What is the purpose of drum samples?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by jvms, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. jvms

    jvms SS.org Regular

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    Hello guys, I learned a while ago that some engineers, when recording drums, sample the drumkit that the drummer is playing and then replaces recorded tracks with them. I always understood why an engineer would use samples to replace a baddly recorded kit or even a kit that was recorded in a live concert, but why would he replace the sound of a kit with the exact same sound of the exact same kit in the mixing? Isn't that a bit redundant or am I missing something?
     
  2. Stijnson

    Stijnson SS.org Regular

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    I'm no expert, but in that case, as far as I understand, it is in order to replace some hits that the drummer might have hit less hard, off-beat or just missed completely, during tracking for example, and gives the engineer/mixer a chance to fix that. Besides that I imagine it's also very convenient to just record a sample without bleed and use that.
     
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  3. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    This.
     
  4. Random3

    Random3 SS.org Regular

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    Apart from fixing mistakes or making rolls more consistent, one common reason to do this is to fix bleed problems. Like if there is a part that uses the floor tom and the china cymbal, there will likely be a lot of cymbal bleed in the tom mic. You can fix this problem by putting a completely clean tom sample in place of the live hit.
     
  5. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    It's easier to adjust volume and timing of individual hits. It's easier to fix mistakes and problems. There's little to know bleed, or else the bleed is totally controllable, etc.

    I did a session where we recorded live drums and then replaced the kick and snare with samples. The snare we used in the live recording didn't cut very well in the mix, and the footwork was kind of sloppy in places, even though everything else was rock steady. So we just set the snare mic and kick mic to trigger and sample, and the engineer messed with it overnight and in the morning, the entire mix just sounded better. I honestly don't know how the drummer felt about it, but he was aware of it and didn't say anything about it one way or the other.
     
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  6. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    This is honestly very common in the mixing world, and for all genres. Some purists think sample replacement or reinforcement should be frowned upon, however, if it makes a kick or snare sound better, then why not.

    I don't think I'd ever waste my time taking samples of a drummer that didn't get his original takes right in the first place, unless I was being seriously paid for it. That seems silly IMO.
     
  7. cw2908

    cw2908 SS.org Regular

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    You can use samples for anything from not re-recording a song to fix a flubbed crash hit to... making your drummer not sound like total shit.
     
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  8. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoils = tr00

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    Much of the sound of a great snare is in the overheads, same for the toms, and some drummers just fill the OH's with so much cymbal noise that it can be hard to get to the juicy snare bits. Relying on just the close mics for the snare isn't that sexy. One could argue this wouldn't be a problem if drummers sorted their shit out, but then again production techniques like this is what's influenced some drummers (especially metal drummers) to play like that in the first place, so it's kind of a vicious circle. If you want to bash the life out of your cymbals while maintaining a huge snare sound, you kind of have to sample-replace to get the best out of both. Why anyone would want that much cymbal noise is beyond me, it sounds punishing at small clubs too, but hey I'm not a drummer.
     
  9. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    ^ I agree 100%

    There's a lot to be said about mic position and orientation around the drums. But, as careful as an engineer is, it's all for nothing if the drummer is inconsistent with volume.
     
  10. jvms

    jvms SS.org Regular

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    That actually sounds really interesting. What is the best way of using these samples? Dragging them into the recorded track or using some kind of plugin?
     
  11. jerm

    jerm SS.org Regular

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    On most modern sounding records, samples are virtually on every shell making up for at least 50% of that shell's sound. A lot of records actually just replace all their shell tones with samples. But programmed drums sound fake right? hahaha

    I'm a member of nail the mix and you could see if for yourself.
     
  12. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I've dabbled behind a kit a little, and I think the problem is cymbals are just louder than the snares and toms, so "bashing the cymbals" is really just hitting them just as hard as the rest of the kit. I think to be a really ace drummer who is a natural to record, it's a two part thing where first you just have to be a really talented musician, and second you have to be aware of this and get yourself into the habit of hitting the brass a bit more lightly than the rest of the kit.
     
  13. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    IME, snares and cymbals vary in response greatly from one brand to the next. Right now I have a DW snare that is super loud, and I love that I don't have to lay into it to get it to cut through the cymbal wash. I also significantly downsized my china cymbal, so it's more manageable.
     
  14. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I'll say that I'm going off a sample size of, like, two kits here, so it's possible I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about. :lol:
     
  15. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Naw, I think you are generally right. I was just adding that I thought the problem was more of an issue with cheaper kits and cymbals.
     
  16. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Interesting... I'm sure a lot of it is lack of awareness, though, and if you sat a decent drummer down in a studio, recorded him, played it back for him, and then asked him to (for the sake of science) play the same thing but ease up on the cymbals and played THAT back to him, he or she would figure it out in a hurry. :lol:
     
  17. Sumsar

    Sumsar SS.org Regular

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    You could say that it is being used to enhance the drum sound recorded. If you instead of having 100% live mic drum sound have like 50% live and 50% sample you basicly cut the bleed by half. Cymbal bleed is a huge issue when recording real drums. People who have only using software drums have no facking idea!

    Another thing you learn when you being to record real drummers is that 'a good live drummer' and 'a good studio drummer' can be two very different things. When you are in the studio, consistency is everything for a drum recording. Even if the guy is hitting weak, it can sometimes be better to have him play consistenly weak rather than only play weak on some parts (often happens with blast beats).
    Having again say 50% of the sound be a sample with consistent volume can help even out a great but very variyng drum performance, rather than compression and limiting.
     
  18. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I know a couple of people who have those Slipknot signature snares and they're f*****cking loud, at least the way I've heard them. And I know I'm not a great drummer, but I've been playing a lot lately, and I can say first-hand that holding back from smashing the bajeezus out of your cymbals can be an acquired skill. I have to consciously focus on how hard I'm hitting things, both so that I don't abuse the instrument, but so I don't deafen everyone in the room.

    Also, more to the point, I don't think I've ever had a hand in producing any metal where the kick drum wasn't at least partly a sample. It's the most straightforward way I can think of to keep each hit consistent, which is hugely important in this genre. Maybe not so much in others.
     
  19. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    In the olden days of home recording before drum samples were a total given, we just had to accept the fact that none of the drum mics were the least bit isolated. You'd place a few mics to get a good room sound, then throw individual mics on things that you might want to bring up in the mix later (the snare), then mixing was not really a linear thing. If you brought up mic 6, which was over the floor tom, you knew full well that the ride cymbal was going to also get louder. :shrug: I did some sessions where we would throw two room mics up, spend 30 minutes to an hour figuring out the best place to put them to get a good mix later, that would stress everything except the bass and snare, and then mic the bass and snare drum. For home recording, I honestly would use two mics, or sometimes only one, since you only had four tracks to record before you had to submix and bounce.

    I think samples have effectively solved all of those problems.
     
  20. Unleash The Fury

    Unleash The Fury SS.org Regular

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    The biggest thing is, unless you have perfect room with perfect acoustics, perfect technique, the best mic and mic placement, you could almost always get a better sound using samples. Not everyone has the luxury of the best stuff . So if samples can make your kit sound better thrn why not? After all its all about the end result. Sure you can go for the most natural sound possible, then thats another story.
     

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