Gating drums for recording?

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optimus
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2017/08/26 09:35:23 (permalink)

Gating drums for recording?

When recording live drums in your room, does anyone use gates?
If so, do you place them on the way in, or after you've  tracked and started mixing?
 

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    quantumeffect
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    Re: Gating drums for recording? 2017/08/26 15:53:29 (permalink)
    My drum kit is mic'ed with overheads to capture the entire kit and close mic's on each drum.
     
    I do NOT gate while recording ... I capture everything.
     
    When I mix down I do NOT gate the overheads.  The overheads get eq, compression ... maybe reverb.
     
    The individual drum tracks get gated after they are recorded (as a side note, I have been using the Sonitus gate exclusively for as long as I can remember).  Also, I do NOT use gating for an effect (e.g., gated reverb).
     
    When I mix, I start with the overheads and then bring the other drums in as needed.  It is at this point that I start adjusting the gate parameters to make the individual drum tracks sit in with the overhead mix.

    Dave

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    bitflipper
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    Re: Gating drums for recording? 2017/08/26 17:04:57 (permalink)
    That's the way gating has evolved over the years, along with every other kind of processing. Once upon a time, a guitar solo would be recorded wet with reverb/delay/distortion and whatever you captured was what ended up on the record. Then we figured out that as long as you got a clean recording, you could do anything you want to it after the fact. Procrastinators like me rejoiced.
     
    Hardware gates during tracking just aren't worth the bother anymore. Back in the day you'd waste hours trying to get thresholds set right, sometimes even having to re-track because of lost hits you didn't notice while they were going in. Nowadays, we have the luxury of leisurely fiddling with that stuff post-tracking, and best of all, automating them when necessary for a once-impossible level of precision.
     
    So yeah, I agree with Dave's comment above: just concentrate on getting great tone, avoiding distortion, keeping levels sensible, and tell everybody to STFU while you're recording. After that, the miracle of digital audio lets you do anything you want.


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    optimus
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    Re: Gating drums for recording? 2017/08/26 22:22:01 (permalink)
    My question was prompted by the fact of getting so much spill of the snare into the hihats mic, making it difficult to get the snare balanced against the hihats. 
    This probably has to do with my micing technique. I'll  need to work on that.
     
    Qeffect, I find your approach of starting with the overheads first, interesting. I'll  need to try that, as I've always tried to get the snare and the kick working first, then bringing everything else, and finally the OH for ambience.
     
    Bit, I agree that gates can be a heap of trouble, and I've  really not had much success using them, so I guess it comes down to micing technique.

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    quantumeffect
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    Re: Gating drums for recording? 2017/08/26 22:58:40 (permalink)
    Gating really won’t get you where you want to be with respect to the bleed.
    Here is my current recording method … it is extremely time consuming and not for the casual drummer.
    I record the entire project with just the overheads to a click.
    I then go back and record the whole thing without the cymbals.  Depending on the project I may record the snare, bass drum and toms together or separately.
     
    The overhead mix is the main drum mix.  I then have to go in and align each bass drum transient, snare drum transient and tom transient on their respective isolated track with the one on the overhead mix.  This can be accomplished either manually cutting and moving or by using audiosnap (you are not quantizing … just moving peaks).  I can tell you from personal experience that both methods work.
     
    The advantage of using this VERY LABOR INTENSIVE recording method is that it eliminates bleed and it does away with phase issues.
     
    An alternative is to use a drum replacement plugin like Drumagog on the individual track.  This will use the transient of bass, snare or tom as a trigger and replace it with a sampled bass, snare or tom … ultimately solving your bleed problem.

    Dave

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    "Everyone knows rock n' roll attained perfection in 1974. It's a scientific fact." H. Simpson

    "His chops are too righteous."  Plankton during Sponge Bob's guitar solo 
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    interpolated
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    Re: Gating drums for recording? 2017/08/26 23:07:56 (permalink)
    I think reverb with more predelay than release sounds better than gated drums.  Sometimes smashing them with compression like with an API-2500, LA3A or V-Comp does the trick. I suppose though if I was to record drums with microphones I would try to capture it all before removing any sonics with a gate. You can also phase invert as well.
     

    I have computer stuff.
     
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    bitflipper
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    Re: Gating drums for recording? 2017/08/27 15:35:06 (permalink)
    Snare/hat balance has been the bane of drum recordings since the dawn of time. Hats are just so piercing, and overlap some of the critical frequencies you want in the snare.
     
    Somebody who seemed to always get it right, and who also had amazing hi-hat technique, was John Bonham. Check out this kit tour by Bonham's drum tech. It doesn't talk about microphones, but there's some thought-provoking info about how he tuned the drums.
     

     
    Here's a brief explanation of the famous Glyn Johns 3-mic technique, where there's no hat mic and the balance is obtained by aiming the overhead microphone at the snare.
     

     
    Here's a general overview of miking with 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 microphones. Note the emphasis on pointing the overhead mic(s) at the snare. He doesn't address the hat-bleed problem, but you can see how he uses a cardiod mic pointed away from the hats.
     

     


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    Jeff Evans
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    Re: Gating drums for recording? 2017/08/27 19:38:47 (permalink)
    A lot of this applies to drummers playing hard but when you use way less energy in playing the drums and actually hitting the surfaces at more reasonable amounts of energy then things change.  Wider dynamic range results to begin with.  With practice very similar levels of volumes can be achieved as pat of your playing.  Consistency in snare volume etc.
     
    I don't record with gates either preferring too use them in post production.  They are not evil though and with care can be very useful.  Set so they are closed most of the time but always come on to let certain strokes through. If you are consistent in playing then all of those stories will open the gate easily.  I use a little release so it does not chatter off.  Fast attack so it comes on as quick as it can.  Hold settings can be useful too for always keeping the gate on for a certain time.  The level of gain reduction in a gate does not have to be infinite either.  It can be much less and still provide a lot of background noise reduction and spill. e.g. in a quiet room 15 to 20 dB perhaps. The gate becomes more transparent. 
     
    If a tom is hit only in a few places I find it easier to cut the  audio and slide it all back removing all audio between tom hits. It is just as fast doing that than setting up a gate.  Audio can be trimmed to behave well around the cuts making them nicer to hear.  Gates sometimes over tricky areas can help how things can sound.  Reverbs and gates are tied up together too I feel.  Very tight reverbs after a gate can make a gate less obvious.  A gate becomes obvious in how the audio cut off. e.g. a gate is closing.  Also if any part from the front end is missing.  
     
    I have found them useful if after converting an external synth part to audio it may have been a slightly noisy machine.  A gate on a track like that can be set to virtually eliminate the quiescent noise.  Once the signal is present the noise is always masked effectively.  
     
    Downward expanders sound better to me and tend to have more control over how they behave as audio becomes audible and how it is cut off.  Fade outs on gates and expanders can be used to overcome them cutting off too fast.  Side chain controlled gates are also interesting bringing in some rhythmical interest.  

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    optimus
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    Re: Gating drums for recording? 2017/08/28 06:07:06 (permalink)
    A lot of useful information guys.
    Thanks for taking the time.
    Going to have to try a few of the ideas.

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    patm300e
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    Re: Gating drums for recording? 2017/08/28 11:53:13 (permalink)
    Jeff Evans
    If a tom is hit only in a few places I find it easier to cut the  audio and slide it all back removing all audio between tom hits. It is just as fast doing that than setting up a gate.



    +1 here.  If you are not actively hitting the close miked tom, you don't need the information that is there.  Cut it.

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