Friday, October 8, 2010


When looking at comments, I saw that some people seem to think "drum mixing" only pertains to samples drums. You have to mix live drums too... you have to mix everything that goes into a song. You don't just record a song and then it's done. There's a fuck ton of work that goes into a song after it's recorded


Holy crap, sorry I've been MIA for a while. I've been looking for internships and been doing some freelance work. I'll hit all you guys up and check out the updates on your blogs, then I'll make a post tonight. I have absolutely no ideas, but if I post videos, I'll do it through youtube, because Blogger kills the sound quality when I upload videos through them.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Drum Mixing

     Sorry it's been taking me so long to make posts lately. I thought I'd have more time to do stuff once school was over with, but I haven't had time to do anything. It's weird... I originally went to school for audio engineering because I wanted to be able to make my own music sound better, but I don't even remember the last time I've had time to finish any songs of my own. Sucks.

     So drum mixing is pretty cool. Sorry, there won't be any audio examples on this post. There's no point really. You can find an example of good sounding drums on any album that you like. You can find an example of bad sounding drums on the Myspace page of any shitty band that thinks they can make their album by themselves (not to say that a band can't do that, but 97% of them probably shouldn't...).

     There are so many ways to do this... I mean, drums are always mixed differently. It really depends on how they sound with the rest of the song. So I'm just gonna give a few general little things you can do to make the drums sound pretty clear. There's no way to tell you how to do a complete drum mix. You just have to listen to the drums with the rest of the song and decide what needs to be done.

     First, I'll talk about each specific drum.

     Kicks: The first you're probably going to do is EQ. When EQ'ing, some good things to focus on are the attack and the tone of the kick. You'll find the attack somewhere up around 4K. Just sweep around until you hear a very solid sounding thwack. For the tone, look somewhere around 100 Hz. You'll know when you find it, because instead of hearing some low rumbly shit, you'll hear a clear, defined tone.

     Subkick: I usually don't ever touch the subkick unless it sounds like something is wrong with it. It's just adding low-end to the kick, so as long as it's doing that, then I see no reason to mess with it.

     Snare: The snare will be similar to the kick. You'll find the attack up high around 6K-ish. As for the tone, you probably won't need to find that unless you're going to cut it. Most snares actually have too much tone. To find that, just sweep around the high mids until you find that horrible ringing sound, then pull that out. Another thing to look for is muddiness. Anything from 600 to 800 can be muddy. Just gently dip some of that stuff out and sweep around in there until the snare sounds clear. Finally, if the snare sound like it has no balls, try boosting a little around 500.

     Bottom snare: The only thing I usually do to the bottom snare is add some brightness with a high-shelf. I just bring it in a little higher than where I found the attack of the snare, so usually around 8K. I just pull it up until it sounds bright enough in the song. It shouldn't take much.

     Toms: Toms are easy, especially if you know how they are tuned. The first thing to look for is, of course, the attack. After that, you can find the tone of the tom down around 100-200 Hz. You can either sweep around until it sticks out at you, or if you know the pitch of the tom, you can look at a chart of equal temperament, find the note, see the corresponding frequency, and then boost that.

     Cymbals: I would do all of these separately, but there's not much point. For hats, you'll just wanna find a high frequency to boost to bring out a ringing sound, and you may wanna find a mid-range frequency to pull out if there's too much mud. Same for the ride. For the crashes and such, you'll be working with the overheads, so you can just use a high-shelf and raise it until the cymbals are clear, but not hissing so much that it hurts. That's tricky though, because the overheads are used to accentuate the rest of the kit too... so it really all depends on what you want. For the hat and ride, you can use a low shelf or a high pass to get ride of everything below 100 Hz.


     Compression is awesome because it can take a pretty flat sounding drum and make it pop. I use compression on the kick, the subkick, snare top, bottom, toms, hi hat, ri  fuckin everything. Ok, that's a lie. I don't use it on overheads or room mics. You could use it on the overheads if you wanted. My only problem is that it takes the whole kit and makes everything pretty much the same volume, when I need the overheads to have a lot of focus on the cymbals. It probably would make the kit sound really solid, but I never even try it... so now I'll have to try it next time I have a chance. And I don't use it on the room mics because it'd make the whole room sound like it was pulsing, but that could be cool, so I'll have to try that too.

     It's pretty simple. For individual drums, just leave the attack slow enough that it lets the initial hit of the drum through... probably around 11ms or something. You could make it a lot longer. I've done it with the attack almost all the way up, but 99% of the time you won't wanna do that. So after that, just set the release according to how the drum is being play. If it's a snare and it's being hit over and over really quick, you'll wanna make the release faster. If the snare isn't being hit too often, just let the release be long enough to accomodate the ringing of the snare. For the threshold and the ratio, you gotta play around and see what you like. I usually just go crazy with it.

     I did a whole post on compression. Click Here to see it. It goes into more detail about how to set up a compressor and get it how you want it without pulling your hair out. If you're new to compression, it can be confusing trying to set all the parameters. Compression is something that can really only be heard if it's overdone.... It makes a huge difference when done correctly, but you can't.... hear... it <_<... You'd really have to play with a compressor for a while to understand. But so what I was saying - Compression  is something that can really only be heard if it's overdone, so if you're just starting out, it's hard to set a compressor and know you've set it right. And easy way to start is by pulling the threshold all the way down, the ratio all the way up, the attack all the way down, and the release at like .1 or something. Then you can set your attack and release and easily hear how they are making the compressor respond. After that, you can adjust the threshold and ratio to your liking. Then of course, set your make up gain so that it negates any reduction - i.e. the signal should be at the same volume when the compressor is engaged or bypassed. There's autogain, which done is for you, but sometimes it's totally wrong. There's also auto-release. It works pretty good most of the time, but you should at least try to set the release on your own.

     Compressions is pretty badass on a G series SSL. You can *cough* buy a plug-in from Waves that emulates an SSL channel strip. They have one for the G series. It has autogain. There's no other option. The attack only has two settings - fast and slow. That sounds like a bad thing, but it's never bothered me. It always works awesomely. I just alway leave the attack slow, the release as fast as it will go, and then the threshold and ratio usually end up around 1 o'clock. It's always different, but yeah, they're usually somewhere around 1 o'clock.

     Last thing - trash mics. I've said this several times before, and it's in the Compression post, as well as one of the posts about making a kit... I forget which one. But anyways, when you use a trash mic, just make the ratio as high as possible, the threshold as low as possible, the release as slow as possible, and the attack as slow as possible. There's a link to a plug-in for trash mics in a couple of my posts. You can find it in the Compression one.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Making a Kit - Pt. 5: Finishing It

     Ok, so like I said in my last post, I finished the kit.
     Here's the link -
     (if you download it, there are some useful notes at the bottom of the post)

     I made more videos this time explaining it, but I still wanted to write a little.

     So in Part 4, I messed with Logic and made a fake trash mic. After that, I had to pull all the samples into Reason. I already had a template made, so I could just bring in the samples and not have to worry about too much routing.

     Pulled them into the NN-XT's. There was one
NN-XT for each drum. Each NN-XT contained samples from 14 mics, with clips of the drum being hit at different velocities.

     I had to sort them by velocity and set up the velocities so that it sounded like the drums got naturally louder when the keys are pressed harder.

     So after that, I assigned each sample to an output according to which mic it was recorded with. There are several samples going to the same outputs, but each output only receives signal from one mic.

     I used a total of 14 outputs on each NN-XT. Each output was then routed to a mixer which represented it's corresponding microphone. Each mixer had 11 channels of audio (2 of them being stereo). So, for instance, the mixer that represents the mic that was used to record the inner kick (D 112) receives all the signals from each NN-XT that was recorded with the D 112, regardless of which drum it is.

     So from there, on each mixer, I had to take everything other than primary drum that was being recorded with that mic, and I had to send it out aux 4 (pre) and subgroup it all into one channel. This made it easier to add some controls to the combinators (you'll see).

     Then I used aux 1 to send everything to some effects. It's all going to some distortion units. I know that shouldn't be done with a parallel connection, but this distortion really fucks up the drums, and it sounded better to have some dry signal mixed in as well.

     I also took the main output of each mixer and ran it through some distortion to simulate tubes and tape. For all these effects, each mixer had to have it's own FX unit. Otherwise, everything would have needed to be grouped to a stereo mix to go through the tape units, and it would have only come back in one stereo mix for the other distortion units.

     From there, everything goes to some "preamps". Not really preamps... just mixers that come before another mixer (whether it be in Reason or in another DAW). It's still useful to have them though. They probably wouldn't be useful very often, but it's good to have them incase your signal is too hot (although if it's clipping before the preamps, it should be attenuated before the preamps).

     That's pretty much it. Each preamp then goes to the I/O, but that's the end of it.

     I also had to do some shit within the combinators to make the knobs and button in it control shit on the devices within each combinator... but I won't even talk about that. 

     Note: In these videos, I keep hearing pops. I wasn't hearing that during the recording, so I think it was just the screen capture software freaking out. 

Also, the drums don't have that clicky sound in them. Every time I play a drum, you hear a click, but that's coming from my keyboard.

And finally, excuse the shitty audio quality. They sound good on my computer, but once uploaded, the quality is horribly reduced.

     As I've said in previous posts, this kit in umixed. No EQ, compression, or anything. It's up to the user to make it sound good. I wanted it to be like going into a tracking session and having the kit mic'd and have level set done, but no mixing at all. Thay way, I can start with a clean slate when I go to mix.

Here's a short video with a before and after example.
The "before" is what the drums would sound like during tracking
The "after" is what it sounded like once I did a quick mix.
This drum pattern is cheesey, but it has every single drum being played, so it's good for demonstration I guess.

     I spend about 30 minutes doing this mix (with headphones), and I think it turned out good. It's definitely way better than what it sounded like at first. So if you download the kit and don't like the way it sounds, then you'll definitely need to do a little mixing.

This one shows a little about how the kit works and how it's layed out.

Here's another video which is pretty much just me elaborating on the first half of this post
Note: When I say the shit about the tracks being grouped to a stereo mix if I'd only used on distortion unit, I meant on the output of that. You'd still have separate channels for each drum, but the FX output would be a stereo mix.

And finally, this one just explains the few problems the kit has.


     For anyone who downloads the kit (all two of you), here are some things you'll need to know.

Once downloaded, you'll have an rfl file (refill). It's got a red icon. You'll pull this into your Reason folder. You'll see a couple of other rfl files in there too.

To open the kit, go into Reason and go to Open. Then nagivate to your Reason folder and find the Mantooth Drum Kit refill, then inside that you'll see a folder called "Sessions". Just one one of those 3 sessions.

There are 3 sessions:
Mantooth Drum Kit - use this one when Rewiring Reason to a DAW
Standalone Version - use this if you're just running Reason
Standalone Lite - easier to use, but less control

When you Rewire this to a DAW, you'll need 3 external MIDI channels. One for kick & snare, one for toms, and one for cymbals. Make sure all 3 are armed for record.

When running the standalone, make sure you highlight the track for the combinator you want to play (kick & snare, toms, cymbals). You can only play one combinator at a time. It's not a big deal if you're just writing in MIDI with the pencil tool, but if you're using a keyboard, you may want to use the Standalone Lite version.

Here's the key layout (starts on C3). Obviously, the colors indicate which things are like... related somehow

If you do happen to download the kit and you have any questions, just leave a comment or watch the videos above.

My next post will be bout drum mixing, so if you have a hard time making these sound good, I'll help you out. 

Fuckin Finally

Alright, here it is

Just drag the refill (.rfl) into your Reason folder.
In Reason, go to Open and select the Mantooth Drum Kit refill. Inside you'll see a folder called "Sessions"
Select one of the three

-Mantooth Drum Kit: for use with Rewire
-Standalone: for use in Reason alone
-Standalone Lite: easier to use and program with, but less options

Like I said before, it's not mixed. It sound exactly like you mic'd up a drum kit and have done absolutely nothing to it. You can mix it however you like. I'll be doing a post about drum mixing tomorrow.

You can open up each combinator (Mixers, Kick & Snare, Toms, etc) and see the contents by clicking "Show Devices" on each combinator, but none of that stuff has to be messed with.

I'll post more shit about this later. I'm gonna do the last part of Making a Drum Kit, so I'll explain how it's all laid out and how it works

ps - If for any reason you get a message saying that files cannot be found (shouldn't happen though), click "Locate" and "Search Folder" (or something like that...) and select the Mantooth Drum Kit refill. It should automatically find them

Sunday, September 26, 2010


EDIT: Sorry, doesn't work in Reason 4. Only 5. I went back and tested it on another computer with 4 and it wouldn't open. Sorry :( You can always get the demo of 5, or... ya know. It's easy to find

EDIT 2: So it'll be later today (Monday). Like a moron, I left all the audio files without appendages, so it won't work on PC until I manually go through and add ".wav" to all 1,770 audio files. It's 6am, so I'm gonna have to get sleep before I do it.

    I'm putting the finishing touches on the drum kit. I'll have it available for download sometime tonight. Give it about two or three hours, and I'll have it up... unless something goes horribly wrong.

    It'll work in Reason 4 and 5. The one I'm uploading tonight is meant to run in Reason, then Rewired to pretty much any DAW. You can Rewire it to Logic, Pro Tools, Ableton, Cubase, Fruity Loops, and probably a handful of other DAWs.

     I'll also be posting a stand-alone version so you can run it in Reason without having to have a DAW. This would be great if you already do a bunch of work in Reason. Just know that mixing it inside of Reason is going to suck ass. If you accidentally fuck up the routing, it might be hard to figure out how to fix it.

Friday, September 24, 2010


     Fuck yeah! I pretty much finished the kit. I went to the doctor this morning and got a shot and some medicine for my ear, and it's already feeling a little better, so I decided to do a little work.

     All I have to do is set up the effects, patch them in, and set up all the knobs and buttons to control certain parameters.

     I'll make a longer post showing the process of loading in samples and all the shit I had to do, but I gotta teach my first class in the morning, so I'm going to bed in just a minute.

     I'll have the kit available for download by Sunday or Monday. I'll also put up a few samples and demonstration videos. Like I've said before, this kit simulates a mic'd, yet unmixed kit, so the post after my final "Making a Kit" post will be about mixing drums. I've covered drum mixing a little in previous posts, so I'll try not to repeat too much of the same info.