Following are some questions and answers that will help you provide Chet with what he needs in order to best help you with custom "Killer Drum Tracks" for your recordings:
REGARDING: Drum Mic Leakage
Question: 5 Chet! When I received your individual drum tracks, one thing I noticed was leakage among the tracks. I could hear a little snare drum on the kick drum track for instance. Also, you returned 2 sets of stereo tom-tom tracks, one set gated and one set ungated, why?
Answer: Richard! These are very valid and often asked questions. Let me try to explain. One of the big differences between “real drum tracks” and “midi or sampled” drum tracks is the leakage. There is absolutely NO leakage with midi drum tracks and it is very easy to get used to it. When you hear “real drum tracks” for the first time you can hear the tom-toms leak onto the snare track for instance, as well as the kick drum leak into the over-heads. THIS IS NORMAL! If the mics are placed properly, this leakage should be very minimal at best. What is important to remember is, it’s how the drum tracks “together” sound as a whole ( therefore, a drumset!), not separately. Of course we want each separate track to sound great but there is no way to stop the leakage. Some sound engineers actually prefer the sound of leakage as they believe this is the “real sound” of a “real drum kit”. I happen to agree.
Now, to answer the “gated tom-tom” question. The tom-toms have a sympathetic ring occurring when other drums are struck. This can be annoying to some and actually sought after by others. It’s just a matter of personal taste. I’ve sent you each version so you can decide for yourself. With the “gated” tracks you will hear no ring and with the “ungated” tracks you will hear the ring. With this option of having both versions, you can gate them as you see fit. Please ask all the questions you want because questions can lead to answers!
Question: 1. The stereo drum mix seems to sound better to me than the individual tracks (2 thru 8). So the really key question I have is, is the stereo drum mix just a bounce-to-disk of the seven individual tracks, or have you mixed them in some way in the stereo mix? I played around with the individual tracks for quite a while before concluding I wasn't going to get as good a sound as the stereo mix. (So, in the end, I chose to use the stereo mix in the piece - I just turned off the reverb on measures with heavy tom-toms and for other measures left it at around 18 % wet - it sounds good!).
Answer: LARRY...!!.... "My" stereo mix was just some EQ from me with my console, plugging the snareover into my "midi verb2" and bringing it back stereo to make it ambient and bigger/wider. I always add 5K to the top of the kick as well as some 80hz on the bottom for fatness. I add a little top end sizzle to the overhed's and gate/verb the toms. That's about it for the stereo mix.
Question: 2. It sounds like the stereo mix includes gated toms but not un-gated toms. True? (Hey, if you happen to be in a rambling mood...what is the usage of the un-gated tom track since they seem to sound kind of boomy/unusable).
Answer: LARRY..!!.. True, the stereo mix is "gated toms".......I always send out 2 versions of toms, gated and ungated for the client. The ungated offers the client the ability to gate them as they see fit. Ungated toms do have the "symapthetic ring" from the resonance of other drums being hit. Some people actually like this because it's the "real" sound of a "real" drumkit. Many times the ungated offer a more real musical sound and the "ring" often dissapears into the mix when all the other music is present.......just a matter of personal tastes and opinions.
Question: 3. The over/under snare. Are both tracks incorporated in the stereo mix, or is it one or the other?
Answer: LARRY ..!!..Yes, I use both tracks blended in the stereo mix. It seems the "under" sound adds a little fatness and wideness to the complete snare sound. I use about 65%over + 35% under...I do not process the under at all, just a little EQ maybe. It's a sublte thing that when all is done becomes a big part of the snare sound in my opinion.
Question: 4. Was the stereo mix recorded with any compression? The reason I ask is, I didn't hear a need for any additional compression so I'm not currently using any. But I don't have good listening skills for drums, and I could always apply a simple 4:1 compression if that's the way to go.
Answer: LARRY ..!!.. I use no compression when I mix my drums, maybe because, if I may say this, my playing is pretty smooth and consistent level wise. Also compression reduces my dynamics. Unless of course the music style calls for this as in "dance" R&B etc. where it's the style to compress. That is always the client call....your drum listening skills are probably better than you think!!! Keep it up!!!
Chet...thanks for the replies to my questions..It's clearer for the next go-round how the various drum tracks fit together in a stereo mix (clearer...and yet in need of about a week of experimentation).
Having now finished the mix, I just have to say that you really provide a great (and needed!) service. Feedback from friends/musicians/wife who I've shared the new mix with (with your and Chris' tracks) is excellent - in fact, phenomenal. I will definitely come back with the next composition in a month or two, if you have the time and are interested in doing another one.
I put a copy of the final-as-of-this-moment mix on CD in the mail to you today. I had great fun comping a guitar track from Chris' playing! Enjoy...
Based on the web site Q&A, I tried your stereo mix with just a little reverb added to it and boy, did it sound better than anything I've come up with yet. I think I had basically overprocessed the heck out of everything. I still want to "play" with the separate tracks, but it gave me a better starting point for comparison. Also, things were a little funny with the timing I had to fix from the start anyways so you've already been nudged all over the place. But based on a quick review of the article you had posted about the guitarist and about playing in the pocket, I tried nudging your stereo drum part slightly behind and that seemed to help too, especially for a break you did before the solo (getting rid of all the excess processing helped that break make sense to me also).
Now I need to find some time again and get back into the mix.
Copyright © 2003-2004 Chet McCracken. All rights reserved. Killer Drum Tracks™ are a trademark of Chet McCracken.