Improving Live Kick And Snare Recordings With Waves’ SSL E-Channel Strip

Uncategorized Oct 05, 2019

On November 2nd 2018 I released my debut-album "Lorenz" celebrating my personal milestone with a concert in the Junction Bar Berlin.

After mixing, mastering and publishing the live-recordings of that evening as a live-record I got a request of showing how I achieved the powerful drum-sound.

Let's treat the kick and snare in this video.


We gain transparency and separation of individual tracks by separating them in different ways. Here is the first one.

 

Enjoy The Silence With A Gate

Both, kick and snare, profited from reasonable gating. We only hear their short hits and not other instruments bleeding into the microphone in between, like the high-hat into the snare drum mic or the snare into the kick drum mic.

But first of all Antonio's drum set is a very good one and tuned finely as well, so the source sounds very good to start with. 

We used a pressure zone microphone (PZM, Beyerdynamic TG D71) which isn't very directional but records the whole inside space of the kick drum instead. (I love it, because you don't need a mic stand and simply through it on the middle of the bottom if the kick drum.)

A fairly slow release of the gate therefore emphasised the musical performance of the beat, resulting in more movement, a pumping effect, which is fun to listen to and moves the listener even more.

 

Adding Power And Persistence With Compression

In contrast to the overhead track, our kick drum compressor profits from a slow attack, making it more audible in the mix and on smaller speakers by accentuating the transients. 

The overall sound gets stronger, fatter, and more consistent through lots of gain reduction (which is very much invisible on the SSL E-channel strip).

In terms of EQ we darkened the kick drum with a low pass filter for the highs which are bleeding into the relatively open mic pattern.

A boost in the high mids guarantees the kicks' audability on different speakers and against the other brighter instruments in the mix. You only find the perfect amount while listening in context of the whole song!

As with most drums, some honkyness in the low mids cover up what we want to hear more, the lows and highs.

Depending on the tuning of the drum a slight boost in the very low end gives the kick drum weight, heaviness and strength. But also the snare benefits from lows, just a bit higher up and also depending on the tuning of the drum itself. 

 All the steps above also apply for the snare in a similar way, but since the snare microphone is very close to the high-hat we eqed it slightly differently.

Namely, a low pass filter helps to darken the track resulting in a less perceived high-hat in the snare track.

(low) top end boost for brightness, but be careful with the high-hat frequencies again and check the amount in context of the whole mix. Another wide boost a bit further below.

Removing honkyness in the low mids, distracting from what we want to hear, we loose some warmth but gain clarity. We can get it back from other instruments/tracks or compensate by a slight boost below this extreme cut.

The secret of separation and transparency is removing most of the frequency we don't need from a track, therefore creating space to be boosted on other tracks.

Then, the three tracks of overheads, kick and snare feel more like one instrument, by getting them closer to each other in tone and dynamics, compensating for different microphone types and the distance to the kit and position in the room.


Do you want to know how I always find the perfect EQ, compression and effects settings for any recording and mix?

Learn my #1 mixing principle "The Art Of Overdoing And Backing Off" by downloading the free pdf-guide and also getting access to mini video course which will lead through the steps of the guide by mixing a lead vocal from start to finish.


If you would like to support my music-making, you can buy a physical copy and have it ship directly to your house here or listen to it right away here.

 

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