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Recording Drums - Priorities.

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Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 7:55 am
by MuzoHub
Please place the following in the order you see as most important to least important when tracking drums...

Pre-amps
Microphone make/model
The room
Microphone placement
The drum kit
The drum heads / skins
The tuning of the drum heads
The drummer himself / herself


Thanks in advance

Al

Re: Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:25 am
by Moroccomoose
Hi, please number the list to make it easier for folks to reply. Assuming the top one is number 1, my list would be:
8,7,5,6,3,4,2,1

Disclaimer; I'm not a drummer, nor recorded live drums, but I've read a fair bit!

Stu.

Re: Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:56 am
by CS70
MuzoHub wrote:Please place the following in the order you see as most important to least important when tracking drums...

Pre-amps
Microphone make/model
The room
Microphone placement
The drum kit
The drum heads / skins
The tuning of the drum heads
The drummer himself / herself

Assuming a kit and skins which are actually usable:

The drummer
The room
Microphone placement
The drum kit
The drum heads / skins
Microphone make/model
Pre-amps

Basically you have to have good stuff to record before worrying about what you're recording it with.

Re: Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:19 am
by MuzoHub
Moroccomoose wrote:Hi, please number the list to make it easier for folks to reply. Assuming the top one is number 1, my list would be:
8,7,5,6,3,4,2,1

Disclaimer; I'm not a drummer, nor recorded live drums, but I've read a fair bit!

Stu.

That’s interesting that you put the drum kit over the drum heads skins.

Re: Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:32 am
by Sam Spoons
I would reverse that, good heads, well tuned on a cheap kit will sound much better than bad ones on a good kit but I'd lump kit, heads and tuning into one heading 'instrument' So for me

1, A good song,
2, Well performed,
3, on a nice instrument
4, In a nice sounding space,
5, With well placed,
6, decent quality, mics.

If you have all that you can produce top quality recordings. After all many great recordings were made without the benefit of digital and even budget kit these days is better specified (on paper at least) than the systems available in the '60s.

Re: Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 1:32 pm
by blinddrew
For me you're actually looking at a couple of separate things here, each with their own factors to balance.
One is the preparation for the kit:
- Is it of a decent quality? (If not, can you hire in?)
- Are the skins new or new enough to sound good?
- Are they tuned appropriately for the song?

Then you're into the performance:
- Is the drummer good enough? (If not, can you hire in?) ;)
- Do they know they material properly?
- Are they comfortable and able to perform at their best?

Then you're into the recording environment:
- Is it a good room?
- Can you place the microphones in the best place?
- Have you got the right mics for the job?

I say they're all factors to balance, because unless you've got easy access to Abbey Road, their mic locker, and Stewart Copeland then it's always a matter of compromise in some way or other.

On yes, and pre-amps come somewhere along with making sure you've got enough coffee in. ;)

Re: Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 1:54 pm
by Watchmaker
I have been playing drums for over forty years and in my view unless you're playing really top of the line kit, the drums themselves really don't make or break a recording. A kit needs clean bearing edges and proper tuning for the genre/song. After that, I defy you to find more than a small group of people who can tell you if the drummer is playing six ply Maple or 7 ply Birch shells and all of them were there during recording. New heads often ruin tone, contrary to some views. What does the song want is what you should be asking.

Like any other instrument you need performance first and foremost. Why? Because tone comes from the player and a great drummer will make a lousy kit sound great.

After that comes the room, no doubt in my mind. Why? because it's hella fun to play in a killer room, which leads back to point 1 - better performance.

Next, mic placement. fractions of an inch can make huge differences. There are many schools of thought on mic'ing...and these decisions will be driven by the room.

The specs on gear are so good now days that they don't really bear discussion until you get to a very high level of skill anyway. As long as you can gain stage, you should be ok with any kit. As an engineer, you will be expected to get good sounds from anything.

Re: Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 1:56 pm
by CS70
Sam Spoons wrote:I would reverse that, good heads, well tuned on a cheap kit will sound much better than bad ones on a good kit

I gotta say I've never felt any difference between tuned and not tuned skins. But it's surely my lead ears :D

but I'd lump kit, heads and tuning into one heading 'instrument'

Good point, it's like asking if it's the guitar or the strings that make a difference... you need a decent guitar with decent strings and that's about it, it's no point in distinguishing.

Re: Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:34 pm
by James Perrett
CS70 wrote:I gotta say I've never felt any difference between tuned and not tuned skins. But it's surely my lead ears :D

I played a gig where I shared a kit with John Bradbury from the Specials. For some reason he had to borrow my snare drum and, by the time he had finished tuning it, it felt and sounded like a completely different drum. I didn't touch the tuning for months after that.

It may also be worth saying that the choices of instrument, space and mics need to be appropriate for the music you are recording. Brad's tuning on my snare worked because we were both playing ska - it probably wouldn't have been appropriate for a different style of music.

Re: Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:00 pm
by Moroccomoose
MuzoHub wrote:
Moroccomoose wrote:Hi, please number the list to make it easier for folks to reply. Assuming the top one is number 1, my list would be:
8,7,5,6,3,4,2,1

Disclaimer; I'm not a drummer, nor recorded live drums, but I've read a fair bit!

Stu.

That’s interesting that you put the drum kit over the drum heads skins.

I think I'm inclined to lump 'the instrument' as a single entity. My thinking is that performance is key and importance works backwards from the performer through the chain to the pre amp. As is often said in these fora, the pre amps are seldom cited as the weakest link in a recording. Follow the mantra....get the source right and the rest will follow.

Re: Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 11:24 am
by paul tha other
a good drummer is top of the list.tuning is the next priority.then the room..everything else is a bit meh!! or to put a finer point on it ,the differances the rest of the list make are small..ive got some great drum sounds from awfull drum kits and horrible drum sounds from £4000 drum kits..

for instance before this lockdown i had an affa good drummer in my studio with a drum kit that looked ready for the bucket...it had holes in it..bits were held together with gaffer tape but this guy could play and tune a drum kit and we got an amazing drum sound from it..

a month before that i had a young lad that got a top of the range dw drum kit from his parents for xmas ,we spent all day faffing around with that kit and didnt like the drum sound we got that day..truth is this young lad had only been playing drums for about a year and had no idea you even "tuned" drums...

a drummer pal of mine that used to hang about the studio from time to time, he used to call it "internal mix"..what he meant was if a drummer hasnt got his mix right (a good drummer knows that he is in control of his own volume) the drum sound will never be right and no amout of expensive drum mics and pre amps or mixing will make any differance if that isnt right

thats my take on it

paul

Re: Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:02 pm
by Sam Inglis
I would actually add one thing to your list: position of the kit within the room.

In some spaces that can make a massive difference to the drum sound.

Re: Recording Drums - Priorities.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 8:03 pm
by Martin Walker
Sam Inglis wrote:I would actually add one thing to your list: position of the kit within the room.

In some spaces that can make a massive difference to the drum sound.

Amen to that!