the Beta a little bit inside the kick. Cool, sounds great. Let's-- You want to stay in here. I'll go. I'll just stay in here. Swap out the BETA 57, it's just on the side there. And try angling the kick drum microphone the D112 so it's kind of halfway between, where the BETA is hitting and the Shure. So it's going to kind of be off axis to the BETA, which hopefully is going to give us, an even more different sound than the current sound we're getting from that. This is like the hardest time for any drummer. To not fidget and play. Yeah. Your producer or engineer will like you a lot better when you don't destroy their ears. Yeah. Which I'm totally guilty of doing all the time. Yeah. You kind of get bored and we have ADD, we're drummers so-- And this is a little bit different than most sessions. Well, I don't know. I guess I'd still want to listen through everything and just check everything sounded good. This is pretty standard as far as what we would do. In fact it's a little bit unorthodox in a way because we didn't really got through and just do, snare, tom, tom, floor, floor, kick. I know we'll sample the drums, but it's a little different to actually play it through just grooves and hit everything and get the tones that way. My personal preference is. It's always good to hear the isolated things but in terms of setting levels on preamps and stuff, it's so much more useful to have the drummer actually playing a beat. For one, it's way more fun for you. And secondly, it just gives everything context, the amount of bleed into things. You're probably going to hit far more like you're actually going to hit when we're tracking, so in many ways it's just an all around bonus. Hey Nally, could you disarm the snare top. I'll disarm everything. Okay. There we go. I think we'll scrap the hallways mic. Having literally, having steps in there all I could hear was washing machines and microphones are only going to make that worse. But I am actually really happy with the room sound that we got just within the room which is great. Got an excellent room to work here. Keep in mind too, I've tightened the stack a bit. So it may sound a little different in this take. I'll try to play on it. I really can't hear you. Okay. But I think you're saying sensible things so. I'm trying to. Okay. I'm trying to keep it all in context. But yeah. With this stack symbol, specifically, there is so many different variations you could get and just based on how I-- Like right now it's about here. If I tighten it a lot, it's here. And then if I loosen it more, it's really kind of dirty. So we want to try to find like a middle balance that's not too much of either direction. I think that's pretty good. Did you want this mic placed a little lower? I can't hear him. If you just speak a little bit louder, I should be able to hear you. Do you want this spock mic a little lower? Yeah, if you can lower that. Not even that much. That's probably fine. Just point it vertically upwards, at the cymbal as well. And does this four mic sound okay? Seems a little close. Yeah, seems a little close there. I'm going to pull the floor tom mic up a little bit. It got a little close. Yeah. I think what we'll do is during the lunch break we'll just refine a couple of these things, that we're ready to track, instead of during the boring kind of trouble shooting and just fine tuning the levels will-- We've got a sound. And people have been able to hear the microphones so. Yup. We can fine tune it from there. Alright, is, you good? So let's record just a little bit more. We are rolling. Now. Lovely. That's is perfectly good for our needs. Cool. At this point, Matt I think you are good to get off the kit if you want to. Cool. I'm just going to now demonstrate what I was talking about in terms of the difference in bleed when you move from the regular 57's to the B57's. Over here we have our. This is all going through the same preamp by the way. We're comparing like for like. Even just visually, I can see that in between the snare there is quite a lot more information going on in the SM's 57. Obviously the snare still has a really big spike, but if you look over here, there is next to nothing on the BETA 57. Let's listen again to 57, and then we'll check out the BETA. You know the 57 is actually performing really well. I think we are getting better isolation over here with the BETA though. While right now both of them sound like they have a really great amount of headroom, I know that by the time we're mixing and we've delved into some mixing techniques like parallel compression, when we get to that segment, but I know that's really going to bring out the noise floor in a snare track, and I'm going to opt for the microphone that sounds-- Just that little difference in bleed can make a really big difference as far as the end result goes. There is as you can probably hear, a slight difference in sound, when you go from the regular 57 to the BETA. If you just want to hear that again. 57, the BETA 57 is a little bit honkier. It's not quite so pleasing on the ear. But I'm fairly confident I'm going to be able to get the result I want with this more easily than I will with this. So, we'll roll with that. Let's just check out now the D112. It looks like we have a slight difference in volume but. Here was the placement where I was pointing straight at the BETA head. We're getting more resonance but I think I actually prefer the sound of it pointed dead ahead. That we had originally. Let's just go back to that. That seems to be exaggerating the kind of basketball bounciness which the D112 is kind of prone to anyway. As I said, I have real love hate relationship with that. Right now, I'm not enjoying that kick drum sound. But I know by the end I'm going to have something I like. But I think actually, when we take a break I'm going to go and put the mic back to how we had it before. And I guess the other thing, which we changed was the spock cymbals. So let's just check how we are sounding on that. Did I unmute? (mumbles) Spock. And here we have, it's quieter so it's a-- Yeah, I think. That has less of the spitty quality now. That's sounds almost like it's just almost overloading. A little bit. Just on the hits. And over here. The mic doesn't sound like it's struggling so much. Cool. Do we want to look at the waveforms on the kick again? See if that changed? The kick. It was the ride cymbal. that had a very chopped off. Oh sorry I meant the position of the BETA. Oh I see, I'm sorry. Let's see I think. We are very close to correct. That much difference is not really going to make or break the sound but I guess I will just-- Probably just, if there is a-- If it's possible to pull the D112. If we're not going to have an angle before we got a bit more space to pull it back towards the resonant head. Minor, minor adjustments needed to make that work.

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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