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A DIY recording journal. 
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Walrus meat
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Good point about the bit of inherent nakedness/lack of affectation with the drums versus amplified string instruments. No distortion pedal to hide behind, no reverb to create a "vibe". I mean sure, you got choices of shells and cymbals and tuning and the physical space they're occupying but it is much less so an exaggerated thing.

Revisiting old recordings is for sure so fucking painful. It is easy I think to fall into the trappings of "well if I was once very fucking bad at this maybe I'm still fucking bad at this even if I'm a bit better now but I'm still at a disadvantage of not being a natural and maybe i've tricked myself why do I even do this blahblahblah". It is also easy to find yourself feeling the opposite once you've made some marginal improvement and feel like you've got shit figured out, only to come back to the prior. Definitely something I've experienced many times and have sort of suffered through as someone who really just isn't a natural at this shit. I think though, there's some reward in sticking it out through the shitty introspection and identifying shortcomings and figuring out solutions around them, and doing that over and over again. That is really probably really the only thing that I enjoy doing in this world, just fixing arbitrary problems.

It is also so funny, I feel the band tyrant thing, cause I am totally that sort of overbearing guy at practice, but I am also such a fucking hack musician. :lol: I'm over here talking some serious shit (and people around are listening to me and taking me seriously..?) and I really am only fairly mediocre at anything other than bass at this point. Which again, I am lucky to have a core team of people who are a lot more talented than me that also put up with my obsessive nitpicky bullshit.


To really derail this incoherent motherfucker into some vague faux-philosophical bullshit: This somehow only half unrelatedly all comes back around to I think, realizing that my brain is fucked up and that I don't think of these things on the level of "hey, we're just here to have fun, music is supposed to be fun". I'm not even sure it's to make music that people like or can relate to, I'm almost positive it's not.


Probably going to continue to rant in this vein a bit later, and hopefully more coherently figure some way of getting back to the human performance and analysis and band dynamics part of this shit. Boring fucking times out here.

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Thu Apr 16, 2020 7:14 pm
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Some real dork shit here, just plain old drums. Well, sort of, they're quite if not very "mixed" but they're naked.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/5hc1ri5bt9t75 ... O.mp3?dl=0

There is almost to my disbelief zero artificial reverb being used here.

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Tue Dec 29, 2020 8:29 pm
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Winston Wolf
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
FUCKING BEAUTIFUL.

I might be too much of a dork to consider this dork stuff. Could listen to raw (or rawish) drum tracks frevvver.

Have multiple things here where the mix is just drums, maybe just drums and bass. Sometimes get crazy and think i don't really need guitars anyhow.

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Tue Dec 29, 2020 8:39 pm
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
I am very much the same, they're my favorite part of the whole process and I guess because there's so many moving parts they're the most compelling. They certainly present the most problems too. Thankfully though, biggest issue really is just deciding how to shape/blend the fucking myriad of room mics and which to play favorites with.

Really think it might be as bit of a dork nerd thing though when you consider very few people would care to hear that. :red:

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Tue Dec 29, 2020 9:27 pm
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Winston Wolf
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Yeah, those people are the real dorks. They ain't know what is what. RAW DRUMS 4 LYFE.

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Tue Dec 29, 2020 9:59 pm
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
All those poor bastards want is more vocals. :red: It is kind of funny, as I get older I realize how poor my brain is at even beginning to try to understand what the fuck anyone is saying in a song. Bad at memorizing lyrics, bad at discerning them. Don't like writing them either these days.


Here's a couple more but with the first track of Alex's guitar in there:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/udqi4zlfq5fho ... N.mp3?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/m3xylu089moo5 ... N.mp3?dl=0

First snare is the studio's Ludwig Hammered Brass, which is I guess basically the same thing as a Black Beauty but well, brass. Got a snareweight on it, kind of a more classy controlled thing.

Second snare is my Ludwig Epic, 20-ply Birch heavy motherfucker. Almost sounds like a steel drum strangely. No dampening, UAD Rat plugin on a bandpassed parallel snare top for obnoxious ass ring. BRING THE RING.

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Wed Dec 30, 2020 4:34 pm
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Winston Wolf
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
The space sounds so good.

Think i dig the Furious George snare better, but they are actually kind of surprisingly similar in mix. Both sound excellent.

Looks like you had a minimum of three things on the kick there? The speaker/subkick, i don't recognize the silver one outside, and then what is in there? Did you run anything beater-side? Sounds pretty huge. Of course that is also one of the things i like most about stripped down drum-front mixes also, is how much kick and snare there can be with nothing else to have to play nicely with.

But what was the basic rundown of mics?

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Fri Jan 01, 2021 11:23 am
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Yar, I think the similarity between them is due to me being bad at not tuning drums to that kinda medium-high pitch. I just really love when you get right up to that tension where the head starts to form a solid, fairly singular tone instead of a low pitch with lots of whiney shit up top, but not so high you get into like grind/nu metal territory. Though, I do really love that sound too. Oh, also they're both freshy Ambassador X heads which I think have a thing of their own, that's my favorite snare head ever.

So mics were as I remember them (this is gonna take awhile and get messy :red: ):

Kick in - Audix D6, this sounded nothing like I'm familiar with it sounding, something about the Neves and maybe the foam beater. Dunno if you know this mic but it's like instant Pantera kick with a wood beater right out the gate. Sounds much, much more neutral than I expected.
Kick out - Neumann FET47
Kick out - NS10, engineer dude was telling me this is the proper way and that those Yamaha subkicks actually have a 3" speaker in there, not an NS10 driver, and focus in a more lowmidish region where as this is just like pure fuckin sub. Never used one before, but I love it.
Snare top - Beta 57 (there was a 451 taped to it but I just tossed that in the mix.
Snare side - one of those copperphone guys, wasn't doing anything good so I immediately tossed it
Snare bottom - 441
Tom mics are vintage 421s on top, and these handmade electret condensers on bottom that are kinda like in a profile of a Josephson e22, side address and housed in a brass pipe. Tossed the bottom floor tom mic, just wasn't doing anything good.
OH - frickin vintage U67s. Just ridiculous. Honestly, not the best OH sound I've got which is funny cause my brain tells me to be hyped on 30k worth of microphone. Just kinda unfocused, but totally servicable. We did a weirdish positioning based upon the house engineer's recommendation and I think I would be inclined to do just a more normal spaced pair in hindsight, maybe even with SDCs to get more punch and focus.

Really close rooms were an RCA44 and RCA77 behind the kit, to the left and right of Colin. Probably like 5 feet from his back. They're placed so the figure 8 is looking at the floor and ceiling, kit in their nulls. These sound fuckin incredible to me, super wide stereo spread and great balance favoring the ride and quiet hi hat. Furthest thing from harsh. Using these more than the overheads and almost for the same function. I think we fucked these up pretty good with Distressors on the way in.

Also had a "close but still far sounding" pair of U87s, probably 15 feet in front of the kit and 15 feet apart from each other. ALSOALSO, "close but far sounding" mono mic about 15 feet in front of the kit but with a baffle directly in front of it. This is nice to support the shells because the high end is so reduced by the baffle. Going pretty easy on these mics, just some light compression.

Then there's also a "far and very fucking far sounding" mono Sony C37 probably 35 or more feet away from the kit. Just pointed down at the tile floor, probably 2 feet off the ground. Absolutely explosive. And finally, they've got some PZMs permanently installed up on the walls opposite end of the room as the drums, so those are the stereo very far mics. That shit basically is a slap back it's so far away. Those and the C37 are getting heavily sculpted (nuking like 4-6k on the PZMs, no thank you) and heavily crunched with that RAT plugin. Most of that blown out sound (especially on the kick) that's buried up under the mix is these mics.


The weirdest thing about mixing these drums is how much high end I'm boosting on the drum bus to get them to sound shiny and modern. Between Soundtoys Sie-Q and UAD Pultec I'm probably doing like 7 or 8db boost of total high shelf shit, maybe more. :hypno: I don't know if it's the preamps or vintage mics or what. I'm very happy with how they sound but I've never had to do that before, kinda crazy.

I'm sorry for being so annoyingly detailed, I like to talk about these things. :red:

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Fri Jan 01, 2021 6:05 pm
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Winston Wolf
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Why would you be sorry, nerdshit is exactly what i am here for. :huzzah:

In fact, i demand more nerdshit.

What do you run for wires these days on your snares? Regular 16-20ish strands?

And, are you running pretty thin bottom heads there? Like ambassadors or diplomats?

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Fri Jan 01, 2021 7:25 pm
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Ya know, for wires I think 20 or more is good for what I like. Pretty sure I had a 30 strand on my Ludwig for this and then I think their brass one had a 16 but I wasn't gonna bother throwing something else on there, so I guess I'm not too picky. I've got into keeping the snare wires a little on the loose side anyhow with the 30 strand so it doesn't choke the drum out, and I just gate the fuck out of the bottom mic and often the top in some capacity and don't mind that extra buzz and stuff being in overheads/room mics, kinda brings a "real" quality that I like. Side ramble on gating, with this record I got Wilkinson Debleeder on the "main" snare top track doing a real tight lowpass gate, and then just scooping out a ton of low mids and then do the parallel bandpass distortion thing I was talking about with the low mids and just let that be wide open. I think this is gonna be my new trick for shit where I want the snare to sound fuckin weaponized and violent.

Lately I've been using Diplomats on snare bottom, just seems to work better for the way I tune drums and is nice and sensitive for ghost notes and all that shit. And I don't know if I'm imagining it, but that combined with the 30 strand just makes the snare sound louder and ringier and more lively and all that shit.

I'm always trying nu shit though, definitely been on a big drum tuning journey the past year. I been practicing a ton with different heads and hoops and shit on my trusty Pearl Export. Modest but decent kit, been thinking I got it whipped into pretty good shaped and got good at tuning it (granted this being in my dry, deadened living room that we jam and mix in). We get to the studio, I got my shit all the tuned up and ready to go and sounding the way I like it (coated vintage ambassadors on tops and bottoms) that we've all agreed sounds great in the living room for the past few months. Now we get into this bright ass splashy ass fuckin room at the studio and all of a sudden they sound weird and too overtone-y. We ask about the house kit that's this sick old Camco kit, got some sort of beat up coated Evans G2s on it. Very little overtones in that kinda waterlogged Evans way. Spent like 2 minutes tuning those up and it was like "holy shit we've got it". Didn't replace the heads or anything for the whole session, just went with it. I extremely digress, but did not see that one coming. Was a learning experience in the importance of catering the source tone to the environment it's in.

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Fri Jan 01, 2021 8:30 pm
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Winston Wolf
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Oh yeah, i tune all kinds of fucked up ringy in my trashbasement. Would never ever work in an actual space with, like, actual space to it. But the basement absolutely needs it.

My own snare journey where i left off was 100% about the bigass 30 strand and the diplomat bottom on the 6.5 ludwig basic-ass steel i have. I almost don't even care what top head, pretty much any of the thinner ones will be okay for me. But the thinnest snareside and the big wires are the thing for me. The only way i have found where i can get as much ringy life with as much actual snare scuzz as i can get.

I also have a 5-ish inch acrolite with a smaller set of wires, maybe 15 maybe 20? but the 30 on the 6.5 is what i am most into. I always run my wires suuuperloose. Took me a while (like, fucking 10 years) to realize that i can run them real loose without much buzz, but i just have to be prepared to be buying fresh ones more often than i used to, so i can be running relatively new, unjacked-up wires to cut the buzzing. I used to just always play them until there were like 7 wires left and then buy the cheapest ones i could to replace them. I always had the weirdest snare sound when i was a kid, kinda awful. :red: But REAL FUCKING LOUD. :red:

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Fri Jan 01, 2021 10:36 pm
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Sounds like we are very on the same page with snare approach. Have always had a bit of a harder time with 5" shells too, atleast in the tuning range I like. My friend has a Slingerland Sound King or whatever he left here before he moved to Texas. Tried so many different heads and shit and I just can't get that thing to sound like anything but shit unless you just tape the hell out of it and go for a 70's cocaine snare. Excels at that for sure.

Do you have much experience with really thick wood snares? This Ludwig with diecast hoops I got is maybe the best drum I've encountered for what I like to do, 7" birch sucker. Go for like 200 bucks used too.

Snare heads I'm really kinda particular about at this point. Emperors I like but they reduce a little too much ring, the Ambassador X is almost as thick as an Emperor but still single ply. Anything that says Aquarian on it I've kinda figured out is gonna sound doodooass to me.

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Sat Jan 02, 2021 12:28 am
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Winston Wolf
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Ha, that is funny with the cocaine snare, 100% agree.

Alternately, thin heads and crank pretty goddamned tight, for a version what a piccolo snare is supposed to sound like. I hate piccolos. A cranked 5" is a weapon tho. I have also heard 5" supraphonics that sounded fucking fantastic, but a/b, still preferred the 6.5s of those too.

Thick wooden drums, i haven't messed with, but want to at some point. Have a whole pile of maple bits in the basement i was going to turn into a stave drum years ago tho. One day i will actually get back around to it.

And as an aside, you mentioned it also, diecast rims, at the very least top ones, are IMO kinda integral to what i like about a snare sound. One of the best things i ever did to my cheapo ludwig steel was snap the top rim at a show and then replace it with a diecast one. Was only really going for the durability, was surprised by the improvement in sound, at least for the way i hit things, anyhow. Probably diminishing returns on actually good snares though, as i think of it. Magic shit for cheapos however.

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Sat Jan 02, 2021 11:06 am
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Used to go back and forth on the piccolo thing myself and kinda realized it was a stupid thing to foist upon oneself. They're really never quite that loud because there's not enough mass and you can just do the exact same thing on a 14" drum. :red: Never did try a proper 5" metal snare for that kind of thing. Could see an acrolite or supraphonic working well for that.

Really is all about the diecast hoops for sure. Loud ass rimshot, more stable tuning. Also really helps with that singular tone coming from the head thing I was talking about earlier. I got them on both sides of this Ludwig wood snare but I don't think the difference is particularly noticable on the bottom though like you were sayin.

Homie who is doing the finish on my P build built a really cool stave kit that he's getting around to almost finishing. Interesting thing, bop kit sizes on the toms and kick. He seemed to be really interested in that particular kind of construction, talking about grain uniformity and all kinds of shit. Excited to hear it when it's done.

A little update, here is one of these songs I've yet to post but now with two guities: https://www.dropbox.com/s/c63di9c8is06i ... 1.mp3?dl=0

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Mon Jan 04, 2021 10:25 pm
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/htgk3l1eq89fl ... 2.mp3?dl=0

Aside from vocals this is the closest we've got to a song that's done. Decided not to quad track electric guits on this one cause its quick and gotta be punchypunchytight so I just put an acoustic up da middle. Got the scratch bass I tracked for clicks on on this one just to give a little context. Still waiting on me P build to be finished.

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Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:39 pm
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Winston Wolf
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Cool intro, love how it then becomes kind of a dinosaur jr song. Even kind of sounds like Murph on the drums in parts, the way the kit tracked.

Interesting you are calling that scratch bass, it actually sounds pretty good from here, i guess at least turned down that much in the mix, but seems like a good sound. Gonna be rad once you get the final one in there and a bit louder in the mix!

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Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:53 am
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
You may not be surprised the working title for that one was "Tha Lung" for quite awhile. Its funny because I totally hear it that way too but I've had a couple folks tell me they don't think it really sounds like Dino that much to them. I think that is probably because it seems like youngish people, IME, don't really listen to YLAOM as much as they do Green Mind and on.

Do agree the bass is actually very serviceable, which is mostly because we pre pro'd the fucking shit out of this thing. Scratch bass was my Aria CSB-380 -> EHX Bass Soul Food OD -> UAD Ampeg VST amp sim. This whole album though has become this sort of obsessive indulgence in attempting to make the most "real" sounding Big Budget Rock Record we can (just without the budget). So I'm gonna go the whole nine and record all my bass as DI at home and be a fucking psycho about playing as perfectly as possible. Then we're gonna reamp with my regular rig as it usually is, Sunn Coliseum 300 -> 2x10 dialed to be like scoopy clanky dirty more modern version of the Touch and Go tone that the scratch tone here is trying to simulate. In addition to that probably also gonna use my 800 into an Ampeg 1x15 and go for something in the kind of Lemmy/Lou Barlow style to get more midrange and fuzzy type distortion to help bring out the harmonics of the chords and fills.

Absolutely fuckin ranting here but I've been obsessing about concepts of sonics of this record for the last half a year or something at this point.

Bonus round, here is a quiet song on the record our drummer wrote: https://www.dropbox.com/s/w665t2yv9be9g ... 2.mp3?dl=0

Bonusbonus round, here is one of the songs our lead guitar player wrote: https://www.dropbox.com/s/qwwkz8wqnxwd3 ... S.mp3?dl=0

Mix is weird on this one, bass is real (too) loud. Master bus has some extra distortion/clipping I put on it as an experiment and it's compressed as shit. :red: This has just the two guits I'm calling the "fuzz" bus, next round of doubles will be brighter/cleaner/less compressed from both the source tones and treatment afterward.


Curious, how do the balances sound to you? These are kind of "roughs", but honestly they're pretty close to where I'll leave them as far as treatment goes. Everything from here is gonna be balances, panning and maybe a highpass or something where necessary.

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Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:01 pm
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Winston Wolf
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
For these two here:

The kitchen sink one is a little drum forward in the clean parts, a little less obvious in the more distorted parts, but still maybe a little forward. I like it; as we discussed, drum-soloed or -heavy mixes are kind of a thing for me, but prolly a bit over for what you say you are aiming for. Kind of the drummer's mix in a way. As a drummer you really hear everything and want to hear everything, but trying to step back ad pretend to be a normal person for a sec, i would say i am looking for less drum and more guitar and bass. Might be just levels, might also be levels combined with there being less verb/effect on the drums than the guitar, which would obviously move the git back and out, and bring the drums right up in the fore. I almost think the distorted sections are pretty close to right on, just reeeaaallll slight drums being a bit too much of a thing that i notice when i try to blank out and just listen in those parts.

The guitar players one is again a bit drummy, but i think it fits better as it. That might be a bit of what i was just saying, but also i do like a heavier sound with a lot of drum to it. I kind of consider that one of the Ballou signatures that i like hearing sometimes in heavy stuff. Like hearing some shell resonance in a loud ass part is kind of a interesting abnormal experience that i like the flavor of here and there. You never hear that shit in real life at that volume. It makes it seem so fancy and glossy and EXTRA.

Personally, in both i want to hear more bass guit, but i think you will get there more once you get that stuff finalized for sounds and takes. I have a fondness for some bass thump tho.


Overall, this all of this is splitting hairs though, because this shit sounds fucking amazingly good overall, and a big part of that is how you have it mixed/balanced.

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Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:26 pm
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Lmao, I wrote out some long ass thing and then had to attend to something and lost it in the progress of being auto logged out.

Anyhow, I tried the stuff you were talking about with all of these and they made a whole ton of sense. I had the room mics pulled out entirely on kitchen sink so I brought in a couple of the closer ones and brought down the whole drum mix during those sections like 3 whole db and it makes way more sense.

Funny you mentioned the Ballou thing because thats absolutely a reference point for this one and a couple of the other more aggressive tracks. I too am really into that exaggerated impossible reality thing with the shell resonance and all that. Can kinda see now how he gets those competitively huge sounds without samples by just using some tricks after having the needed raw material of a great drummer playing great drums in a great room. Not there yet but getting ballparkish.

I too really love loud thumpin ass bass but am a little hesitant to do the bassist's mix, similar to the drummers mix thing like you said. Which is also a problem because I love to be assaulted by drum shells. :red: Want the bass to be pretty much constantly distinguishable though, cause I think the parts are important to the feeling of the tunes and shit so I'm thinking just getting some good raw sounds and compressing the living shit out of the bass is gonna get us there.

I'm gonna keep bouncing shit off of you as things move along, I really do appreciate having your ear on this and you taking the time to give me feedback on this stuff. Also happy to hear you're really digging the sounds. :huzzah: This one feels like a culmination of a lot of curiosities and past failures being sorted out. Honestly probably never would have happened were not for this COVID shit weirdly enough.

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Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:05 pm
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Post Re: A DIY recording journal.
Got Alex's doubles all done. This track just has electric doubles in the heavier parts and some fleetwood mac ass chorus'd acoustic (that absolutely blasts through the compressor on the first hit :red:) during the "lighter" but also still kinda pummeling sections. Still gotta get Dan's doubles on here so it's leaning a little to the right as far as stereo image with the guities. Stuck the drum shells in a bus that's boosting a good bit of 2.3k and compensated for level, now I think they're punching good and hard but it's also made the kick too pokey. But I *think* like this kind of mid punchy sound on the kick more than the kinda 8k and up sort of sound so I might just chill it out up there a bit. Who knows?

https://www.dropbox.com/s/u2xmkjqok65fh ... 1.mp3?dl=0

Bonus round, Canadian band that came down from Vancouver a couple weekends ago to record an LP: https://www.dropbox.com/s/br9qwirk5j0zz ... 2.mp3?dl=0

They gonna track vocals themselves, which I am excited to hear because she fucking rips. Also the only thing that differentiates (most) these bands to me at this point. I think I've record over 60 or 70 records for hardcore bands at this point and it's not like I need to tell anyone in the know but goddamn the bandwidth of riffs is so small.

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Fri Jan 29, 2021 2:36 pm
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