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Recording drums in a home or project studio is one of the most challenging things we do as recording enthusiasts. There are so many things involved in getting a great sound. Because drums are loud, they tend to excite the room more than other instruments. This means that any room issues you may have become much more evident. Also, drums are typically recorded with multiple microphones which means the potential for phase issues will exponentially increase!

These things (along with others) make it very challenging to compete with that “big studio” sound from our modest home studios.  So, how do we overcome this?

In this video I will demonstrate one way to achieve pristine, multi-track drum recordings without the need for a beautiful acoustic environment, a closet full of expensive microphones or the skills needed to place each microphone just right to achieve the best sound without any phase issues.


Recording Drums In Your Home Studio

Transcript »

Hello again. Dezz Asante here from the TechMuzeAcademy with another video quick tip. This one is in regards to something I’ve been asked a lot about and have many a coversation about which is what’s the ideal way to record a drummer in a Home Studio environment, a potentially less than ideal accoustic space.

So what I’ve done with the help of my friends at Long and McQuade, the music store that I have work at for quite sometime is I’ve decide to setup a little demonstration as to what can be done in the absolute worst of recording environment which in our case is a busy, open, public, noisy scenario and we’re going to record clean, pristine, beautiful sounding multi-track drums with microphones on every cymbal and every drum, room mics near, mid and far, kick drum outside, inside snare drum top to bottom, we’re going to capture beautiful drums and we’re going to do it in the worst, worst case scenario in noisy, public environment. Okay!

So, let me turn you over to the little experiment here we did along McQuade and we’ll catch you on the flip side. Okay! So, here we are in potentially one of the worst recording environment possible. We’re at McQuade, in Oshua, Ontario. It’s a public retail music store. We got pages going over the PA, music on the radio and yet, I’m going to attempt to record my drums here. So, I’ve got a litte base grove that you won’t be able to hear. Actually, you might be able to hear it depending on how this works out. We’ll find out in a minute. And I’m going to track the  drums here in the drum department at Long McQuade. And there you go. We’re going to bring that back to the lab and see whatwe can do with it and I’ll be here. Okay!

So, here we are back in the lab. I’ve taken the fruits of my labor as it were which conisisted of 2 things. One, I recorded a stero-audio off of the rolling drum brain just so that was the sound I was listening to while I was playing. And I also recorded the midi that came off of the drum module.  So, it’s the midi representation of my performance. And then I brought both of those things back home into the lab and I’ve created an instance of a software plugin called Superior Drummer and I’m just to going to  use the midi file to trigger the drums. Let me show you how that is done.

Okay! So, this is what we ended up with at the end of that short session.  So, this was the base grove I was jamming to. This is the stereo-audio of the drums which at the moment I have muted. And this is the midi that I captured. And to have a look at that, this is the midi data. So, these dots and slashes all just represent the notes that I hit and when I hit them and how hard I hit them and so on and so forth. That’s your standard midi information. Okay! So, what I’m going to do first is just play you a little bit of what we got going on here.

Okay! So, what you’re hearing there is the little base grove and the stereo-audio off of the drum module. So, I’ve created an instance here of Superior Drummer which is one of my favorite software drum instruments and I’ll just pull up the interface so you could see what it looks like. This is Superior Drummer here and I’ve got some sounds cued up. And what I’m going to do is I’m just going to take the mide file that I had recorded and just drop it down onto that track and I’m going to mute. In fact, I’m going to mute that at the event level, so that I don’t have to think about it. And I’m going to play you the drums through Superior. Okay! So, that’s the sound of the drum performance being sent through a software instrument called Superior Drummer from TuneTrack which I like a lot and I highly recommend.

So, the thing that I can do now and you’ll see as its playing you’ll see what’s happening here. I’ll just hit play again. Okay! So, you can see the drums and cymbals being triggered with the…by the midi file. So, the nice thing I like about Superior Drummer is it allows me to actually exports the microphones that were included in the sample session. So, you’re actually getting quite a few different things here. More so than you might have the opportunity to take advantage of the home studio with the gear that you have. I’m talking about a mic on the kick drum inside and outside, snare drum top and bottom, all the direct toms, room mics near, mid and far range, all kinds…Yamaha sub-kick I believe if I’m not mistaken, all kinds of interesting drums and cymbals.

So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to actually export that information out of the plugin so that I can close the plugin, mute the midi track, put that in the backup folder and have a nice full multi-track drum mix to work with in the rest of my mixing process. Okay!

So, I’ll show you how it’s done in Superior. Excuse me. I go to the bounce page. What I can do here is I hit the record button. There’s a few settings that you can mess around with if you’re interested in digging deeper by all means look at the documentation on TuneTracks website.  But, I’m just going to arm this to record  and what I have to do is actually let the track play all the way from front to back in real time. And it’s going to capture all the of the sample information that I’m using in this particular performance and it’s going to render out an audio file that represents every single microphone. So, I’m going hit…I’m going to get this started and I’ll sort of  skip through it. I won’t make you wait and watch the timeline go by and then when it’s true I’ll let you have a look at the results.

Okay! So, it’s finish playing through and recording the samples that are involved in this performance. Now, what I’m going to do is bounce those samples out. I’m going to choose a folder I guess for the sake of this demonstration I’ll put it on my desktop. And we’re going to do a new folder and we’ll just call this “drums create” and we’re just going to save them in there. So, that’s going to take a minute and it’s going to render out a high bit depth 24-bit audio wave file of every single microphone that would have been placed around this drum kit in the original recording sessions that took place when they created this sample library. So, we’ll give it just a minute and I’ll catch you in the flipside and have a look at what the result is.

Okay! So, that process is finished I’m just going to close out Superior Drummer. Now, it doesn’t look like anything has happen here but what I need to do is import the audio tracks that I’ve just created. So, the way it start in Cuebase is I’m going to go to my file menu which you can’t see on the screen right now. And I’m going to import audio files. In fact, I’m going to do this a simpler way. I’m just going to open up the folder. This is a folder now. All of the microphones have been exported. I’m going to grab them all and I’m just going to dropped them into my Cuebase session. Put them on different tracks and we’ll just hit okay there and we’ll line them up. Now, what you’re going to notice is that the drums are going to sound a little different because in the inside, the plugin I have some of the microphones muted so on and so forth. So, in the import that we’ve just created you’re going to hear all the room mics and so forth as well. So, let me just mute out everyting else and lets have a listen to what we’ve got. If we bring up our mixer.

Okay! So, we end up with…let’s have a look there…11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 tracks of our drum mix. So, now let’s see if we can line these up because I exported just from when the audio began. Let’s try that. And let’s just line that up. Oops! Let’s change our snap value. Okay! So, it’s just a little off.  Let’s just…let’s just line that up just nice. Great. There.

That’s about right! And now, we have an 18-track drum mix of high bit depth audio that we recorded in a…absolutely less than ideal accoustic environment. What I’m going to do now is I’m going to take a minute and just organize that session a little bit …and adjust some levels and just give it a very general quick, basic mix. And I’ll get back to you when that’s done and we’ll have a listen to the whole thing in it’s entirety. Okay! I’ll catch you on the flipside.

Okay! So, I’ve take a few minutes..about 10-15 minutes and just done a real, quick mix on the drums themselves. And I printed an export and what I’m going to do is I’m going sync out that new drums I supposed for the lack of a better way of putting it. I’m going to sync it with video of me originally recording so that you can sort of hear and see the whole thing in it’s final glory.

So, I hope you enjoy that and I hope you find this helpful to you. Or hopeful rather that you can be capable of getting some really good drum sounds even in a far less than ideal accoustic scenario in a situation that doesn’t allow you to… you know to put up mics and bang around and make a whole lot of noise and doesn’t afford you the expense of doing such a thing. It’s very difficult to get high quality professional drum sounds with cheap gear in a poor enivironment. So, this is a way to overcome that if you are wrestling with that issue like a lot of us are. So, sit  back, enjoy the grove and we’ll see you on the next quick tip.


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