Drums Drums DRUMS - Everyone LOVES DRUMS! Lets Make Drums FUN Again!

I came across this video yesterday - I urge everyone who is interested in mixing drums to watch it:

I’ve always admired EV’s total disregard for the “right” way to do things. Everybody on the interwebs is busy counselling everybody else about “fast workflows” “minimal processing” and all the boring stuff that makes doing music sound like you have to adopt the approach of a profit-obsessed executive executive in a faceless, greedy multinational corporation. In stark contrast, Eric blithely follows his own mad scientist approach, which I find fascinating… (rant over)…

… what you can’t deny is that the guy gets fantastic results… I got so enthusiastic about this video that I decided to experiment with some drums I have just had recorded for a track I’ve been working on.
Here is the unmixed raw drums - all faders up equal:

So I played around with the raw drums and came up with a nice drum sound following my usual approach, but although it was fairly good, I wasn’t really that inspired by the result. It was a bit… boring TBH! Here is what I had:

There is a little bit of sample augmentation happening here, but it’s fairly subtle.

& here’s how it combined with the music:

…but that evening, I watched the video above, and I got inspired to do some mad EV-style processing. If you watch the video, you’ll see he is DEFINITELY not shy about distortion. Distortion and compression and radically altering sonics is his thing… If you’re a beard-stroking audiofile purist, I recommend you avert your eyes!..

…Anyhow, I basically followed EVs methods with my drum tracks. Obviously I don’t have his same drum tracks, and the exact same plugins (or hardware!), but I just made do with what I had and tried to follow the basic principles… here’s what I got:

…Pretty cool, huh? No samples were harmed here…
…& here is how it combined with the musical stem:

I’m sure both drum sounds would work in the context of the music, but I really like the attitude and grit the EV-style drums have in them…
…So there yah go - My little sonic adventure…


Hey, I haven’t watched the video yet, but will do for sure.

Yes EV’s method sounds cool but honestly I preferred your initial processing, it works better with this genre. But that might be just a matter of taste.

Your song is really cool, and I don’t remember who said that but yes it does have Steely Dan accents.

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No worries, I can totally understand that. keep in mind, I’ve spent the last 12 or so years developing my approach to the first version of the drum processing that I posted here. I spent a few hours yesterday taking EV’s approach.

In terms of processing, they are pretty much polar opposites of one another, and I definitely don’t have the mastery over it as yet. The thing I like about it is that it brings a really individual character to the drum sound. I tend to be a bit of a magpie when it comes to gathering audio engineering techniques. I grab a bit from here and a bit from there and gradually incorporate them into my approach.

I thought everything he did was perfectly normal, :+1:

The stacking of distortion, more distortion and delayed distortion (gated room mics) etc. has this awesome way of evening out all the hits too. Way better than samples or just smashing it.

Thanks for adding this, the subtlety is also cool, proving you only need to ‘just hear stuff’ to give it some added flavor or dimension.

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As I said above, it’s pretty much the polar opposite to my current approach, so it was quite eye opening to me.

Yes, that is a key point. You can deal with level control and colour in one fell swoop. The important thing to remember with distorting things is that gating becomes pretty critical. The unwanted sound gets very ugly very quickly. Fortunately, I have “magpie-picked” a gating method from Tom Lord-Alge that is absolutely rock-solid!

To be fair, compression is by definition distortion of sound (ie: output differs from input) :wink: As far as one method being inherently better than the other, I think that is up to the individual. For me, whatever gets the results you want is fine. What is great about this method is that it is (somewhat perversely) FUN!

No worries!

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][quote=“vtr, post:4, topic:4445”]
Way better than samples or just smashing it.

I should have said ‘clipping it’ to be clearer, as that annoys me immensely and just sounds plain awful.

And while we are on the subject of general ‘outside the box’ mix debauchery…I do most of my mixes without any surgical eq’s at all, mostly using only tilt eqs, compression and tape simulation and saturation plugs. The only samples I like are generally just ambience samples of drums in a big room.

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Hey man, whatever floats your boat, I say!.. I like using using ambiance samples too, although lately, if the drum room is too small to blow up into some decent sounding size with compression or distortion, I’ll run the room mics through a roomy sounding reverb and then blow that up.

Speaking of sonic debauchery, one thing I picked up from EV’s video was his drum buss settings on his Distressors. I have the Slate FG-Stress emulation, so I used that with his settings - it’s right toward the end of the video - the settings “look” totally wrong but they sound fantastic!

Another cool thing I came across… Slate just added a whole lot of stuff to their “Everything Bundle” which included these plugins from a company called “Kilohearts”. I already had an excellent little distortion plugin they make called “Faturator”. But they also have all these other sound-mangling tools plus a framework to chain them together called “Snap Heap” and “Multi-Pass”. There are a million ways to distort, twist & mangle sound. I used the Kilohearts stuff in place of the Fab Filter Saturn multi-band distortion EV was using: https://www.slatedigital.com/kilohearts-bundle/

I’m going to try this out this weekend! Thanks for posting this @ColdRoomStudio!

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