Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Building Your Home Studio

In this day and age, it’s very common to find musicians with their own home studios. Equipment is more affordable, descriptions of recording techniques are available on the internet, and there is greater motivation to be able to capture a performance.

Home studios offer the ability to track with whomever you want, whenever you want. Someone halfway across the world can send you a session file and you can lay down the drum tracks at your convenience. This is actually the direction that lots of music production is moving in. Professional session drummers are establishing their own home studios in order to reduce travel and setup time with the added convenience of tracking on your own time without any pressure.

Having a home recording setup also allows you to record your practice sessions, which can be a valuable method for improvement. As a follow up to the "Why You Should Record Yourself" post, we wanted to cover the basics of necessary gear for recording.

Putting together your own home studio can be a bit overwhelming at first, due to the wide variety of equipment available as well as the learning curve associated with making your own recordings. Here are the essential items for making a recording in order of signal flow;

Microphone > Preamp > A/D Converter > Recording Device

Before we open up this “can of worms,” it should be made clear that this is a very basic overview of the items necessary for a home studio.

Starting at the end of the flow, the recording device is what will actually store the recorded performance. This could be a standalone recording device (Such as the Zoom Handy Recorders) or even a computer with the necessary recording software.

If you’re going the route of a standalone recorder, it will likely include a mic preamp (or several) as well as the A/D converter. When researching recording devices, you will want to consider the number of microphones/tracks that you plan on recording simultaneously. This will dictate the number of necessary preamps and help you narrow down the specific recording device.

If you decide to go the computer recording route, you must first make sure that you have a capable computer. At the absolutely minimum, a machine with combined processing power of 4GHz and 2GB of RAM. When it comes to recording, more processing power and RAM is always better.

There is a wide variety of software available for computer-based recording; Everything from Pro Tools to Logic to Digital Performer and much more. The best piece of software is what works best for your needs.

To get the signal from your microphone(s) to your computer, you’ll need an interface. This is similar to the standalone recording device except that it will send the digital signal to your computer via USB or Firewire.

When it comes to microphones, the sky is the limit. At minimum, I would recommend a matched pair of condenser microphones to use as overhead microphones. This will provide a generally accurate representation of the sound of your drums and cymbals. Close mics, often dynamic microphones such as the Shure SM57 and the Beta 52a, help to capture more of the character of individual drums on your kit. Over time, and as money permits, you can add more microphones to your recording setup.

It should be noted that there are a wide variety of variables including acoustics, microphone techniques and recording methods that make all the difference in the end quality of your recording.

Happy recording!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Minute Gift Ideas For Your Favorite Drummer

Okay, it’s crunch time. Christmas is Saturday and you’ve got to figure out what to put under the tree for your drummer friends. Lucky for you, we’ve put together this list of gift ideas in a variety of prices (we decided to give them some festive titles though…)

"REINDEER" - Keys Galore
Is your Little Drummer Boy (or girl!) always losing their drum keys? Maybe they want to be able to swap out drumheads faster than anyone around. Maybe they’re in need of a strong and sturdy key always at the ready. Check out this assortment;

Wing Nut Key
Drill Bit Key
Magnetic Head Key

"SNOWMAN" - Educational Pack
Looking for the perfect all-in-one pack to keep your percussionist warmed up during the cold winter months (and all year round!)? The Tommy Igoe Educational Pack comes with everything they need; Tommy’s Great Hands for a Lifetime Hudson Music DVD and poster, 6” RealFeel Practice Pad and signature Tommy Igoe sticks.

Tommy Igoe Educational Pack

"ELF" - Head Packs
Does your favorite drummer suffer from DHS (Dead Head Syndrome)? Help them out with a new set of tom or snare heads!

Tom Packs
G1 Coated 2-Pack

"MRS. CLAUSE" - Bass Head Pack
Looking to give the gift of Christmas in the form of the perfect bass drum sound? The EMAD System is the perfect pack to get your batterista shaking the floor.

EMAD System Pack

"SANTA"Custom gear!
Want to give your beat maker something one of a kind? An Inked by Evans gift card will allow them to create a custom drumhead all online!

Inked by Evans Gift Card

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Product: System Blue Tenor Heads

The latest additions to the Evans line of marching drumheads are the System Blue Tenor heads, developed with the 14-time DCI champions the Blue Devils. The System Blue heads spent the past season being put to the test by the Blue Devils themselves. For the 14th year, the Blue Devils took the title of DCI World Champions and they did it with the Evans System Blue Tenor heads.

The System Blue Tenor head is a 2-ply design with 7mil top-ply and 7.5mil bottom. This combination delivers tonal clarity and projection while also increasing durability and pitch stability, reducing the need for frequent tuning.

The series also utilizes Evans’ unique Sound Shaping Technology™, a damping technique that targets unwanted overtones and provides the control needed to enhance attack, projection, and note definition. The damping pattern on each head also provides a visual reference for the optimal ‘playing zone’ for each drum, offering a target for less experienced lines.

“The heads sound great. They last longer than any other head we’ve had on our drums and they look pretty cool too.” –Scott Johnson (Blue Devils)

Hear a sample of the System Blue Tenor heads "in the lot" with the Blue Devils: Blue Devils with System Blue Tenor Heads

Check out the in-depth review by Steve Weiss Music on their blog.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why You Should Record Yourself

"Perfect practice makes perfect." We’ve all heard this before. Figure out what you need to focus on, organize your practice sessions to facilitate progress and you should succeed. But when it comes to being critical about your playing, it can be tough to accurately critique yourself in the moment.

The best solution? Record yourself.

Whether you’re practicing multi-limb independence exercises on the drum set or a rudimental snare drum solo, making recordings of your playing can be one of the most valuable tools for improvement. Reviewing recordings of yourself can provide you with the most objective perspective short of having someone else listen to you play (which is also important).

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to book studio time. A decent quality digital home recording will suffice (We’ll cover this in detail in a later post). These days, the technology is readily available, and more affordable than ever.

Make recording critique a part of your practice routine. You don’t necessarily have to record everything you play, though since you’re going digital and can always erase or trim the files, you might as well capture your whole practice routine. Leaving as much of your recording setup assembled and ready to go at a moment’s notice will allow you to hit record, focus on your playing, and forget about the recording equipment. When you finish working on the performance portion of your routine, stop the recording and review.

Start at the beginning of the recording and make notes about what you like and what you want to improve. This can be quite an awakening for someone who has never listened to their own playing before. By making this a regular part of your practice routine, you gain another valuable perspective on your playing.

If you’re playing with other musicians, try recording your rehearsals and performances. This will allow you to review your performance skills with the necessary scrutiny.

Label the recordings with the date and possibly the content and save them so you have the ability to refer back to them and track your progress over time.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Evans Rocks Montreal Drum Fest 2010

The 18th Montreal Drum Fest was held on October 23rd and 24th, 2010. There were some fantastic performances by a variety of Evans artists including Marko Djordjevic, Elie Bertrand, Isaac Dumont, and Marco Minnemann.

Marko Djordjevic put on an incredibly energized performance with his group Sveti. The trio displayed solid onstage communication and unity while taking some rather large transitional leaps. Marko was a whirlwind of tasteful energy behind the kit. Check out the video from their performance.

Isaac Dumont and Elie Bertrand performed as the “Pearl Explosion” portion of the festival. Both Elie and Isaac brought on some progressive heavy hitting and entertaining stick visuals. Check out Isaac’s performance video and Elie’s performance video here.

Marco Minnemann put on an impressive duo performance with human beat-box champion ZeDe. The two built off of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” improvising off of each other and developing the groove. An incredible battle of fills and beats followed and eventually lead to Minnemann playing on the stage, a microphone and pretty much anything in sight. Check out the video of their performance here.