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V-drums recording - are they master quality?

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  • V-drums recording - are they master quality?

    I'm considering buying a v-drum kit, but need to know first if they are going to sound good enough recorded. Here is some background to explain how good I need the recording to sound:

    my band just recorded a 3 song demo (I recorded it in my home studio, did the drums at my friend's studio, micing an acoustic kit to the best of my ability). By a stroke of luck we got our demo heard by the right people and there is a record producer (he is pretty well known) who wants to record a demo with us to shop to major labels. He says the recordings need to be PERFECT sounding since we are talking major labels, and he says the only drawback on my recordings is the drums - so he wants to go into a big studio to do the drums, then do everything else here.

    My question then is, why don't I spend the money for the studio instead on a vdrum kit? But I wonder if they will sound mechanical or fake in any way. I mean, I need it to sound as good or better than anything you hear on the radio. Comments on this would be GREATLY appreciated!!


  • #2
    Thanks for the posts. The style of music is power-pop/rock, kind of weezer/green day. So no, we aren't going for an electronic sound. Hmmm, I guess we should do acoustic drums in a studio then it sounds like.

    What is it that makes them not up to snuff compared to acoustic drums for this style of music? The cymbols mainly, or just the ooomph? or do fast fills sound weird? Just wondering.

    I used to think recording quality didn't matter past a certain point for the sake of a demo, but the more people I have talked to higher up in the industry, the more I hear that major labels these days don't want to have to use their imagination - they want to hear something that is really well produced and sounds radio quality and takes the guess work out for them. So that is the theory I'm going on for this.

    Thanks again for the help!


    • #3
      Originally posted by nick_jones:
      By a stroke of luck we got our demo heard by the right people and there is a record producer (he is pretty well known) who wants to record a demo with us to shop to major labels. He says the recordings need to be PERFECT sounding since we are talking major labels, and he says the only drawback on my recordings is the drums - so he wants to go into a big studio to do the drums, then do everything else here.

      Be VERY careful when it comes to dropping your hard earned dough at the suggestion of producer who really has nothing to back up what he is claiming...

      If and when a producer shops you to a major label and the label is interested, usually the producer gets a budget which includes recording, marketing, advertising, promotion, etc....(and of course the artist gets whatever is left over after the producer takes his share of the pie)....

      Out of the advance that the producer gets from the label, it is his job to get your stuff sounding perfect....

      Now, as far as your presentation to the label, I believe it is possible to get your demo sounding good enough with v-drums...
      Provided the guy who is mixing it knows pretty much what he is doing.....

      the other side of it is this: don't discount the drums you already have...hire a drum tech, or do some research to find out how to record acoustic drums...It could just be with a change of heads or proper tuning, along with good mic placement, you can get your existing drums sounding good enough to present in your demo to the label...

      Don't be in such hurry to whip out the Mastercard because of the promises of some producer who really is offering you nothing but his word...

      good luck


      • #4
        you can get totally pro sounding drum tracks from a set of vs and a decent bit of gear........you need to tweak..just like any gear.record an acoustic guitar 2 inches from the strings and you'll spend a month mixing down.....a lot of knowledge or practice goes along way.......i get top of the line pro sound in my garage(of all places)without ever leaving the digital realm.you could run(like i do)a fender american strat thru a v-studio with no amp,no pre and noeffects(chord to unit)and get walter beckers or skunk baxters'sound no problem, but none of it is plug and play.if someone tells you "you can't get that sound from this or that digital gear"......it means THEY have'nt figured it out yet.....this is a new age.if i had to,i could make the sound of two gibbons humping a football in the back of a running 68 camaro........with a little gear and a digital realm to party in......................................so i say YES u can get the sound your looking for..........good luck(man i have monkey issues)he he.
        -i can levitate birds and no one cares-----------V-CONCERT,CY12H-CY15R/SPD-20-XP-60 V-STUDIO 1824CD,DAUZ PADS,NO RYTHYM AND MISC.CRAP 9"HART SPLASH/AKAI S5000/ASSLOAD OF SAMPLES


        • #5
          Yes, I agree with GRAVEE. I'm also recording some tracks with some jazz artists, and believe it or not-they got fooled. They didn't believe me when they found out they were electronic.

          It's true that it requires a lot of tweeking, experience and work. You can get amazing results even at the home studio level these days, and especially with all the new digital editing features.

          Captain54's and c.jude are on the money with their suggestion about being careful. Many groups have made it off a cheap recording using a KMART tape recorder (especially in the 70s and early 80s). I think this guy maybe wants a finished product for leverage, but believe me, if you have an original, marketable sound, usually (not always), these guys are pretty good, and the product will sell itself.

          Good luck!

          [This message has been edited by rpg (edited May 01, 2002).]


          • #6
            If he's a "pretty well known producer" and can get you guys a major label contract, he can spend some money to have a studio redo your drums if he doesn't like them. I spend thousands of dollars every once in a while buying gear for my stupid cover band, and we're going nowhere. Start dealing with the guy like its a business and business people can afford to invest in a good project. He better start coming up with some scratch if he wants to make millions off of you. What kind of contract do you have with him? He should sign you to a limited term management or agency agreement if he is going to seriously shop you around, and he should take the responsibility to put together a product that he thinks will sell. If he doesn't have you under contract and if you are really good and somebody else hears your "perfect demo", they are just going to sign you and leave him in the dust. He doesn't happen to own or have a relationship with someone at a studio where he wants you to spend this money does he?

            Look, if you don't like the drums and want to have somebody who knows what they are doing re-record them and you have the money, go do it. But what is it about them you don't like? Are they to boomy, dry, not loud enough, not tuned right, played poorly, what?

            Believe me, if you guys are really good, sound good, write great songs, have great stage presence and personality, and this producer thinks you can go all the way, he is not going to walk away from you because you don't want to spend a few thousand having one of his pals re-record your drums. This kind of crap just kills me.

            I wouldn't suggest that you buy an electronic drumset (which you really don't know how to set up and record either, because you don't have one) just to make 3 demo's. That will take you a while to get right anyway, and you still might not be statisfied. If you want an electronic drumset because you like the way they sound and play and you can rehearse without bothering your family and neighbors, and can better control them when recording, then get one, but a decent set like the Roland V-Session is going to set you back approx. 4 grand, which is probably alot more than it would take for a local studio to record the drums for three demo's. Even at $100 and hour, they could probably do it in 8 hours if they know what they are doing. If that gets you a record contract, then you can buy all the gear you want. If it doesn't, your producer is probably full of it anyway and you might want to consider getting an electronic drumset, because they are cool and fun to play and sound pretty good on home demos.


            • #7
              Not to mention the fact that after you buy the drums, you have to learn to play them. While E's have great response and sound quality, they are another instrument. It will take time to relearn some of your technique, and to get the parameters more to your liking. Trust me, they take some getting used too, especially if you have played A's for more than 5 years. I would take the advice from the folks above and rerecord your A's, I think you'll feel much better about the results.
              V-Custom w Roland TD-8 and and Alesis DM5, DIY edrums


              • #8
                Thanks again for all the posts, I appreciate the input. So much info... Let's see...

                Ok, here is my current plan (partially thanks to the insight of all your responses): I found out that the drummer in a friend's band owns a vdrum-pro kit, and he is willing to bring it over to my studio so I can get my drummer on it to record a track. I think that will be the best way for me to see how the quality is before I decide whether to buy a v kit. I have until August to figure all this out because that's when we are recording the demo. I also am considering doing the track once with just the v-drum kit, and once with real cymbols on the v-kit and 2 overhead condensers. Real cymbols might be enough to kick it over the edge...? I've been recording for about 8 yrs so I think I have the ears / experience to get a good sound out of the v-drums if I work at it, but what I'm mostly concerned with is mechanical sounding artifacts (as c.jude called it "machine gunning" - nice description, that is exactly the type of thing I'm worried about). The more I read about v-drums the more I'm convinced that I need to do a "test" recording like this to set my mind at ease one way or the other.

                As far as the recording of A drums, I don't have the greatest drums mics. In fact I have pretty cheap ones. So it's tough to get good sounds to start with, and I think in the past we just never spent enough time with tuning and with mic placement. The snare ends up sounding dull and thin and the kick is not punchy. The toms and cymbols sound great. My drummer has a nice DW kit, so yes, I'm sure it'll sound wonderful done by a good engineer in a good studio. I'm just hoping the v-drums will work, because I really want to own a set for other reasons!! As you all pointed out, so many benefits such as quiet practicing, many different sounds easily available, etc. Plus owning the vdrums if the quality is good enough, we could use on endless future projects.

                By the way, I would record the v-drums completely dry, then use nice effects processors on them, rather than using the roland internal. That's pretty much the way I operate with everything, I go for as dry a recording as possible.

                As far as this producer I am a little skeptical that he wants us to front the cost of recording this demo, but he's got a decent reputation and we have contacted an entertainment lawyer we know so we are going to be careful about the whole thing for sure. I don't know yet what he has in mind as far as a contract, but I think there will/should be one for both of our sakes. He said he's willing to shop our stuff without re-recording if that's what we want to do b/c he feels the songs are strong enough - I think he just wants to have his hands in the pot, so to speak, from a pre-production stand point, and of course to make sure the demo is top quality. I see your point (some of you have made this point) that the quality shouldn't really matter, but if it does matter for some A&R reps and it makes our chances a little better, it's something I'm willing to go through.

                As far as the songs, our #1 track gets through the first verse and the entire first chorus in under a minute. That seemed to definitely help us.

                zendrums makes a good point, that the playing technique for vdrums is different than for A drums, I hadn't considered that....the learning process.
                In the end I'm much more educated on this whole thing, yet somehow even more confused :/ It really is a multi-layered subject when you get into it. I was only looking for a yes/no answer guys! no, just kidding. There were a couple other points I wanted to respond to but I just can't type anymore. Thanks again for the help!


                • #9
                  Life...and particularly this situation, can be boiled down to Potential Risk against Potential Reward.

                  Producer's potential risk - ZILCH
                  Producer's potential reward - MILLIONS

                  Your potential risk - PLENTY OF YOUR OWN $$
                  Your potential reward - ZILCH

                  Get the balance a little bit more even....if this guy believes in you, let's see the smell of his wallet !

                  Just my humble opinion.

                  Good Luck !!


                  • #10
                    First of all, I'm a little confused as to why you've been recording for 8 years but have sh|tty drum mics and can't get a good sound from your acoustic drums.

                    If you use the V-drums, you can record MIDI and use samples in place of the v-drum sounds if you dislike them, which would enable you to use any drum/cymbal sound you want, you would just need to get some sample cds. This would negate any talk of machine-gunning or missed hits because you could just fix it later in the MIDI file.

                    Furthermore, with MIDI, you needn't worry about playing the same song over again and again, because you can go back and fix any errors you may have made during the initial recording. You can also fix timing issues, accents, missed or accidental hits, and add or remove drum or cymbal hits on a note-by-note basis. Hell, you can even quantize and make your recording's timing absolutely perfect if you want.

                    You can play slow and speed it up like Lars does so people think you're better than you are.

                    If you have until August, you have plenty of time to record MIDI, find the sounds you want, modify them by effects and EQing, and have exactly the drum sounds you want.
                    ANY sound you want is available on sample CDs which you can purchase at your local store or online.

                    Can you get a "perfect" sounding drum recording right out of the box with the ****ty Roland presets and recording audio direct? No.

                    Can you use the v-drums to record sounds that sound professional quality? Absolutely.

                    Weezer/Green Day? That's not a tough sound to emulate, so I think you should be fine.

                    Good luck!



                    • #11
                      I've been recording for 8 yrs, but not in my own studio the whole time...that's why I have crappy drum mikes...it wasn't a priority for me when setting this studio up a couple years back. I can get good sounds from the A kit, not great sound though.

                      You make a good point about being able to use whatever samples I want once recorded as MIDI, and being able to fix any mechanical sounding artifacts.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BINARY:
                        Furthermore, with MIDI, you needn't worry about playing the same song over again and again, because you can go back and fix any errors you may have made during the initial recording. You can also fix timing issues, accents, missed or accidental hits, and add or remove drum or cymbal hits on a note-by-note basis. Hell, you can even quantize and make your recording's timing absolutely perfect if you want.
                        Ha! That's cheating.

                        [This message has been edited by ufotofu (edited May 02, 2002).]
                        Roland TD-20 v1.08, various v-drums and v-cymbals, Yamaha KP65's, Axis pedals, Gibraltar hardware, Mackie 1202/SRM450 (pre-china)


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ufotofu:
                          [B] Ha! That's cheating.

                          That's why I mentioned Lars.



                          • #14
                            First of all, I think V-drums are great for recording, & can sound like an acoustic kit.
                            I have worked with A&R in major labels in the past (before starting my own idi label), & can tell you that they are not looking for a good sounding recording (although you must be able to tell whats happening), they are looking for a good song.
                            And also, why is this producer marketing you? With most major label deals, the label will make sure they have control over who the producer is...is this producer already working for a major or what?
                            If he is not working for a major then be vary careful....I can't really see what he would achieve by marketing you? Unless he is chosen by the majors to produce you, then he will get no points on the album, no mechanical royalties, & the only money he will get is the money you pay him to produce your demo.

                            Good luck with it all anyway


                            • #15
                              I have to say that I'm very happy with my most recent studio experience with my V's. I play in a dance band that covers everything from techno type music to r&b,to rock. Even the engineer was blown away by the sounds. Keep in mind, I've tweaked the kit quite a bit. None of those patches that come out of the box are really usable. I also tweaked the cymbals and other than the hi-hat, they are electronic.

                              As for simplicity and ease of set up, you just can't beat the electronics. Now I know that everyone talks about how wonderful their A's are, but I've heard enough lousy sounding kits, some of them actually very expensive drums, to last me a lifetime. Whether it be an engineer, a drummer who doesn't know how to tune, or room acoustics as the culprit, I truly believe that for the most part, only a drummer might hear the difference. Your average listener doesnt' care. They want the song to sound "right", though they might not even know what that involves. They may only recognize when something doesn't sound right. For doing covers, these drums are hard to beat. The nuances that some worry about which might be subtlely lost in the slightly less dynamic electronic drums, won't be missed by most of the listeners.

                              I like my maple shell acoustics, but I also am able to recognize that as a tool, the E's are a better choice for my band. They keep our sound consistent, regardless of room acoustics or incompetent so called sound engineers. They keep our stage volume down and ultimately result in us sounding better out front. They are more portable and less of a hassle than a full acoustic kit with mics. They offer an array of different sounds, while acoustics give you one sound which you are stuck with, regardless of what the music actually requires.

                              As always, there are pros and cons to every equipment choice, but thus far, these are serving my needs exceptionally well.