Show 145 – Drum Editing and more

This week we talk about drum editing and in Rapid Fire we cover: recommend first outboard gear besides preamps; ideal recording level and does it change based on source; How many times have you crashed your DAW in the past month;
Our guest host this week is Matthew Weiss of Weiss Sound.
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Editing: The Unsung Hero
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7 thoughts on “Show 145 – Drum Editing and more

  1. Guys, a couple of comments regarding the discussion on compression. First, as to parallel compression I think what confuses people is understanding exactly what it does and why you use it and often people misunderstand or confuse it as another type of side chaining, which might be what causes some of the confusion. Your guest made a reference to this. The basic concept is you are splitting off the signal chain and then you can squash the hell out of it to reduce dynamic range and maintain volume levels, but then you blend the dry track in to to re-establish the transients that are squashed by the compressed signal. You don’t have to squash the hell out of it, but that is generally why you use the technique, so you can squash a signal and still get the transients that are otherwise lost with heavy compression. That is why the technique tends to be used more on drums, although it can be used on anything. But again, the primary concept is you blend the compressed signal with the dry signal to achieve the desired compression while still maintaining the natural transients that otherwise get lost in compression. I hope that helps anyone that is not quite grasping the concept.

    The next comment concerns the discussion of buss compression settings. I too am like your guest in that setting slow attack times and slow release times for “fast music” seems not only counter intuitive, it actually seems like it would make things even more complicated. I would suggest that it isn’t the fast attack time that causes the pumping. Pumping can be the result of several settings but it is actually the threshold, ratio, and release times that have more influence on whether the sound is “pumping”. It is less a function of how fast the compressor reacts (attack) than it is when (threshold) it attacks and what happens after it attacks (ratio, release). You can set an incredibly fast attack time and a very slow release and while you will hear an appreciable increase in overall gain levels, you will also not hear any pumping because the long release time doesn’t let the compressor reset. However, where you set the threshold does have a big influence here. If you set the threshold too low (constant gain reduction, meter never hits zero), you can have issues with pumping. A short release time with a fast or slow attack will also cause pumping, regardless of the threshold. In that scenario, the threshold will simply determine how much pumping there is. And whether the compressor is acting in soft knee or hard knee mode also affects whether pumping is present.

    While I agree with Jon that a higher attack and release time can reduce the amount of artifacts, with something like metal it seems a relatively fast attack, lower ratio, higher threshold and moderate to slow release times with a bit if a soft knee combined with a high pass on the side chain might work a little easier to eliminate the issues with bass Jon mentioned. But then I really don’t know what kind of compressor Jon is using and that may be the most deciding factor. Some compressors are RMS style and some are Peak style and that will have a big affect on settings also. And most master buss compression is done with multi band compressors to eliminate the bass issues Jon referred to. Ultimately it comes down to what works best for you.

  2. Here is a very brief but very useful description of the basics of how to set your compressor. Here is the link to the entire article:

    http://www.homerecordingconnection.com/news.php?action=view_story&id=1470

    Okay, so lets say you have a bass track that needs some taming…

    Start by setting everything to zero….ratio is 1:1, attack and release times are as fast as possible, threshold is 0db (or all the way ‘up’).

    The compressor should not be doing anything to the signal. Turn the ratio to something high like 15:1 or higher, again, this will not affect the signal yet because we haven’t set the threshold yet. Now lower the threshold to where you can hear it start AND stop compressing on a regular basis (kind of a ‘pumping’ sound. You will hear the volume kinda ‘suck in’ when it’s compressing and then get louder on the quieter parts….this is when you can set the attack and release times fairly easily. Because you can drastically hear when it’s kicking in, you will be able to clearly hear when it starts and stops compressing.

    Slowly adjust the attack time to where it sounds ‘natural’….pay no mind to the fact you’re squashing the signal still, you wanna listen to ‘time’ right now, not ‘sound’. Do the same with the release, go all the way up and all the way down, and aim for the sweet spot when you want the signal to ‘breathe’ naturally with the song. Once you get the attack and release set, ease up on the ratio some until you get a nicely ‘controlled’ sound when the compressor starts working. The object here is you don’t want to hear it working. Now adjust the threshold to a point where the compressor is working (watch the reduction meter if you have one) but not working all the time or too hard. It should breathe and play nicely with the track. Again you want a ‘natural’ but controlled sound. You may want to adjust the threshold and ratio a bit to find the sweet spot.

    With a bit of practice on different sources like percussion, vocals, and even entire songs, you can get the hang of compressing with confidence instead of relying on presets and hoping for the best.

  3. For an inexpensive but extremely effective “isolation booth” for those that don’t have dedicated or treated recording spaces;
    1. Go to the local grocery and get an empty egg case box (the big box) or a similar size box like a Korbel box from the liquor store.

    2. Go to WalMart, K Mart or similar discount store and by a convoluted foam mattress pad.

    3. Cut the foam to fit the inside of the box and using spray on contact cement or other appropriate adhesive attach the foam to the inside being sure to have corner overlap to make a good seal. Cut a hole or slot in the bottom so it will fit over the mic stand. How you hang it is up to you. A coat hanger duct taped to the top of the box and then suspended from another stand works.

    It doesn’t look great but it definitely will kill most of the room sound and give you a nice, controlled sound similar to a vocal booth. It doesn’t keep a lot of sound from leaving the box, but that isn’t what it is for. This even works to help isolate a bass drum mic and reduce bleed from the other drum mics. If you want to go all out you can do he same thing but make the box out of 3/16″ or 1/4″ drywall.

    The box is also very effective when placed in front of a guitar amp.

  4. Hey Pete Buchwald, I too come from the frosty state of Colorado. I just subscribed to your cast (haven’t had a chance to listen yet), gotta give ups to my local producers.

    who knows, maybe we’ll work together on a project one of these days.

  5. Enjoyed yet another great show!

    Your show got me to thinking about one of the problems I’ve had using ezdrummer when songwriting… finding the right bpm to go with the song.

    Any tips or techniques that you can pass along to speed up the process of finding the right bpm to go with a song?

    Thanks guys!

    MAJ G
    173rd Airborne

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