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Session Notes: Levi Szendro | Media

Tracking Drums: Hear For Yourself
By Matt Houghton

These examples accompany my Session Notes feature from SOS March 2013, in which I recorded acoustic drums played by Levi Szendro. You can find the main article at /sos/mar13/articles/session-notes-0313.htm. It's impractical to give you everything recorded on the day, simply because of the vast amounts of server space it would take up! However, I've made available the full multitracks for the drum demo that I recorded and mixed for Levi's site, along with a couple of mixes.

Package icon | Audio Files 44.9 Mb


This is a mixdown from the session file as it stood at the end of the recording session. It's a reasonably representation of the kit, but doesn't sound as good as it did in the room. You can also hear little problems such as the snare drifting off to one side due to being picked up by both the tom and ride spot mics. It's not a bad starting point, though.


This was my first rough mix, as described in the main article. I'd gone for a slightly 'warmer' than natural sound, and had thickened the kick and snare slightly using Sound Toys Decapitator, amongst other things. There's a healthy dollop of tape emulation in there too. Listening back not long after writing the article, I was less than happy with this mix, which I now felt sounded a little too distorted, and more than a little dark and claustrophobic. I remixed it to achieve a more natural sound, which you can hear in the next example, and which is much nearer to the sound of the kit in the room on the day of the session.


This is the remixed loop, with rather less processing than in the first attempt. Each channel was run through the Neve emulation in the Slate Digital Virtual Console Strip, as was the main stereo bus. I also used some relatively mild tape effect on several tracks, with Universal Audio's Studer emulation doing the duties on the channels, and their Ampex emualtion on the master bus. (As a side note, I usually find that I prefer the sound of Slate Digital's VTM as a tape simulator, particularly for use on full mixes and on distorted guitars, but while it's arguably more 'authentic' as a tape emulation, it just didn't seem to do as pleasant a job as the UA plug-ins in this instance).

There's also an instance of Brainworx's excellent bx_digital V2 mastering plug-in on the stereo bus, just adding a bit of width and brightness at the top end, while collapsing any stray bass frequencies down to mono to give more solidity to the image. The close snare mic still benefitted from a touch of thickening distortion courtesy of Decapitator, but much less so than in the previous example -- and most of the snare sound you hear in this version comes from the virtually unprocessed overhead and room mic signals. The kick was also processed differently. Most of what you can hear comes from the AKG D12e that I'd used inside the drum near the batter head, with a touch of topiness from the CAD Equitek E200. The blended signal benefitted from a narrow EQ cut at 200Hz, which made it feel a little better defined, and some compression courtesy of two instances of Universal Audio's 1176 LN E plug-in, with teh first doing a gentle comrpession job, and the second acting as a limiter.

Project files

I've made the available to download as both a Pro Tools 10 file (that's the DAW I used to record and mix them) and as the raw multitracks. You can find both in the downloadeable ZIP file.

Package icon | Project Files 1.7 Mb
Published March 2013