Studio minus Drums

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highlandermak
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2018/02/14 04:10:24 (permalink)

Studio minus Drums

So I have a personal studio in my basement that has a 4 by 6 vocal booth. It is great for recording most instruments except an acoustic drum set. I would like to expand the "personal studio" to record bands. I thought about getting an electric drum kit and let drummers record via midi. However I feel as though it might be a deal breaker not being able to record acoustic drums. Has anyone faced this road block and figured a work around? Thanks

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    Slugbaby
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/02/14 13:53:17 (permalink)
    I can't see it being more of a deal-breaker than having no drum option at all...
    Unless you've got the space and equipment to record a kit properly, I think this is a solid start.

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    Voda La Void
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/02/14 14:12:47 (permalink)
    highlandermak
    So I have a personal studio in my basement that has a 4 by 6 vocal booth. It is great for recording most instruments except an acoustic drum set. I would like to expand the "personal studio" to record bands. I thought about getting an electric drum kit and let drummers record via midi. However I feel as though it might be a deal breaker not being able to record acoustic drums. Has anyone faced this road block and figured a work around? Thanks



    Speaking as a drummer, that's a deal breaker.  Electronic drum kits are great if the drummer is basically a lifeless metronome.  The only use for the electronic drum kit in that case is to record the notes instead of dragging and dropping and building the drum track.  
     
    But some genres of music actually want the drummer to play his drums and contribute.  You miss all the nuances of snare hits and cymbal work when you don't capture an acoustic performance.  Electronic drums put you behind the beat a little too, depending on their latency, and can really screw up a drummer's sense of time and feel.  It's a micro thing, but it changes how you play.  Sure you can fix all that with quantizing, and get that lifeless machine feel.  
     
    I played electronic drums for years and it ruined my feel for acoustic drums and much of my original skill set.  The way the pads bounce, that little micro-detectable delay, the sterile sound of piezoelectric triggering of MIDI notes...just lead to such a boring and unexciting drum track.  
     
    But I can't speak for all drummers and I am seeing more and more bands set up with electronic drums.  There's a market out there, I guess.  
     
     

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    anydmusic
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/02/14 15:28:50 (permalink)
    Voda La Void
    highlandermak
    So I have a personal studio in my basement that has a 4 by 6 vocal booth. It is great for recording most instruments except an acoustic drum set. I would like to expand the "personal studio" to record bands. I thought about getting an electric drum kit and let drummers record via midi. However I feel as though it might be a deal breaker not being able to record acoustic drums. Has anyone faced this road block and figured a work around? Thanks



    Speaking as a drummer, that's a deal breaker.  Electronic drum kits are great if the drummer is basically a lifeless metronome.  The only use for the electronic drum kit in that case is to record the notes instead of dragging and dropping and building the drum track.  
     
    But some genres of music actually want the drummer to play his drums and contribute.  You miss all the nuances of snare hits and cymbal work when you don't capture an acoustic performance.  Electronic drums put you behind the beat a little too, depending on their latency, and can really screw up a drummer's sense of time and feel.  It's a micro thing, but it changes how you play.  Sure you can fix all that with quantizing, and get that lifeless machine feel.  
     
    I played electronic drums for years and it ruined my feel for acoustic drums and much of my original skill set.  The way the pads bounce, that little micro-detectable delay, the sterile sound of piezoelectric triggering of MIDI notes...just lead to such a boring and unexciting drum track.  
     
    But I can't speak for all drummers and I am seeing more and more bands set up with electronic drums.  There's a market out there, I guess.  
     
     


    My take here is that it depends on the drummer.
     
    Most drummers coming from an acoustic kit will struggle with the limited dynamic range that MIDI has. Piano players used to real Pianos have the same issue. Most notes end up with a velocity of 127 which means that they all sound the same. In simple terms the dynamics end up sounding like they are over compressed and all of that careful velocity mapping gets lost.
     
    You can fix some of this by setting the kit up well but its not always that easy and like most musicians drummers play harder when performing that when they are setting up.
     
    The feel issue can be fixed. Higher priced kits will have mesh heads rather than the rubberised ones. Well setup and maintained these can be made to respond as the drummer would expect. Certainly not perfect but worth the effort. Modifying a kit without mesh heads is relativity easy the main challenge being achieving the right level of tension. 
     
    There is no doubt that using electronic drums requires a change in approach for the drummer. Cymbals, including hi-hats, really do behave very differently when you are relying on triggered samples. Its not all bad though and the ability to access a large range of sounds from a small kit can be a real benefit. 
     
    My son has played an all electronic kit for years and is very comfortable with it and the drummer who I play with now is using a hybrid approach with real Cymbals and Snare but electronic Toms and Bass Drum.
     
    The questions I would probably be asking if I was you are:
     
    What do my competition offer?
     
    If a local band wants to record today, what are their options?
     
    How many drummers in local bands already have electronic kits they use for practicing?
     
    If there are no local studios that can record drums then a good MIDI kit might help you get business and you could offer a free hour for the drummer to get used to the kit and a sampling service where you create samples of the drummers kit.

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    batsbrew
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/02/14 18:25:09 (permalink)
    drums sound good, in a good sounding room.
     
    drums sound like shiiite, in a shiiite sounding room.
    period.
     
    you can trick up the micing procedure all you want,
    latest tricks, outboard gear,
    but if the room doesn't sound good to start with, the drums never will.
     
    if you have to have something, and don't have a good drum room,
    you could always do an electronic set (with real heads, not that rubber crap) and do simple drum replacement as part of the package.
     
    you will want individual tracks for each piece of kit, and build the drum set and inputs just once, then doing the replacement should be a breeze

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    highlandermak
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/02/15 00:28:38 (permalink)
    Great discussion and great advice. Thanks for the insight. At least if I go the electric drum path I know to get the better kit :)

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    Lord Tim
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/02/15 05:09:58 (permalink)
    I've done a few sessions with electric kits. The cheap ones are awful, but can still work if you're basically a human drum machine. That's perfectly fine for pop/electronic music although I'd wager you'll get better results from programming the drums rather than working with human-played drums and then having to fix the timing so it gels with your loops, etc.
     
    If you have a great high-end kit, the results can be pretty great, although you need to understand the limitations. I've gotten some fantastic and very real sounding hats, ride, even snare with the multizone hit areas, etc. If you're doing rock with fairly simple tom work, you can get a pretty acceptable result out of that.
     
    For metal or anything with fast tom work, forget it. I haven't yet heard anything that gives you a realistic tom sound when you play fast. I've fudged things by overlaying samples and all kinds of trickery and it's been.... okay  .... but not a patch on real drums.
     
    For the expense you'd be shelling out for an electric kit to get you 80% there, I'd suggest outsourcing the drum sessions to a studio with a great live room, with good mics, and getting a well tuned acoustic kit recorded there and then bring the sessions back into your studio later.

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    MakerDP
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/02/18 01:51:54 (permalink)
    I have had great results using VDrums with real cymbals and hats. It's no different than recording a real kit and using a drum-replacer. Usung something like Addictive Drums 2 with several kit packs for the drummer to choose from could actually be a selling point.
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    highlandermak
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/06/05 03:30:25 (permalink)
    So I'm revisiting this thread as I'm looking at the relatively new Alesis Command mesh e drums. For $800 seems like a good option. I've read the Roland drums will last much longer however for now I'm not sold on going over the $1000 price point for their mesh drums. Nice thing is they will fit perfectly in my studio room so a full band can perform.

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    bitflipper
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/06/05 12:54:48 (permalink)
    I'm not a drummer, but I'd never buy an electronic kit without sitting down and playing it first. Since you're in Illinois it wouldn't be a huge road trip to pedal on over to Fort Wayne and visit Sweetwater. If you're not a drummer yourself, I'm sure you could find one to come along. Offer to buy lunch if necessary; drummers will do anything for a free burger.


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    AT
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/06/06 18:56:14 (permalink)
    If you are recording acoustic drums you'll need to rip out some floor above the basement area to get a little height.  Many engineers will want 10 ft. or more above the drums.  In one place in NYC, they not only had two floors for the tracking room, the drums had a "sound tunnel" above the drum riser, made of sound damping material.  Don't know how it sounded (a friend worked there) but it looked cool as all heck.
     
    You can finagle a room to record many instruments, but acoustic drums (and piano) need space, including height, to  produce a natural sound.  
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    tlw
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/06/06 20:29:39 (permalink)
    A lot of drummers really dislike electronic kits for all kinds of reasons. Many won't even consider using one.
     
    Which is fair enough because they require a very different technique and might not be able to produce the sounds a particular drummer wants. Like other musicians drummers tend to be fussy, especially about snares and cymbals.
     
    Before arthritis got to her right knee my wife played a variety of electronic kits over the years and we've seen other drummers who are used to acoustic kits try them and really struggle because it's not what they expect in terms of feel, response or sound.
     
    So offering a studio-supplied electronic kit as the only option for drummers might reduce the available pool of prospective customers quite a lot.
     
    If you've space for an acoustic kit and can handle the volume coming off it the Glynn Johns "four microphone" technique which he used to record John Bonham and many others is a way to get good drum recordings with limited space and resources. 

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    Studioguy1
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/06/07 23:20:45 (permalink)
    An electronic kit can be intimidating especially to a drummer who hasn't taken the time to really get into one.  Most drummers have distinct preferences in their equipment from the snare to the cymbals.  Some drummers use a combination of electronic and acoustic. 
    Now, the truth is, that does not mean their personal selections will necessarily record well.   Most studios will have a drum set set up and tuned and dampened where necessary by a professional drummer working with an engineer to get the kind of sound they want.  That in essence becomes part of the studio sound you are offering. 
    With that said, as soon as you get that done the drummer comes in who insists on using his snare or bass drum or cymbals or whatever.  I would let a drummer try what you have sometime well before recording, first, and chances are your tuned setup may work for him with a minimal addition of outside parts.  However, if a drummer insists on using their own equipment (kind of like a guitarist wanting to use his own axe_can't blame him for that, that is what he is used to) you will have to make it clear to him that he will have to arrange to come in well ahead of time in order to set up mikes, check tunings etc for recording before the recording is going to be made.
    Most studios will allow a certain amount of setup time free, however, it can easily be an hour or so depending on the equipment and the drummer.  In that case it is a chargeable bit of time, maybe an extra hour added to the recording studio time scheduled.  By the way, don't ever book acts in your studio too close to each other.  There always seems to be extra time needed up front or at the end.  You might want to consider one of the studio setup books around.  There are a ton of them.  AND, you might want to consider making friends with a guy has mucho experience recording acoustic drums.

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    Studioguy1
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/06/07 23:23:15 (permalink)
    Oh yeah...hahaha...just when you get it all together and ready, some dude will walk in with a double bass drum set-up. 
    Remember this, as much as we like to get a natural sound, what sounds good live on stage does not necessarily translate the same way in a studio when you are dealing with your own acoustic challenges.  Good luck and have fun.

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    Studioguy1
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/06/07 23:50:47 (permalink)
    I'm probably giving you more info than you were looking for (My wife would agree hahaha), but here are a few links that might just clarify things a bit.  If not, delete them or disregard them, of course.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++
    SETTING UP A DRUM SET:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBSAZJnOHVU
     
    Six mistakes one can make when recording drums:
    https://ask.audio/articles/6-mistakes-to-avoid-when-recording-drums
     
    And then a guy walks in with a set like this!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqu5W77DZxw
     
    A little help for you:
    Magic frequencies to equalize a kick drum (bass drum)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9tci-De72c
     
    How to tune drums from a DW technician:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yl9wgXSfxew
     
    Quick tips for tuning your drums:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXABEquwkVw
     
    And just as a final caveat….How to use Toontrack’s EZ Drummer 2:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnQN3cX4Csc
    Note: 
    Superior Drummer has many more tweaks, but I think EZ Drummer2 provides a more doable starting point for creating commercial sounding drum tracks.

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    mettelus
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    Re: Studio minus Drums 2018/06/08 00:22:35 (permalink)
    An alternative method you might consider is Melda's MDrumEnhancer. When I saw this thread it reminded me I wanted to try this out "unconventionally" and it is rather nifty. Basically, you can use it for real time drum replacement (the latency is that low), but will need one instance per track (supports kick, snare, and toms). I did nothing more than connect a dynamic mic to it, pick a snare, and set it to 100% wet. Tapping the mic plays just like a snare. When I get a chance at some point I want to try creating a "finger tapper drumset" to spectrally slice input by frequency band and send those to the kit pieces (I may need to buy a thimble, but no reason this cannot be done).
     
    Anyway... a comment on that page above is valid... "Normally, recording engineers spend hours to set the microphones right. 2 or 3 mikes for the snare drum just to ensure that both the body and snares are captured, similarly for the bass drum to get both snap and boom... Then the mixing engineer spends hours trying to make it all sound good and in 50% cases he/she ends up with drum replacing." Basically, you can mic a real kit in a less-than-ideal environment, and send the mix out to the drummer. It needs to be fed audio, not MIDI, but is zero latency. If you have an acoustic kit available, the 14-day trial is another option to consider; but again, it doesn't have hi-hats or cymbals.
     
    Quick edit:
    Links to my playing around:
    Tapping Dynamic Mic (Dry)
    Tapping Dynamic Mic (Wet)

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