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Saturday, November 30, 2013

HOW TO MIX ROCK / METAL DRUMS (a guide for dummies) PART 2/4



CLICK HERE TO READ PART 1/4

CLICK HERE TO READ PART 3/4


CLICK HERE TO READ PART 4/4


Hello and welcome to this week's article! 
Today we proceed with the second part of our tutorial about how to mix a rock drumset.
First off we must decide our drum routing; starting from the 8 tracks acquired in Part 1 of this tutorial, I would do in the following way:

1 Stereo Group track for all toms
1 Stereo Group track for all cymbals
                +
1 Mono Group track if we have both snare top and bottom microphones
1 Mono Group track if we have more than one kick track (e.g. beater microphone and subkick)

Since we have already talked about how to mix cymbals (Click Here for the dedicated article), today we're going to focus on Toms
Let's assume we have a number of 2 or more acoustic toms (included the floor tom) on our group track: we can do most of processing directly on the group track, instead of process them individually.
First off we must Pan the toms, using the panning tool on the single tracks: I like to pan toms in order to make them be heard from the drummer's perspective, so usually with the floor tom on the right, and the other toms somewhere in the left and right soundstage, but not in the middle.
Then we can switch to the group track and apply some stereo processing (make sure that all the processors in the insert are stereo, or part of the sound coming from the panned tracks will not be affected!

Gating: this process is optional; it determinates how much "room bleed" you want to leave in these microphones. There will be some crash cymbal bleed and other sounds, and if we leave them all, the overall drum sound will be more natural, but it will also sound more "garage rock", more "alternative", and less tight. For thrash metal and other extreme genres, it's suggested to use a gate that takes out everything and leaves only the tom sound. 
Eq: the first thing to do is to apply a high pass filter starting anywhere from 40hz to 90hz, according to taste, then we must locate (using a frequency analyzer, click here for a dedicated article) where most of the energy is, and lower it. 
As for the Kick, acoustic toms are often full of low-midrange, that doesn't add too much to the sound but takes away a lot of headroom, so I'd suggest to find where the resonance lies and lower it, and it could be anywhere from 100hz to 800hz. 
Now that the low-mids are tamed we can also, if needed, raise the attack of the toms to make them cut more through the mix by raising some db in the 2 to 4khz area.

Compression: since toms can have a high dynamic excursion, it's important to keep them steady with a good compression: we can start from a 4:1 ratio and raise it, if needed, keeping 3 to 6db of compression (a good idea is to set a slow attack and a moderate release, to let some of the transient to pass before start compressing). If needed, because we still can't tame all the hits, we can also stack a mono compressor on the single tracks with a stereo one in the group track, or adding a Limiter after the compressor
Another alternative is to put a mono compressor in the single tom tracks, and a stereo multiband comp in the group track just to tame the peaks on the resonance area leaving unaffected the rest.
The idea is to be able to get the toms at a level that makes them always audible without the risk of a hard hit that suddenly covers everything else.



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