Drum Recording: Quicksand

The next song to record on drums was Quicksand. I had arranged this session for the 28th April in the Multitrack suite. The session was set up in a similar fashion to the last drum recording. I spent lots of time setting up the microphones again as Casey set up the kit. Fortunately I had learnt from my last session and was able to streamline the process with new ways of thinking. Small issues from the last session were all covered, for example I had bought my own studio tape for fixing un steady drum mics and dampening the snare, rack and floor toms. I had also arranged for Robbie Caswell-Jones to bring his bass guitar to the recording so he could play as well and help achieve a better ‘feel’ or ‘groove’ to the song. Because of this I asked Robbie to sign a release form before he began recording.

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As I intended on recording without a click track again this would be vital. I also made sure I brought extra spare microphones in case they were required and had learnt since the last session that AKG 414’s were great as overheads so I thought I would give this technique a try. This is shown by Senior,

‘The C414 is particularly good here, as it only starts rolling off at the low end below 50Hz in cardioid mode… I once did a session where we got a beautiful full-range kit recording (complete with a nice punchy kick drum) out of nothing but a pair of C414s.’ (Senior, 2007)

My Engineer Daniel Marnie assisted with the early stages of the recording on tasks such as miking the kit and getting levels for the tracks.

I had also learnt from the last session in terms of project management. As I was managing three separate people at once it could have been easy for them to get restless at certain stages, especially as we were recording ate due to Casey’s other work commitments. Because of this I made sure I kept morale high by providing food for the artists and my assistant. This also saved time from the first session as the drummer and guitarist had took a break to go to Mcdonalds and get food. I’m a strong advocate for regular breaks in the studio but this had taken about an hour or so and I felt we had lost valuable recording time. The practice I employed saved two important facets, time, and it’s close relative – money. I was fortunate that my degree covers the costs of my time in the studio but in the ‘real world’ this would not be the case. These are two valuable commodities that every good Producer feels they could always have more of, yet they also manage to achieve a successful project within the allocated budget and timeframe. As my main aim for this project was to produce an EP to a high standard to show my skills as a producer, I believed I should replicate every area as close as possible to the real thing. This practice reflects this method, which I achieved by being confident and self assured at all times whilst non-threatening and open to other ideas.

As I had taken pictures from the last recording and I was extremely pleased with the drum sound I achieved, I was able to use these as reference points for this session. This helped the process run smoother as well.  Here are some pictures from the recording:

Here is the Audix D6 Kick Mic.

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I used the SM57 on the Top Snare again.

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For the bottom I used the Audix i5.

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The Rack Tom was miked with an Audix D2.

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I used the Audix D4 on the Floor Tom and AKG 414’s as room mics. I tested out different polar patterns including omni-directional to provide more room tone but as well but this was pretty void as we were recording in the dead room so I chose cardioid instead.

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Here is the blanket placed over the kick drum and mic. This meant I had to constantly check the position of the microphone but it was worth it for the clear sound it presented.

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Here’s a shot of Robbie and I’s set up in the live room. I had miked the acoustic with a 414 and the bass was patched into the desk via DI.

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A picture of the team listening back intently!

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Chords written down for Robbie.

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Overall it was an extremely successful session and I was able to achieve another great drum sound as Casey performed admirably and we recorded a great take. I’m really enjoying this experience so far and feel I’m putting my learning into practice by applying the techniques I’ve learnt to the following session. For my next recording date I shall be recording my acoustic guitar, which I am really looking forward to!

Here is the Session Sheet for this recording:

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References:

Senior, M. (2007). Q. Which mics should I buy as drum overheads?.Available: https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec07/articles/qa1207_1.htm. Last accessed 29th March 2015.

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