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Live drum recording quality, Electronic band
Old 4 weeks ago
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akaTheDingofox's Avatar
🎧 5 years
Live drum recording quality, Electronic band

Hi Everybody! Hi Dr. Nick.

I’m looking for some advice on live drum recording and integrating live drums with an electronic band. I play keys in a live electronic trio, our sound is primarily electronic dance music with live drums, heavy electronic bass and leads. We use Ableton Live for tracking and live performance. Currently, we’re predominantly dance/instrumental driven and plan on having featured and guest vocals on some tracks. We’ve written 9 songs and recorded demos of these tracks in our rehearsal space.

During the demo-making process, we realized that we’d like to put out a proper release of 4 or 5 songs with a more professional sound. My question is a bit of the ‘polishing something’ conundrum – given our current recording set up and recorded takes will we be able to achieve a release ready sound after professional mixing and mastering? Trying to understand how wide the gap is from where we are and where we can get to/need to be after proper mixing. Is that forcing a round peg through a square hole if the recording quality is sub-par? Can we upgrade our rehearsal set up with better mics and room deadening and continue recording in that space or are we better off recording the drums in a proper studio?

We have a budget for our 4 or 5 songs to record, mix, and master them for the release. We’re stuck trying to determine if we need to re-record the drums and do that re-recording in a proper studio or could we achieve a more professional sound through improving our recording gear, recording technique, and have professional mixing/mastering.

We feel like there’s benefit to track our drums for reference in the rehearsal space, like being able to tighten things up on the different parts/transitions, do as many takes and fills as needed, etc. But should we be in the studio to cut the real take? It would be nice to use our rehearsal space to routinely track drums but maybe that’s not feasible if we don’t upgrade the recording set up and should just think about the space as practice.

We’re at the point of saying maybe we just use samples on recordings because it will sound cleaner, but that seems wrong for a live band with a kick a** drummer to shy away from capturing the energy we get when we actually jam these tracks live as a band.

Attached is a clip of one of our recorded tracks, all bass and leads are recorded with Midi, the drums are live tracks. This track has more of a ‘loungy’ feel vs straight dance, but it gives an example of our sound:

Song Clip – Full Band – this is the drums incorporated with the track in Ableton, no mixing or processing has really been done, master chain is clean
Song Clip – Drums - EQ and Compression – this is the live drums with some EQ, Compression and saturation, the tracks are not isolated and could use a lot more experienced mixing, this was just a first pass to get them sounding more full
Song Clip – Drums Dry – this is the true live recording, no processing

The gear we’re using is:
Mapex Drum Kit
Overheads - Pair of Rode M5’s
Snare – Shure SM57
Hi-hat – Shure SM57
Bass drum – AKG D112 MKII
Floor Toms – Sennheiser e 835 Cardioid Dynamic
Hi Toms – Shure SM48S-LC (basically a karaoke mic we had laying around)

Drummer is playing a Mapex kit, we’re running these 7 mics into a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 and then into Ableton live on a MacBook Pro via firewire. Within Ableton we’re just using the stock EQ, Compression plug ins to try and shape the sounds in a very minor way knowing that we’re planning to have these mixed and mastered properly. Picture also attached of the drum recording set up in the rehearsal space

What is a professional sound we’re going for? Examples:
Hot Chip - Flutes – live version, obviously Sarah Jones is one of the best drummers out, playing with Harry Styles now -

LCD Soundsystem – the mixing of programmed and live drum aspect, granted this is more of the disco dead drum sound -

Big Gigantic – live set Nov 2020 -

STS9 – Get Loud – not going for the specific vibe of this song, just an example of the recorded live drum aspect

Thanks in advance for any input!
Attached Thumbnails
Live drum recording quality, Electronic band-recording-setup-pic.jpg  
Attached Files

Song Clip - Full Band.mp3 (603.1 KB, 140 views)

Song Clip - Drums EQ-Compression.mp3 (603.1 KB, 129 views)

Song Clip - Drums Dry.mp3 (603.1 KB, 124 views)

Old 3 weeks ago
Lives for gear
gravyface's Avatar
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
In the context of the song, the drums sounds decent to me. I like the tune, so that always helps with the sonics, as it really should be when it comes to good songwriting and music.

Personally, I think the drums sound like they were recorded in a smallish room and have that amateurish room sound to them. I also think the snare tuning isn’t great: it’s more of a loose donk than a fat thwack, but maybe you were going for that.

I think going to a studio could help polish everything, not just the drums, but there is no rule that says you can’t track at your house/rehearsal space, but somewhere with higher ceilings and larger square footage would be more flexible.

Having said that, with enough room treatment you can turn that room into a 70s drum booth, take the bottom/resonate heads off the toms and bass drum and really go for that old school disco sound.
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