axemanchris
Awwww.... NOW what?!
Join date: Aug 2006
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#1
You've mixed something for someone. The drums sounded like totall @ss, but the performances were fine.

Given that the drum tuning made the drums that were recorded virtually unusable, you replaced every last one of them with samples. The sound of the original drums are heard in the overheads, along with the cymbals, albeit with much of the low end rolled off, so you actually *can* hear his own actual drums in the mix. The ratio is probably 90% samples and 10% his drums. No cymbals or hi-hats were sample-replaced.

You get a mix that you and he are both happy with this way. In fact, he's really happy with the sound of the drums.

Do you tell him that the drums he is hearing are not his?

I don't, personally, think it's that big a deal to keep it your little secret. I don't tell the performer about every other little thing I did, including the odd edit for timing, or a very small amount of pitch correction. They hear it back and they're happy. Why poison the well?

My personal line is that I tell them if I have changed something that they didn't actually play. (like copying and pasting a couple of tom hits in a transition that they didn't play, etc.)

If you were a client, would you want to know what the mixer did, or would you just want to be happy that you got something that you played and that it sounds great?

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
kyle62
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#2
Absolutely tell them. They're never going to learn otherwise. You did your job, which is to get them the best possible sound. Reckon it was the kit/tuning at fault or the miking?
GaryBillington
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#3
If the problem was caused by the drum tuning, then you probably shouldn't have recorded them until it had been sorted. Would you record a guitarist if he was out of tune?

As you're asking the question as if you're only mixing something recorded by someone else though (and I'm assuming this is hypothetical...?), go with Kyle's answer. Tell them what you had to do, and if the original recording was done by a studio tell them never to go back.
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#4
Quote by GaryBillington
If the problem was caused by the drum tuning, then you probably shouldn't have recorded them until it had been sorted. Would you record a guitarist if he was out of tune?

I tend to agree with this, but at the same time, tuning drums is an art, and very few people know how to do it properly; but if it was that bad and you're the one who recorded it, some more time should've definitely been spent on tuning them.

That being said, I don't really see the point of telling them everything needed to be replaced because it sounded bad... unless they were the ones who recorded it and you feel like telling them might be beneficial to them on further projects. Even drums that were recorded in the best environment, under the most optimal circumstances, still get replaced a lot of the time. It's kind of the same thing as tracking DIs and then reamping later because the original tone doesn't fit as well as you thought it would
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SrThompson
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#5
I would want to know. In fact I will prefer that you talk to me before doing something. And also, the band has to know that the drummer is not good and he needs practice.
iam19feettall
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#7
Tell them, if the product sounds good, then they should be happy be with that. I mean that's what they want right? And it's still their ideas and such. But, that said, I'd want to know so I can do something differently I record (not go to the same studio, pay more attention to the tuning of the drums, etc).
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axemanchris
Awwww.... NOW what?!
Join date: Aug 2006
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#8
Here's what happened.

He's a kid - 17. He wrote the songs and played all the instruments. Drums is his first instrument, but he hasn't learned how to tune them yet. I'm not a drummer, and thus, only have a vague idea.

Honest to God, I was in the control room and had him hit the first tom... I thought he hit the snare drum with the snare lever off. I spent about 45 minutes (blind leading the blind, more or less) and fixed his hi-hat stand and got his drums sounding a lot better. I thought that I might be able to do *something* with them.

At that point, you start balancing "how is this kid's mom's money - and my time - best spent? By continuing to screw around with his drums, or by getting down to business and seeing what I could do with what we were able to get? Figuring that telling his mom that we spent the day screwing around with tuning his drums and not getting anything recorded was probably a bad plan, we got to work recording.

I did talk to him about the importance of learning how to tune drums and the difference it will make in his sound. You can be the best drummer in the world, but if you don't *sound* like a good drummer, it is all for naught. I also told his mom about that discussion.

I fought with mixing the damned things for the better part of an hour without really getting very far. I've miked drums many times and have never (well, not this decade anyways) gotten a worse drum sound. (see "tom sounded like snare" above)

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
axemanchris
Awwww.... NOW what?!
Join date: Aug 2006
2,471 IQ
#10
Here is what they sounded like after I spent some time trying to tune them and then using tissue and tape to try deadening some of the ringing. F** me if I could do anything with the kick. Haha. I did a little bit of leveling and panned the overheads and the toms. No EQ, compression, etc. Oh, and I also nudged the overheads a smidge so they'd be in time and in phase with the close mics.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwMDmdm6wl4wakdqZ1VwbEJpLXM/edit

Here they are now:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwMDmdm6wl4wRS16a2lFcXlHcFE/edit

... still working on the toms a bit...

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
Last edited by axemanchris at Jan 13, 2013,
Odirunn
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#11
"Your band is bad and you should feel bad."
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ChemicalFire
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#13
I'd tell them if it was due to poor audio in the first place. Though in your position I'd explain WHY you rushed through even though you knew they sounded bad, just so they don't turn around and start yelling that you've not done your job right.

If it was just stylistic thing, like I was recording a metalcore band or something, then I'd see no need to.

I mean at the moment I don't even record live drums, so I've never had the problem.
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#14
Semi-related, but we had a review come through the other day and one part said the production was like the good old days before everything was triggered samples that sound robotic and fake. I was pleased that I managed to be tasteful enough with the drum mix to pull that off, but I feel partly bad that I was somehow able to get away with using sample augmentation so convincingly Still, I presume they understood that the kick was augmented with a sample, though I kept the original drums in there at a higher level than Chris mentions in OP - I'd say about 50% of the snare/toms are real, maybe more for the snare, and the kick's click is aided by a sample, but a lot of the low end and punch was from the original mic source.
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GaryBillington
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#15
Quote by axemanchris
Here's what happened.

etc...

In that case, definitely tell him what you did.

He knows you spent 45 minutes trying to fix the problem, and I'm guessing after that time you said something along the lines of "OK, neither of us know what we're doing, lets just get on with the recording".

He also knows he got a good mix at the end of it, which is what he was really paying for.

As that's the case, telling him what you did shouldn't be a surprise and he'll probably be impressed with the extra effort you put in for him.

As drums are his main instrument he needs to learn how to tune them, if he thinks you made his badly tuned drums sound great he won't know how important this is, but if he knows you had to replace most of his work to create the final mix he'll be motivated to get things right next time.
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MatrixClaw
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#16
Honestly, in the first clip with the natural drums, it doesn't sound nearly as bad as I thought it would. The drums sound thin more than they sound incorrectly tuned. The first fill isn't that bad as far as the pitch goes, but the fills later do sound a little wonky. The problem here to me is more that he's hitting the drums like a wimp, which makes them sound puny.

The drum sound on the natural clip reminds me a lot of old 70's recordings Definitely dig your augmented version better (depending on what kind of music it is, I suppose), but I feel like I could've gotten closer to that sound with the original files than you're giving them credit.


For future sessions, since you aren't practiced in tuning drums, and most drummers aren't either, I'd really suggest you get a Tune-bot. Makes tuning REALLY easy, since it shows the tuning in Hz, so you can literally tune the drums to the key of the song if you wanted and it'll sound pretty bitchin, if you have no idea what to do
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tukk04
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#17
Quote by MatrixClaw
Honestly, in the first clip with the natural drums, it doesn't sound nearly as bad as I thought it would. The drums sound thin more than they sound incorrectly tuned. The first fill isn't that bad as far as the pitch goes, but the fills later do sound a little wonky. The problem here to me is more that he's hitting the drums like a wimp, which makes them sound puny.

The drum sound on the natural clip reminds me a lot of old 70's recordings Definitely dig your augmented version better (depending on what kind of music it is, I suppose), but I feel like I could've gotten closer to that sound with the original files than you're giving them credit.

Exactly, the drums could have sounded alright with some tweaking but in the name of speed and cost-effectiveness, I believe TS made the right choice to do drum replacement.

TS, I think you should tell your client and explain that it was the best option to save him money and still get a good sound. Tell him it's still his playing, just with a different sound.

If you think he'll have a problem or react negatively, then don't tell him to save yourself the hassle. Realistically, your decision should depend on your client's maturity level/attitude towards compromise.
Last edited by tukk04 at Jan 13, 2013,
axemanchris
Awwww.... NOW what?!
Join date: Aug 2006
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#18
Thanks for the replies, all!

Quote by Cavalcade
TIL you can share audio with Google Docs. Also, you didn't just gate the snare in post?


I love Google Docs. :-)

I gated the snare in neither of the samples I posted. I could have gated the snare in the crap sample, but given that I was going to replace it anyways, it was kinda pointless. Besides that, gating was the least of my worries on the snare track. Once I sample-replaced, gating would only be used as an effect, and it was not the effect I was looking for.

Quote by DisarmGoliath
Semi-related, but we had a review come through the other day and one part said the production was like the good old days....


Haha... awesome.

Quote by GaryBillington
I'm guessing after that time you said something along the lines of "OK, neither of us know what we're doing, lets just get on with the recording".


That's exactly what happened.

Quote by GaryBillington


He also knows he got a good mix at the end of it, which is what he was really paying for.

As that's the case, telling him what you did shouldn't be a surprise and he'll probably be impressed with the extra effort you put in for him.

As drums are his main instrument he needs to learn how to tune them, if he thinks you made his badly tuned drums sound great he won't know how important this is, but if he knows you had to replace most of his work to create the final mix he'll be motivated to get things right next time.


I think I'm going to go with this - especially the "if he thinks you made his badly tuned drums sound great he won't know how important this is" part.

Quote by MatrixClaw
Honestly, in the first clip with the natural drums, it doesn't sound nearly as bad as I thought it would. The drums sound thin more than they sound incorrectly tuned. The first fill isn't that bad as far as the pitch goes, but the fills later do sound a little wonky. The problem here to me is more that he's hitting the drums like a wimp, which makes them sound puny.


I agree entirely. After about 45 minutes of tuning, I got them that far. The kick was beyond me. The snare - that's exactly the problem. If he had hit it with more authority, it might have been perfectly usable.

After replacing the kick and snare, the toms sounded kinda wooden or boxy, so I said, "screw it, I've come this far."

Quote by MatrixClaw

(depending on what kind of music it is, I suppose)


Kinda Silversun Pickups.

Quote by MatrixClaw

For future sessions, since you aren't practiced in tuning drums, and most drummers aren't either, I'd really suggest you get a Tune-bot. Makes tuning REALLY easy, since it shows the tuning in Hz, so you can literally tune the drums to the key of the song if you wanted and it'll sound pretty bitchin, if you have no idea what to do


Geez. I had no idea that even existed. I just might pick one of those up.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
sandyman323
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#19
It might be too late to chime in but I'll throw in my 2 cents anyway.

Show him both mixes.

It's not really worth telling him how much extra work you had to do or how bad his kit sounds unless he can hear it for himself to know just how bad it really was. If you give him both he'll get a sound he's happy with and be able to clearly hear how much of a difference proper drum tuning/playing can make in a mix. You may not even have to say anything about them being bad. If it's bad enough he will hear it for himself and make that call himself.
kakos
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#20
tell them, generally, drums are the thing that makes or breaks the whole album for me anyway, if drum tones crap, everything else seems crap,

you can get away with a not so perfect guitar tone or not so perfect bass tone, but drums and vocals should be always pristine!
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Last edited by kakos at Jan 14, 2013,
axemanchris
Awwww.... NOW what?!
Join date: Aug 2006
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#21
Yeah, I agree with these, at least for the most part. He was in the control room and appeared nervous about the drum sound. I expect he could hear for himself that they were going to need a lot of help.


CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
axemanchris
Awwww.... NOW what?!
Join date: Aug 2006
2,471 IQ
#22
Haha.... went back to the session and got the original files before we screwed around with tuning the drums.

Here is what they sounded like on the first go: (no EQ or compression - just a bit of panning and leveling)

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwMDmdm6wl4wb2NMbG13ak5TUms/edit

Yeah, that drum in the right speaker is a floor tom. The one on the left is the first tom - the one I momentarily thought was a snare drum with the lever off.

FML

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
Last edited by axemanchris at Jan 16, 2013,
kyle62
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#23
Honestly, I thought the original drums (without sample replacement) sounded much better. I'm sure it fits in context of the mix but the original drums sounded nice, just a bit jazzy and not hit hard enough.


On a side note, that is the most generic 'sloppy 17 year old' drumming I've ever heard


EDIT: Oh my god, just heard the original drum tuning. Jesus Christ! I feel for you Chris, I really do

Those toms sound like the weird computerised bits in Bonzo's Montreaux (skip to 1:30):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sal1nVhYPiY
Last edited by kyle62 at Jan 17, 2013,
axemanchris
Awwww.... NOW what?!
Join date: Aug 2006
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#24
Quote by kyle62
Honestly, I thought the original drums (without sample replacement) sounded much better. I'm sure it fits in context of the mix but the original drums sounded nice, just a bit jazzy and not hit hard enough.


Fair point. Lots of times, a sound that you would never use on its own is the one that fits perfectly into the context of a mix. This guy was going for a Silversun Pickups kind of sound. Ironically, he said he wanted a nice tight kick.... but he didn't have one.

Quote by kyle62

On a side note, that is the most generic 'sloppy 17 year old' drumming I've ever heard


It wasn't a track - it was just "play something and let's check sounds and levels. Make sure to hit all the toms at some point." Nice kid.

Quote by kyle62

EDIT: Oh my god, just heard the original drum tuning. Jesus Christ! I feel for you Chris, I really do


Yeah, my first thought (after me asking him to hit the first tom and I thought it was a snare....) was "f**k me. You're going to be asking me to make this sound good, right? And you're NOT kidding?"

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.