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Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 25 of 29

Room Acoustics and Treatment Options

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

25. Room Acoustics and Treatment Options

Lesson Info

Room Acoustics and Treatment Options

And the next thing I'd like to talk about is the room sound and how the room sound effects the mikes and how it affects the tone of the drums. I know I've kind of alluded to the different sounds um, of this room you know, I kept saying this room's got a little bit of a low thump e sound to it sometimes and some ringing and what? Not on dh that's all because of the height, the ceiling height and the shape of the room and the materials in the room? Um, you know, we can't take this class toe like seven or eight different rooms, so I can't really show you audio examples of how different rooms sound, but with the same kit, but I can't explain some of the characteristics of rooms, so when you're going to track your drums, say you just have a house that you're tracking drums in or you're choosing a studio there's certain things that you can look out for to know what you what room you want to use to get the drum sounds you want, and one of the biggest things is the floor surface this room has ...

carpet, and one thing about carpet is that it diffuses high end and this room also has a lot of hard spaces which create high end and I can tell that someone's come in here and carefully put wood on the walls in certain places and we have like a brick wall and we have a sheet rock wall in the back and then we also have some deadening and all those combinations are like this brick wall is definitely probably not even real brick now that I'm looking at it but all the hard services like this and the sheet rock are bringing high end back into the room where the carpet um is sucking high end out of the room the other thing that you'll find in a lot of studios is wood floors and wood floors or my favorite would sounds excellent the drums or would the wood just resonates with the drums themselves and creates a really nice warm sound you're going to get less phasing problems a supposed carpet because of carpets tendency tio get comb filtering and whatnot because of its soft surface and porous surface um as far as deadening a room goes um well I guess there's also you might find a studio that has tiled floor you're going to get a lot of mid range from anything that's tile in any room. My studio right now has a tile floor and it's cool but too much tile can get really muddy just because of it's a really hard reflective surface we think of wood is really hard but it's actually porous and absorb sound to a certain amount but on top of that if you're going into a room that's yours, and you're trying to figure out how to make that room sound the best, um, and you're thinking, I'm just going to put a bunch egg crate on the walls or a bunch of phone that's really just going toe kill the room you have to work with, and it's not really going to let the room, um, shine to its fullest. So one of the first things you want to do when you're going into a room, and you're setting up your drum set, and if there's no deadening or anything, just take some soft services and sit at the drum set, and you really just want toe, kill, kill reflections that air going to bounce more than once. So if all you have is a few our lex pads or anything that's soft, even upto, like mattresses or something like that, put him put one on the on one side of the room and one on the other side of the room and checker back and forth, so you get one reflection in one way, but it doesn't bounce off one wall and then bounce off the next. So you kind of get reflections that air making sort of, ah, veed zigzag sound instead of just bouncing around every single way because if you didn't all of your walls, you're just going to get a weird, dry, boring room sound, and the other thing that you want to think about his ceiling height and ceiling height makes a huge difference in drum sounds. If you have the option to record in your living room or like some office space or something with tall ceilings versus recording in your basement, I would say always record in the room with the with the tall ceilings, because as I've shown you the the way the overheads work and the way they pick up the things around them, even though they don't pick up right above, you're still going to get reflections that bounce right back down of the symbols. If the overhead, if the ceiling is closer to the overheads than aah, the symbol is closer to overhit. So say you're skilling's here, you're going to get reflections that comeback down faster and back into this mike, as opposed to this reflection going all the way up there and back down here, it's already been defused, so you're going to get a lot clearer drum sound and overheads with a taller ceiling now sometimes ceilings too tall and you can kind of lose um the weight in the drums and the low end and the drums because, uh, the sounds just dissipating and not coming back at all, and something that you can do to adjust that is building building a cloud, or, um, or using, uh, insulation to make a false ceiling that goes over the drums, and I kind of want to demonstrate how that can work, and if a couple of guys want to come up because of your plugs in, yeah, I just have to you guys come up, and we're going to take this pad, I just want to show you how much of a difference the ceiling makes. Normally, I would use something thicker than this, but this is still going to show us. So if you guys want to come back here and one of each of you get on one side and what I'm gonna have him do, I'm going to record and step back just a little bit. So you're a little bit out of the sound field there, and while you're playing, they play for, like, a minute or so. I want you guys to bring this up in the middle of the beat, and we're going to hear how the sound changes, with the ceiling being lowered and with a non reflective surface being right over the kids, so I just wanna make any example of that. Of course, if this was denser material, it would make a bigger difference in all the mikes, but since it's a little bit thinner it's going to make the most difference in the overhead so while we're listening, you're just going to be hearing the overheads go for it I'll just play that back for the guys in here you were right about there that's where they get over the top of the drug with verses the sound of the overheads here thie pitch of the snares a little bit lower the symbols aren't quite as bright, so you can really use that to your advantage if you want to control the sound of the drums but if you're in a room with lower ceilings that's just something to keep in mind you probably wanted dead in the reflections right over the top of the drums and that really kind of concludes um anything I have to say about acoustical space again there's not really a writer wrong. Just make sure the room sounds the way you want because that's not the kind of stuff that you can seek you out or get rid of in the mix. So, you know, listen to the room before you start recording and make sure it's a room that sounds like you want to use and if there's little things wrong with it there's little ways like that little things like that that you can do to make improvements

Class Description

Drums are one of the hardest instruments to record, because in reality, a drum kit can be upwards of 20 or 30 instruments being played by a performer at one consistent time. Each drum head plays a huge role in determining the overall tone. The range of frequencies is broader than any other recorded instrument, with sub-kicks extending down below 60 Hz and hihats and cymbals with presence and ring above 16kHz. The dynamic range can include subtle ghost hits and flutters to pounding snares that fill a room, and yet somehow all of this is supposed to fit inside a mix without getting lost in a sea of guitars.

Kris Crummett has over a decade and a half of experience recording bands like Sleeping with Sirens, Issues, Alesana, Further Seems Forever and Emarosa. Kris will walk you through every step of the process to capturing killer drum sounds.

Which Drums to Use?

  • The size and type of the kick drum is a good place to start, and will largely dictate what kind of tone you end up with when you get the final mix. Do you want a modern sounding kit with a big low end and a bright punch or a more vintage tone with a rounder, softer low end punch?
  • Snare sounds can often define the tone of an entire record with a range of sizes, head choices and tuning options. How much ring is left in the resonant head can be deceiving when listening to an drum kit on its own, but can often be lost when blended in with the rest of the band. From maple and birch full bodied and nuanced tones to aluminum or even brass bodies, the snare drum can have one of the biggest impacts on your final track.
  • Drum heads can also have a huge impact on the transients that you capture when recording. Coated heads can offer a punchier, thicker sound while clear heads are a bit brighter. Tuning the top head and the bottom head to resonant together is an essential art that takes practice and expertise.

Which mics to Use?

  • There’s no right or wrong way to mic a drum kit, from the famous ‘When the Levee Breaks” 2 microphone room tone to modern metal drum production with 30+ mics in place.
  • Deciding when to use a condenser and when to use a dynamic mic is dependent upon the style, the drummer’s playing style and even the room in which you’re tracking. What sort of room mic techniques can give you that big open kit sound? What about a tight, small room trap kit sound?
  • Kris is prepared to walk you through all of these choices, with examples from his storied career and tips and tricks that only years in the studio can earn you. With legendary guest drummer KJ Sawka, you’ll have an experienced team to guide you through how to overcome the biggest challenge for a home studio engineer, the drum kit.


Kevin Howard

Kris is methodical and goes over everything related to drum recording in great detail. He covers heads and even how much moon gel he uses for damping the heads, Mic placement, shell choice( size, wood etc ). Listen to Dance Gavin Dance to hear some of his work. I found this class to be super informative and very practical in it's approach. Thank you Kris !


this is a great class! i play drums personally, and i love percussion! he also teaches well


This is an amazing class! Kris is a very scientific instructor. This really opened my eyes to the drum recording process. Take Notes!!!! There are about a thousand unique facts and techniques that you should know. This will help you to record drums correctly at the source so that you can minimize the amount of digital destruction you will do later and thus get a "Professional" sound.