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Author Topic: How Do You Get This Drum Sound -- or reasonably close?  (Read 2626 times)

Bill Meeks

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How Do You Get This Drum Sound -- or reasonably close?
« on: December 07, 2020, 09:23:46 am »

I'm a mixing newb looking for some advice from seasoned contemporary church service audio mixers. First off, let me say I suspect that the drum sounds in the YouTube video linked below are possibly samples or else augmented by samples. Few, if any, "live recordings" today are really and truly 100% "live" ...  ;).

So with that lead-in, does anyone have suggested EQ or Gate starting points that might accomplish a snare and tom sound similar to what's in this video? This is Elevation Worship performing "Do It Again" live. I've noticed that pretty much all the big contemporary praise bands have a similar drum sound for snare and toms. I call it sort of a "flat" sound with practically no ring. It's like a "splat" sort of sharp attack but no ringing after that initial hit.

The drums pick up at about the 2-minute mark in the song --

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOBIPb-6PTc

Some things I've wondered about. Are they using something like the Steve's Donut device on snare and toms to dampen them? Is it that plus some extra EQ magic? Are they also using heavy gating? My drummer hates gating because it does interfere with soft tom fills. Or are they simply using the live mics to trigger MIDI samples and pulling the wool over our ears (so to speak)? I can get the same general kick sound as they have, but I can't get even close to the tom and snare sound.

Thanks in advance for any tips.
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Geert Friedhof

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Re: How Do You Get This Drum Sound -- or reasonably close?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2020, 09:32:22 am »

Use snare top mic, close mic'd, aim perpendicular close to rim, tight gate, lot of compression and a hall or dark plate FX. Maybe reversed gate FX. EQ to taste. Have fun.

Floor: cut low freq's and dip midlow around 300Hz, add top end (>3-6k) to get some attack, rest as above. Should sound something like "Toonk" with a loud T, not like "broar". Make longer with FX.

Oww: Tune drums, use damping rings ;) Knot 'yes' to drummer, do what you want. Soft tom hits have no place in popmusic. You still have your overheads (which you should compress).
« Last Edit: December 07, 2020, 10:00:35 am by Geert Friedhof »
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Bill Meeks

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Re: How Do You Get This Drum Sound -- or reasonably close?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2020, 09:55:51 am »

Use snare top mic, close mic'd, aim perpendicular close to rim, tight gate, lot of compression and a dark plate FX. Maybe reversed gate FX. EQ to taste. Have fun.

Floor: cut low freq's and dip midlow around 300Hz, add top end (>3-6k) to get some attack, rest as above. Should sound something like "Toonk" with a loud T. Make longer with FX.

Oww: Tune drums, use damping rings ;)

Thanks! Will try that out. I have actual live recorded raw tracks from some services to play with in my DAW. I record all the tracks via Dante and get them straight off the TiO box outputs -- so no filtering or EQ on my raw tracks. Makes it easy to experiment in the DAW. I can also play them back into the sound system for virtual mixing practice.

I'll need my drummer to experiment with the snare top mic placement. Right now it's just over the rim, about three fingers width above the head and aimed at roughly 45 degrees down to an area maybe 2/3 of the way to the center of the head. When you say perpendicular, I assume you literally mean 90 degrees with the head?
« Last Edit: December 07, 2020, 10:00:20 am by Bill Meeks »
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Geert Friedhof

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Re: How Do You Get This Drum Sound -- or reasonably close?
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2020, 10:13:11 am »

Perpendicular: yes, or close to. Experiment a bit. I use Sennheiser 906 and 604 or beyerdynamic TG I51 for something like this.

It's like the classic symphonic rock sound from Yes, Foreigner and the like. Use short attack times for gate and a bit longer for comp (to get a punchy attack). Play with hold and release.
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Bill Meeks

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Re: How Do You Get This Drum Sound -- or reasonably close?
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2020, 10:30:34 am »

Perpendicular: yes, or close to. Experiment a bit. I use Sennheiser 906 and 604 or beyerdynamic TG I51 for something like this.

It's like the classic symphonic rock sound from Yes, Foreigner and the like. Use short attack times for gate and a bit longer for comp (to get a punchy attack). Play with hold and release.

Gotcha! Thanks again.
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: How Do You Get This Drum Sound -- or reasonably close?
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2020, 10:45:55 am »

Main thing is have the drummer remove as much ring from the set as possible.

Moongels and dampening rings are your friend :)

Hint: just cut up old heads for the rings.

Helps to have decent mics & a drummer who hits hard too.


I guess my list is:
-Good drummer
-Hit hard
-Good drums
-Good heads
-Moongels (these x10000, everything else isn't necessary)
-Dampening Rings
-Good mics (e604/e904, B91, SM81, MD421, MD441, DPA/Earthworks)
-Good system (you need good transients to translate drum impact well)
-Good EQ (cut 300-600Hz out of everything, find the ringing, boost 2-7k)
-Good Dynamics (compress a bit, parallel a bit)
-Good gating &/or triggers [not super necessary IMO if everything else is done correctly]
« Last Edit: December 07, 2020, 11:31:58 am by Nathan Riddle »
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Erik Jerde

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Re: How Do You Get This Drum Sound -- or reasonably close?
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2020, 11:13:31 am »

One thing you need to keep in mind is that the live tracked audio may very well have been studio mixed using techniques that are hard (or even impossible) to replicate live.  Overdubbing is possible too though not as likely for drums.
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Bill Meeks

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Re: How Do You Get This Drum Sound -- or reasonably close?
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2020, 11:19:38 am »

One thing you need to keep in mind is that the live tracked audio may very well have been studio mixed using techniques that are hard (or even impossible) to replicate live.  Overdubbing is possible too though not as likely for drums.

Yeah, that was what I was alluding to in my comment about "live" not always being 100% live. I've watched a ton of professional mixing YouTube videos over the last two years, so I know about those studio tricks. But my live experience is very limited. I was just hoping to get some amount closer to that type of sound -- not trying to match it exactly.

I've practiced mixing a lot of multitracks that you can download from these pro mixers with YouTube channels, but those tracks are recorded in a studio by truly professional musicians. That's not what we have to work with live, especially in church settings.

I've been learning a lot about the difference between live sound and the studio sound you hear on commercial music (radio, iTunes, Spotify, etc.). But I still get sort of "overwhelmed" by the wall of sound on a Sunday morning with a contemporary praise and worship band. Training myself to hear the individual instruments in the mix and dial them in is proving to be very hard for me. I can do better during the week at home plodding through the raw tracks I recorded, then trying to replicate some of the same the following Sunday. I envy the folks that can just walk up to the mixer board, and in a few minutes, "bam", they have a mix that works!

I've seen a ton of YouTube videos about mixing, but they are all mixing with DAWs. The only "live" mixing stuff I've found has been just interviews of FOH engineers done by Waves or one of the mixer hardware vendors hyping their particular product. No real "how I do this" instruction.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2020, 12:04:12 pm by Bill Meeks »
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Bill Meeks

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Re: How Do You Get This Drum Sound -- or reasonably close?
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2020, 12:00:52 pm »

Main thing is have the drummer remove as much ring from the set as possible.

Moongels and dampening rings are your friend :)

Hint: just cut up old heads for the rings.

Helps to have decent mics & a drummer who hits hard too.


I guess my list is:
-Good drummer
-Hit hard
-Good drums
-Good heads
-Moongels (these x10000, everything else isn't necessary)
-Dampening Rings
-Good mics (e604/e904, B91, SM81, MD421, MD441, DPA/Earthworks)
-Good system (you need good transients to translate drum impact well)
-Good EQ (cut 300-600Hz out of everything, find the ringing, boost 2-7k)
-Good Dynamics (compress a bit, parallel a bit)
-Good gating &/or triggers [not super necessary IMO if everything else is done correctly]

I have two drummers that rotate. One is a hard hitter, the other has a little more finesse. Unfortunately the hard hitters also bang cymbals pretty hard, so then you have to deal with cymbal bleed.

We are a small-town church without a large technology budget, so there are some cost limitations on mics. Our sound system is decent enough for the budget we had. Commercial recorded music sounds very good played through it at typical "performance" volume. Sunday's are usually around 90-92 dBA slow at the mix position (90 feet from the stage). So we don't rattle people's brains on Sunday mornings. The board is a TF5 with a pair of Tio-1608 stage boxes, QSC powered speakers (the KLA CCA tops and matching subs), a dBx VENU360 system processor and the band is on IEMs (Digital Audio Labs LiveMix system). Drums are in a full enclosure.

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Luke Geis

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Re: How Do You Get This Drum Sound -- or reasonably close?
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2020, 01:34:30 pm »

This is definitely a studio polished release. While it may have been recorded live, there is nothing about what you hear that is a 1:1 correlation to what you can do live. In the studio, you can chop the tracks so that bleed is essentially a non-issue, and of course the plugins available. I suppose depending on the mixer you're using you may have the same plugins available, but you can't chop the audio well enough with a gate to get it that clean.

It could also be a triggered sound? There is what looks like a trigger on the top of the drummer's snare. It may also be a mute, but it is pretty big. So there could be a blend of live and triggered drums even for the actual live sound.

The biggest trick I learned as it comes to snare is that you really need to get the bottom end out. Hi-passing it, multiband compression, whatever it takes, too much low end in a snare makes getting the modern pop sound rather hard. Another trick that can help get that clarity and presence of the attack is to have a pink noise channel that is triggered by the snare. If you've heard The Weekends song Blinding lights, you can get an idea of what that sounds like. That ttsssshhhhh sound at every snare hit is an exaggeration of what this trick can do. Employed in moderation you can get a very pop snare type sound without having to double mic, or use triggers.

Compression and gating are still standard options of course. I don't like gating live instruments because it isn't natural and often the volume levels on the stage don't help make it easy to dial in. I like between 6-10db of compression with the attack set to just allow the initial transient to pop through. Too short and it just mutes and chokes the snare out. Too long and the snare hit is done before the compressor clamps down on it. I don't typically gate, and if I do, I prefer to use an expander set with no make up gain. I don't want the channel to mute, I just want it to duck down. An expander is a good way to duck a channel down without resorting to plugins or other tricks.
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Re: How Do You Get This Drum Sound -- or reasonably close?
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2020, 01:34:30 pm »


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