Our first project at STS has begun, as we tracked drums for the upcoming Lich King album this past week.
My drum kit is a Pacific Drums and Percussion LX Series in a Cherry to Black fade. At the time it was the highest end PDP kit before the DW line - a DW is my dream kit but wayyy out of my price range for quite a while. The kit has a 20" x 18" kick, a 12" x 9" rack tom, and a 14" x 12" mounted floor tom. I also used a 16" x ??" floor tom from my Yamaha Stage Custom kit as my PDP kit only came with 10/12/14 toms. Looking back, I would have rather gone with the 10/12 rack toms and 16 floor - at the time I was typically playing with one rack and one floor, but I wanted a bit more variety in the tom fills so I added in the 14" tom. Unfortunately, I've never been able to get the 14" tom to sound the way I want - it has a boxy sound and a weird resonance, but I tuned it as close as I possibly could and I think it came out okay.
My go to snare drum is my Pork Pie Big Black, which is 14" x 6.5". I LOVE this snare - it's a brass snare and it's pretty deep, so it has both a good crack but still has a good body that hits you in the chest. The range I can tune this snare is incredibly wide and it sounds equally great tuned super low or super tight.
I used Evans heads around the kit:
- Kick batter: EMAD2
- Kick reso: EQ3
- Snare batter: Power Center
- Snare side: Evans Clear 500
- Toms batter: EC2 Clear
- Toms reso: EC Resonant
My cymbals are a pair of 14" Sabian AA Hats, 17" and 19" Paiste 2002 Medium Crashes, a 22" Paiste 2002 Power Ride, a Wuhan 10" Splash, and a Wuhan 18" China stack (more on that in a bit). I'm not a huge fan of the Sabian hats, but I bought them for like $150 when I was 15 and have had them ever since. I love the 2002 Crashes, but I have to be careful to hit them fairly hard in order for them to cut through. The Power Ride, on the other hand, is an absolute beast - I hunted this cymbal down solely for its massive bell sound. The bottom half of the Wuhan China stack is a broken 17" 2002 Crash that my friend Josh cut down to about 14". It sounds more like a gong on its own now, but it works nicely in the stack to give the China more low end.
- Kick in: Sennheiser e902
- Kick out: Audix D6
- Kick sub: Sterling ST55
- Snare top: Sennheiser 441
- Snare bottom: Audix i5
- Snare side: Shure SM57
- Rack Tom: Sennheiser 421
- Floor Tom 1: AKG D112
- Floor Tom 2: AKG D112
- Overheads: AKG C414 B-ULS
- Room: CAD M179
- Ride: Shure SM7B
I was fortunate to borrow a pair of AKG C414s and a Sennheiser 441 from Klondike Sound in Greenfield - huge thanks to Dustin at KSC for hooking me up! The 414s were the clear winner in our overhead mic shootout, relegating my CAD M179s to room mics. Speaking of those, you'll see baffles in the corner of the room - the M179s are behind those as I like to avoid getting the direct drum sound in the room mics. It gives the high end a nice natural roll off, and the overhead mics get enough of that anyway.
The 441 ended up as our snare top mic, as its tight pickup pattern helped minimize hi-hat bleed. We felt it didn't give the snare enough crack, though, so we added an SM57 pointing at the shell of the snare, about 2 inches away. I'm probably gonna have to do some EQ sculpting to make that mic usable, but I think it'll do the trick.
All inputs used Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 for preamps, with A/D conversion at 96 kHZ/24 bit through our Antelope Orion. The Orion is connected to our Mac Pro via Thunderbolt, and we recorded into Logic Pro X.
I did anywhere from 5 to 15 full takes of a song before dialing in individual sections, particularly the fast double kick parts that required precision and clarity. I tend to change up the drum fills in nearly every take, which gives me a lot of options to work with, but at the expense of not always having a good edit point between two different takes.
We're going for a more organic sound than on past Lich King albums, keeping drum samples and quantization to a minimum. Everything is still recorded to a click track for consistency and ease of editing, but we're taking more care to keep the natural pushes and pulls in tempo that we typically do in a live performance.