Recording drums in personal environmentssuch as rehearsal spaces,garages, and living rooms can be abitch. Big-studio engineers of ten have marvelously tuned acoustic areas and cabinets full of sexy microphones at their disposal, and, alongwith their years of audio training,these benefits can yield tremendousdrum sounds. You, however, probablyhave a couple of inexpensivedynamic mics and a recording spacethat’s awash in the debris of everyday living. But you’re not a whiner or aquitter, so you barrel in and use whoyou’ve got, and you record yourdrum tracks the best you can. Bravo.
But when you audition the soundsduring the recording process—orlater on when you’re in mixdownmode—you start getting a tad paranoid. Perhaps the kick drum soundsthin, the snare is dull, or the hi-hat ispiercing. Mic placement isn’t solving any of the problems, and you don’twant to stop the creative surge,break down the kit, and start fromscratch in another room—or, worseyet, bail entirely on the session untilyou can beg or barter for a bettersoundingrecording space and/or hipper microphones.
Keeping the studio energy flowrocking may sound like something aporpoise-loving, crystal-worshipingflower child might advise, but whenyou’re attempting to keep the flamesof creativity burning, any setbackscan douse one’s personal inferno ofinspiration, and that’s not good. Tothat end, the home-studio ownerneeds to juggle the option of a quickfix that keeps the session moving(but may not deliver transcendent results) against the possibility ofrescheduling the recording in orderto acquire better tools.
My vote is obvious—keep working feverishly until the beatific hellhoundof inspiration turns to dust. Younever know when you’ll be luckyenough to get a return visit from abenevolent muse.
Of course, in this instance, keepingthe momentum going means you stillhave those problematic drum soundsto deal with, and they have to bedealt with immediately. Here, then,are some tonal bandages worthy ofFlorence Nightingale. Your drumsmight not sound as glorious as ChadSmith’s or John Bonham’s, but thepatient won’t die, either.
Use your channel EQ or an EQplug-in to cut 80Hz or 100Hz by3dB–6dB. If that doesn’t work, trycuts from 40Hz to 200Hz until themuddy lows dissipate.
Need some beef? Carefully boost at100Hz until you love the boom. Usually,a 3dB or 6dB boost should do thetrick, although I’ve sometimes been asbold as to dial in a 10dB boost. Takecare not to go boost crazy and producea flabby timbre—you don’t wantto ping-pong between the previousEQ tip and this one!
Sometimes, the snap of the beaterpedal against the drumhead getsmushy or indistinct. To bring back the punch, boost 2kHz or so by 6dB.Depending on the size of the kickdrum and the material used for thebeater, you may also want to exploreboosts from 1kHz up to 5kHz to getthe desired result.
Get more thud and swack by cutting500Hz by 3dB or so. If there’s anannoying low-m...