Plugins for acoustic drums?

I have recorded acoustic drums as two tracks; kick and the rest.
The sound is kind of OK, but it’s still very “home studio”.

I have been playing around with several plugins, like compressors and EQ’s but I just do not get what I want: like deeper but punchier kick, distinct snare, mellow cymbals etc.
Just out of curiosity I played the tracks with jetaudio (windows) with the built in BBE sound effect on and suddenly the drums sounded to my ears better, less “cardboard box” and more “live”.

Any ideas if I can achieve similar results with ladspa plugins and how?

I’m guessing you are limited on the number of simultaneous inputs that your system can handle. First, the mic configuration is going to play a big role in how you edit the tracks. Are you using a 3-mic setup (Kick, 2 overheads), 4-mic setup (Kick, Snare, 2 overheads), or several that are just being pre-mixed to two tracks?

Regardless, the “livening up” you are looking for is going to require the same elements as mastering a final mix: Equalization, Compression, and possibly a touch of Reverb (keep it light).

Jamin is one option for achieving this (EQ/Comp), as it has a visual graph for looking at the frequency spectrum so that you can determine what areas need to be adjusted. However, trust your ears (assuming you have decent monitors) in the end, and avoid extremes.

Try to get a relatively “flat” sound in the EQ phase: not too much bass/mid/treble, just well-balanced. Next, the “punch” you are looking for is going to come from multi-band compression. This means you will selectively set bands, and compress or expand what is needed. For my drums I set the low band from 20Hz to 120Hz and use a expansion ratio of 1.2:1. This will cause it to increase the dynamic range of low frequencies, giving them more “bump”. Then, I set the top band from 6.67kHz to 20kHz and limit them to a -25dB threshold. This leaves the high frequencies alone in the low levels, but prevents them from becoming overpowering.

Again, play around and find what works best for your setup, but remember:
even mild to moderate (not extreme!) amounts of EQ and multi-band compression will DRASTICALLY improve the sound of weak drums.

Good Luck! If you need more info, check out the IZotope Ozone Guide to mastering. Even if you don’t have the plug-in, the info is useful.

I’d actually say that it is not plugins that you need - rather experiment with different microphones / mic positions to get a better sound. Try the “Bonham” placement for the overhead mic or the classic “one metre in front of the bass drum” - version. I got some reasonable results with the latter using a large diaphragm condenser mic.

For tips on improving the sound that you have searching the Sound on Sound archive for their “Mix Rescue” articles should give you some useful tips. They’ve got samples of the “Resqued” mixes as well. A punchier BD is usually in the menu.

A couple of things that are fun on drums…

DIY exciter:
Make a send from the kick and snare tracks to a new buss.
Put on the buss a distortion plugin feeding into a 10Khz high pass filter.
Mix just a little of the resulting horible sound in with the mix of the kit.
Try switching the phase of the buss.
Try gating hard before the distortion so you just get a bright ‘tick’ on each kick/snare.
Try swapping the order of the fuzz and high pass.

The original exciter was discovered by accident from a malfunctioning valve amp.
Strangely, people often find more distorted recordings sound clearer and more hi-fi than cleaner ones.
In double blind tests, audiophiles are no exception to this. :slight_smile:

Parallel compression:
Send the whole kit to two busses.
On one put Barry’s Satan Maximiser or any fast limiter.
Set the Maximiser so it’s destroying the drums as nastily as possible.
Mix just a little in with the nice kit mix.
Try gating/high pass etc as above.
Try two compressors with different attack times on both busses, and just knocking the peaks off a little.