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Drum Re-amplification

In this blog post, I want to talk about two drum re-amplification techniques that I have used in the past.

The "Kitchen Snare"

I was once producing a track with my friend Dave Kirk, the lead singer of the band Empty Friend. During the mixing process, I was unable to achieve a raw, roomy sound to the drum kit using convolution reverb, so I decided to re-amplify the live snare drum. Now when I say re-amplify, I don’t mean that I ran the drums through a guitar amp (although I have done that, as I will discuss later). Instead, I simply played a single velocity snare hit through a speaker in a tiled kitchen and recorded the signal back into Logic.

After some simple editing, I had myself a new snare sample, which I appropriately named the “kitchen snare”. Blending this in alongside the live snare drum in the multitrack made for a powerful, energetic drum sound.

The Fake Room Microphone

This drum re-amplification process did involve the use of a guitar amplifier, specifically, a bass amp. Having spent the day at London Road recording studios tracking drums for a project, I came home to discover that the room microphone had not been armed for the entire session!

So how do you go about creating a virtual drum room microphone? Well, aside from the use of a convolution reverb, I decided to reamplify the drums through a bass amplifier, distorting the signal using a BOSS DS-1. Having tweaked the tone of the drums via the amplifiers built in EQ, I went about re-recording the signal back into Logic via a Shure SM57, placed two to three feet away from the speaker cone.

The gritty, washy sound created was similar to that of a hyper compressed room microphone, adding presence to the cymbals and snare drum. Now, as much as I would like to claim that I came up with this idea myself, I didn’t. I simply stole the method from Vance Powell, a renowned recording engineer, having watched a Sound On Sound mixing tutorial.

So, there you have it. Drum re-amplification. One of the many weird and wacky methods that I have used in the past!

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