Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How to naturally add textures to your drum recordings.

By Tim Dolbear

So there are 2 mics I use to add a trashy-ness to a otherwise beautifully recorded drum track. Now I know there are lots of plug-ins and toys where you add distortion and compression to the sound to trash them up a bit so they sound more "rock 'n roll" but why fake it? I prefer to address it naturally by using a trashy sounding mic and adding it in under the drum tracks during mix.

Here's what I do; When I track drums for a rock song or any song I think may need this, I set up one of my 2 favorite mics for this trickery as a secondary overhead and record it to its own track. Once done I have it along with the normal mics all tracked out on separate tracks: Kick, Snare, Overheads, Tom, Floor tom, and trashy mic. Then during mix after I have the drums sounding good and balanced I bring up the trashy mic's fader until it flavors the sound just how I want.

The 2 mics I use are:

The America D4T mic from the late 1930's; complete trashy sound.

The Turner U9SA from the 1940's with its Paper diaphragm; sounds like an old Glenn Miller recording.  Yes, I still have the original tags and box.

So, how does it sound?

In these examples, I am using the Turner Mic set up directly above the snare about 4 ft up. Its plugged into a Manley Mic pre and a Ashly SC55 compressor with a 7:1 ration and about 4-6db of reduction.

The Example 1 first plays just the solo'd Turner Mic track, then just the normal drum tracks and at 14sec the turner track is unmuted and you hear them blending. The Turner is just tucked in under the normal tracks to add some MIDs and trashiness to the mix. Example 2 simply goes back and forth with the Turner on and off. These are the unEQ'd and unmixed drums. Just the raw tracks from the tracking session.

Example 1 wave file 22secs 44.1 16bit

Example 2 wave file 38secs 44.1 16bit

Example 3 Turner mic solo'd

Its subtle in the mixed in examples, but effective in a mix.

One last note, watch for phase issues, flip the phase on your trashy mic back and forth till you fine a blend you like, also move it around if needed so when it's mixed in with the other mics it relates to them well.  

Now, go make some music!