Because of the number of mics used to record a drum kit, it can be a challenge to make them sound punchy and in your face. The six tips outlined in this tutorial will take you a long way in your quest for better sounding drums.
Michelangelo said: "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it's the task of the sculptor to discover it." It often works the same with sound. When a track is too big and cluttered with off-axis leakage, you have to chip away at what's not needed and Pro Tools' Strip Silence feature gives you an excellent way to do the job. In this example, it's the kick drum that is "sculpted" so you can better hear the other tracks.
A "crush" track is a copy of a signal that's aggressively compressed so you can tuck it in under the original. With the proper attack and release settings, this technique adds definition, punch, and excellent control of dynamics.
It almost feels like cheating but adding a well-recorded sample to specific tracks can pull them up in the mix and make them speak better with the surrounding tracks. Slate Digital's Trigger 2 is used in this case, and it works great!
By adding automation to your tracks you can direct the attention of the listener like an author tells a story. By pushing them up when they play and pulling them back when they don't you can focus the listener's attention and reduce the competition of off-axis leakage between tracks. Riding your tracks like this can all be done offline (without the track playing) so the process is quick.
Cymbals are the cockroaches of audio - they can parasitically take over your mix. One tool is to crush them in parallel by bussing them to an Aux track and compressing them aggressively. Then you can play with the blend of the crushed elements with the original until the cymbals sit better in the overall picture.
When drums are recorded in a small space, it can be challenging to make them sound ambient in a believable way. By compressing an existing room track and busing it to a short reverb, you can create an ambient effect that enhances the kit without sounding contrived.
Watch this free tutorial to see all these tips in action.