Do not as I do

Hey, remember back in when I said I was experimenting with kick drum mic placement, and decided I liked how it sounds with the mic further away from the kick drum?  That was a horrible mistake.  Basically, what’s happened is the mic picked up the kick drum, and the rest of the drums.  Yes, the sound is more breathy and open, but it’s much harder to work with on the back end.

My drum processing, in a nutshell, is this: gate, compression, eq/effects.  I’m gating the drum track which means I set a threshold where any sound softer than that won’t be played at all.  Ideally, this would mean that only the kick drum hits would come through, and any noise or bleed through of other drums would be effectively eliminated.  Then, the compression and other effects could aggressively target the specific frequencies I want to manage in the kick drum.  Unfortunately, as a result of the mic placement, there are snare hits louder than some of the quieter kick drum hits, so they overcome the threshold as well.  The cymbals – especially the china and ride – also are louder on that track than the kick in places, so they’re getting mixed in as well.

What this means is basically the entire drum kit is getting effected the same as the kick drum – ie all low end with just a hint of definition in the highs.  This winds up making the overall mix overly bass-heavy, and when I compensate for that, the entire mix sounds thin.

Again, I’m hearing a chorus of “well, duh!’

Luckily, I came to my senses pretty early in the process, so only one or two songs have this problem, but it is a problem nonetheless, and I’m not really in any position to redo the drum tracks.  I’ve already dismantled my makeshift studio in Kevin’s basement, and I’m pretty sure I’d have a riot on my hands between Grant and James over redoing their parts.  So, I had to get a little creative.

What I’m doing amounts to manually gating the track.  I go into my editor and decrease the volume of any hit that’s not a kick drum so that it falls below the threshold.  It was a pain to do, but I think it helped.  Now, only the kick drum sounds like a kick drum, and not the rest of the kit.  I can boost the kick drum track without boosting the low end in the rest of the drumset.

The rest of the songs have more sane kick drum mic placement of that Realistic mic.  For the next project I do, I’m investing in a dedicated kick drum mic.

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1 thought on “Do not as I do

  1. Emm if I had heard about this I would have done the editing for you. I’m an expert editor as I’ve had this problem with looooads of stuff, like you I’ve learned how to stop it but yeah shit one…

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