FAQ Friday is our weekly roundup of YOUR questions! If you have a question you’d like to ask, simply leave it in the comments below (or on YouTube), and I’ll do my best to answer it! There is no criteria for these questions; If you’ve been wondering about something, ask away!
I get asked about this topic quite frequently- Drum Samples. Should you use them or should you record everything live? Can you get a good kick sound without using samples?
As you know, I have a small drum room, I use a limited amount of mics, and use a 12 channel Cadac console. I use one kick mic and I don’t cut a hole in my kick drum. I mic the sound of the outside head. That gives me a lot of the “umph!” – I like that, I like the air of it.
There’s a top and bottom snare mic, there’s one hi-hat mic which is actually an SM7, a pair of overheads, typically 1 mono room mic, 1 floor tom and 1 rack.
When I say a “room mic” it’s just a vocal mic and it’s about 4ft from the drum kit- so it’s not really a room mic. There’s no way to capture the ambiance of the room (there is none!), it’s a very very small room.
??If you’re curious to see how I use drum samples to get great tones without necessarily having access to a big live room, check out the 4 links below!
You can watch me use drum samples in each of these courses:
Anatomy of a Mix with Bob Horn & Warren Huart (50% OFF Today only)
Mixing Singer Songwriter (50% OFF Today only)
Anatomy of a Mix with Brad Wood (50% OFF Today only)
Mixing rock with Ulrich Wild (50% OFF Today only)
My room is absolutely perfect for when I’m doing big fat dry drum sounds. But if I want to go ultra aggressive, like I did with Ace Frehley when he did that cover of “Fire and Water” – The drums are massive on that! I was asked specifically by Greg Collins what studio we went to record those big drums and I sent him a photo of a ’64 Ludwig sitting in a small bedroom sized live room.
This is where samples, reverbs, etc., can come in! You can do all kinds of things with reverb and compression, but you cannot get a kick drum to sound that dramatically different.
I have a lot of different samples that I use and I’ll blend them. The majority of the one’s I give away are one’s that I’ve made myself when I was working with The Fray, Aerosmith and a whole bunch of different bands!
That’s how I work. I record here and use samples when I don’t have a budget to go to Sunset Sound or United. However, if I do have the budget, I’m in Sunset Sound, I’m recording completely differently, and I don’t need to use as many of those samples.
The point is; I know what my end result should be for the song, and I know how to get there. Sometimes it is using just live mics, sometimes it’s using an occasional sample, sometimes it’s layering dramatically.
I don’t care how I get there as long as the results are great! That is the most important thing.
During this episode of FAQ Friday I answer the following questions:
• Could you get your kick sounding just as good without the samples? What steps would you take in doing so?
• How does a mix sound on your monitors after mixing in headphones? Do you have to do any tweaking afterwards?
• Is there any way you could devote an episode to getting clarity in a mix?
• Would you wear a T-shirt that says, “NEVER HIGH PASS. Always Low Cut” ? 🙂
• I’ve been applying so many of these helpful techniques over the past few months in my mixes, and yet when I compare my mixes to commercial productions my mixes sound slightly “dark”. Is this normal?
• Do you always leave a stereo pair a pair ? or will something go on that will make you decide to separate them? Also what are the advantages/disadvantages of recording in stereo?
• When is the next masterclass in LA?