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Characteristics of a Good Room for Drum Recording?

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August 20, 2004 3:01:41 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

I'm about to begin working on a new project, recording a friends band,
and we've decided that the smaller room that is my studio just isn't
cutting it for drums. Since the recording rig is entirely portable
(rack-mounted G4, 828, mixer, etc.) we're looking to locate a good room
to rent in which to record the drums, and since we likely won't be able
to "audition the drums" in the room beforehand I'm wondering what sort
of characteristics we should be placing higher on the list.

For example, hardwood floors vs. carpeting? Plaster walls vs. wood vs.
drywall vs. cement vs...? We've been throwing around a large list of
possibilities, from local churches to empty warehouses to VFW/Mason
halls, etc. and I feel like going into this with a "want list" of room
characteristics will help us narrow down the choices a bit.

For example, the one VFW hall near me is dirt cheap for an afternoon
and often empty, but it's a tile floor, painted cinderblock walls and a
drop ceiling, very echo-y and probably not the best-sounding room for
drums (and this drummer is extremely hard-hitting, he's very
reminiscent of Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker, etc.)

Of course if anyone is already aware of a greeat-sounding room in which
to record drums in the Philadelphia area please let me know! (There
used to be a great place in Collingswood NJ from what I hear, a large
empty hall that was used for orchestral recordings, but I don't think
they are there any longer. I forget the name of the place and Google
returns nothing...)

Thanks!
Brian

PS. We have, of course, considered just recording the drums in one of
the better studios in the area and then bringing those tracks here to
finish, but we'd like to do the entire thing ourselves without the cost
of renting a pro studio if at all possible. We have the gear and I feel
we've done good recordings in the past, we just want to find a better
sounding room.
Anonymous
August 20, 2004 5:35:01 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

You might want to specify the sound you're going for. Lots of people
want a big roomy John Bonham sound. On the other hand someone just
brought me some tracks (K, S, OHx2 and HH) that were totally dead
drums in a totally dead room and my first though was that it was a
hideously bad recording. Once everything was mixed in it became
apparant that it was an excellnt choice of drum sound for the style of
music.

Those various rooms you've mentioned could all be good choices
depending on the sound you want.


If I were you, I'd go to a pro studio. I'm sure there are plenty of
moderately priced places in the area where you'll find better pres and
converters and not have the hassel of schlepping gear. You'll save
yourself hours in the mix when you start with a good sound rather than
fighting with a weak sound.

Engineer it yourself a the pro place if you want. You can get someone
to assist you with finding you way around the room and checking phase.
It's really worth it in the long run.
August 24, 2004 11:40:55 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

> You might want to specify the sound you're going for.

Indeed, sorry. As I mentioned in the original post the drummer in
question is a deciple of the Keith Moon / Mitch Mitchell / Ginger Baker
/ Mick Tucker school of Rock Drumming (head of his class, too!) and the
band on the whole is generally guitar pop (think Posies-meets-Cheap
Trick-meets-The Knack-meets-Big Star -- energetic songs, lots of
harmonies, and the guitars are sometimes clean and sometimes crunchy).

What we're going for is a warm natural drum sound, but still punchy and
tight. We're all big fans of 60s and 70s recordings, so warmth, clarity
and most importantly a natural sound are top on the list. What we're
*not* going for is the typical
close-mic-no-ambience-toms-panned-left-to-right-and-totally-artificial
type of drum sound that IMO too many people seem to love.

We're definitely considering a "pro" studio for the drum tracking but
the band is on a budget (aren't we all?!?!?!?) that might preclude the
calibre of facilities that have truly excellent acoustics. (And it's
been my experience that many of the mid-range studios, while being
generally a great value for the money esp. when run by talented folks,
often sacrifice a bit in terms of big, great-sounding acoustic spaces.)


They were thinking (and I tend to agree) that if we can find a good
alternative space (like a church, old theater, etc.) that costs less
than an arm and a leg to rent we can spend as much time as we need to
finding the sweet spot to set up, taking as long as necessary to get
the sound we're looking for, etc. What I'm not so confident about is
my/our ability to determine if a given room might work prior to
actually setting up and going for it - at least if I can narrow down
some of the ideal characteristics (i.e. wood floors over tile, plaster
over drywall, etc.) that might help the selection process.

Brian
Related resources
Anonymous
August 25, 2004 8:30:25 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Partitions draped with movers blankets are often used to surround and
isolate the drums for and from spillage.

Micing , mic types, drum tuning, type of drums and heads and EQing is a big
part of what you're working on.

Deadening the bass and toms with blankets and stuff in them is common.
Oftentimes the snare is disengaged and/or muted. Things sound quite
different when a mic is placed inches from them...

A room can often be too live, sounds reverbing around like hell, I'd go for
a deadish room and add ambience later.

Punchy and tight suggests compression in recording and mixing.

Many pro studios have no parallel walls, ceiling offset to stop standing
waves, insulated surfaces to diminish reverb.

Drywall over plaster, wood, concrete etc, not wanted. Go for a smaller
space...but you gotta try it out, there are too many variables.

Tuning up drums in a studio can take a whole day, so many variables...

Bon Chance eh!

-bg-
--
www.thelittlecanadaheadphoneband.ca
www.lchb.ca
_______________________________________________
"Brian" <nospam@nospam.com> wrote in message
news:240820041940552325%nospam@nospam.com...
> > You might want to specify the sound you're going for.
>
> Indeed, sorry. As I mentioned in the original post the drummer in
> question is a deciple of the Keith Moon / Mitch Mitchell / Ginger Baker
> / Mick Tucker school of Rock Drumming (head of his class, too!) and the
> band on the whole is generally guitar pop (think Posies-meets-Cheap
> Trick-meets-The Knack-meets-Big Star -- energetic songs, lots of
> harmonies, and the guitars are sometimes clean and sometimes crunchy).
>
> What we're going for is a warm natural drum sound, but still punchy and
> tight. We're all big fans of 60s and 70s recordings, so warmth, clarity
> and most importantly a natural sound are top on the list. What we're
> *not* going for is the typical
> close-mic-no-ambience-toms-panned-left-to-right-and-totally-artificial
> type of drum sound that IMO too many people seem to love.
>
> We're definitely considering a "pro" studio for the drum tracking but
> the band is on a budget (aren't we all?!?!?!?) that might preclude the
> calibre of facilities that have truly excellent acoustics. (And it's
> been my experience that many of the mid-range studios, while being
> generally a great value for the money esp. when run by talented folks,
> often sacrifice a bit in terms of big, great-sounding acoustic spaces.)
>
>
> They were thinking (and I tend to agree) that if we can find a good
> alternative space (like a church, old theater, etc.) that costs less
> than an arm and a leg to rent we can spend as much time as we need to
> finding the sweet spot to set up, taking as long as necessary to get
> the sound we're looking for, etc. What I'm not so confident about is
> my/our ability to determine if a given room might work prior to
> actually setting up and going for it - at least if I can narrow down
> some of the ideal characteristics (i.e. wood floors over tile, plaster
> over drywall, etc.) that might help the selection process.
>
> Brian
Anonymous
August 25, 2004 2:43:24 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

I would say go to a pro studio around town that has a good drum room.
It can be really hard to just say this is a "good drum room" there are
many factors. I guess any room can be a good drum room but how long
will it take to get the sound you're looking for? I like to go with
the best possible option. If I can record drums in the studio I will.
If all they can afford is a bedroom in an apartment then I'll go with
that. You can find good sound in the most odd locations. But I've
known of people designing studios and in then end the room was
completely useless. It's a difficult question to answer in just a
paragraph. And then there's the whole, I think it sounds good but
maybe you don't.

cheers
garrett

"**bg**" <info@thelittlecanadaheadphoneband.ca> wrote in message news:<BBUWc.208794$J06.137599@pd7tw2no>...
> Partitions draped with movers blankets are often used to surround and
> isolate the drums for and from spillage.
>
> Micing , mic types, drum tuning, type of drums and heads and EQing is a big
> part of what you're working on.
>
> Deadening the bass and toms with blankets and stuff in them is common.
> Oftentimes the snare is disengaged and/or muted. Things sound quite
> different when a mic is placed inches from them...
>
> A room can often be too live, sounds reverbing around like hell, I'd go for
> a deadish room and add ambience later.
>
> Punchy and tight suggests compression in recording and mixing.
>
> Many pro studios have no parallel walls, ceiling offset to stop standing
> waves, insulated surfaces to diminish reverb.
>
> Drywall over plaster, wood, concrete etc, not wanted. Go for a smaller
> space...but you gotta try it out, there are too many variables.
>
> Tuning up drums in a studio can take a whole day, so many variables...
>
> Bon Chance eh!
>
> -bg-
> --
> www.thelittlecanadaheadphoneband.ca
> www.lchb.ca
> _______________________________________________
> "Brian" <nospam@nospam.com> wrote in message
> news:240820041940552325%nospam@nospam.com...
> > > You might want to specify the sound you're going for.
> >
> > Indeed, sorry. As I mentioned in the original post the drummer in
> > question is a deciple of the Keith Moon / Mitch Mitchell / Ginger Baker
> > / Mick Tucker school of Rock Drumming (head of his class, too!) and the
> > band on the whole is generally guitar pop (think Posies-meets-Cheap
> > Trick-meets-The Knack-meets-Big Star -- energetic songs, lots of
> > harmonies, and the guitars are sometimes clean and sometimes crunchy).
> >
> > What we're going for is a warm natural drum sound, but still punchy and
> > tight. We're all big fans of 60s and 70s recordings, so warmth, clarity
> > and most importantly a natural sound are top on the list. What we're
> > *not* going for is the typical
> > close-mic-no-ambience-toms-panned-left-to-right-and-totally-artificial
> > type of drum sound that IMO too many people seem to love.
> >
> > We're definitely considering a "pro" studio for the drum tracking but
> > the band is on a budget (aren't we all?!?!?!?) that might preclude the
> > calibre of facilities that have truly excellent acoustics. (And it's
> > been my experience that many of the mid-range studios, while being
> > generally a great value for the money esp. when run by talented folks,
> > often sacrifice a bit in terms of big, great-sounding acoustic spaces.)
> >
> >
> > They were thinking (and I tend to agree) that if we can find a good
> > alternative space (like a church, old theater, etc.) that costs less
> > than an arm and a leg to rent we can spend as much time as we need to
> > finding the sweet spot to set up, taking as long as necessary to get
> > the sound we're looking for, etc. What I'm not so confident about is
> > my/our ability to determine if a given room might work prior to
> > actually setting up and going for it - at least if I can narrow down
> > some of the ideal characteristics (i.e. wood floors over tile, plaster
> > over drywall, etc.) that might help the selection process.
> >
> > Brian
Anonymous
August 26, 2004 8:53:12 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

You can always add ambience afterward to a dead recording,
but if you get too much in tracking you're stuck ...
That being said, I sometimes like to take chances to get some character.

Generally: ceiling - higher is better, vaulted or slanted better still.
drop ceilings are OK especially if it's very low. don't be
afraid of exposed wooden joists if it's not real low.
walls - my order of preferrence would be wood, drywall,
plaster, with cement/masonry/glass last. drapes or other
ways to break up the more reflective surfaces can help.
highly reflective parallel surfaces should be avoided.
floor - same as walls, carpeting is OK.
size - "bigger is better"

Perfectly square rooms should be avoided, as well as the cinderblock -
tile floor place unless you just really want to try it and spend some
time moving mics around. You're also not really going to know what it
sounds like playing back in the same 'live' room you recorded in, unless
you are cozy with a good set of cans.
Check out Albini's studio layout for some cool room shapes:
http://www.electrical.com/studios.php
I often use unorthodox methods and not always with complete success,
but I try to learn something as I go.

Good Luck !
RD

Brian <nospam@nospam.com> wrote in message news:<190820042301419561%nospam@nospam.com>...
> I'm about to begin working on a new project, recording a friends band,
> and we've decided that the smaller room that is my studio just isn't
> cutting it for drums. Since the recording rig is entirely portable
> (rack-mounted G4, 828, mixer, etc.) we're looking to locate a good room
> to rent in which to record the drums, and since we likely won't be able
> to "audition the drums" in the room beforehand I'm wondering what sort
> of characteristics we should be placing higher on the list.
>
> For example, hardwood floors vs. carpeting? Plaster walls vs. wood vs.
> drywall vs. cement vs...? We've been throwing around a large list of
> possibilities, from local churches to empty warehouses to VFW/Mason
> halls, etc. and I feel like going into this with a "want list" of room
> characteristics will help us narrow down the choices a bit.
>
> For example, the one VFW hall near me is dirt cheap for an afternoon
> and often empty, but it's a tile floor, painted cinderblock walls and a
> drop ceiling, very echo-y and probably not the best-sounding room for
> drums (and this drummer is extremely hard-hitting, he's very
> reminiscent of Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker, etc.)
>
> Of course if anyone is already aware of a greeat-sounding room in which
> to record drums in the Philadelphia area please let me know! (There
> used to be a great place in Collingswood NJ from what I hear, a large
> empty hall that was used for orchestral recordings, but I don't think
> they are there any longer. I forget the name of the place and Google
> returns nothing...)
>
> Thanks!
> Brian
>
> PS. We have, of course, considered just recording the drums in one of
> the better studios in the area and then bringing those tracks here to
> finish, but we'd like to do the entire thing ourselves without the cost
> of renting a pro studio if at all possible. We have the gear and I feel
> we've done good recordings in the past, we just want to find a better
> sounding room.
September 24, 2004 8:18:55 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

In article <240820041940552325%nospam@nospam.com>, Brian
<nospam@nospam.com> wrote:

>
> What I'm not so confident about is
> my/our ability to determine if a given room might work prior to
> actually setting up and going for it - at least if I can narrow down
> some of the ideal characteristics (i.e. wood floors over tile, plaster
> over drywall, etc.) that might help the selection process.
>
> Brian
Take a snare drum with you when you check the space out.
!