Show 139 – Recording Shakers and more.

In this episode we discuss recording shakers-types; techniques; mic placement; mic types.
In RapidFire we talk about – Pro Tools 10 features we actually care about; our vocal tuning process; nonstandard effect we’ve recently discovered.

Our guest this week is Steve Currington

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20 thoughts on “Show 139 – Recording Shakers and more.

  1. BFD Eco is okay and it’s $30 right now. I would recommend it to people getting started. It’s about 5 drum kits, with two mics on the kick drums so you can mix inside/outside or whatever to taste. It comes with some decent midi tracks and stuff too. Maybe not the best drum program in the world, but at $30, it’ll get you started for sure.

  2. Its not different, a big reason why I switched to REAPER. Previously Pro Tools used rendered wav files for fades. puts more strain on the disk as you could easily have 12,000 fades in a drum edit session. Major workflow killer for me, I couldn’t work as fast as I wanted to.

  3. There is also MyDrumset by Bluenoise Audio. That one is more of a “mix it yourself” type of Drum Software. It’s the one I used for the intro music to this show. πŸ˜€

  4. Guys,
    Thanks very much for addressing my question about 6″ verses 8″ monitors in the last show. However, I’m still curious to know what the deal is with subwoofers in conjuction with monitors. It seems that they are marketed as a product that is supposed to be used to support a standard small 5 to 6″ monitor. An example would be the KRK10S subwoofer. I’m just trying to imagine the possible sales pitch, like: (turn on your BIG voice here Ryan) “…and hey, if you don’t have enough bottom end buddy, you can just drop another $450 on this puppy and you’re totally rockin!”

    Sorry to hammer you on it, just still very curious, and I know who to ask.

  5. Guys, thanx for taking the time to respond to my rather lengthy comments!

    First, Jon, thanx for setting me straight. I thought maybe you were being sarcastic but wasn’t quite sure. Although you make no bones about your dislike of sloppy drums, I didn’t think you were as bad as the misunderstanding made it seem! I also wanted to say that I agree that metal drummers are some of the better drummers out there, especially when it comes to speed and timing. And there are plenty of jazz and blues players that can be machines, Frank Beard of ZZ Top being an incredible example. Nor was I meaning to suggest metal drummers aren’t good. Although I am not a big of Iron Maiden (they should get the all time award for cheesy rock poses when playing live…), I really like their drummer while Lars Ulrich of Metallica does little to impress me. I guess what I was trying to say is that metal (like some other genres)is notorious for extreme compression, lacking dynamics, etc., and thus by default the initial limited dynamic range of metal drums (again, generally speaking) gets exaggerated, further reducing any dynamic variation. Just by way of clarification when I say initial limited dynamic range, I mean there is little dynamic variation outside of it being either louder (most of the time) or softer. I am not suggesting this is “wrong”, in fact it makes perfect sense in the context of metal music. I just personally prefer a little more “feel” than you usually get with metal. Again, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

    Second, Ryan, thanx for providing the details of the programmed drums your friend heard. If you mentioned you had programmed them on your keyboard in the podcast, I missed it and that’s why I asked. As I mentioned, samples being triggered in real time as well as by MIDI loops that are recordings of a real drummer are very difficult to differentiate from the real thing, much more so than drums programmed in a step sequencer. Although I have heard and even have some samples that are so poorly done you can tell they are samples! Anyway, knowing you programmed them in real time makes it much easier to understand why your friend didn’t know it was programmed drums.

    PS: I had the pleasure of getting to listen to many sets of JBL L100’s back in the day. I even had a couple of friends that had them for home speakers, although I am still not sure how they paid for them…I recorded in at least two studios that had them, but as you all mentioned, they were more for “listening” to than they were for mixing, although both studios used them for tracking. That being said, one needs to remember that when used as monitors, they weren’t like today’s near fields. In both places I recorded that had them, they were mounted in the far corners of the room, and that includes one studio that had then in the main recoding room so the musicians didn’t have to come into the booth to hear what they had just done. Although I seem to remember preferring the sound of large Advents, which were much cheaper, what the JBL’s were known for was their power handling ability, especially when blasting out rock. It was hard to blow them!

    As for suggestions for studio monitors, I have a pair of Wharfedale Diamond Studio 8.2 ProActives. They are very popular in Europe and England and have been for a while. Trevor Rabin is a huge fan of them. Although it is unlikely most will be able to find them at a store to demo them, I can highly recommend them. As long as you don’t push them to their limit where they do develop a little amp distortion, they do a really good job of translating to other speakers. I have a rather small control room and that being said, I never turn the volume on the speakers past the halfway default setting and they have never had a problem getting louder than needed for mixing purposes. I also have a Klipsch THX certified Sat/Sub system that although cost only $110, actually sounds really good. I mix using the Wharfedales and then switch back and forth between the two. I also use the both at the same time which essentially gives me a third set of monitors and lets me hear what is going on with the extreme low end. Anyway, if you aren’t familiar with Wharfedales, check them out. For $300 a pair, they are sort of like Yamaha NS 10’s in that if it sounds good on them, it will sound good on just about anything.

  6. Cool segment on shakers. I didn’t think I’d be interested, but you guys made it interesting.

    How about a segment or two about genre-specific instrument recording? I’m talking funk bass, heavy metal guitars, classical acoustic guitars, choir music, etc.


  7. Fantastic show guys – shakers always seem to be the right thing to put in and make a sterile, quantized track have some life. They’re little things, but do a lot to loosen things up.

    I do the same thing as Ryan – usually do a longer take and then find the best 4 bars to loop.

    @Jimbag – regarding the sub. Usually when mixing “classic” ensembles, a pair of nice near-field monitors are all that you need to get a nice tight mix, but with more of the “modern” genres and soundtrack/sound design work, a sub can be good to understand what’s going on in the really low / sub-sonic levels.

    If you look on the KRK site, the VXT8 specs show it starting to drop off at 100Hz and then going for a steep dive at 55Hz. A 10s or a 12s would be able to do a good part of the lifting on those frequencies – theoretically giving you a more realistic picture of what’s going on down in those octaves.

    That being said, most people are going to be running into problems with a sub if they’re in a small, even relatively well-treated room. Those really low frequencies can have some long wavelengths that will be folding back on themselves in most home studios. The low E on a bass guitar is around 41 Hz – one cycle of that wave is over 27 feet long. Unless you start tuning for bass problems in your room, a sub will probably just create headaches rather than help out.

  8. Great segment on Shakers, what about hand claps? Seems like anytime I have tried to record them they come out weak. Any tips?

  9. Oh, in addition to my last comment, any quick tips on recording rockabilly slap-style stand-up bass? I may have one in a session soon.


  10. I used to have 6″ monitors (Alesis) and bumped up to the 8″ JBL LSR4328P’s. It’s not a fair comparison, because the JBL’s are far superior in every aspect. For me, mixing the low end is the most difficult to get consistent from system to system. I found that more (and probably more accurate) bass response from my monitors kept me from compensating. I just remember having to mix theoretically (before the JBL’s), knowing there would be a lack of low end in what I was hearing. It used to be very frustrating.

    One of my favorite “shakers” is heading into my spice rack, grabbing a handful of bottles and trying different combinations. Oftentimes I’ll grab a couple of different ones and because I have big hands I can hold two at the same time. You can kind of tailor your sound that way.

    I’ve been using EZ drummer for a long time. Buying additional kits is extremely important. The pop/rock one that comes with it is probably the worst. The Nashville and Vintage ones get used the most. I like to set it up as a multi-out VSTi so I can sub out each channel and mix things individually in my DAW. It’s more fun to drop my Waves plugins on a kick, or snare, etc. individually, than to be relegated to the entire drum mix. Also, I’ve had drummers come in and use triggers (Roland V-Drums kit) to play. I’ve gotten some incredible results that way. It’s like the best of both worlds – the feel of a real drummer with the flexibility and editing power of MIDI.

    Quick question: I’ve been experimenting with mid-side and blumlein stereo tracking lately. What situations/instruments do you typically use these different methods for?

    Thanks guys for a cool show, been enjoying it!

  11. Patrick, when I do hand claps the key is to do several takes and purposefully be “off” in your timing on a few. If they’re all perfect and hit at the same time it ends up sounding like one powerful clap. There’s a small margin where it works though. Too far off and it just sounds like you’ve been drinking too much.

  12. Yep Dave Harmonium is right .. I just had a brain fart at the time and couldn’t remember it’s name. I have seen and listened to a lot of them over the years but old age is obviously taking it’s toll!! πŸ™‚

  13. Andy..
    Mid-Side/Blumlein works well with Choral stuff. Helps get a great stereo feel yet keeps the choir unified. All good stuff but IMHO you need a few extra mics as well; ala room “ambience” mics and/or maybe a quality pencil condensers or something on each side to help pick out better the uniqueness of the left and right. But M/S works excellently with Choral groups.

    My guess is a country band or rockabilly sound would work well especially if the players are spread apart and not cramped all up close and tight with each other. The M/S would give a great stereo impression of the various backing instruments etc while again keeping a cohesive sound.. Obviously any soloist could or should have their own mic so as to enable them to be brought out when needed especially if it is a vocalist.

    Also my guess is Big Band/Swing Band would work the same except you would then need mics for the various sections or soloists. Never tried a Big Band.. Got one locally that I am sort of friendly with I might discuss doing a test recording at some stage next year just for fun.

    ps. I do more classical/choral than Rock/Pop recording so can’t really comment in that.

  14. I loved the Imogen Heap video and song so much I actually went to Imogen’s ( website and bought the track. Just love watching its development and the outcome is totally brilliant.

  15. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned Addictive Drums in regards to free drum programs. It’s very good – in my opinion better than EZ drummer. You can download a free demo that will get you the basics, including good midi patterns. Highly recommend.

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