Hybrid Studios Drum Setup
He flew all the way over here from Poland, and we’ve been recording in this beautiful space here, and I want to take you through all of the different mics we’ve been using, and how we’ve been bussing them, and summing them, and compressing them, and EQing them, and all kinds of fun stuff.
Anyway, let’s start off and look at the basic setup here. We’re very blessed, because AEA have lent Hybrid a few ribbon mics to try out, and when Billy, one of the owners of Hybrid got in contact with me and asked if I’d like to use them, of course I said yes, but of course, when you have mics, they’re always nice to have in pairs. We actually have three pairs of ribbon mics here.
So on the walls here on the sides, we have a pair of R44s. We’ve got one up there, and then another all the way over here. The R44s aren’t as fat and warm sounding as you might expect, so we’re actually using these to get mainly kind of ambience. Most of the reflected sound you get off of this is pretty bright.
Now obviously, being a ribbon mic, it’s it’s in figure of eight, so it’s picking up front and back, so it’s getting a lot of reflected sound there.
So we’re using it for kind of our super wide ambient sound. So we have a pair of AEA R84s here. Now, these are measured in phase with the snare, so they’re the same distance away. They’re not super wide, they’re very different than the way we’ve got the 44s setup. Then back here we’ve got a pair of KM184s, which is just getting reflected sound off the back, and again, they’re measured the same distance away from the snare.
The idea is to bring up all the room mics and the phase to be pretty cohesive. You can hear the drum tracks in a minute, and you’ll hear it’s pretty slamming. Everything is coming out — you know, when he’s going round the drum kit, it feels like it’s moving with the toms. You know, it’s always a compromise. No matter what you do, you’re going to have some variations with stuff like that, but essentially, it’s about — we use the snare as our kind of guideline for everything to be in phase.
So those are our stereo room mics. For the overheads here, we’ve got a pair of 87s, and these are measured, the usual 64.5” off of the snare. As you can see they’re slightly back, so a little bit more over the cymbals. You might recognize a lot of the stuff here because it’s actually mine.
This is my Sabian AAX. This is off my Ludwig kit at Spitfire. This is a Zildjian medium thin crash. An Avedis. And hiding down here is my Paiste 2002 ride, the John Bonham ride. The studio does have a pair of Paiste 2002 hats, which are beautiful sounding, so we used those.
Now, to go through the basic setup, obviously 87s here. Here we have a Royer 121 on a ride. The Royer’s pretty nice, and the thing about the Paiste that I love is it’s — it sounded kind of EQ’d to tape is what we always used to say. They just sound beautiful. You’ve got Sabians, and the Zildjians are wonderful sounding cymbals, but they’ve always got that kind of 400 weight to them, which is great, but I end up pulling out 350-400 out of my overheads all the time.
The thing with the Paiste’s —
See, that darkness, which is nice, but listen to the Paiste.
You don’t have to do anything to it. Stick a mic in front of it, turn it up, and it sounds amazing. There’s something about Paiste cymbals that I always love. John Bonham played them, obviously. He was a smart man, and he was — he knew what to do.
I personally love Paiste cymbals, and I could do it more as well. The Zildjians do have a lot of body, and if you’re doing a darker rock thing, it’s always nice to have Zildjians.
Okay, now what we used on the kick is very interesting. As usual, we have a D112 inside here, and as usual, it’s coming in from an angle. I’m pointing towards where the beater hits. We didn’t have a FET47, but we had a U87. That’s picking up the sound of the front head here.
I will say, it’s not as useful sounding as it is on my kit — the ’64 Ludwig I have at my studio, and the reason why that is is because my ’64 doesn’t have a hole in it. Soon as you put a hole in it, here to put this in, that’s great, you get the kind of real rock attack, but you lose the real sustain of that head, so we don’t get quite the Bonham kind of kick sound that maybe we’d get at the other studio, however, we do get a really aggressive rock kick with this, which we’ll hear in a minute.
Then back here is really kind of a tasty little mic. The Audix D6. There’s the Sennheisers, there’s the D112s, then the Audix is a really tasty mic. Frankly, it kind of comes up sounding pretty aggressive and rock straight away, and that’s just pulled back about the same distance again. Maybe a little bit further back, and it’s just — it — we’ll hear it in a minute. It’s a pretty aggressive rock kick, so those are the three elements that we used.
We did have an NS10 sub kick on it, but we just didn’t — it didn’t really add anything, and to be honest, one of the problems with not having a head — with having a head that has a hole in it, it doesn’t get quite the ring, so we weren’t getting quite the benefit from the NS10 sub kick.
Next up, we have the snare, and of course we have good old fashioned 57 top and 57 bottom. They’re pretty much over each other so the snare is good. We’re using a Pork Pie snare, so it’s pretty aggressive. It’s got a great ring.
Even low level like that, you can hear it’s pretty slamming. What we used on the hi-hat is an Audix ADX-51, and — which I’m sure is pretty similar to an AKG 451 maybe? But it’s a great pencil condenser, and that’s taped together with a 57. You know, there’s a great presence lift with the 57 between three to five kHz, and of course, a good pencil condenser is going to have a really extended range, especially on the top end, so those two together gives us a really great hi-hat sound. I’ve been using those forever.
As always, I bring these with me. Big shout out to these guys, extreme isolation headphones. They’re comfortable, they sound good, and most importantly, they do not bleed into the overheads, so even if you’re doing quiet moments on drums in a jazzier section maybe, you don’t get that terrible click bleed through. These are really good headphones.
You’ll see me wear them a lot. I’m a big fan.
These two rack toms are concert toms, which means there’s no bottom head. These are the studio’s toms. Got a 421 top and a 421 bottom. The polarity, the phase is reversed on the bottom mic. Same thing on the bottom snare. Reverse the polarity.
This one might look beaten up, but it still works. So 421 top and bottom, and last, but no means least, we have my floor tom here, which I brought from my house. My home studio.
And again, same thing, 421 top, 421 bottom. It’s a really, really good sounding floor tom, and he’s taken it off, but he was playing a double kick, so it’s some pretty crazy drum stuff going on in these songs.
Okay, so that’s the basic setup in here. If you follow me, we’ve got two other room mics that we put up. So in the hallway between the live room and the control room, it is very typical for a studio to do this, like in Studio D in Blackbird, for instance, there’s a little area betweent the control room and the live room. You stick up a mic there to get room tones.
So AEA have made these beautiful mics that I’m just trying out for the first time called the Nouveaus, and this Nouveau here is pointed towards the door. The door is open. There’s a little bit of reflected sound, so it’s getting a — [clapping] bit of a live sound in this room, which is great.
That’s one mic, but then we went into an overdub room here, and I’ll turn on the light, and in this overdub room here, we put another one of them in here. Now, with the sandbag, you’ll notice that we can close the door, and it’s pretty tight. It’s not completely blocking everything, but it’s a lot fatter tone in there, there’s a lot less high end.
The thing about low frequencies is they will travel through pretty much anything, but high frequencies only travel through gaps, so the more things you put in the way, the less high frequencies, so there’s kind of a fat tone. You’ll get to hear it in a second.
Okay, so here we are in the control room. By the way, this is the end of a very long day, so you’ll sort of see the layout of the land here. There’s my laptop lying down there, there’s a guitar that I used so I can run through songs with the drummer. Here’s a note saying “get drum samples.”
After the end of every take, I’ve just been getting him to play kicks, and snares, and toms, because if I have to do any fixes at all, it’s nice to have them recorded. I mean, in case I want to fly something in.
Great, so let’s go down the list. Obviously, we’ll start with the kick. The D112. So the kick in is the 312 going into the API 550. The 550 has a 50 boost of just one click, it has a 400 cut of just one click — sorry, of two clicks, and a ten kHz boost of two clicks.
The kick out is on the 312 here. It’s the U87 on the 312, going into a 50 boost of two clicks, and a 400 cut of three clicks, and then a little 5kHz one click boost.
Now, as far as compression is concerned, only the kick in is being compressed, and that’s being compressed post-EQ, believe it or not by a Distressor here. It just sounded better in that order.
The kick out has no compression on it.
Now next, on the console, the kick D6, if you remember, the Audix D6, is coming up here on the console. Not doing compression on the console, but what I am doing is a bit of EQ. So I’m going to around about 60 here and boosting quite a bit, and then I’m cutting about, you know, 400 to 500. About 400. And I’m boosting about 2.5kHz. Then I’m leaving the top and the bottom exactly as they are.
Actually, the top I’ve kind of shelved. I’ve low passed to probably about six or seven kHz. That’s the D6 here.
Here is the U87.
And here is the D112.
Great. Now, for the snare top, I am again, back on a 312. Now, with my choosing, my choices of mic pres, whenever I go to a studio, if they’ve got a lot of a single mic pre, I might choose to use that on certain sources. They have some BAEs down here that I love, but I have it split between using the 4 BAEs and the 4 312s where I wanted to use them.
Now — but to me, it seemed like to use the fast transient 312s was smart on the kick and snares, so here I’ve got the snare top and the snare bottom also going through 312s, but the reason why I chose that is I kept that with the EQ of the APIs here. The other 550 I’m using on the snare top is — the only thing I’m really doing here is I’m boosting a little 150 for some lows, just a little tiny bit, and then a little tiny bit of 7kHz, and that is it on the snare top. So just a bit of 150 and a bit of 7kHz.
The snare bottom, no EQ whatsoever, but while we’re here, we can see it on the overheads — I’m using the BAE 1073 MPLs, which are the new 1073s that they make in a 500 series size, and I’m using that for my overheads. Because if you know me well and you’ve been watching my drum recording and my House of Rain stuff, my overheads are like, really important to me. Like, a pair of 87s in phase with the rest of the drum kit, going through a pair of 1073s is a huge part of my drum sound. I want those to sound fantastic.
So when I was choosing what pres to use where, I decided that I wanted to go with these specifically on the overheads, because I wanted the warmth that only 1073s can bring.
Obviously, the BAEs, because they have the Carnhill original transformers, the right transformers in them. They just have that sound that I love.
Okay, so it’s quite simple. Not a lot of craziness going here. The only other thing that I’m doing is I’m doing a little bit of compression on the 1176 snare top, which is pretty typical for me. It’s — really the only compression on the drum kit is that kick in and that snare top. Everything else is just breathing through the console.
Okay, so let’s have a listen to our snare top here. We’ll solo — these are the returns here. These are the snare top.
As you can hear, it’s got a bit of a ring. It’s pretty tasty. It’s that Pork Pie snare. It’s got a lot of ring.
Great, and overheads are over here.
They’re a good — I mean, a pair of U87s and some BAE 1073s, you can’t go wrong. It’s a great drum sound.
Okay, so next on the console here, you’ll see I’ve got the hats. Now, the way the hats are setup is I’ve got the 57 and the Audix. The 51. So the 57 and the 51. No EQ. I’m using the mic pres on the console, I’m using the SSL mic pres, but I’m not using any EQ, and — so that’s pretty — that goes direct into…
Pro Tools there. The same thing with the toms. I’ve got top and bottom using them on the console. Here’s the first rack tom. No EQ, no compression. Going straight to Pro Tools.
That’s the rack tom. They sound great, they sound natural.
Rack tom two.
Same thing again. No EQ, no compression. The only thing I’m doing with these, both of these sets of toms is I’m reversing the polarity. You come in here, you’ll see I’m reversing the polarity of the bottom mic. So I’m flipping it so that its phase is reversed, the polarity is reversed, because one microphone is looking down on the head where the stick is hitting, and the other one is coming up from the other side. So that means if the skin is going down where it’s being hit, it’s going to create a waveform going this direction that way, and that direction that way, so they have to be opposite each other in polarity. So this one reads it opposite that one.
It’s common sense. It’s the same thing with the snare bottom. We reversed the polarity on the snare bottom on our 312 pre here. So this is a polarity switch here. It’s reversed. So it’s important to remember when you’ve got a microphone, like on a snare top pointing that way and one on the snare bottom, reverse the polarity.
Same thing with a rack top and rack bottom. Reverse the polarity there, and you’ll have no phase issues. In fact, you get a lot of warmth and a lot of body. It’s really fantastic.
Okay, so let’s go to tom three, our floor tom, which is the clear floor tom. Here it is here.
Again, wonderful sounding. No EQ, no compression, just as it comes. 421 top and bottom, polarity flipped on the bottom.
Okay, so next up, there’s a couple of fun things. There’s our rooms. Now, the 44s we’re monitoring pretty low. These are the brighter ones up against the walls, they’re giving us some ambience.
[drum room, R84s]
Are the ones that are back from the kit a little bit. They sound fantastic. They’re a very accurate representation of the drum kit. They’re not set too high. They’re about here if you remember. They’re about here. Probably too much cymbals for me, so I’ve got them down low enough to get some of the width and body of the kit.
Are the 84s. These are the 184s, the Neumanns, and these are the back of the room, and they’re pointing. They’re in phase with the snare, equal distance away.
Those are pretty good sounding. Of course, no means — last, but no means least on this side of the console is the ride cymbal, which is the R121.
All of these are using the pres in the console with zero compression and zero EQ, just as it comes up.
You know, I like SSL pres if that’s all you’ve got to use, that’s great. Just don’t get carried away with compression and EQ initially, but you can see, these — this is a thick sounding drum kit, and a lot of wonderful records that we grew up listening to in the ’80s and ’90s, the good sounding ones were recorded on SSLs as well, so it’s not as much as we all love 1073s, 1081s, and 312s, I love them to pieces, let’s not forget that you can judiciously use SSL mic pres to make great recordings.
Okay. Moving over to this side of the console, the last few mics here, there’s a couple of fun things. This shouldn’t be ignored. I’ve got an SPX90 here. So I’m printing off — literally off a send of the console. Great sounding reverb. I think it’s like an 8-bit reverb, so it’s kind of low quality, it sounds fantastic. We’re actually triggering that from the console.
The snare return, as it’s coming back, we’re taking a send, sending it to here, then printing it back into Pro Tools. So we have that, it’s a good part of the drum sound, and it’s just nice when you’re in the studio to just utilize it and use it in that way.
The last two mics are the Nouveau mics, and we did some fun things here. Firstly, here is the Nouveau, which we called the close mic.
This is the one that’s in the hallway between the live room and where we are now in the control room. So it’s a great sounding mic, as you can hear. Really good sounding mic. And that’s just console. Nothing special. No EQ, no compression.
However, the one that’s being called the close, which is actually the one that we ended up moving into the overdub room is here. This one I had some good fun with. Here’s our lunchbox, and we brought our fun toys that we have, and our fun toys are of course, a 1073. You know I love these. And this was going into our MIMAS. Our WesAudio 1176, which is a wonderful sounding 1176. You’ve seen me do it. Look, it’s got a Carnhill transformer in there. You know I talk about that all the time, that’s a great sounding piece of gear.
Discrete electronics Carnhill transformer. Beautifully made, and then going into the new Avidas design B15 EQ, and I had some fun with this. Let’s just see if we can move it around so you can see it better.
Okay, so what I did here is I boosted a little bit of 10kHz, I cut a little 560 here, and I boosted some 63. It’s pretty evil sounding. It’s just a lot of bottom end that’s set in that overdub room there, and it’s just underneath in the kit, and it’s very late. It’s very delayed, and it just kind of adds — I don’t know, a John Bonham bottom end to it? I really, really love it.
So basically, it’s that — it’s the AEA Nouveau mic going 1073. I actually flipped everything around and took that to the EQ, and boosted and cut what I wanted to, and then sent that to the 1176, so I kind of like — used it like an SSL, where I boosted the EQ the way I wanted to, and then compressed it afterwards. It originally was setup so I went pre-compression, EQ, but then when I flipped it and put the compressor after the EQ, I got this horrible, nasty, thick, pumping low end, which I’ve just lightly put into the mix, which I think really helps the drums.
So here’s the mic here. You can have a listen to it.
It’s just low sort of oomph. It’s got such a long delay, because it’s like, through a corridor and off in a room. It’s pretty awesome. You can hear it in the full mix here.
Great. So it’s a fantastic drum room. This is — this whole studio has been acoustically treated by Hanson Hsu, who we are talking to about acoustic treatment. He’s a very famous acoustician, and I think it’s going to be a wonderful conversation we’re going to have with him, and I love this room in there, because it’s not dead, it’s just very, very well balanced.
It’s an exceptionally well treated room. It doesn’t have any standing waves to speak of. It’s very even sounding. What’s interesting is I’ve never tracked in this room before. This is the first time I’ve ever tracked drums, which to me is like, a big deal. Tracking drums in a room is where you really find out how good a room is.
We sat here and we were setting up and getting tones, and it sounds really accurate, wherever I am in the room sounds the same. I’m walking around the control room, and I’m like, “This sounds the same.”
There’s so much thickness and weight to the drums on the kick, I was a little afraid that when I got back to my studio and played it through my SSL and my Genelecs that I was going to be like, “Oh my god,” I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if it was going to sound that accurate, but we took it back the first night, put it up on the console, and it sounded fantastic, and it sounded the way that it sounded here.
So this is a very, very well designed room. It feels good in here, it’s a very natural sounding room, and I’m very impressed with the drum sound.
So please, as ever, leave some questions and comments below. Anything you want to know about any of the particular pieces of equipment, any of the microphones we’re using, we got to experiment a little bit here, and I’m really glad we did, because we have some great results, and as ever, have a marvelous time recording, and leave loads of questions and loads of comments, and I look forward to reading them, and thank you ever so much for watching.