Drums at Mission Studios, Warrington - Part 2

Welcome to part 2! In part 1, we listened to drums at Mission Studios without any processing. In this post, I've done a quick mix of the drums to illustrate what I can achieve. Unfortunately, I don't have the other instrumental stems, so we won't be able to hear them mixed in context. At least you can hear the great details of the live room at Mission!

My general approach to mixing is to be as simple as possible; respect the recordings you have and try to work with them; refine rather than improve. 85% of the mixing process is done in the live room; capturing the source correctly is imperative.

The next set of examples are the same patterns as heard in part 1, but now featuring some EQ, Compression and Tape Emulation. Playing is provided as ever by the talent Dafydd Cartwright.

This recording features an inner kick mic and a subkick - I high-pass the inner mic and low-pass the subkick so that each mic is doing its intended role. I bus the two together and then add a compressor - usually an 1176 style - to give the kick a bit of punch. Here I used Focusrite's RED compressor.

The snare is by far the most difficult thing to get right, in my opinion. I use Fabfilter's excellent G gate to try and cut out the hi hat spill. It does a great job of maintaining the natural sound of the snare whilst getting rid of anything else you don't want. After Fabfilter Pro Q2 is used to hi-pass and eliminate any unwanted frequencies, I'll apply another 1176 style compressor to fatten up the attack. In this case it was Logic's built in 1176 model. I then use Maag EQ4 to shape the tone a little further.

Overheads feature minimal processing in my mixes - they provide the signature sound that the close mics need to complement. Here, boxiness was cut around 500hz with Pro Q 2, and then light compression was applied using Klanghelm's MJUC.

The room mics were treated with some EQ and heavy compression from MJUC, mixed in with dry signal, roughly 60/40. I'm not a huge fan of crushing the room mics to death and then mixing in a small amount - it always creates more problems for me. Parallel compression is the way forward here.

Toms need controlling with gate to eradicate noise; sometimes I'll edit out the noise in between hits instead of using a gate. Pro Q2 is used once again to get rid of some boxiness and high-pass out the mud; and I usually bus compress the toms together, this time MJUC once again. I've flicked between using an optical LA-2A style comp and 1176 on toms; it tends to depend on the source material.

On the drum bus, I'll use Maag EQ4 to add flavour in the low and top end, whilst cutting the boxiness using the 650hz knob on the plugin. Goodhertz' Vulf Compressor is used to enhance the transients and add a gnarly edge, but is only mixed in parallel at about 10-15% - that thing is a total beast! Finally I put Waves' Kramer Master Tape at the end of the chain to soften out and glue the kit together.

I mix through an analogue 2-bus, which at the moment features a Presonus Bluetube Valve Preamp, and a Drawmer DL241 Stereo Compressor. It's not much, but it adds that warmth and glue on the way out.

Thats it for Part 2; in Part 3 I'll detail how the drums were recorded in the room and the equipment that was used. See you there!

If you'd like to get in touch with me to book a session, just email me at chris@chriswmusic.com. Thanks!