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Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Drum Layering With a Room Mic

OK so another quick drum tip this week which follows on from what I talked about previously regarding using a short delay. It's the same idea but instead of a short delay we are going to layer a synthetic kick with an acoustic kick that has a lot of room tone in the signal. A room tone generated by a room mic is akin to adding in a short delay but will sound more natural.

This also works really nicely on snare drums, although its a little more fiddly to get it right.

So the theory behind this comes from recording a drum kit, often you'll have a room mic or mics that might be say five meters away from the kit. This adds a unifrom room tone to all of the kit's peices (kick, snare, toms etc.) and can also be used as a dirt mic to rough up the recording a bit.

1. Find a good synthetic kick sample

This sample is essentially going to work as your "sub kick" with an acoustic kick sample sitting on top of it for dirt and character, as explained above.

2. Layer this with an acoustic kick from Addictive Drums / Superior Drummer / BFD etc.

Personally I use Addictive Drums but any of the above mentioned products will work fine, the key is to turn up the room mic to taste, then tune this kick to match your sub kick's frequency. You may find that you need to use an envelope of some sort to fade out part of the tail of the acoustic kick particularly if you set your room mic to be quite far away from the kit peice in Addicitve Drums etc.

3. Add processing to taste

Here is where the dirt part comes in. Take that room tone and apply saturation / distortion / compression / whatever until you've added the sufficient character. You've now got a couple of direct sounds and a room tone that you've sculpted and layered to fit your track.

4. Rinse and repeat with the snare drum

Instead of stacking the sounds as sub / top combination, focus on a mid / side combination, where the room tone forms the side signal. Add a harmonic exciter or a bitcrusher (lightly does it) to the side signal for some really unique sounds and keep your synthetic snare mono and in the centre for power. If you use enough room tone on your side snare, you'll find you don't need to use reverb on it.

Here's an example:

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