5 Tips For Getting Huge Drum Sounds
Grammy nominated and Spelleman Award winning audio engineer, Matthew Weiss, has blessed us with a few tips on how to get huge drum sounds. He clarifies that he is referring to the “huge” sound that fits with more rock, pop records that are using either acoustic drums or a live drum feel. However, his tips will inform any curious producer or engineer and understanding other styles can only take your skills to the next level. I’ll summarize his five points below.
- Embrace The Space – to get character and energy in your drums you need to embrace the space in which you’re recording. Even if it isn’t acoustically perfect, it is working with those inconsistencies and quarks that will MAKE your sound. A controlled space can very easily sound dead and boring.
- Fake It If You Can’t Make It – if you’re working in a very controlled space however you can liven it up with compression and distortion. Compression will increase the length of your reverb tails and give a bigger sense of space. As well as bring out more of the character of the room. Distortion will add crunch and grunginess. Matthew refers to this as using”brute force” for character.
- Focus On The Rooms and Overheads – if you can’t tell already Matt is really emphasizing the sound of the space you’re in to achieve hugeness. Close mics will provide clarity, but if you can achieve a full picture of the drum kit with just the room and overhead mics you are in a great position to achieve a massive sound. Spend most of your time focusing on these mics.
- Contrasting Dynamics – this tip is speculative so experiment with this one. Contrast between your close mics and your rooms and overheads, putting punchiness in one group of mics and space in another, mixed properly, will provide that fullness.
- Watch The Low-Mids – all the muddiness in the 300-700 Hz range can be scary. However, that muddiness contains a lot of the room sound, which you need for huge. If your drums are sounding small, experiment with bringing some of this muddiness back.
As someone who loves where the acoustic world meets the electronic, I found these tips to be extremely helpful. Of course, it all requires experimentation and every space will be different. Check out Matthew Weiss’ full article HERE.