Using triggers on Drums to active compression or a gate?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by JiveJust, Sep 12, 2019.

  1. JiveJust

    JiveJust Member

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    I had an Applied mixing class at college recently. It’s basically a weekly private lesson. I was bringing in some drum recordings I did at the house. During our lesson he mentioned putting an additional (very close, almost touching the drum head) mic on each drum to track with. Those tracks will be muted but will be used to trigger a noise gate or compressor.

    Is there any benefit for this? Also wouldn’t it be more efficient to use a trigger and record midi data to trigger the compression or gate rather that using an audio track?

    Edited for clarity.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
  2. RockManDan

    RockManDan Member

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    What track is the noise gate or compressor affecting? Most of the time, we would just close-mic the drum and actually use that signal. If you're muting the close-mic track, what use is there to side-chain compress or gate another track?
     
  3. JiveJust

    JiveJust Member

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    Sorry. Let me clarify. He puts an additional close mic on each drum, almost touching the drum head. He says that catches the transient faster that the mic used on the track to be mixed. He has extra mics on every drum when he can but mostly bass drum and snare.

    So my logic was why not use a drum trigger and record the MIDI output to trigger the compressor or gate?? Wouldn’t you be using less computer processing power and less money? A set of drum triggers is $50 on Amazon right now.
     
  4. Billinder33

    Billinder33 Member

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    Why even do this at all?

    It's been years since I've worked in a 'pro' studio, but I've never seen this done. Maybe the staff of engineers that record Katy Perry and Ariana Grande would go through the time, expense, and hassle to do this, but for ordinary Joe recordist and studio owner this sounds crazy. How much additional transient will getting 1/2" closer to the drum head actually get you? It seems like massive overkill with the added the time and expense of doubling your close-mics.

    And I agree, a MIDI trigger would probably work as well or better anyhow, since it's sticking right on the head.

    Or better yet, why not just copy the original track and nudge the copied track a few samples back in time, and then compensate for the ending of the nudged signal by extending the release on the gate/comp by a millisecond or two?

    WTF are they teaching you kids these days? Maybe I'm just out of touch. :brick
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
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  5. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    Uh, is this for live sound, or recording?

    Most folks don’t even gate drums for recordings now...just strip silence on the toms (or erase by eye).

    Kick and snare...funny, I don’t really ever gate them anymore, unless there’s a problem. And if I needed a gate I would just copy the track and slide it forward a few milliseconds and use that to trigger the sidechain on the actual track.
     
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  6. GMGM

    GMGM Supporting Member

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    Personally, I despise when people gate their drum tracks. It sounds so fake to me. To my ears it's far better to choose the right mics, and manage your polarity/phase relationships on the way in. That way, the cross talk won't introduce as many problems and you'll sound more natural. But that's just my preference. I know metal, and other genre's practically demand that you process the beegeezus out of the tracks.

    So.... if you must gate your drums, then yes - this is the way to do it. I first learned this working in a studio here in town that was known for great drum sounds. When I first saw him setting up the triggers, I thought he was a fraud - that he was just using drum samples from a module to get the "killer drum sounds" he was known for.

    Well, he walked me through it - and it made sense. Triggers act much faster, and noisegates are less likely to misfire as you strike other drums in the setup. More accurate gating means tighter control (if that is the sound you are going for).

    As has been said in the post above mine.... strip silence is the way to go if you have a problematic drum mic.
     
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  7. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    Reality check. Sound moves at 1130 feet a second.

    How much of a difference, in terms of transient speed is a single inch or so going to make?! I've heard some nutty stuff but this one certainly ranks.

    Back in the day when recording to analog tape it was common while mixing to gate close mics when triggering samples, mostly to prevent false & secondary triggers. And at the time most samples were "one shot" and not dynamic.

    These days anyone who's triggering samples is doing it in the DAW. Smash Drumagog, Slate or whatever on the tracks & trigger direct from that. Or you strip/select hit points and convert that to MIDI for samples. And anyone who's tracking to analog tape probably has a kick ass drummer and isn't going that route... or if its needed at that point we'd dump the whole 24 track tape to digital at 96kHz and continue working from that.
     
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  8. hotrats73

    hotrats73 Member

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    I did it once using ddrum triggers.

    A producer asked me to record and mix an ep for a band.

    They played some kind of boring 90s crossover with a rapper and a singer.
    During preproduction I've discovered that the drummer wasn't good enough for tracking with a click and didn't sound powerful enough for the kind of sound we had in mind.

    Since they wanted me to add loops and stuff I decided to try something new to make my work easier.

    I added a trigger on every piece and then used the trigger tracks for editing/quantizing and drum replacement.

    Worked really well because the signal you record from the trigger is basically an on/off spike with no bleeding from cymbals or other drum pieces, is a signal that makes editing (read using beat detective) much easier and also reduces false triggers to almost zero%

    Never done again because fortunately I've recorded only good drummers.
     
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  9. Chimuelo

    Chimuelo Member

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    Nice idea there, makes perfect sense too.

    I’ve been fortunate with drummers and thankfully they like my Symetrix Expander/Gates which can be set for each of the mics and usually can use up to eight channels of treatment.

    This is combined with a drum overhead meant to capture the ambience lost by expanding or gating.
    Still sounds great on stage because I don’t mind the excess ambience from a live kit, but out front you can adjust the levels and get a great sounding all acoustic kit.

    I usually hate the sound of an acoustic kick drum. Been spoiled by triggered samples for years and you don’t need half of a PA just to get the sound right.
    A pair of used old Symetrix 544s are great and worth the price, usually 100-150 usd since they are 100 lbs each and vintage.
    Just kidding, more like 10 lbs each.
    Some guys like it on high hat but I find a good drummer doesn’t need his hats clipped or boosted.
     
  10. JiveJust

    JiveJust Member

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    I was curious how much difference it would make but couldn’t find a delicate way of asking him. I do know he is obsessed with phasing issues. Maybe that factors in.

    He said he did the super close mic to trigger a noise gate to try to cut out high bleed.

    My point was it would be cheaper and easier to use triggers rather than another mic and track.

    The drummer in his band has tuning issues. So I know he either replaces or layers using samples. They’ve been in band together for 15 years. Maybe his methods have developed as a result.

    I’ve never replaced drums. I guess there is no reason for drum triggers unless it for a live performance?
     
  11. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    Well that's a whole can o' wormies right there. But one of the main reasons to use samples is to introduce consistency when, for whatever reasons there was no consistency in the recording and or performance. Another reason is simply because the recorded sounds aren't right for the music, so we'd want to use something that's more "expected" for the genre.

    And agree if I know we're gonna use triggers I'll stick 'em on the kit from the starting gate but again... its so easy to handle this in a DAW these days without the extra fluff...

    I'll use samples from time to time. They're just another tool in the box, been a part of record making for decades.
     
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  12. Markdude

    Markdude Member

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    Your idea would probably be more efficient since it shouldn’t be as susceptible to noise from the rest of the kit (although the vibrations and sympathetic resonance could maybe cause false triggers). That said, I’ve never had much of an issue setting gate thresholds for traditional mics. Cardioid or hypercardioid pickup patterns should sufficiently reject enough spillage for workable gating if your mic placement is good. You may need to do a manual edit here and there like if a cymbal was aggressively hit at the end of a tom fill, for instance.

    As for putting an extra mic up as close to the head as possible just for sidechaining purposes, aside from how little difference that would make with timing, you could simply forego that and use a gate with a pre-open parameter and dial in the desired lookahead.
     
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  13. hotrats73

    hotrats73 Member

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    Talking about drum replacement...

    I sometimes record samples of the single drum pieces when I track drums. I ask the drummer to play few hits in crescendo and record all the kit then mix the hits and build my samples for that project.

    Then, when I feel I need it, use those samples
    * to make the performance sound more consistent adding, for example, a bit of snare played always hard.
    * I feed reverbs with the sampled track to get a clearer sound (for snare and toms, usually)
    * I mix toms samples to the original ones to reduce bleeding and add tails to the hits when gating hard.

    Sometimes I use samples from other drum kits (usually on the kick drums) to add some components I think are missing (like nice clean bottom end or sharp beater sound).

    Drum replacement is very powerful and creative.
     
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  14. sws1

    sws1 Member

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    Would be way easier to copy the track and then nudge it forward.

    Or just use various software to convert the copied audio track to midi, and then use whatever super-fast transient drum sound you want to trigger the gate.

    Sounds to me more like he wants something that captures a cleaner hit (with less bleed), just so he can use it later for replacement / adding samples if needed.
     
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  15. JiveJust

    JiveJust Member

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    Yeah that sounds much easier. No extra hardware to deal with during tracking. He does replace with samples sometimes.
     
  16. JiveJust

    JiveJust Member

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    Thanks for all the replies everyone! This really helped me understand this subject.

    When my professor brought it up we were discussing gating and compression in my private lesson. He got off on a tangent for a bit on the extra mic. We got back on track very quickly but it stuck with me that there be could easier ways to do what he was talking about.

    I’ve spoken to my professor since I’ started this thread and mentioned the set of drum triggers Amazon is selling. He was excited about them. If I was going to replace drum sounds I would use the suggestions I’ve learned from your replies.

    Thanks again!
     
  17. hotrats73

    hotrats73 Member

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    you're welcome!
     
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  18. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    I've done the same things... and using samples to feed reverbs is the Andy Wallace trip. Removes all the cymbals so you can get a big super clean reverb tail. Some people gate the reverb send which is similar but not the same result.

    And yes, most common is to augment the kick & snare with samples to add a tone that simply isn't there & can't be added with EQ alone. From beater attack on the kick to something like a snare that's wrong for the song. Maybe a piccolo snare was used, something high and tight and the song is asking for a deep, wetter snare like a Motown/Stax sound. Or the flip of that, was a deep rattlely snare and it needs something tighter that isn't occupying as much space.

    Another reason I'll use samples is if the tuning of the drums doesn't match the key of the song. Really common with snares. Might have a song in A minor and the pitch, or ring of the snare is a B note, the major 2nd. Can really make the whole song sound foul and out of tune to the point where you start thinking the intonation on the guitars are outta whack.

    Things like that are really easy to fix while tracking but often slip past for whatever reasons and it becomes the job of the mix engineer to sort out.
     
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  19. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

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    Those are not at all mutually exclusive! I use the regular drum recording mic to do both of those, including getting the drums sound
     
  20. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

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    Discrimination is a HUGE part of recording, especially when it comes to Volume Wars era recording, where everything is going to be flat out as loud as possible. Gating gets way more important

    Add to that the typical skill level of the typical drummer you are going to get recording unsigned bands. I probably spent more time designing ReaGate than anything else in my life and its still not good enough for a lot of drummers' (lack of) abilities

    IF this second mic helps, the amount of time it saves is insane compared to the pittance of time it takes to set it up.

    But I would just use the pieze triggers instead if I was going to do it. 5 dollars for the transducer from mouser or digikey and then solder it to some old broken XLRs
     

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