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aidan o driscoll

Recording, Organising, mixing, mastering individual drum tracks .. best way?

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Posted (edited)

Hi Guys

I am mixing a track at the moment where the drummer gave me all the individual drum lines of the drums on different tracks .. bass, snare, hats, overhead etc

I know I can just add each part to separate tracks as usual, but I was wondering is there any better way of organising these drum tracks? I sort of was thinkig could one use the take lanes for this .. keeping all the separate drum part tracks as sub tracks of a main track .. ??

Or just leave well enough alone and put them on all separate tracks :D

This is more an organisation Q really

Edited by aidan o driscoll

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Take lanes have no FX Rack, ProChannel, sends, automation, interleave, gain, volume, phase or pan controls. These are track level features.

 

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3 minutes ago, scook said:

Take lanes have no FX Rack, ProChannel, sends, interleave, gain, volume, phase or pan controls. These are track level features.

 

Thanks @scook  ... it was just a punt. 

Might be a nice tweak for take lanes to be ALSO used someway like this, especially for separate drum parts organisation 

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I suppose it would be a way to get one level of nested tracks or a "track folder" type.

Would not wait for this to happen though.

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just create the individual drum tracks in a regular track folder. route the outputs of those tracks to a buss or two (i route kick to a separate buss and have a parallel compression buss for kit except OH, room, cymbals and kick). mix the tracks to taste then compact the folder. use the buss(es) to control overall drum in mix. use buss level effects (perhaps on other "effects" busses) like delays and reverbs to reduce plugin count and save processing power.

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10 minutes ago, Glenn Stanton said:

just create the individual drum tracks in a regular track folder. route the outputs of those tracks to a buss or two (i route kick to a separate buss and have a parallel compression buss for kit except OH, room, cymbals and kick). mix the tracks to taste then compact the folder. use the buss(es) to control overall drum in mix. use buss level effects (perhaps on other "effects" busses) like delays and reverbs to reduce plugin count and save processing power.

Spot on @Glenn Stanton .. Track Folders is what I was looking for ..

Will take your advice re busses etc. I have KICK, SNARE, HIHAT, SUB-KICK, TOM1, TOM2, FLOOR TOM and then ROOM MIC, OH LEFT, OH RIGHT

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Here's my drum-track organization practice. Bear in mind I've only been doing this for 50 years, and only 20 of those on a computer, so the process is still being refined.

I like to place drum tracks in the order that I initially mix them: kick, snare, toms, overheads, hats, room. When I get tracks from someone, they are often all in stereo, so the very first step is to convert kick and snare to mono.

These all go into a "Drums" folder, along with any other percussion instruments, and all are routed to a Drums bus. (If I'm using MIDI drums, all the MIDI tracks go into their own "Drums MIDI" folder so I can easily hide them when I'm done fiddling with the MIDI.)

Depending on the genre, there will also be one or two additional busses for distortion and reverb. I like to send a little kick, snare and toms to the distortion bus. Unless I'm using reverb as a special effect, it usually works better when you apply reverb to the entire kit via a separate bus.

Each drum track will have its own EQ, sometimes a limiter and/or compressor on just the kick, sometimes a compressor on the snare, and usually compression on room mics. Dynamics here are generally just for shaping hits and trimming excessive peaks. All this is done very early in the mix process. Yes, it's common wisdom that you don't put fx on individual tracks before mixing, but for me drums are the exception to that rule - get them sounding good on their own first, then tailor the rest of the mix around them.

I prefer to do the main compression and limiting on the entire kit at the bus. Any  volume automation will also be done at the bus. This helps to maintain cohesion between the individual drums. Once they've been balanced between themselves I generally don't touch them, preferring to treat them from then on as a single instrument. It also makes it easier to balance the drums with the rest of the mix later on, or to export them as a stem.

 

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In all my years recording and mixing bands, the drum kits individual pieces are tracked onto their own track and then mixed into a sub group or buss, then sent to the master track.  Unless you are recording a group that sounds like Buddy Holly or The Beatles of the early 60s where the drums are tracked in mono, you will track and mix drums per kit piece per channel and summed to a buss channel.

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6 hours ago, bitflipper said:

Here's my drum-track organization practice. Bear in mind I've only been doing this for 50 years, and only 20 of those on a computer, so the process is still being refined.

I like to place drum tracks in the order that I initially mix them: kick, snare, toms, overheads, hats, room. When I get tracks from someone, they are often all in stereo, so the very first step is to convert kick and snare to mono.

I find that you converting the incoming stereo tracks to mono interesting as in my experience, this causes an increase in decibel and even introduces artifacts or eliminates timbre.  Though for maintaining mental health, I always record drums kit pieces in mono and prefer to mix them as mono, but when a less experienced home export mix comes to me that is each channel in stereo, I just keep it as is just more out of fear of degradation.

Am I being a bit naïve or irrational for thinking so?

You're ancient wisdom I seek of thee!

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Neither naïve nor irrational, just prudent.

Most of the time, the kick and snare tracks being in stereo is an unintentional mistake, and most of the time the left/right channels are actually identical. So there'll be no tonal difference after conversion. Yes, you do get a volume boost, but that's why I do the mono conversion first, before starting to balance the kit pieces.

In the rare instances when a track sounds thin after conversion, that's an indication that it really was recorded in stereo with two or more microphones, and that the engineer did not take phasing into account. Leaving such tracks in stereo because collapsing to mono makes them sound worse just pushes the problem back, as the overall mix will likely have mono compatibility issues. In this scenario, rather than using the "convert to mono" shortcut, split the stereo into two separate mono tracks and either delete one of them or phase-align it.

Though such a scenario is fairly rare on drums, it is common with synthesizers that insist on stereo output whether the patch calls for it or not. Like you, I fear degradation and will often leave the track stereo for that reason. However, before making that decision it's helpful to check if the track is really stereo to begin with. Quite often, such a check reveals that the patch isn't stereo at all but just has a widening effect (chorus, reverb or delay) added, in order to make it sound stereophonic. They design patches that way so they'll sound good in isolation, without regard as to how they'll fit into a mix. If, however, the track is truly stereo (e.g. a Leslie, auto-panned pad or acoustic piano) and needs to stay that way, then a true stereo panner (such as Boz's Pan Knob) can save the day.

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MIxing all drums separate tracks is a complex way to have a good mix without to try to complicate the job.

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Thanks guys. I had completely forgotten the Track Folders feature. That sorted my initial Q about ORGANISING. But I am glad to see the thread has expanded into general mixing and busing real drum parts etc. I would be a bit of a novice here in this regard ( Im a guitarist :D ) .. I also would have used loops in general.

Via pandemic and lockdowns and the cloud way of working it had a surprising thing of getting the old band back together virtually ( some are in other parts of the world ). In this case the Drummer is in the US,  am here in Ireland. He sent me all separate drum part tracks and yes snare, bass are in stereo :D .. All recorded in Protools. He has his own small studio with his kit mic'ed up for recording

One thing I did do with each part wav was into Soundforge first and normalised -16db because the recorded tracks were a bit low in vol for my licking. It didnt create any issues with extra "air", hiss etc. 

As an aside anyone use sidechaining tween bass and bass drum? 

 

  

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I always have the individual drums going to a bus or group fader so when I am tracking my vocals or laying down piano or guitar or writing in stuff, I can just turn down all the drums at once. I find that drums can be an annoyance when I'm writing parts and I want to hear if the individual instruments like piano and synth sound good together, all I need is to hear the beat.

I don't track live drums but if you use a drum VST of any kind, it ends up the same if you can output each drum part to an individual track.

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9 hours ago, aidan o driscoll said:

One thing I did do with each part wav was into Soundforge first and normalised -16db because the recorded tracks were a bit low in vol for my licking. It didnt create any issues with extra "air", hiss etc. 

As an aside anyone use sidechaining tween bass and bass drum? 

I think the capability to have remote sessions with the band is a great way to keep moving forward on projects and saves time from commuting, and I have been trying to make my band get into it for like the last ten years now, I swear!  

Tell me where did you learn to normalize your tracks to boost its level??  I read a lot of others normalizing their tracks but I in the last 15 years of recording and mixing thousands of songs have yet to normalize a track to raise levels.  I just use the gain knob or a gain plug in or boost the gain on the clip using the clip gain automation.

......am I missing something with not Normalizing tracks?   I feel kinda insecure about me methods of mixing now tbh..

perhaps I shall hit the books again for the tenth time of the year!

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Don't normalize. That should be printed onto a t-shirt or wall chart for easy reference.

The exception is when, like in Aidan's case, you get a bunch of files that are so quiet that they need extra gain just to get into the ballpark of the rest of the mix. Technically no different from turning up the gain knob, just faster and more permanent. 

 

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, clovis said:

I think the capability to have remote sessions with the band is a great way to keep moving forward on projects and saves time from commuting, and I have been trying to make my band get into it for like the last ten years now, I swear!  

Tell me where did you learn to normalize your tracks to boost its level??  I read a lot of others normalizing their tracks but I in the last 15 years of recording and mixing thousands of songs have yet to normalize a track to raise levels.  I just use the gain knob or a gain plug in or boost the gain on the clip using the clip gain automation.

......am I missing something with not Normalizing tracks?   I feel kinda insecure about me methods of mixing now tbh..

perhaps I shall hit the books again for the tenth time of the year!

For decades, back to 90s I have used SOUNDFORGE for my Audio editing

https://www.magix.com/index.php?id=24061&L=52&AffiliateID=177&phash=vlRep1GVx8SCLu7F&gclid=Cj0KCQjw5uWGBhCTARIsAL70sLL9klu9pvR_ZS2QOsAOkr07ZQSURRKjeTycu68AgUFmYYPm_OkSxTEaAloZEALw_wcB

Before you go HOW MUCH :D ... just keep an eye on the Humble Bundles. Quiet often they have audio bundles that include earlier versions of Soundforge, the whole bundle inc Soundforge coming to the princely sum of about $20. I ended up with Soundforge Pro 12 that way and thats what I use. 

I also have successfully used Soundforge to drop the vol of peaks in a very zoomed in version of a wav file. Result is you dont hear any difference in the wav file after except no peak. 

I also use it sometimes if say a vocal line recorded by vocalist has paper shuffles or noises between the vocal lines. I use soundforge to silence these parts. 

Of course the cases I outline above are when its almost impossible to get a rerecord and one has to work with the copy you have

I edit the audio file inside the audio files folder of the Cakewalk Project. Of course make a backup before hand of the unedited versions if you want to fall back

I would say the same could be achieved with the FREE AUDACITY audio editor BUT for me its Sound Forge all the way 

Edited by aidan o driscoll
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However I sometimes wonder as an alt to Normalising .. one could bring a lowish vol wav into Soundforge and simply use the increase volume feature, sparingly .. then after that into CW and through Gain push up another small bit 

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@aidan o driscoll ahh yes, me and Soundforge had a little fling for a couple years back in the very beginnings of my journey into the realm of DAW around 02’-03’.  I was the only kid in highschool within a 50 mile radius that was doing any sort of audio production.  

I do like to use a separate wave editor for various reasons that need that streamlined interface and fine resolution for precise edits.  

I used to use Nero for sequencing CD albums but ever since the move to digital downloads and streams, I moved into audio restoration using RX.

This led me into doing some forensics for private investigators which I don’t really recommend doing if one is highly sensitive to violence and the occasional audible death all day long, like myself :)  I didnt get into this gig for a few subpoenas and to employ a therapist full time, I need Rock n Roll to get out of bed.
 

…so anyways, what was the question again??  I went on a tangent and I forgot how I got here.  Something about drum tracks…

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We need to resist the normalization of normalization. Leave that to the statisticians, relational database designers and anybody still using a slide rule.

Tangents are good. The most valuable lessons I've learned about electronics, recording, mixing and digital audio were acquired by accident while stumbling down some tangential path.

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