by Thai Long Ly
You have received your WAV’s from an online recording studio, imported the tracks into your session and pulled up the faders to zero. “Wow, that’s a lot of room”, you say. Sure, that is a lot of room if you solo the drums. But when you start adding keys, vocals, guitars, bass, etc.
is there still too much room? Or are the drums now sitting in a nice “space” in the mix eliminating the need for artificial reverb? I usually like to record my room mics on the hot side, with plenty of level. Often I will use even more than I’ll actually use in the final mix, but that way it’s there if I need it.
You will get the same results from this, in that it will give you a lot to work with when it is time to create atmosphere and space.
Now,if you want a Beach Boys type thing or a dry drum sound reminiscent of the 70′s, then back the faders down.
If you are going for that tight modern R&B sound, then mute the room mics completely. For a rock project, crank those room mics up from the start!
Here is a creative, fun use of room mics: bring the room mics in during choruses, or during big drum fills, leaving them low or out on verses. This creates sonic excitement without resorting to EQ or level changes. Again, don’t be afraid to experiment with processing.
Healthy use of compression on room mics is pretty much standard practice for rock productions. The aim is to get the compressor pumping in time with the track so that the drums start to get lively. You want the drums to sound like they’re about to explode out of the speakers!
But dig this: once you realize that good drum tracks aren’t merely about punch and impact, that it should have depth and a real sense space as well, your productions will take on a whole new life. The quickest, most natural way to a cool sonic landscape is through the creative use (and non-use) of room mics in your mix.
Check out my other articles on drum processing on this site, covering topics such as use of compression and gating. In Part 5 equalization will be the focus. Until then, enjoy applying what you have just read.