When the recording was complete, we had 14 different drum hits and one sound effect, each with 10-15 samples of increasing volume, each with 3-4 takes. That’s a lot of samples. The first step in mixing these samples down was to come up with a consistent mix and set of effects. We recorded a series of drum patterns to help with this.
So I sat down at my computer, set the sequence to loop the first eight-bar pattern, and began tweaking and playing. First I listened to each of the mikes seperately. That was very interesting. The overhead mike was very ambient with a lot of highs and definition, but no lows and little sustain. The side mike picked up a lot of hand-slap, what I can only describe as a “papery” sound – not sure if that’s helpfull. The bell mike, of course, was rich and full, but without definition.
All as expected, and all ready for mixing.
I asked for some advice in mixing from the folks at kvraudio forums. If you take a look, you will see that I got little help beyond “dry,” so that’s where I started. The best dry mix I came up with was the bass as 0 dB, the side at -5 dB and overhead at -10 dB. This maximized the tone and minimized the papery swooshy sound that I didn’t like. I also ran the main fader at about 100 (out of 127) to keep the peaks from clipping.
I played with several EQ and compression settings, and ended up with the Kjaerhus Classic Compression on the overhead and side mic. The overhead is set for a threshold of -16 dB and compression of 2.5:1. The side mic is set for a threshold of -8 dB and compression of 4:1. I tried adding minimal compression to the entire mix, but that killed the bass for some reason. Most likely I don’t know how to use the compressor.
I only left EQ in two places – first on the bass channel rolling off the highs a bit. Then I applied EQ to the entire mix, using subtle changes until I had dialed it in. To help, I started with a flat setting and essentially soloed each slider by taking it all the way up to see what happened.
As I was listening to the overhead soloed, I realized that it would be the perfect place to added a little space and ambiance. I have numerous reverb plug-ins to play with, but the two I use the most right now are the CDReverb that came with Power Tracks, and the Kjaerhus Classic Reverb, which is rapidly becoming my favorite. I used the supplied preset “016 Percussion”, unable to improve on it.
I polled the users at both PG Music Forums and kvraudio forums and in both places, the response was overwhelmingly for providing the dry version. I’ll do that and provide the wet version if the dry one doesn’t take forever to create.
Samples of the rhythms with and without the reverb can be listened to here:
Next, Slice and Dice.