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Mixing programmed drums with recorded intruments
Old 19th July 2016
Mixing programmed drums with recorded intruments

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer questions again, Sylvia. Beginner hacks like me appreciate the insight and advice!

My band doesn't have a drummer, so I've been using Logic X's drummer to create all of the percussion. Do you have any advice or techniques on how to give sampled drums a more realistic presence in the mix, so it blends well with instruments that were recorded live?

This was down slapdash in ways that would make any engineer cry, but I thought it would help illustrate what I mean since it has live music but Logic X percussion:

Radio Arcana - "Second Variety"
Old 25th July 2016
Radiant Being
SylviaMassy's Avatar
🎧 5 years
Making Sampled Drums Sound Real

Some easy ways to make fake drums sound "live" is to pump them outside of the box. This will require a PA system, stereo room miking, close miking, duct tape and a loose snare drum... and a decent room... but no drummer required if you've already programmed the parts.

The Radio Arcana tracks sound pretty good! Obviously they are real drum samples. An easy thing to do is to send a sub-mix of all the drums into a nice sized room and mic that room, adding it into the mix. I call that "re-amping" the drums. If you want to give the snare sample more depth and color than try the "snare re-amping" technique that I learned from Matt Wallace. Here is what you do:

Send the sample snare track out of the recorder
Run it into a PA and set the PA speaker on it's back facing up
Place a snare drum face down, wires up, on top of the speaker
Tape it into place with duct tape
Mic this contraption and record it back into your session

Every time the sample snare hit plays through the PA, the pressure of the amplified sound smacks the head of the live snare drum you've taped to the speaker. This will add more snare rattle to your drums if you want it, or more depth to your sample snare if you use a deeper snare for your re-amp. This technique is also fantastic to liven up a snare that wasn't recorded so well. And be sure to record both a close mic and stereo room mics for your snare re-amp.

I've included an illustration from the book that I drew to describe the snare re-amping technique.

Sometimes if I find myself recording in a cool room, I'll re-amp a whole bunch of stuff through a PA just to capture the room sound. Not just drums.... Last year I found myself in an awesome castle in Dresden, Germany (Castle Röhrsdorf), and some of the spaces were so unusual I re-amped everything!
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Old 25th July 2016
Lives for gear
antichef's Avatar
🎧 10 years
awesome - thanks!
Old 26th July 2016
Gear Addict
🎧 10 years
Wow, thanks a lot, Sylvia! This looks like a very useful little trick!
Old 27th July 2016
Lives for gear
🎧 10 years
That's a kick-ass tip!
Old 27th July 2016 | Show parent

Very clever to re-amp them and use a snare. Do you think there'd be any benefit to re-amping the toms, snare, and kick separate from the cymbals?
Old 28th July 2016
Lives for gear
sigmatibet's Avatar
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Old 29th July 2016
Radiant Being
SylviaMassy's Avatar
🎧 5 years
Reamping for Better Drum Room

Yes, a great way to enhance the sound of a drum room (or create one where there wasn't one to begin with), is to send the kick, snare and toms through a PA re-amp and re-record. This way you have better control of the cymbals too.

On many projects I have sent kick, snare and toms through a PA in a room, while the drums are in the same room being recorded! This "pumps up" the low-end in the drum room mics and makes the drums sound very muscular. It is a technique used often in rock recordings in Los Angeles. Ross Hogarth used it on Motley Crüe's "Girls Girls Girls" I believe. He talks about using the PA in the Recording Unhinged book.

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