I’m a total newbie and I’m wondering about drum programming. I am using Addictive Drums 2 for my drum sounds in Cubase 6.5.
This tutorial shows us how to set up separate channels in the Cubase mixer so we can manipualate the tracks with the effects in Cubase AND record audio (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw4Z5EVXtIc) . Why wouldn’t I want to just set up separate channels as in this tutorial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9ovAd4rUA), recored two channel stereo MIDI and just control volume and effects in the Addicitve Drums mixer instead if I’m satisfied with the effects in their program?
You’d be missing out only on the ability to mix the drum tracks individually through Cubase plugins, send FX, and routing.
I’ve done some fine mixes where all the processing was done solely within Superior Drummer. But, it’d be harder to achieve a full-fledged modern rock tone just within a drum VSTi. But, the song dictates the mix. No reason why you can’t.
one important thing is, your plugin only has a limited life. It will only be supported so many years before new versions, standards and OS changes makes it useless. If You record every drum to audio you will still be able to use them many many years from now.
When you are mixing your Greatest Hits album, and just want to change that snares reverb to something more modern ?
What Peakae points out is of great importance. And to have each drum on a separate track as each drum section requires a different EQ, reverb amount and compression. Work in MIDI until you are “satisfied” and then render to audio. Dry, so you can add FX through Cubase. There are more advantages NOT using the mixer and built in FX in the drum software, but to do everything in Cubase. You will access to more and, more likely, better FX and in most cases you will prefer the same sonic values of the whole mix.
-So I should go into the drum program and turn off all the processing effects BEFORE recording into Cubase on all the individual tracks, correct?
-Also, it wouldn’t hurt if I also recorded a stereo track from the processed drum program to fall back on if I don’t like what I eventually do with the individual drum toms/ snare/ kick in Cubase? I would, of course, just turn those faders down in the mastering phase.
-Somewhat off topic but I noticed that the levels in Cubase are peaking at the top with the snare and kick EVEN WITH the master level turned all the way down in the drum program. Should I just turn all the faders down (keeping them even with one another of course until I start mixing) in Cubase significantly?
You do “never” use the FX inside the drum software at all, not even to begin with, unless they give you a certain sonic value that you want to keep, and if so you KEEP those settings when rendering. You have to evaluate the sonic result of the FXed drum instrument against the sonic quality of the FX being added in Cubase instead. I never add things like EQ, compression and reverb in the drum instrument itself - but I know that some do. You can make a template in Cubase where you have your favorite drum set up with separate tracks and all the favorite FX settings on each track. That is on MIDI tracks that later will be rendered to audio tracks where you need to transfer the plugins and their settings. Cubase 8 does this automatically when rendering. For Cubase 7 you can just drag the plugins from one track (MIDI) to the next (Audio) in the mixer window.
You anyway turn off all the TRACK ADDED FX before rendering - And then add them back to the rendered audio track (if you do not work in Cubase 8 which does this automatically).
You do not need to delete the MIDI track. However you may delete the instrument in the Instrument rack (what appear when you hit F11). The reason for deleting the instrument is to free up CPU power. (instrument could also be “freezed” - check your manual). Weather that is needed or not depends on the project size and your computer. However the MIDI track itself does not take up any power so you can keep it for later need of corrections. The MIDI track will remain as one track even if you separate each drum. The separation is done in the instrument and in the cubase mixer, but not in the MIDI track. If you have several rendered MIDI tracks (for many instruments) you can put them all in a folder to keep the project tidy. Thus you do not need a stereo rendered track. If you have Cubase 8 the “render in place” function will do rendering very easily. It will even copy all your FX plugins that were added to your MIDI track to the new audio track with all their settings, automatically, for you.
For your last question I am not sure what you are referring too. But anyway: The output fader of Cubase should not bee touched. The output level of the drum software I have seldom had the need of touching. For “modern” music, like EDM, there are some software that are very loud. I have some of them, mostly for Kontakt, and here I sometimes have the need of turning the level of Kontakt down. However I turn down the faders in the Cubase mixer. And i do not “wait” until a certain Mixing stage as mixing is gong along all the time. There is of course a final mixing stage but you may, repeat may, need to adjust and add parameters like panning, reverb, compression and EQ as you add a new instrument to your project and at least volume setting. Working with a daw will add volume to the project for each added instrument, so finally you will distort. Adding FX will also affect volume, most often increase it. You then need to adjust the volume constantly on most of your tracks as you add instruments and FX.
If you have Cubase 8 the volume adjustment is made quite easy with VCA faders for instrument groups. For previous versions you need to add groups in the mixer and adjust the send volume of those group busses to the out buss - see your manual.
The two pics I have posted will show where the snare peaks in Cubase and even though you don’t see it in the pic, the tom goes all the way to the top, too.
In the second pic, in the drum mixer, if you look all the way to the right, you will see that I have drum program master fader turned all the way down and those levels transferred over into Cubase are still to the roof. I’m wondering if I should turn all of the faders in Cubase down before recording.
(by the way, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my concerns as in-depth as you have, it is much appreciated! )
The obvious question would be: What have you done to the snare channel within Addictive Drums? You said you’ve done all your mixing within the VSTi, so you’ve probably just maxed out the output of whatever Addictive plugin your using.
Difficult to say where the problem lies without sitting in front of your computer, but there is obviously something wrong. The volume of AD should not be all the way down. I also see that the output volume of CB is lowered. Output of CB should not be touched. I also see that none of the faders for the drums are lowered. They should. I would say a “normal setting” is about 75%. (depends on a bunch of things but anyway 75% is a good starting point). Start a new project with AD. This time without separating the channels, not touching anything anywhere, and see if it behaves the same way first and let me know.
And while answering the OP I am curious how those of you using C8 might do this differently with the VCA option:
In 7.5, my workflow with AD2 is to find a preset I like overall and tweak some of the instruments within AD2 (change kit pieces, tweak velocities and pitches, panning, etc) then mute both fx channels in AD2 and route each channel into Cubase. Next I will send all tracks to a “Clean Drum” group/bus and compress it as needed. Then depending on my needs may create a toms group, kick group, snare group if/when I need more eq/compression. A toms group is good for automating volume rides for fills, etc. All of this is sent to a DRUMS STEM group where I may have Slate VCC and VTM (UAD Studer 800 when I have the DSP available).
The biggest advantage to this workflow is I can send varying amounts of all tracks to a dedicated room reverb which blended with AD2’s room sound (or replace AD2’s room sound) gives me infinitely more control over the vibe of the kit in the mix.
The difficult thing about all of this is that everyone talks a lot of sense. My problem is that getting a good drum sound in Cubase with separate outs is not easy. I use BFD3 as and rely upon the ambient mix within BFD3. Given that I don’t have a drum room at my disposal and creating a convincing room sound for a kit is heavily dependent upon static reverbs. BFD has a large number of ambient mics in a variety of adjustable positions made possible by the real life recording in a studio. You can also combine the overheads and up to 5 ambient sources with the direct sound - alter the amount of send to each of these different sources. Perhaps I am a lazy bastard, but it suits me to be able to spend more time upon the music.
If you print all the kit to audio files, doing it with the ambience means that you cannot alter it later. Do you print the ambience channels separately? Well that can be a hell of a lot of tracks.
My advice to the op is to develop his own approach. That does not mean ignoring advice, but realising that advice from experts, who are keen on doing things the “right” way can overcomplicate an otherwise simple job. Having gone down the separate drum tracks in Cubase route and finding that BFD does it better than me has given me one less thing to worry about. Believe me, my music gives me plenty enough to worry about.