Advanced tone shaping for drums with iZotope RX

Posted: 4th April 2011 by Mezzanine Floor Studios in Hot Gear, Tech Ninja

I recently worked on a project where I recorded drums and I felt like we got just about everything right, but there were a few minor niggles.

1. The snare mic was ringing just a bit too much.

2. We had added a low tom mic and while I loved the tone this added from the resonant head when the floor tom mic was hit, I hated the low rumble it picked up when the resonant head on the floor tom vibrated every time the drummer hit the kick drum.

I tried a number of standard techniques (eq, compression, gating, transient shaping) for trying to deal with these issues in post production and just wasn’t happy with the results.

I then tried an experiment and found myself falling in love with iZotope RX all over again.

What I realized was that I had a situation that was fundamentally the same as having unwanted noise on my signal, making noise reduction an ideal process for dealing with it. The reasons for this as I saw it:

1. Noise reduction is more accurate than simply using EQ, because EQ can’t accurately discern between wanted and unwanted sounds at the same frequency. It’s a bit all or nothing.

2. Noise reduction is more accurate than using a simple gate, because it is sensitive to the level at many frequencies at once (essentially it’s just a serious multiband gate.)

3. Noise reduction would sound more natural than a gate, especially when dealing with the tail of a drum hit where the hit gets quieter and returns to its background levels.

What I originally thought was reinforced when I opened iZotope RX and gave it a shot. I used a section where the floor tom was rumbling when the kick was hit as a sample of the “noise” I didn’t want. I then dialed in the settings for the desired amount of removal, and found my boomy floor tom transformed into a tight, full bodied sound. I then did the same with the snare, but this time I sampled a full snare hit, then used an envelope to focus only on reducing the ringing frequency I didn’t want. RX was brilliant through and through.

Here is an audio sample- it starts with “before” and fades into “after” : Drum_RX_demo

Below are screenshots of the settings I used- Snare on the left and Floor Tom on the right.  Please note this was with the original RX. I’ve since upgraded and my other examples of RX on this blog are now with RX2.

For those in search of drum tone tightening magic- have fun!!!

 - Joshua

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