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Better gear for better drum recordings
Old 20th January 2013
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Better gear for better drum recordings

I'm replacing my old Roland VS Studio and want better gear in hopes of better recordings.

I've done pretty good with what i had but I'm ready to move to the daw world for loops, easy editing, more sounds etc...

I record funk/rock and some contemporary jazz.

We record one track at a time. Except drums of course.
Instruments are drums, bass and guitar.
Mostly instrumental music, with occasional male vocals.

I have a well-tuned Yamaha drum kit in a pretty dry mix room. It's not as live as I would like, but not bad sounding either.

Current mics:
Two AT4040 for Overheads and vocals
AKG D112
SM57
AT 2020
AT 2021
SM 58

My budget is about $2500-$3000

Here is some of the gear I'm considering used or new:
UA Apollo
Used RME 800 or Apogee Ensemble
API 3124
Daking 4
Daking One
UA 4-710
LA610

I'm thinking the Apollo with a single outboard pre
OR a 3124 or Daking 4 with a lower end audio interface.

I would love to get a killer drum sound. But i've never heard my recordings through anything better than a Roland studio and the mics listed with a GT Brick (sold the brick - mistake )

I want to make the most of my money as this will be all i cant get for a while.

Any thoughts, opinions or advice would be appreciated.
Old 20th January 2013
  #2
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
 
18 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I like the e604 clip on tom mics.

If your room is big enough you could add some room mics.

I like nice preamps

I really like really nice drum kits, maybe I would focus money on the actual kit and cymbals.

I would also recommend spending a lot, lot of time recording, mixing, and rearranging what you already have, since recording and mixing drums is something that takes a minute to get the hang of, if you don't have all that much experience, which you may or may not? Before spending any money, this would be my priority with what you already have, which sounds completely usable. Trying different "recipes" of compression, eq, and levels, and placement has been educational to me, specifically James Meeker's post on this site, among others.

Treating the room can be important, too, if your acoustics are bad.

The thing about spending money on a studio is, there are so many components in the signal path. If you want truly otherworldy results, you need truly otherworldly equipment in all positions, and probably most importantly skill in playing and producing.

People are always saying it's the drummer and the drum set and tuning that matter the most and I'd say that's fair. If you look at what people prefer for drum mics it's completely all over the map, which proves that it comes down to taste and technique, and is not dominated by hard and fast rules.

But regarding gear specifically, I would probably focus on the actual drums and cymbals, the mics, and the mic preamps, as the most imporant pieces of gear regarding "drum sound."
Old 20th January 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I'd look into getting the best drum sounds you can from your existing setup before upgrading, as a new DAW will help to capture your drum sounds, but if the room doesn't sound great for drums as is, the new gear won't help.

While not a drummer, I'm guessing there are multiple threads on converting (or temporarily) treating dry rooms for drums - parquet floor sections, etc. that can be put down for tracking drums and then taken back up for other things. When you track drums at a studio, really you're paying mostly for a good sounding room (and their mic closet). I have a friend who tracks his drums with a MOTU unit (stock pre's) but he has a great living room to track in where the drums sound great; a lot of his EQ is drum tuning and moving mics around.

Can you also specify what specifically about your drum sounds are lacking? That may help more people give suggestions.
Old 20th January 2013
  #4
Gear Guru
 
chrisso's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Most Yamaha kits are pretty nice, unless this kit has been poorly maintained.
Probably the biggest factor in drum sound is the sound of the room, as it's hard to dial out. Great kit, with great mics in a bad room is probably going to be tough to get right.
Old 21st January 2013
  #5
Gear Addict
 
jmik's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
API's or Daking's will add some punch to your drums, and both function nice as DI's or anything you would need to record. The Ensemble is nice and clean, but if you haven't seen yet, Apogee announced they're discontinuing them, which means limited to no future firmware or support. I'm actually in the market for an Apollo myself, upgrading from a MOTU 828mk2. If you're heading into DAW land then I suggest a nice interface before any outboard stuff. All the gear in the world won't make a difference in the conversion is garbage.

As far as the room conversation goes, I'd think a dry room would lend itself to the types of music you're recording. Unless you think otherwise, go for some new gear. Don't forget to browse the classifieds here on GS as well.
Old 21st January 2013
  #6
Lives for gear
 
popmann's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Api is king for rock drums. But, you also need to make sure that they're being mixed appropriately. The sound of drums on records is NOT due to cool mics or preamps. I mean, everything factors in...but, I spend more time and energy on getting the most from a drum kit than I do the whole rest of the mix.

A dry room is going to take samples. Or lots of creative reverb. Samples are faster and better. Not replacing, but augmenting with ROOM ONLY samples. Unless you want that dry cardboard 70s drum sound, you NEED room. If you have any kind of modern sample set, do this--mute the room mics and make it sound kick a$$. You can't. You can MAYBE make it sound "OK". Room is where you hear the tone of drums. It's particularly important for snare. Key in a "bad room"==take snare only "samples" with a pair of mics at whatever the best sounding place in the room is. A BAD room snare will sound better than none. But, bad room mics on the whole kit will sound WORSE than none.

Before you go investing huge amounts in upgrading gear, make sure they're being mixed properly. Phase issues addressed. Ambience built.
Old 21st January 2013
  #7
Gear Guru
 
chrisso's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
You are waaay overstating the importance of ambience.
There are lots of very nice drum recordings made with little room sound in the drum mix. It isn't just dry cardboard.
Yes, the drums and mics react to the room, so it's hard to record in a bad room, but you don't need to add room samples to dry drums to make a nice drum sound.
Old 21st January 2013
  #8
Lives for gear
Do you already have a computer and DAW already? That can eat up a lot money...

It's sounds like you are doing this for fun and for your own personal music, so I wouldn't spend a boat load of cash of gear if you are going to making money back on the music you are recording. If that's the case, I'm not sure spending $2000 on an API 3124 is wise...but $2000 is a lot of money to me whereas to others it's a drop in the bucket.
Old 21st January 2013
  #9
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
I currently have a Core 2 Duo / 8 GB RAM Mac Mini and I'm still auditioning DAW's.

I'm leaning towards Logic since I know GB and have tons of loops and projects already.
Old 21st January 2013
  #10
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
I should say that I've gotten some pretty good mixes from the Roland, but want to step up in sound.

I was working with very few reverbs, but made the most of what I had. Just looking for a wetter snare and more punchier, OPEN kit.
Old 21st January 2013 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
popmann's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso ➑️
You are waaay overstating the importance of ambience.
There are lots of very nice drum recordings made with little room sound in the drum mix. It isn't just dry cardboard.
Yes, the drums and mics react to the room, so it's hard to record in a bad room, but you don't need to add room samples to dry drums to make a nice drum sound.
No, you can create the ambience digitally via reverb. How it was done for years. My fave drum sound ever was digital ambience. Counting Crows first record.
Old 21st January 2013
  #12
Gear Nut
 
Bobelix's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
i know iΒ΄m repeating myself but i cant get rid of the idea(for myself), maybe it offers some directions in the way you think about this that is useful:

bit more than 3k but iΒ΄d get:

rme babyface(or apogee duet in that price range), connect a ua 4 710 d to it(tubes might work for your taste/style of music) and regarding the mics you already have iΒ΄d get either a beyer m160(or two) or a coles 4038(or 2:-)....shure ksm32 or an akg 414(b-uls??) are also both no brainers

cheers

that setup gives you immediate 6 channels and as the ua pre offers 4 more adΒ΄s u can upgrade it later to 10 channels total....4 channels of api or CAPI or whatever else in a 500 series lunchbox would be nice i guess
Old 21st January 2013
  #13
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
I would say you get much more noticeable improvement out of good room treatment and a great sounding kit rather than Preamps/Converters...actually I'm pretty sure about it;-). Maybe your Mic choise isn't as good for the Music you're doing either. The D112 doesn't work in every genre I'd say...
For a really good drum Sound, the first step is to stand in front of the Kit in the same room and saying: "Damn, that's how it should sound on a record!"


DAW:
Save the Money and get Reaper for 60$. Very user friendly and powerful at the same time. I can't imagine anything I'd need that Reaper doesn't offer!

Cheers
Old 21st January 2013
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Mic pres will make the biggest difference. IMHO

the same mics will sound so much better;
also here the dog down the street.

Most pro level pre's will turn the corner on the sound,
buy used, not abused, save some dough.

converters are less of an issue, for me.
good luck
Old 21st January 2013
  #15
Gear Guru
 
kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
As long as you're using decent quality stuff, upgrading to high end is going to be mostly nuance change.

Improving the sound that the actual drums are making will be anything and everything but nuance. It is the sound you are capturing.

Thousands of dollars worth of pres will make no difference worth mentioning if you have a dead drum head or a bad sounding drum. A new 40 dollar drum head will always make a far more instantly noticable and worthwhile difference than will a 2k pre.

Get the drums as good sounding as they can be, then decide if spending thousands on pres is worth it to you. Rent a few and live with them for a week. Think for yourself and make up your own mind to that end.
Old 21st January 2013
  #16
Lives for gear
 
suedesound's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
i can't agree more. i've gotten great drum recordings with crap mics, preamps and converters when the drums sounded good in the room. drummer, tuning, cymbal choice is going to make a much bigger difference than pre's. that said i do like the 3124 on drums.
Old 22nd January 2013
  #17
Gear Addict
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Tuning is so important on drums. A badly tuned kit with Β£10.000 of mics around it will just make it sound worse. Spend lots of time on tunings. If you hear a sound on a record you want to get and think the kit would be tuned a certain way it may not. ie a snare could be tuned so Lo it sounds horrible in the room but can sound very different and really cool in the monitor room, tuning, tuning tuning. And of course placement a tiny mic move on a Tom is the difference from ring to toppy.

As for your mics there budget for sure. With your budget id look at a couple of audix for toms a4 a6, they sound cool maybe a couple of akg 214 overheads or se 4 somewhere in that range, a beyer 201 for hats, sn bottom you can't go wrong with those, another 57 beta or two and have a look at the Audient asp 008 a super clean 8 channel pre I don't have one but there desk are great. And of course there's the rode nt1a its great budget room mic.

Hope it helps

Antony.
Old 22nd January 2013
  #18
Gear Guru
 
chrisso's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I wouldn't choose any of those mics.
You are better off with two great, flexible mics, than a bunch of cheap character mics.
Old 22nd January 2013
  #19
Gear Guru
 
kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
My fave drum set up; great sounding drums in a great sounding room with a drummer that knows how to balance the cymbals, 2 quality condensers overhead, an RE20 in the kik and maybe something on the snare if needed.
Old 22nd January 2013
  #20
Lives for gear
My brother still has his Roland vs1880, I sold mine years ago. Cool units for their time but I definitely don't miss that small screen.

I absolutely love my black lion audio b12a pres for kick and snare, they are a Api clone pre for only $350 each new. Looks like you also need some toms mics also, I picked up a pair of Heil pr28's for $130 each new. They sound excellent on toms.

Here is a set up I highly recommend for drums(2 toms only) that will compliment what you already have:

UA Apollo Duo $2000
2 bla b12a $700
2 heil pr28 $270
Old 22nd January 2013
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I've been recording drums for longer than many on this site have been alive. Not that that means crap....but it qoes mean I've had folks like Steve Gadd, Wil Calhoun, Matt Smith, Joe Franco and lots of others tell me what they likem and don't like in drum recordings.

So there is bad news and good news here. On the bad side...while its noble that everyone here is trying to focus on what aspect of drum recording is most important, but the simple tryuth is that its ALL important. One weak link can make the whole thing suck. the GOOD news is that in my experience it isn't all that expensive to get a rig that works.

So first...the drummer. If he is an inconsistant hitter or has bad time. Forget it. you aren't goint to fix it, just make it margenanally better. so if the drummer sucks, don't beat yourself up....not your fault.

The room. If the sound is clattering back on itself...like in a square low ceiling basement. Forget it. Or if you HAVE to work in that room get as many matress pads as you can and kill the reflection off of every surface you can find. Or find a better room with some ceiling height that has nice lively feel without being boomy or having the sound fold back.

The mics...well, they don't have to cost a fortune. A 57 or i5 on snare. The Sennheisser 604 or the more current 904s on toms. Yeah I know 421s are better, but trust me, 604s are no slouch for pretty cheap. You do need a good kick mic...one that fits your style. That might be the biggest mic expense. You can get away with many inexpensive condensers for overs. And lots of stuff will work for hihat, though many don't bother with hat mics. Overs....many cheap chinese condensers will do.

Then the pres. Tough one....but I can tell you this, I have done 7 or 8 live CDs an Allan and Heath Mixwizard. A and H always had an ear for drums and this is no exception. For about 900 bucks you get 16 pres that sound good on drums. tough to argue with. Yeah I know this thing and that thing.... But for some reason the Mixwiz works. Not that their aren't a zillion other things that do as well...but thats the one I use.

So look, there are better things, but if all the challenges aren't met it won't matter.
Old 22nd January 2013
  #22
Lives for gear
 
JulianFernandez's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Ever worked with Vinnie? Would love to hear some stories about Gadd, Vinnie, Jeff or any other studio legends! :D
Old 22nd January 2013
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I like them all. I started as a session deummer in the 70's and did some good dates, but ultimately i was more into the recording than the playing. But being a drummer is a real ice breaker with other drummers, so many little things to talk about.

I worked with Gadd in maybe 1991 on a Rory Block record a hreat producer friend of mine, Ron Bacciocchi, since a cancer victim, was doing. My studio at the time was at the old Ace Frehley house just outside of NYC. A couple of times I drove Gadd back into the city after the session, which was great fun.
We talked about...surprise....drums...lol.

There isn't much to tell on the Gadd dates. At the time his demons were behind him and the sessions were effortless. We used Willie Wilcox's drums (from Todd Rundgren), a nice Sonar kit. Steve brought a snare and a pedal.... He was very quiet and focused, and didn't mind suggestions from the producer at all. Typically we did 3 songs an afternoon, usually 3 takes of each. No charts, head arrangements. Really every pass was a take, there were just subtle differences in the parts that they would talk out between takes.

I never recorded Vinnie or Jeff, although I used to see Jeff around his hometown of Hartford CT. He is my favorite drummer of all time, although Vinnie has taken that spot now.

My label has sign Adrenaline Mob, so I hope to do some of the drum dates with Mike Portnoy on the next record.
Old 22nd January 2013
  #24
Lives for gear
 
JulianFernandez's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
So cool! Thanks for sharing...
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