Community Tip - Drum Replacement

09-09-2013 07:37 PM

With the support of iLok, more tips & tricks from the community. Here is one from Aaron Giese all about drum replacement….
In a perfect world, drum replacement or doubling wouldn’t be necessary. But the reality is that a lot of us work out of home studios and don’t always have ideal conditions. Sometimes even in the best conditions, things happen that are out of our control such as drummers showing up late with less than ideal drum kits and you have no choice but to make the best of the situation as fast as you can. That being said, here are a few tips: 1. Start with as good of a drum sound as you can when recording. Even if you get a drum kit with old beat up heads and need to get the session rolling in a hurry, try to spend some time tuning and dampening the drums as best you can.
2. Learn how to tune drums. Buy a drum tuner. There are plenty of youtube videos out there to learn from. Practice on as many different kinds of kits as you can get your hands on so that you can tune drums fast if needed. Have some moon gels on hand for dampening. Have some extra kick drum beaters on hand. Sometimes just swapping out the beater of the drummers kick pedal is all you need to do to get the right sound. Have at least 2 on hand in case they have a double kick pedal. And have some kind of pillow or blanket for dampening the kick drum if needed.
3. After the drums have been recorded, do any kind of editing that may need to be done before you start replacing drums. Finalize the take/s you will be using.
4. There are several ways to replace or double drums. The simplest free way to do it is to create a midi sampler instrument with the drum sample loaded you are going to use, and create a midi note at every transient of the drum you are replacing to trigger the sample. However, this can be time consuming and there are plugins that do a great job with much less effort.
5. If you don’t have the money to buy the plugin, don’t get a cracked version, just do it the honest way and use midi notes. You will feel better about yourself in the end and you will earn self respect from having done something not everyone was willing to do for the sake of your mix.
6. If you do have the money, I recommend Slate Digital Trigger. Thats what I use. Its simple to use and has a lot of great features. So now you have your drums recorded, edited and some kind of replacement set up weather its a plugin like trigger or a sampler instrument.
7. Now its time to choose a sample. For the most part, the sample that you use is going to depend on your personal preference as well as what the song needs. Depending on what you have available, try to use something that incorporates multiple samples of the same drum. I know Trigger uses a proprietary sample format that includes multiple hits at different velocities.
8. There are other sampler instruments that use this kind of technology as well. If you only use one sample that gets played over and over for every hit, it becomes very obvious that you replaced the real drums with a sample.
9. Once you have decided on the sample to use, use some kind of pitch shifting or built in tuning to tune the sample to the same pitch as the original recorded drum. Chances are that whatever drum you are replacing also leaked into the overhead mics, room mics, and the mics of any other drums you decide not to replace.
10. Having the sample tuned to the same pitch as the original drum will help the sample to blend into the kit a lot better. If the sample you are using is really dry, send it to a small room reverb along with the overheads and other drums to make it sound like they were all recorded in the same room.
11. Set the output of everything including the small room reverb to an aux to be used as a drums sub mix and compress that lightly with a slow attack and fast release to help glue everything together. Sometimes you end up with a section of the song where the drummer is banging away on the cymbals and not hitting the snare hard enough (or the kick or toms). This can be a tricky situation to deal with. This is where drum replacement/doubling really helps.
12. Another thing to try is to find a section of the song where there are no cymbals, but only kick or snare (or toms). It might not be a bad idea to take your drum samples from this section if the only problem you are trying to deal with is cymbals leaking into the snare mic. But even if you are completely replacing your kick or snare (or toms), you can take samples from the overheads or room mics from this section and add those in where the cymbals are going nuts.
13. Make sure the sample starts from the point that the original direct mic captures the drum. If you are taking a sample from the room mics, the direct mic actually picks up the drum slightly before the room mics do because of the time it takes sound to travel.
14. You want to preserve that time delay in order to properly fake the kick or snare in the room mics. Then, using those room/overhead mic samples, you can make it sound like the drummer was hitting those drums harder during the cymbal madness.
15. Another tip for adding realism is to double the kick track and set up a drum replacement for it. But instead of replacing it with a better kick sample, edit a copy of your snare sample so that you only hear a little of the rattle or the snares, but not the initial “pop” or attack of the snare and replace the kick double with that.
16. Adjust the volume to taste. In a real drum kit, a lot of times the bottom of the snare rattles a little when you hit the kick drum (or toms). This trick is meant to simulate that effect and can make your samples sound more like a real kit.
17. One last tip. When you are only mixing a project, sometimes you don’t end up with all the tracks you need. You may only be given a stereo mix of some badly recorded drums, or the drums were only recorded with one or 2 mics and you need to do some serious surgery to get the sounds you want. In this case, I would suggest multing the drums first. In other words, create tracks for kick, snare and toms, and then cut the track apart putting each drum sound on each designated track.

Then, using some of the tips above, recreate the drum kit the way you need to. I hope these ideas help some people with their drums.
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