A Tried But True Way To Improve Your Drum Recording
Getting a great sounding drum recording is one of the most difficult things to accomplish in the recording studio. The artist, music producer, and sound engineer have so much to think about. There's drum selection, placement in the room, proper room treatment, drum mic selection, mic placement, phase relationships, preamp choice and settings, whether to record with compression or any other processing, what settings to use on those, do you use a click track, how loud is the headphone mix for the drummer, should you tell them to hit the cymbals a little softer, the variables are endless! And that's just on the recording side for one song. What if that setup doesn't sound great on another type of song?
This isn't a post about what to do about any of these things. I intend to write some in the near future, and will update this post when I do, but the truth is the internet is full of different approaches and opinions. What works for one person may not work for another. The fun part about being a sound engineer is taking the time to experiment and find what does work for you.
Enter the drum track sheet:
For decades, recording studios have used track sheets when running recording sessions. They're an excellent way to not only help keep things organized, but to also give you the ability to quickly recall your exact settings, mic placements, selections, and whatever else you include in the notes on your sheet.
So if you record some drums for a song and decide you didn't like how the snare sounded by the time you get to the mixing stage, you can refer back to the tracking sheet on your next session and make adjustments. Or if you really liked the kick sound you got, you can now duplicate what you did on all future sessions. All you have to do is just look at your sheet and copy your settings.
There's a saying, "what gets measured gets managed." So the best way to improve your recordings, is to do a recording and write down what you did. Then you can learn from mistakes and build on your successes.
I've made my own here and would like to share it with you. Just let me know where to email it and it's all yours. I'm including a google sheets version of it that you can make copies of and keep with your session files. I'm also including a pdf version for those of you who prefer to have physical copies you can write on. I hope this helps you get some great recordings! Then when it's time to edit, send me a message and I'll help you make your drums shine!