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How do you record drums?

papersoul

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,782
Hey all,

I record on a stand alone 8 track recorder. It seems good enough for me in my situation but recording drums is a hassle. I do not have drums so I use a drum machine but changing time is a pain so I tend to keep the drum beat the same through the song which sounds lame! Maybe I'll just have to learn an easier way to add dynamic drums. Is it easier on a computer to add drums to a prerecorded song/file? I have heard some programs will fit the song tempo automatically including time changes?
 

theroan

Member
Messages
5,970
Unless you have top knotch mics, pre's and processors it's not worth it. Use sequencing software.
 

Baloney

Senior Member
Messages
1,675
Use Reason .. redrum is a decent program. the learning curve is steep but its not a bad program for getting decent drums
 

moody07747

Member
Messages
1,203
Hey all,

I record on a stand alone 8 track recorder. It seems good enough for me in my situation but recording drums is a hassle. I do not have drums so I use a drum machine but changing time is a pain so I tend to keep the drum beat the same through the song which sounds lame! Maybe I'll just have to learn an easier way to add dynamic drums. Is it easier on a computer to add drums to a prerecorded song/file? I have heard some programs will fit the song tempo automatically including time changes?
I use Sonar 7 Producer and Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0 to track my drums. The fun comes with tracking the drums because in my studio I have an e-kit which I trigger and send MIDI back to the PC.

8 tracks just isnt really enough to track drums of any kind IMO.
I would suggest upgrading to a PC based setup with an audio interface as you get almost unlimited amounts of tracks....and many more options.

More info on tracking drums and such can be found at Tweak's Guide:
http://www.tweakheadz.com/midi_drum_tips.htm
 

thesedaze

Member
Messages
1,682
Unless you have top knotch mics, pre's and processors it's not worth it. Use sequencing software.
-1 You must be listening to your local GC rep.

+1 on doing it simple. Depends on the style of music. For my stuff, I like more of a room thing than a close mic thing. Ribbon overhead, Condenser in the room, maybe in stereo setup. Atm25 close on the kick, LD Condenser back a foot, 57 on snare. Good to go.

I've been helping my buddies in Soulajar track their debut album in studio A @ ASR Studios (asrstudios.com). Top notch stuff. The guitarist and drummer did the legwork of setting up the session, but I've been able to run the boards a bit during tracking. They have about 15 mics on drums...not all will be used, and they'll just use the room mics for natural verb. They have:

• SM81 on hi hats
• something on ride
• 57's on mounted toms
• MD421 on floor toms
• SM57 on snare top and something on bottom
• 1 on kick beater, 2 on kick front head (one in, one out)
• 2 neumann TLM overheads, Royer ribbon center overhead
• AKG 451's in XY room
• 2 Rode NT large diaphragm behind the AKG's

Brian's got a lot of intricate ride/hihat paterns, so it makes sense for some of their tunes. There a few that are more 'airy', and he'll probably use more room mic in those mixes. Needless to say, it's nice to have endless options, but it's not essential, especially if you have no time constraints.
 

nosignal

Member
Messages
897
I like recording drums with two overheads, a mic in the kick, one under the snare/mounted, and one on the floor tom. I'm still, after like two years of recording, trying to perfect the art of recording drums. I doubt I'll succeed anytime soon, haha, but I've gotten some killer sounds with that setup just from a pg drum mic set and a firepod, so i believe its fairly easy to get a good drum sound without having top notch equipment.
 

Rusty G.

Member
Messages
3,143
The OP said he didn't have any drums, so that could be a problem. I've got a R.E.T. Percussion N2S set. Pretty nice triggers, but I don't play well enough. . .SO. . .I purchased a Zendrum Zap.

Here's what I do. . .First, I track to a basic repeating drum track/beat that I step sequence in ProTools. It's usually a 4, 8 or 16 beat repeating riff. Then, I'll track guitars and bass. . .get the rhythm down. Sometimes, I'll sing a scratch track (which sometimes becomes the go to track, but that's another thread).

Then, I'll track the kick and snare, along with 3 toms for fills. I get a good take, which might take an hour or more. Then, I'll track hi-hats, stopping the beat where I'm playing drum fills, just like I was playing the R.E.T. kit, only I'm not that good on the R.E.T. kit, but I'm real good at tapping out a beat and fills with my fingers. Then, I'll track my cymbals.

I use Superior Drummer 2.0 for my drum sounds. They sound excellent, and the Zendrum Zap is very touch sensitive. I get all kinds of ghost notes, just like playing a real kit. . .only, it's the Zendrum Zap.

The only downer is cymbal sounds, which decay for a looonnnngggg time in real life and are gone in a few seconds with the virtual instrument. I'm thinking about mic'ing up a couple of cymbals, and using those for the cymbals.

The other option, is to backup everything to a hard drive and take your hard drive to a real studio with a real drummer and lay your drum tracks there.
 

ben_allison

Member
Messages
3,044
Since you're not using actual drums, get some sort of MIDI interface that you can PLAY. Whether it's pads or an electronic kit. This will help things sound realistic.

Essentially, what matters, in terms of getting realistic MIDI drums are:

Dynamics
Making sure that light hits are light, and hard hits are hard is critical. Nothing sells-out a programmed drums track more than homogeneous dynamics. This is probably the most important thing to get right.

Imperfection
So, slight imperfections in time (only slight, if any) and imperfections in velocity make MIDI tracks more "human."

Discontinuity
Make sure that the hi-hats stop when you go to do a tom fill. Drummers have two hands, and two feet. Your tracks should honour what a human can do (if you're trying to emulate an actual kit).
 

papersoul

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,782
Since you're not using actual drums, get some sort of MIDI interface that you can PLAY. Whether it's pads or an electronic kit. This will help things sound realistic.

Essentially, what matters, in terms of getting realistic MIDI drums are:

Dynamics
Making sure that light hits are light, and hard hits are hard is critical. Nothing sells-out a programmed drums track more than homogeneous dynamics. This is probably the most important thing to get right.

Imperfection
So, slight imperfections in time (only slight, if any) and imperfections in velocity make MIDI tracks more "human."

Discontinuity
Make sure that the hi-hats stop when you go to do a tom fill. Drummers have two hands, and two feet. Your tracks should honour what a human can do (if you're trying to emulate an actual kit).
Thanks, yes...I can't afford to get a drum set let alone have the space. I need to use 'fake' drums, a program or midi unit. It sounds like the best route is a midi/pad set up? I record the guitars/bass separate and then take the file to the PC. I guess once on the PC, I could add the drums at that point, no??? Any suggestions on which programs go well with which midi pads, etc? Maybe I'll stop in a music store and look around.

Keep in mind, I do not play drums so it may be tricky, no!? But, fun!:)
I wish it was easier to program drums.
 
Messages
132
I program drums with my MIDI keyboard all the time and get convincing results (according to my clients). My drums are just guides for the real drummers to follow, but very often, they get put on the albums instead of the real drum tracks by the record labels simply because overall, they sound better.

I find that the key to programming drums, whether you play them with your fingers on a piano keyboard or a drum pad is knowing how to actually play the drums yourself and also how they are supposed to sound when played by a good drummer. Lots of detailed transcribing helps.

Little things like snare ghost notes, tempo imperfections, the articulations on your hats, the different velocities on your kick, how to program good flams, ensuring nothing silly like 16th note hats playing over an 8th note fill exists ...etc combine to make a convincing drum track. It may sound like a lot of work, but if you get your non-real-drum drum chops up, it actually takes no time at all to make a good drum track.

I never copy and paste anything when programming drums. Every single note is played in to maintain the authentic feel. Then quantize it and listen out for anything sore and then edit to suit.

But I say again, knowing how to play the drums and how they should sound when played well is the key.
 

Baloney

Senior Member
Messages
1,675
DOnthing wrong with that. Many engineers have drum samples in their laptops or mixing systems. They replace tracked drum hits with them in pro tools. I forgot what the plug in was called. I havent done it in awhile


I program drums with my MIDI keyboard all the time and get convincing results (according to my clients). My drums are just guides for the real drummers to follow, but very often, they get put on the albums instead of the real drum tracks by the record labels simply because overall, they sound better.

I find that the key to programming drums, whether you play them with your fingers on a piano keyboard or a drum pad is knowing how to actually play the drums yourself and also how they are supposed to sound when played by a good drummer. Lots of detailed transcribing helps.

Little things like snare ghost notes, tempo imperfections, the articulations on your hats, the different velocities on your kick, how to program good flams, ensuring nothing silly like 16th note hats playing over an 8th note fill exists ...etc combine to make a convincing drum track. It may sound like a lot of work, but if you get your non-real-drum drum chops up, it actually takes no time at all to make a good drum track.

I never copy and paste anything when programming drums. Every single note is played in to maintain the authentic feel. Then quantize it and listen out for anything sore and then edit to suit.

But I say again, knowing how to play the drums and how they should sound when played well is the key.
 

Lou Ranko

Member
Messages
12
My band has just been recording and the best sound we got came from two overhead condenser pencil mics. I also stuck an SM57 on the snare and one on the bass drum. The last two were just to punch those two drums a little in the mix. The overheads were positioned over the back of the drummers head, equi-distant to and pointing at the snare - about 3ft away.

If it's software you're after, I can highly recommend:
http://www.kvraudio.com/get/1269.html

It will follow any time changes your sequencer throws at it. Amazing sounds and can be cut up/sampled to death using NI Intakt (included).

Good luck
 
Messages
256
If you really don't have a drummer or a space to record them, one option is using drum loops. I do that sometimes...I use Acid Pro 6 and a big catalog of loop CDs I've amassed over time (Beta Monkey makes some nice ones). If I'm working that way I usually first find a basic pattern I like and then record a scratch track of the song to that. Then I'll build the drum part up, using variations on the pattern, fills, cymbal hits, and occational patterns I'll make from individual components (snare, kick etc.). With a little compression and verb it can sound pretty good! Then I'll record my other parts to that. I've fooled some good engineers that way! But nothing really beats having a great drummer in a good room, and recording the rhythm section all together at the same time. Nothing.
 




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