Monday, November 09, 2009

Fun with Gates!

Occasionally, I work in a room that doesn't sound all that great. But, I find that the snare drum sounds fantastic in the room mics, even though the hihats, cymbals, etc, are sounding trashy or out of focus. What to do?

Well, if you have a noise gate with a sidechain input, there's a simple, and very cool, solution. Use the close snare mic as the sidechain input, and insert the gate into your room mic signal chain. This way, the room mics open up only when a snare hit occurs. You can play with the attack, decay, hold setting, and if you're using an Expander rather than a gate, you can set it to leave the room mics up a little bit all the time. If you only have a gate, you can always mult the room mics to a separate channel, and just leave that up a little bit.

Compressing the snot out of the room mics can sound amazing, too, but again, you might only want them to open up on the snare hits, to give the snare some body. Or you could feed a group of the snare and toms to the sidechain input, if you want some boom from the toms.

You can take this idea in another cool direction, too. Try setting up a mic a few feet away from the snare. It can be up high over the drum, or out in front of the kit, or even behind the drummer. This mic might pick up a lot of garbage, but by gating it with the key signal from the close snare mic, it can add some serious tone and depth to an otherwise flat sounding drum.

Try it out, and see what you think. this is the kind of technique that can take your drums to another place, and experimenting is the only way to grasp the possibilities!