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Time for another rousing edition of Ask Joe. Today I’ve got seven questions. They deal with:
- comparing home recording to professional recordings
- using hardware processing with your DAW
- tube mic care
- using Pro Tools on two computers
- acoustic treatment
- time compression & expansion
- mixing, mastering, etc.
This is part 3 of a little Mixing Drums Series. So far we’ve covered:
Today we’ll cover how to use compression on a drum kit.
First things first. Just so we’re all on the same page, if you haven’t watched my Intro to Compression video, I’d suggest hopping over to that link and watching it. Like the Intro to EQ video I posted yesterday, it’s a good overview of what compression is and how it works.
Tonal Implications of Compression
Besides just being an automatic volume controller, compression is used to change, or enhance, the tone of an instrument. These tonal changes are different with every instrument, and they vary from very subtle to extremely obvious.
After yesterday’s brief overview of mixing drums, let’s jump into EQ.
Intro to EQ
Before we get too far, if you haven’t already watched my Intro to EQ video, you should. It’s a great overview of what EQ is and what it does. It’s 16 minutes long, but it’ll be time well spent.
Match the Overheads
In yesterday’s post I encouraged you to listen to the overhead tracks first (often labeled “OH”), before anything else. Why? Because these two little tracks captured the entire kit. They tell you what the kit as a whole sounds like.
I haven’t written a lot of articles about mixing here on Home Studio Corner, so over the next several weeks we’ll take a look at mixing various instruments, and how I approach them.
Over the next couple of days, let’s take a look at drums.
Recorded drums or MIDI drums?
My guess is that most home studio owners aren’t set up to record a full drum kit, and chances are most of you aren’t going to hire a drummer and a book a nice studio to track your drums.
So, we revert to using MIDI drums – things like EZDrummer, BFD, etc. Is this okay? Absolutely!
Have you heard of Nick from NicksTutorials.com? He’s an Ableton/sound design guru (and a cool guy).
He wrote a blog post recently on how to train yourself to be creative, even if you’re not feeling it. It’s a great read (and I’ve linked to it at the bottom of this post).
At one point, Nick writes:
Practice makes perfect: An overused saying that nevertheless rings absolutely true. The necessity of actually doing something is inescapable if one plans on getting better at their chosen craft.
Recording may be a hobby for you, or perhaps you’re aspiring to make a full-time income from it. Wherever you fall in the spectrum, you should take these words to heart.
Practice Recording…Like Football?
What was your biggest issue when you mixed your first song? I bet you a nickel it was getting the levels right.
You probably got half-way through the mixing process, and suddenly several of your tracks are clipping, or your master fader is clipping. So you turn the clipped tracks down a bit. Well now the mix doesn’t sound right, so you try to turn every other track down by the same amount. Still doesn’t sound right.
You go back to work, re-balancing everything. Before you know it, your tracks are clipping again. You think to yourself, “Did I really turn these up that much again?” You slam your fists into your desk…or kick the dog…or yell at the cat…or maybe you do all of these at the same time.
Welcome to the world of mixing.
Yesterday I linked to a few great articles on preparing to mix by Jon at Audio Geek Zine. (If you haven’t read those yet, be sure to do so.)
In keeping with the mixing theme, I have a question. If I walked up to you and asked you for one mixing tip – just one – what would it be?
You could tell me to not overuse compression. You could tell me to get acoustic treatment. Perhaps you’d tell me to get a summing box. Or maybe you’d tell me there’s no way I can get a good mix without upgrading converters and monitors. Or maybe a big, expensive plug-in bundle is the ticket to good mixes.
What do you think?
I’ve been thinking more and more about mixing lately. In a few weeks we’ll start talking about mixing in the HSC Production Club, and it’s just been on my brain lately as I prepare.
I wrote an article last week (Close Your Eyes) where I encouraged you to remove yourself from the gear and the software and let your ears do the work.
It’s like Jon over at AudioGeekZine.com knew I was thinking about mixing, because he wrote a 2-part series on getting ready to mix. He makes some fantastic suggestions. I’ll definitely use most (if not all) of these for my next mixing session.
Several of the suggestions are not what you would expect, but they make a LOT of sense.
Here are the links:
Go ahead…read ’em.
[Photo Credit – Tracy Hunter]