Tutorials And The Results Myth

Hello there, long time no bloggy!!

I’ve been a little preoccupied over the last few months with various life changing events and struggled to find time or energy to actually commit anything to black and white. Not that I’ve been short of subject matter. There’s always something in the ever changing world of audio and music production one can champion or indeed moan about pretty much forever!

Today’s attempt at putting my perspective across relates to an email I received this morning regarding drum recording. It was presented by a well respected producer and engineer which is great because it’s always nice to see how the “pros” do things. The thing that concerns me a little as with so many of this type of tutorial is not the manner in which they are conducted and by whom but where and with what.

This particular email/article proclaimed “how to improve your drum sounds and sound like a pro” Nothing new or untoward there I hear you say. And I’d agree. But so many of these things are totally out of reach of roughly 99% of people actually making music. I understand they are meant to be somewhat inspirational but the “real world” just isn’t like them. Basically the scenario is this……

You have a “pro” engineer/producer and film them in one of the top rooms (studios) in the world add in one of the worlds greatest drummers on beautifully maintained and tuned £5k drum kit with access to greatest mics, outboard, Neve and SSL consoles ever conceived like it’s totally normal! Like we have all those things at our disposal on a daily basis. I’m sure under those circumstances and with enough experience it’s pretty hard to go wrong getting a decent drum sound!

How about a video of some “pros” instead going to a shitty assed box room with a bunch of Shures and a Behringer Euro mix direct into a Focusrite interface with a guy/girl that’s been playing drums for about 6 months on a kit that’s not been tuned like……..ever! with skins that haven’t been changed like…….ever! and then try to achieve “world class” drum sounds! I’m sure it’d be a much harder task and very useful to see how they’d overcome those limitations. How would they coach the drummer? Treat the room? Set up the few mics they have in this “arsenal” in order to achieve the best result? How, if necessary come mix time they would blend samples to improve what they’ve got rather than totally replace? I do understand why people use samples and triggers. I use them on occasion mainly to add something I feel is missing from the sound when mixing but I don’t condone the exclusive use of them. They are often overused or misused and can, to a certain extent mislead the world into thinking the producer really knows their shit cos they’ve managed to get this “killer” drum sound when in all honesty Mr Slate has done the heavy lifting!! It would be nice to see a more “real world” take on the very subjective topic of drum recording/mixing/sample replacement/reinforcing overall.

Please be aware that I’m not condoning bad playing or maintenance of instruments. I am merely reaching out for understanding that most of the folks these video tutorials are aimed at have somewhat lesser facilities available to them and it would be great if the professional community understood this and shared their knowledge in a more ordinary environment. Great drum sounds are no longer limited to the top studios!!! There are hundreds if not thousands of mid sized adequately equipped studios throughout the UK that are more than capable of achieving great sounds overall and not just with drums. The secret is to find the people….yes people! that know how to do it. A studio is merely a tool as it always has been. Similarly, what can be achieved in a spare room, bedroom or garage these days with the right knowledge and experience can also be comparable with many of the historically great rooms.

There are probably many of this type of tutorial out there but I’ve not come across many if any at all. If anyone has please feel free to share them with me as I’d be very interested to see them.

In fact since I do feel strongly about this, and since I’m all about supporting artists to reach their full potential. I’m going to see what I can do – and in some way shape or form put together some tutorials that are accessible and “real world” usable.

Blimey, what am I letting myself in for here?



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