I wanted to take the opportunity and talk about some of the lessons I’ve learned in the first year of Icelandic Embassy Studios when it comes to drum production.
1. Find the Right Spot for the Drum-Kit
My home studio space is pretty small.
When a metal band comes in with a huge rack for all their unnecessary toms we have to block the door so nobody can go out the front.
But when you have a normal sized drum-kit you have a little more leeway when it comes to positioning the drum-kit.
Because of the size of my room and its inherent parallel surfaces I’ve found that angling it slightly diagonally against the walls not only makes the kit sound better in the room but it also creates more surface space around the kit for microphone placement.
2. The 80/20 of Your Drum Sound
The kick and the snare are the most important parts of your drum sound.
If you can get a killer kick/snare sound from your kit you’re 80% of the way there.
If you’re mixing a driving rock song you’ll place most of your mix focus on these two aspects of your drum-kit so focus on making them the best they can be, even at the expense of the rest of the drum-kit.
Cue the hate-mail!
3. Easy Overheads with the Recorderman
I gave up on the X/Y technique because it was too annoying to use and always sounded too harsh.
I often use a spaced pair A-B technique when I’m just trying to pick up the cymbals but if you want to get a tight drum sound that reduces the sound of your room I recommend the Recorderman technique.
Here’s my buddy Graham over at the Recording Revolution with a great video on this technique.
4. The Dryer the Studio, the Better the Mix
What I mean is that if you record the drum-kit as dry as possible it’ll give you more options during the mixing process.
If you have a really roomy drum sound it’ll sound weird if try to juxtapose a large chamber reverb on top of that room sound.
Better to keep it as dry as possible in a home recording set-up so you have more options during mix-down.
5. Enhance Your Drums With Sample Replacement
I use Drumagog 5 on almost all of my drum mixes.
It’s entirely changed the way I approach drum mixing. It lets me completely change the kick and snare sound if I need to.
But it also lets me blend samples with the original recordings if I just need a little extra punch or oomph that I couldn’t capture during the recording phase.
Those are the five lessons I’ve learned in the last year of recording drums in my home studio.
Every drum recording is a challenge but every time I learn something new that improves my process.
If you want more lessons on production please check out my Recording & Mixing Strategies: