Our studio, Nashville Trax, is known for getting great drum sounds and great drum mixes. Even seasoned Nashville session drummers are impressed.
I hear many amateur mixes as part of our demo service and drum-tracks-online that are shot in the foot simply because the foundation, drums, just aren’t very good.
My analysis of why out drum tracks get such rave reviews and how you can get that quality too?
1. Start with a great drummer. You’re not going to get a drum track that sounds like David Northrup (Travis Tritt, Wynonna Judd, John Cougar Mellencamp) or Montgommery Gentry’s drummer, William Ellis, unless you have a player of their caliber and they’re very few and far between outside the session player world. Those guys are born with talents that are extremely rare. The biggest mistake is to use a “great live drummer” for a recording. Very few can translate their skills into playing tight enough in the studio.
2. Use a quality kit tuned to sound good in a mix and play it into the right microphones. Our Sennheiser, Shure and Audio Technica combination features microphones designed for each specific drum. Biggest mistake? Gathering up “the best microphones available” and forcing them to work.
3. Use quality preamps. For example we run our bass drum microphone through a $2,500 Avalon compressor/pre. Is it any wonder session guys often comment on how amazing and solid the kick sounds?
4. Gate and EQ the tracks individually. Gate to get rid of the bleed not needed. EQ to cut unneeded frequencies as well as to improve tone, but if you have the right microphone and EQ coming in for any variation needed specific to the song, you won’t need to worry about tone much, the drum will sound great as recorded. Mistake? Too much playing with EQ can induce weirdness into the whole mix.
I’ll do another post soon on the actual drum mixing but if all this is beyond your ability/budget then why not consider hiring a session drummer at the drum-tracks-online link above? For a mere fraction of what you’d pay for renting microphones or what you’d waste in studio time on a drummer who fails, we can provide a rock solid foundation for you to build on- b.e.