We all know that getting a good drum recording can sometimes be difficult. What sizes of drums?. What Type of Heads?. How to tune them?. Do I use Gels, Tape or other materials for Dampening?. ETC …… Once we get that all figured out we need to figure out what mics are be best suited for the job providing you have several options, sometimes we don’t. Last and most importantly being a good drummer or hiring a Pro with a good attitude, technique and POCKET to make the music feel good.
OK ….. Lets say we’ve done all that and recorded the drums and got a decent clean sound because we wanted to capture the drums naturally and then apply EQ, Dynamics and various other FX later inside our DAW. What should we start with?. I can honestly tell you from my own experience it can make your head spin sometimes but I always seem to start with an EQ first. There are a ton of great choices but the one that has always got me to the finish line with a smile is the Scheps 73 EQ by Waves. It just has this colour, character and body that brings out the essence of a drum recording.
Here is specifically what I do and I hope it might help you to to build some EQ life into your drums ……
1. First I start with the Pre Amp section to add color to the sound. Depending on the style of music I might want a more smooth or fat drum sound (Soul, R&B or Jazz) or a real gritty sound (Hip Hop) or a more over driven sound (Rock, Metal). All I’m looking for here is the style or characteristic of the sound after recording through a basic audio interface that gives a clean recording. I want to add some character, colour flavour to my drums. Think Baskin Robins 31 Flavours of Ice Cream, LOL!.
2. Next I bypass the Scheps 73 EQ and insert a gain plugin before the EQ (Logics Gain Plug works great for this).
3. Make sure to turn down your audio level for the gain plug to a minimum -60 db because I personally find that we all tend to record a little hot and need to dial back the signal level …… Ahhhhhh yes reminiscing about the days when it didn’t matter as much because 2" tape would soak up all that hot signal level goodness and saturate without clipping. Ok back to reality. Next give the drive knob on the Scheps Plug some love and engage the Preamp or make sure it’s on. Slowly start increasing the input level and do the same on the Scheps 73 EQ, then start feeding your audio signal in via the gain plugin. You can do this separately for your Kick, Snare, Hats, panned Toms and dual Mono OVHDS or Stereo Mic OVHD drum recording.
4. Now you can start experimenting with the Hi, Mid, Low bands and Hi Pass Filter.
Below are some typical frequency settings I carve out when using the Scheps 73 EQ and they are a great general starting point for Kick Drum recordings. Allot of what I’ve explained here can also be used for sampled drums as well.
50 - 100 Hz boost to add low-end punch to a kick drum.
150 - 250 Hz try cutting in this area it reduces potential boom overload from the kick drum.
300 - 600 Hz to cut out boxy frequencies of a recorded kicks.
2 - 4 kHz to add some snap, crackle or pop this is the frequency range you need to check out for most kick sizes.
4 kHz will bring out the click sound in a kick.
5. Don’t forget to start around -60 db, maybe even -70 db, you’ll have to experiment to see what works for you.
We’ve just successfully got as close as we can get to the real thing (Neve 1073 Pre EQ) and now your drums are sounding great even without compression (we’ll talk about compression down the road). Waves and Andrew Scheps did an amazing job on this EQ and frankly I’m always stoked to use it. (Pssssssst the price for this one is great to). Let us know how you make out with this great Pre Amp/ EQ emulation. See you next time!.