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A few episodes ago I published a video on recording a drummer under poor circumstances. In it, I used a Roland TD30 electronic drum kit to capture the MIDI performance. But what if you need to capture the drummer and don’t even have drums?

Well, before you give up altogether, watch this video!

Transcript »

Dezz Asante here from the TechMuzeAcademy with another video quick tip. This one comes in response to some feedback that I got from a previous video that I did about recording drums in a home studio without proper microphones and acoustic environment to work it. Now, I had done that video using an electronic drum kit. I did it in a noisy retail store environment. And ofcourse, we took the midi from the performance and ended up getting some pretty interesting results. Now, I did get a comment from somebody who mentioned that you know it’s all well and good if you have an $8,000 Roland drum kit to play on. And the man makes a valid point. I did have the opportunity to use a real, nice, high end Roland electronic drum kit for that demonstration. So, I thought well that sounds like a challenge. Let’s see what we can do with very, very little gear as well as no good microphones, no great acoustic environment. Let’s see if we can really go low budget and still get some equally impressive results.

So, what I’m going to do today is I’m going to, behind me there I have setup a little make-shift homemade drum kit and I’m going to do my best to see if I can get some worldclass drum sounds using a home-made drum kit. Using things I found around the studio, things I found around the house, a couple of SM57s, nothing fancy and we’ll see what we could do. So, I’m going to actually just take a second walk you to the drum kit and show you what I’ve done and I’ll see you when that’s through.

So, first up handy dandy throne. You got to have some place to put your butt. Next, I’ve got a practice pad, a little Vic Firth practice pad that I’m using as my snare drum. The beautiful tone we’re getting out of that. Okay! I’ve got a little kick drum pedal attached to a pad. It’s actually a Yamaha Electronic Drum Pad but it’s not actually connected to anything. I’ve got my SM7 Microphone just to capture the beautiful tone of that. Okay! This over here is my Tom. It’s an old Jem Bay that I’ve had for a while. It’s a bit too loud . So, I’m going to put a pillow on top of it and that’s going to be my floor tom. And I’ve got a music stand, standard pair for putting your sheet music on and that’s going to be my ride cymbal. And I’ve got a towel hanging over it and lets have a listen to…oh yeah. That’s beautiful and over here on the left I’ve got a microphone stand with an SM57 tape to it and the towel draped over the top, and that’s my crash cymbal. You’ll like that! Isn’t that nice?  So, here the sounds of my drum kit – kick, snare, crash, right and floor tom. Okay! And that’s the kit we’ll use to record today.

Okay! So, I’ve painstakenly placed every microphone for maximum tone and resonance from these beautiful drums and I think we’re ready to go. So, I’m going to hit record over there and lets record some drums. Lets see how that sounded. So, here we are back in the lab which we haven’t really left and I’ve got these beautiful recorded drums. Let me play you a little bit so you can hear for yourself. Oh yeah! So, that’s what we captured. Now, in order to make the magic happen what we need to do is we need to extract midi from this performance. So, let me show you how that is done. I’m going to start with lets see…I think this was my kick track. I’m going to double click on that and open it on the sample editor. Now, what I’ve done here is I’ve activated my hit point detection and I’ve adjusted the threshold until I’m getting hit points like you see here – these lines on every kick stroke. Okay! So, that’s pretty easy. Let me show you how I did that.  We’re going to move on to the snare and I’ll repeat that process. Double click, open it up in the sample editor, any hit points, adjust my threshold, zoom in so I can see what’s going on. So, looks like we’re missing some of the lower level notes. Lets try that. I’m not sure what was going on there. Okay, that looks pretty good, so lets move along and… move on to our…what is this one? Oh, my tom. Looks pretty good! Lets zoom over here. Looks pretty good. So we’re missing a couple of those little guys…there we go. And lets see what that did… up here. That looks pretty good. So, that is our tom.

And then over here we’ve got our crash, I believe if I’m not mistaken. Again, we’ll double click, edit the hit points, threshold. Sounds amazing. Looks good we’re going to zoom in here see what we got a little closer. I like it. Okay! So, that’s our crash.

And last but not the least we got our ride. Jump in here and see what’s going on. Same thing, edit hit points. Zoom in a little tighter. Now, I’m going to go drop this way down til we start getting those 8 notes. Zoom that in a little. Let me just…full screen here. Looks good. Alright! And I think that will do.

So now that I’ve got my  hit points on all of the tracks the next thing to do is to go to each one of these and say create midi notes. So, we’re going to bounce them out. I’m going to choose 16 notes length and destination new midi track and we’re going to hit okay there. Now, we got a midi track and the mid track represents the kick. And I’m go in here to my snare and I’m going to do the same thing – create midi notes, new midi track. I’ll change the midi notes later. I’ll match them to our software instrument. So, hit okay there. So, that’s our snare. It’s important you label these. It makes things a whole lot easier. And same thing, create midi notes, new midi track. Okay! Dynamic velocity as well because we do want it to interpret the amplitude of the wave form into a midi velocity so we get some loud softs happening. Okay! That one was our tom.

Next we have our crash, create midi notes. Okay! And last but not least our ride cymbal, create midi notes…ride. Now, what I’m going to do is I’m going to take the output of this and send them all to Superior Drummer which is …I’ve just created an instance of Superior Drummer on…in my VST instrument rack. Opps, why am I here.  Superior Drummer and Superior Drummer. And I think we’re good all the way around…yes, we are. Okay! So, now what I’m going to do is I’m going to mute all of the audio tracks at the event level. I’m going to solo the kick. And I’m going to open up Superior… and we’re going to have to go in and turn off the velocities. So, I’m going to go in here and I’m going to select all notes and am going a second…there we go and turn them all up. Beautiful! Okay!

So, now we’re going to go to our snare and we’re going to select all those notes til we get a snare sound. And I’m going to move them up and I’m also going to turn their velocities up. Okay! We’re going to go to my tom…and I’m going to zoom to a place where there is some tom. And we’re going to grab all these notes. That sounds like a tom. Lets just turn those velocities up. Yeah! Sounds a bit like a tom to me. And then we’re going to take to our crash, again turn the velocities up. There’s the crash. And last but not least our ride cymbal. Sounds like a ride to me. Okay!

Now, lets see what we got when we play this all together. So, I hear my snare, there’s a couple of spots where its pick up a few extra notes. So, this is where I could go in and edit some of the midi. Take that out of the solo. Zoom in a little there. And here I see a problem. When I exported the midi from this track. In fact, I’m going to do it again. I’m going to take that snare and I’m going to remove it. I’m going to go back to my snare audio track and I’m going to create midi notes. But this time, I’m going to do 30 second note lengths. And we’re going to see if that helps because I believe I can played a little quicker there. And again label that snare, bring my velocities up, bring them to the snare. Okay! You may just take those 2 notes away and we’ll mute that guy again and we’ll see what we got. Okay! And we do have that extra snare there. That one right there, we’ll get rid of that. I’m going to do that clipping. I’m on the wrong track. And there’s another one that I don’t need. Then move those a little, turn my snap off and edit that just a little bit. That’s better! Okay! So, pardon my less than perfect timing. I practice 10 minutes a  year whether I need it or not. Okay!

So, now we got drums sounds out of our audio recordings. I’m going to do quick mix. I’m going to sink the results to the original video like I did in the last episode there and we’ll see how it all looks and sounds when it’s done. So, you’ll notice there’s a little bit more editing, a little bit more messing around. But nonetheless, I able to get some drums sounds and with literally just stuffs I found lying around the  house. Okay! So, quick mix and we’ll see how it sounds in a moment.

Okay! So, just before we get to the mix, I’m going to do a quick recap of getting the audio out of Superior. You can look a little deeper at the last video “How To Record Drums in Your Home Studio” for a bit of a longer insight into this. But here’s what we do. I’ve got my VST instrument up here and it’s all trigering just fine. I did take a minute and edit the midi a little bit just to sort of tighten up my loose timing. You don’t have to do that if want to be more of a purist. You can keep the drummer’s performance as it was but I did edit the midi a little bit. Now, what I’m going to do is I’m going to go into bounce. I’m going to hit the record button and I’m going to let that play through and export the audio out of the plugin and bring it back into my project. Okay! So, I’ll do that and I’ll catch you when it’s done.

Okay, so now I’m going to bounce the audio out. I’m going to save it in a folder on my desktop called “Drums” and we’re going to bring that back to our project. I’m going to do a quick mix on it and we’ll see..we’ll see what happens. Okay, so the audio has been exported out of Superior Drummer and imported back into Cubase and now have 18 channels of drums. I’ve got ambient mics, I’ve got direct mics, top and bottom snare, inside outside kick drum, Yamaha sub kick, direct toms, a little bit of everything. Let me go through and play you some of these microphones so you can hear what we got. Play the whole mix first. Okay! We’ll go through some of these mics. These is the…one of the ambient mics. Actually, that mic is turned all the way down. Lets try this one. Now, this microphone is…they put mic, a room mic in the room. And If I understand correctly, they ran its output into a guitar amp in a nice old chamber and mic that to get a little bit of the grit around the edges. There’s this and it sounds like this. There’s this mic, far room mics, big big ambience. We got this guy here. That’s a mid-range room mic and nearer. Near room mic, we got a high hat mic although I didn’t used any high hat. There’s a kick. That’s the interior kick mic. Here’s the exterior. Here’s the Yamah sub-kick. Here’s our overheads. Here’s our snare drum bottom mic. Snare drum top. A snare drum effects mic. Very similar sound. And we got a tom…a tom mic here. And that’s pretty much what we’re left with. Play it all together…sounds good like this. I’ll just move somewhere there’s some tom.

So, we went from there… we started from. Lets see. So, what we started with. Rock on! Okay! And we ended up with…this. I’d say not to shaby. So, again I’m going to do a quick mix, export, sink it to the video and we’ll lead out with me playing my homemade make-shift drum kit sounding…pretty darn cool and we’ll see you on the next quick tip.


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