Saturday, September 18, 2010

Making a Kit - Pt. 3: Making your Head Asplode

     Before I begin, I'm gonna list a few terms. If anyone actually reads this and doesn't know too much about Reason or microphones, I'd like it to make a little bit of sense.

     Spot mic: A microphone placed very close to the source. With drums, a spot mic is the 
                     primary mic for the drum it is closest to.
     NN-XT: A software sampler within Reason.
     Sampler: ....used to play samples of shit
     Rewire: Some bullshit that magically allows Reason to route its signal to other DAWs
     DAW: Digital audio workstation 

     I think that will suffice.

     I chose to use Reason to house the kit. Normally, I would have used Logic's ESX24, but since this was going to be a super complex kit, I chose Reason. Another reason I chose Reason... <_< .... was so I could use so I could use it on my Mac or my PC. And the main benefit is that it can be Rewired to Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton, Cubase, Audition, Fruity Loops, or whatever the fuck else uses Rewire!

     I set it up so that Reason would just be the host for the kit, without doing any kind of mixing and without any effects. The main purpose of this kit was to give me a realistic drum mixing experience for times when I don't have access to a real kit or a drummer. I like being able to make a thousand decisions and really mold the kit. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Battery and I love a lot of the kits that come with Reason and Logic, but whenever I use those, it's when I want the drums to sound a little fake. A little too perfect to be real.

     So I haven't loaded any of the samples into Reason, but I went ahead and made my template for the kit and routed everything out. I'm using NN-XTs to play the samples. There are 11 NN-XTs. Each one is used for a different drum (kick, snare, hat, ride, etc). So the Kick NN-XT has 9 kick hits, each at a different velocity, and each with samples of the signals from 14 microphones.

     There are also 12 mixers. Each NN-XT represents a drum, whereas each mixer represents a microphone. Two of them are being used in stereo (one for overheads and one for room mics), so they represent two mics each. So in total, there were 14 microphones. So for example, the snare drum is mic'd  with an SM57. When the drummer hits the snare, the SM57 obviously picks up the snare. But when the drummer hits a tom, the SM57 also picks up that.

     For this reason, there is a mixer that specifically represents that SM57 microphone. So it will receive all the snare drum samples recorded from the SM57, but it will also receive the samples of every other drum recorded with the SM57, even though it wasn't the primary microphone for those other drums.

     The same goes for the kick drum mic, an AKG D 112. The mixer that represents this mic will receive all the kick drum samples recorded with the D 112, but it will also receive all the other samples of all the other drums that were recorded with the D 112.

     So the kick drum's NN-XT, for example, will route out to 12 mixers (14 mics). Each of those mixers, also receiving signal from other NN-XT's, will feed into another DAW, such as Logic, onto their own individual channel strips.

     There are also 4 additional 6-channel mixers. They are being used to act as spot mics for 3 cymbals and sticks. None of these cymbals actually had separate spot mics. I'm just using the signal from the closest mic to act as a spot mic. I don't use spot mics on cymbals because the overheads pretty much are spot mics, they just happen to also make the rest of the kit sound brighter.

     Take the crash cymbal, for example. The closest mic to it was the left overhead mic. So when the crash cymbal is routed to the Overhead Mics mixer, the signal from the left overhead is split into two signals, A and B. A goes to the Overhead Mics mixer's left channel input, like normal, while B goes to a separate mixer. This mixer is getting the same signal, but it gives me the ability to turn up the crash cymbal as it was recorded with the left overhead mic without turning up all the other drums as they were recorded with left overhead mic, and without turning up the crash cymbal as it was recorded from all the other mics.

     That's something that I can't really do when I'm recording a live drummer, but since I have the option to do it now, I'm fucking doing it! I don't actually have to use separate mixers for those spot mics and the cymbals. The B signal could just be routed straight out to Logic, but I like the idea of them having a "home". I wanna be able to look at Reason and see those microphones being represented instead of lost in all the shit.

     ANYWAY, here's a screenshot of the routing I did. That large mixer on top and the small mixer below it won't actually be used. I'm just using them right now while I build the kit so I won't have to have Logic open for the building process. I'll also save a copy of the session with those mixers included. That way I can use it while I'm running Reason in standalone mode (which I never do, though).

Click to enlarge
     So yeah, no effects or mixing, just a source for the drums and a bunch of routing.

     My next post will be about how I fake a trash mic with the binaural panner (surprise surprise) in Logic. I hope this was somewhat interesting.


  1. OMFG. I don't know how you understand that, looks complicated!!

  2. that more than a bunch right there :))

  3. Wow, my brain. >.<

    As always, good luck.

  4. I'm starting to lose you on some of this man

  5. I'll be back, I promise! I didn't make a post about it, but either friday or saturday (might have been thursday, now that I think about it) I ordered 4 more bars of 1095 hi-carbon steel.
    I'm not completely sure how long it'll take to get here, though.
    Rest assured, I WILL be coming back, and I AM still checking you guys out regularly. I'm down, but I'm not out.

  6. wow mad number of routes. keep up the good work homeslice

  7. Wooaah, that must be lots of work 0_0

    I'm really impressed here