Educate me on getting a decent drum mix with samples.

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Thread: Educate me on getting a decent drum mix with samples.

  1. #1

    Join Date: Sep 2008
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    Educate me on getting a decent drum mix with samples.

    I have DKFH and all of the expansion packs, and I'm considering doing the sidegrade to Superior for Metal Foundry. So I have a bunch of kits, with a ton of sounds.

    Right now I'm working with the default kit in DKFH, which sounds decent enough for what I do. I'm not having the best of luck, however, getting it to sit well in the mix. Here's the (pretty much default) setup from DKFH:

    Ignore the track assignments, I was in the middle of screwing around. My usual bus setup is:

    T1: Kick
    T2: Snare Top/Bottom
    T3: Hats
    T4: Upper Toms
    T5: Lower Toms
    T6: Overhead
    T7: Room
    T8: Comp

    I'm getting a decent mix/sound out of my snare and toms. The cymbals are passable for now. That said, my kick has no balls, and my hats just sound bad. They don't sparkle/sizzle at all, it's more like a sloppy fizz sound. It seems like a mix between the overhead mic and the hat mic is the way to go, but I can't seem to find a happy medium.

    What are some good ways to add some cajones to my kick, and to get the hats so that they sound crisp, without overdoing it? Part of the problem with sampled drums (imo, anyway) is that if you have too sharp/bright of a hihat track, it sounds more like an annoying metronome than a piece of an instrument.

  2. #2

    Join Date: Sep 2008
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    Here's an example of where I'm at with it now. Nothing special, just some back and forth muted stuff on the 7. There are some open string artifacts going on, but again I really didn't care about getting it super tight since 99% of what I'm recording right now is just arrangement/tone stuff and it'll all be in the trash eventually.

    The overall drum bus has about 6db of headroom, which is where I'm having luck with so far as the sweet spot for my guitar tracks. So I don't think it's a matter of making them louder, just a matter of mix/compression/etc. I'm pretty green at this, so keep that in mind.

    Down the road I'll be wanting to add a touch of reverb to the drum tracks (especially on the toms) because I really dig the way that sounds. But right now, I'm just looking for tips on getting them to stand on their own in the mix instead of being completely dominated by my guitar tracks. If I put a lead on top of this clip, they'd be even more squashed.

  3. #3

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    Woah, the drums are way quiet in that mix dude.
    [Leon] 10:03 pm: She can poop on my chest anyday

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zepp88 View Post
    Woah, the drums are way quiet in that mix dude.
    I know. :\ The output, db wise, is actually right up with my guitar tracks. As a starting point, I've been trying to get each drum track to peak at the same level +/- 1db or so. So what you're hearing there really is a complete set of drums with 6db of headroom, with two guitars and a bass track about the same. I'm assuming that's the wrong way to go about it, eh? Because it's totally not working.

  5. #5

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    I've had this problem as well. A buddy of mine who does a ton of recording and uses a lot of drum sample said that the key is to make your kick really obnoxious sounding. He said that's pretty much the only way to get it to be up front enough. It makes sense though because when you listen to a lot of heavier albums, the kick is always very in your face. It usually doesn't have lot of bass but it does have a lot of crack to it.

    Your guitar is really hot as well. Bringing it down in the mix will help as well. I'm no expert at all but those are just a couple of of ideas.

    I hope that helps.

    I'll send you a friend request on facebook and then refer you to my buddy. He's an amazing source of information for a lot this type of stuff.

  6. #6

    Join Date: Sep 2008
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    Of possible importance here is that I am just starting to work on this, so my beforehand experience is basically nil. So be prepared for a lot of stupid questions.

    This is the last "real" song I recorded, back in like 2004 or so.

    The drum programming itself is horrendous, as is my wanktastic over-vibratoed solo (I was nervous as hell, the record button was like the SUCK: ON button for me). But the drums sit well enough in the mix. I'm not saying that this song is a paragon of mixing, but if I could get this mix on the stuff I'm doing now, I'd be happy enough with it.

  7. #7

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    Welcome to the quest of trying to make things sound coherent, it's like the never ending search for guitar sounds but a lot more complex

    Listening to your first clip, here's a bunch of stuff I would immediately try:

    - Turn the hi-hat down, hi-hats & overheads can normally sit further back in the mix than you would think, once it's balanced between instruments. Too loud and they will dominate the mix.

    - Turn the drums up/guitars down and balance them by ear until your overall level hitting your master buss is averaging -6db (with no mastering processors running). This means that you overall you are hitting your mastering software with an optimal signal.

    - Correct compression, not EQ, is how you get a snare to crack hard and sit up front in the mix.

    - If you want your drums to have balls & not sound wimpy, you HAVE to run parallel compression. Only cottoned on a few months back and my god the difference. Parrallel compress the snare, parrallel compress the kick, and seperately parrallel compress the whole kit minus overheads, then run them all alongside your standard kit and balance. Probably worth running them all to a 'Master Drums' group, so you can adjust your balance to guitars and control your level to the Master Buss easily.

    - Low end is the hardest thing to get right, you're fighting a constant battle between kicks, bass & low end of the guitars, not only on EQ but also in terms of overall space available dependant on how busy they are. I think a good starting point would be to High Pass Filter your guitar to up to the 100-120hz area, maybe move up past that point and listen to where it really has an effect on the guitars and then back it off a little bit. That will give your kick more space to breathe.

    - Realistic overheads, especially hi-hats are hard to do with programmed drums. I would presume there are a whole bunch of hi-hat hits from light to heavy available in DKFH, try & mimic how a drummer would play it, harder hits landing with the snare, lighter hits inbetween etc You can also start using velocity to help with the realism, depends how far you want to go.

    - In my experience so far, different programmes do different things well, Slate drums are great for kicks & snares and have quite realistic toms but the overheads are shocking, DFHS overheads & snare can be quite cool but there is no way to make the kicks sound good. I normally end up running a second kit of random samples alongside in Battery to fill the gaps and add some flavour.

    Generally, your fight is that everything affects everything else, it's a matter of making space in a subtle way. The whole picture is something that you have to just keep working on and chipping away at.
    Last edited by Lozek; 10-04-2010 at 10:46 AM.

  8. #8

    Join Date: Sep 2008
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    Thank you very much man! I'll digest all of that and give it a shot.

    ...What's parallel compression?

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