I haven’t done any recording or mixing in almost 6 months, aside from the 2 bare hands competition and my monotonous workload of broadcast contracts. Several months ago I started a software developer job that’s had me tied up about 70 hours a week. But with things a little more under control, and all of the Easter church work out of the way, I agreed to take one of my old music clients back and work on an EP with them. It’s an indie songwriter/publisher with a handful of tracks. The plan is for me to receive a we-transfer of a Studio 1 Pro session, only do a couple of hours of mixing per song, then send it back to them to finish. So having the same drum software engine they’re using is pretty important.
I’m looking forward to doing this. One of my drummer/collaborators also uses Superior, so I was eventually hoping to get the cross grade to Superior and be able to send sessions back and forth over Splice. It shrinks the files down quite a bit if you don’t have to bounce stems and the collaborator libraries are compatible.
I know Superior is a lot more advanced, but the need for compatibility and to save time was more urgent than features.
I was wondering if anyone else is currently EZ 2 or Superior 3 and what your thoughts are on it!
What do you like and not like about either?
I’ve been using Addictive, Slate, BFD and Maschine for many years now! Always wanted a good excuse to get into EZ/Superior!
Hi J I have it. It’s the only midi I own. I’m sure I only use 10% of it’s features. Lots of rock sounds with a double kick, and many songs I don’t want that. I did find that it is very easy to trim each drum/cymbal etc.
I get lazy tho and use a lot of Studio One stuff. It takes a couple of minutes to load EZ, and I don’t have the patience. Sounds are good, but I notice if my main meter spikes, it is because of the drums. Yes I know, compression. Have fun
I had to spend a lot of time peeling all the processing off Addictive, and then re-saving presets for all of the non-processed kit pieces, especially in the trigger. I didn’t like the EQ, the compression, the saturation, or the reverbs, (which is pretty much everything). But I love the way the trigger mechanics work, and the really like the envelope filters on Addictive. So for example, instead of using the room reverb effect on the bus, I just turned up the room mic channel, but I had to remove the compression and EQ from that channel too. Don’t the me wrong, there’s a lot of things about the XLN family that I really like. Their mixing FX tools just aren’t one of them!
I found the Slate stuff to be great for the same reasons.
Interesting. I made sure EZ could output the individual kit pieces to individual channels in any DAW… in this case S1. That can help a lot in metering, because when it comes to what a drum plugins built in meters, they don’t tell you a whole lot. Pumping each channel out through the DAW lets you standardize the meters before everything hits the 2 bus, and it also lets me use some of those lovely Waves, UAD, Izotope and PA plugins on their way to the master bus.
Hey…do either you or Andrew happen to have any discount coupons sitting in your inbox?
That’s the way to do it. In my humble opinion, people fail when they use a drum module’s mixing and effects options. You’re not only mixing in your DAW, now you’re reverting back and forth inside the drum kit. And the effects usually are sub par. Your best bet is what you did…route everything to individual channels, use the processing of your choice, and treat it like a real kit…bus to a drum bus and call it a day.
I have a pretty extreme drum setup. I could create a video of it sometime. It uses EZD, Native Instruments, and Drumagog samples. I like hybridding drums sounds. It just gets me where I like to be.
Andrew: if you were using Superior 3 inside the drum module, that’s why. It and BFD 2/3 can drive you insane using them as they are. Strip all processing, and output to channels in your DAW while using your own stuff. You shouldn’t have any issues. And, what you gain from using Superior 2 or 3 is, you can run EZD through it and gain the individual tom mixing abilities. Example…
Say I run the Modern kit. It sums all the toms to a stereo track. Run it through Superior 3 and you have individual toms if you want. The mixing capability makes it worth its weight in gold. If you haven’t tried that, give it a shot.
Speaking of BFD, (I work for the company as a beta tester) we were just purchased by a company called inMusic. Look out for some really incredible stuff coming soon.
Also, you really like the Slate stuff Andrew? I have it, but to me, I just can’t warm up to the toms. I love their kicks and snares and some of the cymbals. But I always feel the toms are robotic especially when playing a V Drums kit. I have a newer custom mesh kit with all the dual triggers etc. SSD seems to just not be as realistic as I hoped. My faves are EZD2 with mixed kits, Native Instruments Abbey Road, Studio Drummer etc, BFD 2/3, Superior 2/3 and GetGoodDrums Invasion is pretty cool.
@feaker don’t let the bus thing scare you. It’s a short cut to excellence my friend. Master bus = 2 bus. All that means is, the entire project gets sent to one stereo out where you control the level of the entire mix. You can add several buses to simplify your project called “instrument buses”.
What they do is simplify loads of instruments into one. Example, say I have 16 tracks of drums. I create a drum bus, and send all my drum channels to that bus. Instead of me controlling each individual drum (which you have to do until you make them sound right) sending to the drum bus lets you control the whole kit using one channel fader. You can do this with multiple guitars, string ensembles and my favorite…back up vocal stacks.
Sometimes I sing high, mid and low and pan those 3 left, then again high, mid and low, and pan all those to the right. I may do it 6 more times to stack for the layer effect. So we now have 12 vocals…and then I create a vocal bus, which is just a blank track and I name it “Bax”. But, I set all the outputs on each vocal track I created to “Bax” and then I can control all 12 using one channel fader. Understand? The big ole bus can be your friend!
Then we have effects buses. Only there are effects, no audio. Say we want a reverb going on but we don’t want it put directly on a track. We create an empty track or bus in your bus section if you have one, and insert the reverb on that track/bus. Set the Reverb for 100% wet with no dry signal. Track and bus are the same, just usually in a different area depending on your DAW.
We can put effects in, that can be sent to any track by simply inserting a send. Example, we just added a reverb to a bus. We named it Verb. You go up to one of your tracks, usually you can right click on it and select “insert send”. When you get that option, it should show “reverb” as one of the sends. When you click it, the send value (a slider) will appear. Sliding it up and down will give you more or less reverb. You can do this for several tracks using the same reverb. Or, create additional effects buses and do several. Bam, you’re busing baby!
Hey Danny, it sounds I’ve tried similar approaches to you. I’ve definitely used a hybrid approach many times. I had some success combining SD2 and BFD3. (I loved the sound of the Evil Joe BFD Expansion, but found the velocity layers wanting)
I learned pretty early on that most Drum VSTi s are best used when stripping off all the processing. - I’ve tried pretty much everything all ways.
I also really like the NI Studio Drummer for it’s hihat and cymbal sounds. For some reason they work particularly well with E-Drums. They can come off a little too polished for what I want sometimes, though…
I’m not using a V-kit so much myself these days (+ I’m not much of a drummer, TBH), so I guess the robo thing isn’t something I’ve noticed. I used to HATE the Slate toms before version 5. They were always way too boomy and really difficult to tame in a mix. The new kits in SSD5 seem to work much better…
But yes, the Slate stuff has nothing to strip off, because the module has no processing, and the newer kits have some great rawer sounding options. I’m mainly using VST drums to demo my stuff now, so once I have a demo done, I send it off to a real drummer I use to record a real kit. At this point, I just want to get the demos done and SSD5 seems to just work for me in quickly getting inspiring sounds that work.
I use EZdrummer 2 and have been using it ever since I started music production, which is around 5 years ago. At the beginning I found it hard to get a realistic sound because I was leaving all the mixing options set by default and there was usually a fair amount of compression on the kits I was using, and it generally went through another compressor which resulted in punchy but very thin drums.
Yes making sure you route the individual elements to individual tracks in your DAW is important, but with EZdrummer, depending on the kit you choose, you don’t always have many options. I have a kit that I like for its samples but it is a 4-mic setup so I can only adjust kick, snare and OH. This is the kind of limitation that disappears with Superior Drummer and that is why I have planned on cross-grading for a while. I was waiting for a special offer but it never seems to come.
Also, a lot of your success depends on the EZX expansions you choose. Some are good and some are lousy, in my opinion.
Hey bud. Talk of music and mixing. Very refreshing. You and a few more here are what this forum (IMHO) should be all about. My only concern card is that I can’t reciprocate to that degree. Overhaul your engine, build you a house, weld on a new trailer hitch, I am your man. Only thing I can think or in return is maybe sing a sappy song. ha ha
I started a new folder called “Mixing” and have copied a few things and labeled the authors. I just included “Danny’s mixing tips” to it this morning. If I ever stop getting new songs in my head, I will be a student again.
Right now I put one guitar hard left, a different guitar hard right, and sing, play bass, and put drums down the middle. I can’t imagine 12 vocals. I usually have 6 to ten tracks per song. ha ha
I know the confident feeling of being able to do tasks well. I can do some pretty amazing things with my 40 ton crane and dozer. I put the time in and it paid off. I know my place with mixing. No trophy for those who haven’t earned it.
I taught school for thirty years and drove the bus to and from school for extra pay. Kids didn’t like me for my discipline and called the bus “the tomb”. It was peaceful with 70 kids behind you.
thanks for that detailed explanation of “the bus thangy”
Glad you found it refreshing. When I saw you mention the bus thing, I figured maybe I could clear up anything that may have been confusing you. Thanks for the kind words. No need to reciprocate. I’ll settle for “we each made a friend.”
Haha that’s me too…overhaul an engine, renovate a house. In the middle of two houses right now. Sure wish you lived closer. My fiance and I have been working on our house and then her old house that her ex was supposed to buy from us. It was on the way to foreclosure, so I stepped in and took it over so we could fix it and sell it. Only bad thing is, I’m at 4k in mortgages before I pay any of my personal bills. LOL!! Told my fiance “Daddy’s goin out to work the corner today!” Hahaha! Thank God we’re in good shape, but whew…between my hours at the 2 studio’s and trying to go between two homes (her old one is an hour away) it’s been rough. But hey, we do what we gotta do, right?
ah so you put me in a folder eh? That’s awesome! I have a whole batch of writings I’ve done. Everyone always told me to write a book, but I always preferred to share and make friends quite honestly. My methods work for me. I can’t promise they will work for everyone with whatever application they use, ya know? The worst feeling is knowing maybe you failed someone and they paid you for it. Ugh, I’m like a dog when it knows it did wrong.
Keep with the songs and only be a student when you need to be. Paul, honest when I tell you, this stuff can be a rabbit hole if you’re not careful and then you get NOTHING done. The worst thing is when we tweak constantly or try to learn so much that we end up doing nothing. Between the recording rabbit hole and the YouTube hole you can fall down, hours go by and you’ve done nothing. So when you do search and feel the need to somewhat become a student, make sure the info is credible and the person teaches and leads by example. I’ll try to be around a little more just in cas anyone needs me.
Guitars panned left/right, bass down the middle with vocals down the middle is fine. However, always remember this…your drums make your song. Seriously. Ever heard a song with crappy drums? It just depreciates everything in my opinion. That said, I do not believe in wide pans on drums because your kit can become disconnected and separated. Despite what some people say, the last thing I personally want to hear is a hat all the way left, a ride all the way right and toms that pan so far around, they walk on everything each time they are heard. In all fairness, as I mentioned before, there are no dark arts to this stuff. Panning, good sound choice, light eq and light compression should be able to make any mix stand on its own. There are times when we need to get creative because we are looking to create a certain sound of course. But for the most part, your core instruments should be able to stand on their own with nothing on them.
I like to pan my drum kit to where the entire kit doesn’t exceed 50L/R or 60L/R. That means the kit is within a pan field where nothing exceeds that field, and nothing else is ever placed where my drum instruments are that would bury or mask them. I’ll fly vocals in between the drums maybe at 40L/R but most other stuff will be further out than my drum limits. Bass and Vocals are allowed to be down the middle, you just have to watch that your kick is handled differently than you bass or you can get frequency masking. One way I stop this from happening is, before I record my drums, I decide if the song will have nice low end “oooom” type sound to the bass where I can push the 60Hz range say. If that is the case, I make sure my kick drum has more click to it so it’s more percussive and sticks out. I let the bass handle the lows in this situation.
If I decide I want the kick to have the low end thrust, I’ll push it at around 60 to 70Hz and will push the bass maybe at 80-90 hz and add a little more bass clack at say 2k to 2.5 k maybe so it’s a bit more percussive. It all depends on the delivery you’re looking for.
The 12 vocals thing just gives me that multiple voice effect. I then add a plugin that has what’s called “formant” which is just a simulated voice change option so it doesn’t sound like the same guy did all the singing. So I’m not using Melodyne to cheat and fix pitches, I use it to alter the voices or I’ll use a plug from my Antares suite that specializes in fomant type things. Then you can add plugs like clone ensemble or the like to give you more of that stacked effect and it can really take on a world of its own. Add in Mutt Lange whisper tracks where you literally whisper the chorus sections, and you can get some trippy vocals going on. It’s all about having fun and having impact, ya know? But today, it seems the more production we add, the more we get labeled as “dated”. I used to be guilty of this being inspired by the production and stuff from the 80’s. I personally think a good song is a good song. I hate labels. Art is art. But, I’ve definitely embraced the more modern approach to recording yet still maintaining my hooks and 80’s roots to an extent.
You can do the tasks well and gain confidence man. You just need the right direction and inspiration. I’ve tried to make it a point to do what I call “lab work.” I do this once per week where all I do is mess around with recording techniques, or different plugins or even something new in my DAW that I have never used before. Make it a point to learn one new thing per week if you can. You’ll be amazed not only how you progress and gain inspiration, but how full your toolbox will become over time.
My two cents on EZ2 is that it does sound good, but it never seems to have the beat I’m looking for. That could have a lot to do with my inability to think like a drummer, admittedly, since I write starting with guitar.
EZ2 to me forces you to write to one of their song formats, which I find limiting. Going back and editing all the parts to get what I’m after kind of bursts the creative balloon for me. If the song doesn’t have a lot of accents and changes, it sounds great and works fine, but building a drum track one measure at a time takes a lot of patience.
Of course, most drummers are like that too.
Just a quick note to say that I cross-graded to SD3 after 5 years of using EZdrummer 2. What a leap forward! The internal mixer is awesome, the bleed controls are great and allow for an incredibly realistic sound, the flexibility within one kit seems limitless, and there are a number of awesome features I haven’t tried yet.
I am really happy that I refrained from cross-grading earlier though, because I feel like I kind of exhausted the possibilities of EZ2, which makes SD3 a lot more enjoyable. Pretty sure I wouldn’t have used or even understood all of SD3 if I hadn’t had used EZ2 extensively before.
Generally speaking I’d say that EZ2 is great if you want to work fast and write/arrange songs without killing creativity impulses, especially if you work alone. SD3 is great if you need a lot of flexibility and if you collaborate with many different people or genres. It is also much more powerful if your main activity is mixing and you use virtual drums in the mix.