Old 09-05-2021, 02:42 AM   #1
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Default How to hear the sugar-kicks without killing groove

My drummer likes to do a lot of 'sugar kicking'. I'd really like every little detail to be audible. I do the usual cuts in the bass to make room. Everything other than bass and kick are highpassed. Sometimes I sidechain the kick to duck the bass, but I don't go too far with that, as I don't like the sound. I like au natural, as if I've done no processing.

Sometimes I compress the kick, but only a little, as I like the natural dynamics and groove that comes with it; recently I find I use very little compression.

So I'm thinking, the best option might be to envelope-follow other tracks to the kick... like, make bass, or maybe even everything, duck a little whenever the kick is *quiet*. However, I don't want this at all when the kick is simply not engaged.

I guess at that point I might as well draw in volume envelopes to other tracks... no plugin or fancy routing would be able to accomplish such a thing?

sidenote
Often my drums are recorded with only 2 room mics, so what I've done is split the drums into 200Hz+ and kick, which is 110Hz (when we made these recordings, there was an idea to tune is drums to A minor). Rest of the drums, other than toms, are all above 200Hz, so the steep highpass there, and then isolating the kick isn't too bad, as I got a lot of ugly room-tone in the kick I want to remove. I found Saturn2 envelope follower does this better than compression/gates etc. so the kick is pretty much isolated.



You can hear some examples of my music for context. Maybe the little kicks aren't audible though.

https://albertmckay.bandcamp.com/album/i
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Old 09-05-2021, 06:19 AM   #2
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Good you added the side note ‒ as I just wanted to write that it all comes down to the "proper" recording technique. A beater side mic might be the ticket here.
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Old 09-05-2021, 06:33 AM   #3
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"everything other than the kick and bass are high passed"

Kick intelligibility resides around 5-8k, you should actually be looking at removing those frequencies from other instruments that are masking that. You may try side chain EQ ducking that area in other instruments using the kick drum as key
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Old 09-05-2021, 07:33 AM   #4
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Good you added the side note ‒ as I just wanted to write that it all comes down to the "proper" recording technique. A beater side mic might be the ticket here.
Ah, so putting a mic right beside the pedal? I guess it'd be about the same volume regardless how hard he hits on that side? That's brilliant. We only had a 2-mic interface to record, but in the future I'll try that. We might use a kick mic as well, although I really like the idea of 2 mics only, and getting everything very natural in stereo, though it's tricky getting the kick balanced like that. Maybe kick and snare mics just for the transient...

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"everything other than the kick and bass are high passed"

Kick intelligibility resides around 5-8k, you should actually be looking at removing those frequencies from other instruments that are masking that. You may try side chain EQ ducking that area in other instruments using the kick drum as key
Oh right, I was getting obsessed with that 110Hz. The current mix is pretty dense.


btw, I'm on the fence about touching the 200+ frequencies on drums. I wanted to stay really pure to the recording and have things spatialized naturally with the 2 mics, although the room wasn't so idea (bedroom with piles of books, artwork, albums), window). You see I often cling to ideals here... but maybe I should use something like Sonible's Freiraeum, and just EQ the room without EQing the direct?... Or maybe I'm just overthinking it, and the naturally spatialization won't be harmed by EQ...
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Old 09-05-2021, 07:44 AM   #5
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The drums on the (first) track are very muddy and the whole mix is a bit bass heavy. I feel the kick is lost mostly because of this. Perhaps it would help you more to focus on the mix as a whole?
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Old 09-05-2021, 09:22 AM   #6
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The drums on the (first) track are very muddy and the whole mix is a bit bass heavy. I feel the kick is lost mostly because of this. Perhaps it would help you more to focus on the mix as a whole?
Here's one that's maybe a bit tighter? Actually, I think in this track you can probably hear the kick well. I'm working on a busier mix atm where I'm having a harder time with kick.

https://albertmckay.bandcamp.com/tra...-tighter-drums




Here's the track I'm on right now that I'm finding loses the kick even more. But I'm very happy about mix advice in general! I'm not a mixer and hate mixing.


https://albertmckay.bandcamp.com/track/133-faueriun
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Old 09-05-2021, 10:12 AM   #7
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You see the problem I have with the songs (mix wise and also style wise) is I don't know what to listen to! When the music is this "free flowing", the mix should be really tight!

You said you don't like to compress the drums much. I think the problem with that is you'd need a SUPER solid drummer for that. And while I can hear that the people in your band can play, there's still so much going on constantly, that the playing is going to be "spotty" (too dynamic). It becomes very "mushy" quite fast! I think some of it could be fixed somewhat easily with a compressor and some EQ:ing. Some with perhaps some re-arranging!

There's this very "library music" feel to your stuff (which I dig) but it feels like all the instruments are trying to play solo at the same time and this leads to very crowded songs which are going to be harder to mix!

If you dig Zappa, perhaps listen to his records as a reference. You can ALWAYS hear the melody, even if it's chaotic!

Just my random thoughts before going to bed! Hopefully they're of some use to you!
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Old 09-05-2021, 02:12 PM   #8
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Ah, so putting a mic right beside the pedal? I guess it'd be about the same volume regardless how hard he hits on that side? That's brilliant. We only had a 2-mic interface to record, but in the future I'll try that.]
If you kind of fancy that idea, try to use one mic right above the kick drum rim, beater side, pointing downwards, and another mic, more distant of course, for air and ambience. Needless to say that you "gently squash" the drum buss – but you'll hear what to do with those signals. I like it a lot in the right context.
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Old 09-07-2021, 10:31 AM   #9
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So I got a bass recording on this one, but it's sooo loose. Is this bass an improvement?

https://albertmckay.bandcamp.com/track/132-new-bass


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Originally Posted by Pink Wool View Post
You see the problem I have with the songs (mix wise and also style wise) is I don't know what to listen to! When the music is this "free flowing", the mix should be really tight!

You said you don't like to compress the drums much. I think the problem with that is you'd need a SUPER solid drummer for that. And while I can hear that the people in your band can play, there's still so much going on constantly, that the playing is going to be "spotty" (too dynamic). It becomes very "mushy" quite fast! I think some of it could be fixed somewhat easily with a compressor and some EQ:ing. Some with perhaps some re-arranging!

There's this very "library music" feel to your stuff (which I dig) but it feels like all the instruments are trying to play solo at the same time and this leads to very crowded songs which are going to be harder to mix!

If you dig Zappa, perhaps listen to his records as a reference. You can ALWAYS hear the melody, even if it's chaotic!

Just my random thoughts before going to bed! Hopefully they're of some use to you!
I'm not sure what you mean by library feel. I don't think this would make any money in a library :P

I *like* the dynamic variance. I like that the kick is sometimes louder and sometimes quieter. When I compress it, there's less groove. That's exactly why I think it's better to duck everything at those moments.

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If you kind of fancy that idea, try to use one mic right above the kick drum rim, beater side, pointing downwards, and another mic, more distant of course, for air and ambience. Needless to say that you "gently squash" the drum buss – but you'll hear what to do with those signals. I like it a lot in the right context.
I might do that, but I'm torn between using a kick mic or not...phase is always so difficult, and sometimes, when the phase is right, I can get the kick sounding awesome with my 2 room mics. But I guess I should try to be a bit more normal and not think about phase so much. It's probably a CIA PSYOP anyhow.
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Old 09-07-2021, 01:20 PM   #10
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JS Phase Rotator is your friend, as well as GerainT's Stereo Alignment Delay. You'll always find a close to perfect phase relation, especially when it's two mics only.

And btw I don't refer to a kick mic, when I suggest the placement above the rim. You capture just as much snare, and depending on the compression, also a nice picture of the whole kit. (I remember two occasions as FOH mixer when I explicitely mic'd the drums that way – very useful to know the technique)
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Old 09-07-2021, 10:45 PM   #11
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I'm not sure what you mean by library feel. I don't think this would make any money in a library :P

I *like* the dynamic variance. I like that the kick is sometimes louder and sometimes quieter. When I compress it, there's less groove. That's exactly why I think it's better to duck everything at those moments.
Here's library music:

https://pitchfork.com/features/start...library-music/

and here's an LP I'd recommend to get started on library music:



About the dynamics; well, it's your music! You do what you want with it and what you feel is right!
I'm just gonna say that it's quite unconventional to have other instruments duck when the kick hits (outside EDM, that is). To me that means "less dynamics" than some compression (and proper EQ'ing)! Haven't heard a jazz record (and those are all about dynamics) that have sidechain kicks.

But like I said, you're the boss, boss!
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Old 09-10-2021, 02:03 AM   #12
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+1 to the "library" vibe, now that I listened to it. Great stuff (I have tons of library LPs, haha)!

Apart from the bassy and exaggerated kick drum emphasis in the first tracks and some overly wide stereo spread in on or two others (and one "phase accident" in one particular), I think the drum sound is really good and works in context. I'm even more convinced than ever that the abovementioned mic[k?]ing suggestion would work out really well. Snappy, focused, clean-ish.
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Old 09-10-2021, 02:15 PM   #13
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+1 to the "library" vibe, now that I listened to it. Great stuff (I have tons of library LPs, haha)!

Apart from the bassy and exaggerated kick drum emphasis in the first tracks and some overly wide stereo spread in on or two others (and one "phase accident" in one particular), I think the drum sound is really good and works in context. I'm even more convinced than ever that the abovementioned mic[k?]ing suggestion would work out really well. Snappy, focused, clean-ish.
Did you hear a specific phase issue? I'm curious where?

Yes, maybe I'm overdoing the kick because I really want every detail to be heard; what I want is probably impossible.
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Old 09-12-2021, 05:58 AM   #14
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Did you hear a specific phase issue? I'm curious where?

Yes, maybe I'm overdoing the kick because I really want every detail to be heard; what I want is probably impossible.
Track 6 is pretty weird to my ears ‒ not only the snare sounds off phase-wise, also the reverb/delay on the piano makes me a little dizzy.

Of course it's possible to capture and mix a detailed kick drum. I'd just focus on the beater "smack" as the central detail and leave the shell resonance/body as it is. That said, it requires two microphones of course, one for the room/the air and one for the close-up beater work.
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Old 09-13-2021, 01:33 AM   #15
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what are sugar kicks?
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Old 09-13-2021, 02:29 AM   #16
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Been wondering about sugar kicks, too - never hear that description before in 67 years of playing in bands.
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Old 09-13-2021, 05:26 AM   #17
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A contemporary producer (name escapes) recommends putting a 10k spike on the kick.
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Old 09-13-2021, 05:53 AM   #18
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what are sugar kicks?
Not sure, but I think she's got them?

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Old 09-13-2021, 08:54 AM   #19
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Not sure, but I think she's got them?

Hahahaha!
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Old 09-14-2021, 07:47 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Pink Wool View Post
You see the problem I have with the songs (mix wise and also style wise) is I don't know what to listen to! When the music is this "free flowing", the mix should be really tight!

You said you don't like to compress the drums much. I think the problem with that is you'd need a SUPER solid drummer for that. And while I can hear that the people in your band can play, there's still so much going on constantly, that the playing is going to be "spotty" (too dynamic). It becomes very "mushy" quite fast! I think some of it could be fixed somewhat easily with a compressor and some EQ:ing. Some with perhaps some re-arranging!

There's this very "library music" feel to your stuff (which I dig) but it feels like all the instruments are trying to play solo at the same time and this leads to very crowded songs which are going to be harder to mix!

If you dig Zappa, perhaps listen to his records as a reference. You can ALWAYS hear the melody, even if it's chaotic!

Just my random thoughts before going to bed! Hopefully they're of some use to you!
Quote:
Originally Posted by beingmf View Post
If you kind of fancy that idea, try to use one mic right above the kick drum rim, beater side, pointing downwards, and another mic, more distant of course, for air and ambience. Needless to say that you "gently squash" the drum buss – but you'll hear what to do with those signals. I like it a lot in the right context.
Maybe I made up the term; when he rolls the kick. Like a snare roll, but sometimes he does quiet little rolls, or often triplets, on the kick, and they get buried in the mix.
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Old 09-14-2021, 08:52 AM   #21
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Maybe I made up the term; when he rolls the kick. Like a snare roll, but sometimes he does quiet little rolls, or often triplets, on the kick, and they get buried in the mix.
Interesting I thought it was a reference to something more punchy and polished in the part. It seems sort of like what some people call "ghost" hits on drums, where they're very underneath the overall dynamics of the drums but are real important. The kind of notes that will always get caught under a gate set for the main part. A classic conundrum : )
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Old Today, 12:47 AM   #22
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Interesting I thought it was a reference to something more punchy and polished in the part. It seems sort of like what some people call "ghost" hits on drums, where they're very underneath the overall dynamics of the drums but are real important. The kind of notes that will always get caught under a gate set for the main part. A classic conundrum : )
Ya, exactly. I don't gate anymore, instead I look through the wave and manually cut. Sometimes I gate very carefully, but ya, that's it exactly.

I wish I could record drums in an quasi an-echoic chamber. One day I'll try the beater thing... maybe a contact mic taped to the kick. Then compress that to bring out the ghost notes.
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