Reality Checks

That SM57 and the ensuing microphone shuffling seems to have made a world of difference.  Using the SCM800s as overheads has given a lot more body to the drums – especially the toms, and *not* using a condenser on the snare gave me a lot more headroom in getting a good signal to tape.  I imagine that anyone who actually knows what they’re doing in this regard may read this and say, “well yeah, duh” but this is me stumbling in the dark, arms outstretched, wrecking my shins on the coffee table.

Every Thursday night for the past 3 weeks, Kevin and I have been recording, and I’ve rushed home to dump the drum tracks onto my computer so I can mix them together and marvel at my own prowess (ok, actually Kevin’s ability).  I’ve got a pair of E-MU PM5 monitor speakers that I love (when they’re working), and I can make mixes sound pretty good and they generally translate well to other sources.  I noticed immediately that the drums sounded way better than the previous recordings, so I feel pretty good about my purchase.  I did a couple of quick drum mixes using my presets, and was pleased with the results.  I also put down a couple of rough bass tracks and made quick mixes of those.  You can check those out here:

Reliable rough drums and bass

Concrete Flea rough drums and bass

I listened to these at work this morning, and I was very disappointed.  The sound on my monitors at home was full and beefy, but it’s tinny and weak here.  The speakers I have on my computer at work are nowhere near the quality of my studio monitors, but still, there shouldn’t be this much of a discrepancy.  I’m prone to having overpowering low end in my productions (give me a break, I’m a bassist!), so I think I may have erred on the side of too little low end.

I’ve done a LOT of tweaking with the sound, and I’ve tried to think ahead about where other instruments I’m planning should fit in the mix, and I’ve adjusted my drum mixes accordingly.  I realized that I should probably just stick with the rough drums straight out of the recorder, and wait until I get all the other instruments together to start carving out sonic space for everything.  That point was driven home to me this morning, when my friend James suggested that my tweaks were “way too complicated.”  Yes, he’s right, I’m spending too much time right now when I know good and well that I’m just making trouble for myself down the road.  I’m an inherently lazy person, so I should have come to this conclusion way before now.

So, this means that any future rough mixes I post here will be *really* rough.  Also, it should mean that I don’t worry too much about where everything is going to fit in the mix until I have something to worry about.

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Still, it’s pretty fun playing around with just the bass and drums.  I’ve just got to resist the urge to tweak unnecessarily – it’s ultimately a waste of time, and that’s a commodity in short supply these days.