Click on One of the following links to see the different parts of the recording process.
After doing all the pre production and arrangements for my rendition (link to previous article here.) It was time to start recording for my cover. I decided to record drums first, as they are one of the most prominent parts of a Mutt-Lange produced recording.
Trying to follow his production style as closely as possible, I chose to record the drums in a smaller space, this would mean that I wouldn’t get as much ambiance or have as many reflections picked up when recording. At this point you thinking “But doesn’t the drums in Mutt-Lange productions usually have a really big 80’s drum sound?”
And you would be right, but by recording in a smaller space means I then gain control of how big I want the drums to sound by how much reverb and compression I add later on, as its easier to change the ambiance of the recording later, rather than taking out the ambiance to begin with.
I set up a Pro Tools Session with a 44.1Khz sample rate and a 16Bit depth; once this was created I created 9 mono channels and click track, with the overall tempo of the song set to 160BPM.
When it came to mic-ing up the drum kit, I chose to mic up everything, as this would have been the norm in the 80’s, plus it gave me a lot of options for mixing as I could take parts out or have them slowly fade in later during the mixing process.
My Channel List is below:
|1. Kick (Resonant Head)||Shure PG 52|
|2. Kick (Beater Head)||Shure SM57|
|3. Snare.||Shure SM57|
|4. Overhead Left||AKG C1000S|
|5. Overhead Right||AKG C1000S|
|7.High Tom||Audio Technica Pro 25|
|8. Mid Tom||Audio Technica Pro 25|
|9. Low Tom||Audio Technica Pro 25|
- Kick (Resonant Head) Shure PG 52.
Normally I would of placed this microphone inside the bass drum. On axis, a couple of inches away from the inside of the beater head to get the attack of the kick, however on the drum kit I was using it didn’t have a hole cut out.
I could of taken the resonant head off the bass, while all though it would give me access to the beater head, it would also make a more boomy kick drum sound, so I chose to mic up the resonant head as well.
I had the PG52 on axis to the drumhead but to the lower right, since that way it would pick up more of the “body” of the sound, while the Shure SM57 of would pick up more of the attack.
I chose the PG52 for a number of reasons, It was a Dynamic microphone so could handle the sound pressure where it was being placed, it has a boosted range between 50-100Hz, which is well suited for the 60-80Hz areas that the boom of a bass drum usually occupies, and also has a cardioid pick-up pattern so would only pick up with was in front of it.
2.Kick (Beater Head) Shure SM57.
As stated above I used the SM57 to pick up more of the “attack” of the kick, which I placed off axis to the drum by about 47 degrees to the left of the pedal, since obviously I couldn’t place it directly behind the kick.
I chose this microphone for the same reasons above being also dynamic and cardioid, but also because the 57 has a boosted range between 5,000Khz and 10,000Khz which the “attack” of the kick drum usually sits in, being anywhere between the 2-6Khz mark.
3.Snare Shure SM57.
I placed the SM57 on the snare overlooking the rim, pointing towards the center, this was the most practical way of getting the attack of the snare. I thought about double mic-ing up the snare, with a 57 underneath on axis to the resonant head, but I then realised that the 57 on the Kick would pick up some of the underside of the snare due to its distance from the drum and its pick-up pattern.
The main hits of the snare sit around the around the 240hz mark, and the ringing out of the snare wire is about to 2-5Khz, the later falls in the range of the 57’s higher frequency boost, while the 240hz can be picked up unexaggerated as well.
4 and 5 Overheads AKG C1000s
Since a lot of Mutt-Lange’s drum recordings sound huge, I decided to use a pair of C1000s in a spaced pair configuration, with each one being at least about a meter back from the kit, which given the size of the room was almost the entire width of the room.
This would give me as much stereo separation as I wanted, letting the cymbals ring out with an excellent sense of depth of field. I chose the C1000s due to their cardioid pick up pattern, as they both where pointed at the drum kit from either side allowing it to hear the whole kit, with a boost between 2Khz and 8Khz as well as between 8Khz to 11Khz which fits the frequency range of the ringing overtones the cymbals produce. (1-6Khz)
6.High Hat Oktava MK-012
I decided to mic-up the high hat so I could add a bit more clarity to my mix, as well as giving me more of a stereo image. I placed the Oktava underneath the high hat on axis to get the resonance of the cymbals together without much stick noise. The Oktava has a boosted high end between 5-10Khz, which fits the sizzle of the high hat which falls between 7.5-12Khz.
7,8 and 9 Toms Audio Technica Pro 25’s
I placed the Pro 25’s on the rim of each of their corresponding drums, and had then facing the center of the Toms to get the most attack with its Cardioid pick up pattern. Since my arrangement included a Tom roll, It gave each hit clarity, allowing it go from high to low on the recording. I chose the Pro 25’s for their lower frequency range boost between 60-400Hz, which captured the body of each hit.
Because my Drummer only had a limited amount of time that he could record in, he was unable to place the song from start to finish, so instead he played to a click track and laid down the main beat of the song, then we recorded the chorus section, and finally he played some fills so when I had put it all together, it would sound coherent.
when I listened back, though the majority of it was in time, other parts where not, and as a result I had to cut parts and loop the bits which were in time. I also had to warp some parts to make them fit.
Warping is a technique where Pro Tools examines a waveform and picks out where there are transients and allows you to move them either freely or to the grid. However too much warping will take away the “Human” element of a performance as its the slight off timing which makes the track come to life.
To warp a waveform, You must have elastic audio turned on, which can be selected on the audio channel underneath the Track view Selector and the Automation Mode selector. Once selected select Polyphonic from the drop down box, the track view selector will have the warp option available.
Now on the corresponding waveform, when you zoom in you will have a series of lines where Pro Tools has identified a transient, and by double clicking on it becomes a warp marker. (also double clicking will remove a warp mark) Now there are two types of warping that can be done.
Telescope warping is where you drag a warp marker without setting another warp mark as a boundary, this moves everything else the corresponding distance the sync point has been moved by, stretching the entire waveform.
Accordion warping is where you drag a warp marker between two already established warp markers, therefore only the audio between the two will be affected.
Once the segments of the song where rearranged into the correct order I consolidated the clips so that they became 1 waveform on each channel.
Next up is guitars and bass.