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Studio Recording with Electronic Drums

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  • Studio Recording with Electronic Drums

    Our band is ready to record a new CD of the latest songs we have written. We are essentially a gospel band, although our music crosses many styles and genres, including funk, rock and folk.
    I use, for live work, my HART Pro 6.4 kit through a TD20 module. I also use many of the VExpression kits, and trigger accessories, which I really like. The sound engineer, who is going to work with us, is saying that he'd prefer me to use an acoustic kit because my kit is only a 'toy' and can only produce synthetic and not real sounds. He thinks it will give a less than professional and authentic sound and, in his words, give a sub-quality result, than he can provide by him having control of everything, mikes, settings, etc.
    Does anyone with experience of this issue, have a view that will help and guide me and the band as to how we handle this. Does he have a good point - or is he just pre-judging, even misguided?

    Many thanks


  • #2
    It all depends on his skill as an engineer, the room and mics you have and the acoustic kit you will be using (tuning, quality etc). If these are all first class, you probably will get better results than the TD20 can provide.
    However, in a lot of cases, the TD20 with some of the VEX packs will beat an acoustic setup for sound quality and has all the control you could want for tweaking sounds.
    Oh, and the TD20 is far from being 'just a toy'!!

    FWIW - I am a professional engineer with over 20 years experience and I own a TD20 module


    • #3
      Hi Pink,

      In a word - yes - the engineer is misguided.

      Maybe you should explain to him that the TD-20 has individual outputs for each kit component so he can have complete separation in his mix and no spill.
      He also will have reduced setup time and all of the advantages of the DI line approach he probably will want your bass player to go along with......


      • #4
        you beat me to it SP...:-)


        • #5
          Originally posted by Hercules View Post
          you beat me to it SP...:-)
          You make some good points about the separation, spill and setup time though


          • #6
            If the goal is the sound of a traditional acoustic drum kit, then I have to agree wholeheartedly with Pinks' sound engineer. Even the best engineer isn't going to make the TD-20 module's acoustic sound emulation compete with the real thing. No way. If that is the sound you want, and it is even a semi serious recording, you need to at least use much higher quality samples and articulations and mic control, or better yet, use the real thing.


            • #7
              The TD-20 is in the same boat as the Line6 guitar models.
              If you have a particular amp and sound you like, it's best to use that amp.
              If you want a huge pallete of amps and sounds, the Line6 will be perfect.

              So the big question is, what soundscape are you looking for. If you need a wide variety of drum sounds, the TD-20 is your best bet. If you want one killer drum sound, you might get a better result with an acoustic setup.

              I will take umbrage with the thought that you can't get a professional result with the TD-20, however. I have found that a lot of prejudice comes from the fact that the kits are very processed. An engineer wants to hear the raw, clean sounds and craft a mix from that. If you make sure that the processing if off, you can get a great starting point. Is it as good as an expert can get with a well tuned kit and great gear? Nope. Is it good enough? Hell yeah!


              • #8
                Pinks, how good is your engineer, where are you doing the recording and what gear are you using?


                • #9
                  Another thing to consider is how will playing on an acoustic kit affect your performance? If you are not going to be comfortable and it's going to affect your playing, it's probably not with it.

                  Also do you have the option of triggering external samplers such as BFD, DFH, etc?

                  Last edited by almazza; 06-04-08, 02:25 PM.


                  • #10
                    Here's one thing that is going for the TD-20. You KNOW what it's going to sound like, at least fundamentally. Have you heard this guy's drum recordings? A really good acoustic kit with a really good engineer, room, mics, outrboard equipment, tracking technique, etc is going to sound "better", but not all engineers are created equal.

                    I did a live album a while back and we tracked with my TD-10 (wish I had the 20 then) and recorded everything to seperate tracks completely dry. The engineer then brought this in to the studio and did the mix there. The drum sound was the least of our worries on that recording.

                    I'd ask for some samples that he has recorded with acoustics in the same genre that you do and judge from that. Also, you will want to consider how comfortable you will be playing the acoustics - for me I'd need some practice to get my chops oriented that way again. Who's kit is he going to record? Is it one that he always uses - is he familiar with it? Is it your kit that has been stored in a basement and in deperate need of pro tuning?

                    Lots of questions. The fact that it is an E-Kit should not be the deciding factor, rather what sounds best and what's going to keep you on budget as well.
                    My Updated Website: https://blades.technology


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Chris Jude View Post
                      If the goal is the sound of a traditional acoustic drum kit, then I have to agree wholeheartedly with Pinks' sound engineer. Even the best engineer isn't going to make the TD-20 module's acoustic sound emulation compete with the real thing. No way. If that is the sound you want, and it is even a semi serious recording, you need to at least use much higher quality samples and articulations and mic control, or better yet, use the real thing.
                      I have to agree with Chris. I was a die-hard TD-20 fan, and even started a thread several months ago where I posted a sample of a song I had recorded using the TD-20. While it sounded pretty good to me at the time, and some people on other forums thought they were acoustic drums, I have seen the light. I started working on a couple of projects with other musicians who owned EZDrummer, and after resisting as long as I could, finally purchased it. Even something as simple as that, in the right hands, offers much better sound quality than the TD-20, at least in my ever-changing opinion.


                      • #12
                        While I agree with most of what's posted here, I don't think your engineer should be telling you what instrument to play. If a guy walks into my studio and wants me to record him playing the kazoo, then that's what we record. If this engineer is in a producing roll then that's a slightly different story.

                        Also, 99% of the people that listen to your tune will not be able to tell if your drums were played on an "A" an "E" or programmed (or all of the above). Play what you're comfortable playing and play what the song asks for, not what a guy that you are paying wants you to play.

                        Good luck.


                        • #13
                          Thanks Guys

                          I'm so grateful to you guys for your thoughts and suggestions.
                          SP: You raise the issue about the competence of my Sound Engineer and what kind of experience and equipment he uses. This is our first time with him. The recording is at his studio in Kent, England, and I don't know what gear he uses. I have listened to some of his work - It sounds good - but I'll find out more. Thanks - a bowl of cream for you.
                          Hercules: I think he might not appreciate what the TD20 is capable of, as you suggest. Perhaps an outdated or limited experience of Roland Modules. Whatever, I'll talk with him about your suggestions.
                          Chris and Michael: For some time I used an Ayotte Maple Custom Kit, I still have a Kep 11, but rarely use it. I love the sound of an acoustic kit, but prefer the versatility of the Hart and TD20 when I'm playing live. This is a serious recording and I lack the experience you guys have here. I think you both make some good points that we as a band need to consider.
                          Adam: I think if I switched back to an acoustic kit after rehearsing for some time with the HART, I'd be a bit "shaky" It is a very different feel. You suggest staying with what feels comfortable - I think I've come to this myself - although I want what's best for the music.
                          Blades: You're right about the consistency and reliability of the TD20's performance. I have heard some of the engineer's drum recordings with acoustic kits, and they sound very good. I don't think he's any real experience with ekits, and so perhaps rather biased in this respect - or he just wants to do it his way - and wants us to fit in with him? I'm pretty confident that the TD20 is going to deliver and your right to point out the other factors involved. Money!
                          Rentadrummer: Like you and Chris, I think you've got to be realistic and open minded. Thanks Mate.
                          Mixxit: You're saying all the things that I first thought and felt when this engineer first challenged me about which kit I should use. I felt like saying : Oyyee! Who's paying the bill here! But, I felt perhaps I was being a bit arrogant as he is supposed to be the expert. Anyway, thanks for that - I shall have to learn to be more assertive.

                          Thanks very much - speak again.

                          Kent, England


                          • #14
                            Let us know how you go Mark and good luck with it all

                            Originally posted by Pinks View Post
                            .....a bowl of cream for you.....
                            =^.^= * Purrs * =^.^=


                            • #15
                              I'm with almazza, as much as I like modules, my experience is that in the long run, they don't do *everything* as well as I'd like. Some things, yeah, they're fine.

                              I'd go with BFD or EZD for this.

                              TD-12, DTX502, SD1000, EZDrummer, Diamond Drum 12" snare, S1000 toms/cymbals/kick, PCY10/100/135/155, CY-5/14, Hart Ride, Hart Acupad 8" kick, Epedal Pro II, Concept 1 pads/cymbals, SD1000 & Roland V Sessions racks, PD-7, Kit Toy 10" splash, DMPad ride, SamplePad, PerformancePad Pro