How to improve drum sound pt. 3

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On third part of our first blog post we’ll let the drummers who have had a #fullanalogexperience session at Astia-studio to do the talking. Prepare yourself for the drummer comments. They seem to share similar thoughts about our drum room, what exactly it is that tape captures and about a very important factor; monitoring while recording. Let’s hear from the drummers themselves as they explain how to improve drum sound.

Read our other posts about the topic:

We use a full analog Furman HDS-16 headphone monitoring system. Unlike its digital counterparts this unit has no delay. Each musician gets a 16 channel headphone mixer to adjust the perfect headphone balance. Read more on our FAQ page about the Furman system and that built-in talkback button which makes the communication between band members including engineer simple and easy. Kind of like a press of a button…

Here are comments from some of the drummers who wanted to share their experience about tape recording at Astia-studio.

Heikki Hovi / Ghost Of Youth

Heikki Hovi Ghost Of Youth Astia-studio A drum room

The analog soundscape of Astia-studio brings present, genuine, luscious and complete musical experience back. This is how recording should feel like and this is how recording should sound like.
–Heikki Hovi / Ghost Of Youth

Tero Kaihola / Oliver

Tero Kaihola in Astia-studio A

Well, Astia-studio has very pleasant surroundings for recording and Anssi at helm is awesome. The headphone sound in the last session was the best I’ve ever experienced, making the recording process very pleasant. Sound breathes, is full and yet aggressive in just the right way. And all this is also captured on tape.
–Tero Kaihola / Oliver

Juhana Karlsson / Faulty Messenger, ex-Amoral

Juhana Karlsson

Tape recording at Astia-studio with Anssi Kippo brought back this childlike enthusiasm for recording that unfortunately had been lost for quite some time. During the session we didn’t focus on technical details, but mostly to the feel and that the band sounded great as a whole. This was highlighted by the fact that we recorded live all together playing in the same room. Only the vocalist was in an isolated vocal booth.

It was easy to get into the right mood in drum room as drums were fed into the room using an enormous PA system. Basically it felt like playing drums in a stadium surrounded by huge monitor speakers. Getting the drum sound right didn’t take long and pretty soon we were ready to hit record. Creative use of different rooms mics during mixing boosted certain parts in the songs.

The experience as a whole was very positive and eye-opening. When recording to tape there’s something magical that’s difficult to put into words. This session also brought back the fact that recording can be fun and effortless along with that the most important thing is the emotion delivered to the listener.
Juhana Karlsson / Faulty Messenger, ex-Amoral

Janne Keinänen / Yllätysesiintyjä

Janne Keinänen

During a quarter of a century of playing drums I’ve had many recording sessions, from which all except the two that I’ve done at Astia-studio, have been in digital studios. Just recently I visited Astia for the first time with two bands and I must confess that more rich, warm and emotionally touching sound I have not heard from my drums, ever.

The biggest difference compared to Pro Tools session could be seen from my face where the smile could not be hidden. I might have laughed out loud. And I did, I confess. When recording using analog equipment you’ll lose the joy of one-bar-at-time recording and you’ll gain the overwhelming sound. And not only sound, but emotion.

On the first session with Yllätysesiintyjä band the drum room caused positive grinning as every note could be felt delivering a comprehensive feeling. The openness of the room was very pleasant compared to the normal “Please set your drums up in the closet”. There definitely was room for creative madness.

And if that wasn’t too good already, they had recently installed new headphone monitoring system where you could adjust the balance to taste and for example pan the metronome to one ear only along with other personal adjustments which will never be right when trying to instruct the engineer via talkback.

If I wouldn’t have managed to play my parts, I could have only blamed myself. Luckily I managed.
Janne Keinänen / Yllätysesiintyjä

Lauri Kutvonen / The Rivet

The Rivet Lauri Kutvonen Astia-studio A drum room

Tape recording was a great experience that pushes the drummer to a whole new level of accuracy and orientation. Astia-studio drum room is definitely one of the best in Finland and years of hard work brings comprehensive and thoroughly considered set as a whole. Clarity of the PA and sound quality are top notch making the process smooth. The above-mentioned combined to Kippo‘s strong craftsmanship creates a premise for awesome results. Strong recommendation!
Lauri Kutvonen / The Rivet

Toni Paananen / Session drummer

Toni Paananen

I have done my fair share of session work in various studios and enjoyed it all, but going to Astia is like going home. It’s not the fabulous sounding live room, the warm sound of analog tape, or even the best damn studio monitoring system there is, but the positive atmosphere that gives Astia-studio a special flavour.
Toni Paananen / Session drummer

Klaus Plathan / Klaustromania

Klaus Plathan

Playing together, so that you don’t have to jam alone with a click track, and that liveliness translates on how it all sounds, making the recording process much more pleasant experience. Tape recording creates a challenge mostly in your mind as you know you have to nail the whole song at once without mistakes. Both the analog recording and the result left a good taste.
–Klaus Plathan / Klaustromania

Tommi Tuhkala / Spell Of Torment

Tommi Tuhkala

We used to record on computer at Astia-studio and it sounded very good. Drums had no triggers and samples as we just tuned the drums correctly. The drum room alone sounded divine even when just playing there. When listening the result we did not want to use any additional reverb on drums allowing the drum room to be heard exactly as it was, as mentioned; sounding awesome!

The idea of recording our debut album on tape sounded both interesting and a very promising idea. I knew that legends like Metallica, Slayer, Sepultura, King Diamond and many others had recorded their albums on tape so we wanted to have the same dynamics and nuances.

Before starting Anssi showed us few examples of tape sessions he had done with other bands and I was flabbergasted! Where is that energy, expression and rage coming from? We recorded drums for the first song on the very first take without metronome and drum samples to keep everything organic. While listening the drum track I realised I had never heard my playing sound like this. There was the rage, energy, liveliness and it was definitely played by a human and far from that lifeless dabbing on our digital recordings. It almost made no sense how great it could sound compared to cold, empty and lifeless sound of digital. Digital sound compared to analog was like a dugout without a stove. Analog had the dugout; stove with fire as it delivered all that warmth and energy.

Recording on tape was an awesome experience and it definitely will not be the last time. Playing without metronome sounded genuine. You can hear small and very funny “mistakes” that do not bother at all. The sound was so positively surprising that at first I couldn’t believe it.

As mentioned, the sound of the drum room is amazing. It feels like you are playing up in the mountains. The room reverb is very explosive. And then the dynamics; play quiet and the room obeys, hit with all that you’ve got and the room will boost your energy. The room reacts to everything you do 1f44d_1f3fb.png The cherry on the top is the subwoofer in drum room. You can feel the bass drum in your gut. The subwoofer doesn’t have any negative effect even on the fastest double bass drum parts as it simply brings more energy.

Tape machine is the best option when recording. After that you’ll know how your playing really sounds. You’ll also learn the importance of dynamics in your drumming. Great studio, great engineer (Anssi), tape machine and best coffee 1f44d_1f3fb.png
Tommi Tuhkala / Spell Of Torment

Artem Zhibar / Colt, Session drummer

Artem Zhibar

The first thing that surprised me very positively was how drums sound in Astia-studio A drum room! The sound is so pleasant that I wanted to beat the drums endlessly and just enjoy this quality reverberation! When the same sound was recorded on tape, it exceeded all my expectations! The sound was powerful, saturated and still very NATURAL! Every rustle and every delicate stroke was there! Astia-studio shows the highest level of quality drum recording with the work of the most professional sound engineer, producer and just a wonderful person – Anssi Kippo!!! Vladivostok recommends!
Artem Zhibar / Colt, Session drummer

Maxim Cingurov / Pyatno

Maxim Cingurov

So now after the session I can breathe it out and tell you about the experience I gained at Astia-studio in Anssi’s School of Music. I thought it would be hard work and we were trying to prepare ourselves properly, but as everybody knows it is impossible to prepare yourself for everything. When I started recording drums I faced a problem with my grip. I play using traditional grip and had never used rimshots. Anssi told me: “If you want the big American snare sound, you should use rimshots.” This to me was a challenge so I spent few hours learning to play rimshots correctly. This wasn’t as easy as it could seem. I thank Anssi for this experience!

I now try to explain my feelings about the sound of tape recording. If I say it was great, it is an understatement! To me tape recording is totally different from digital recording. Digital sound is poor in comparison with rich analog sound. Tape sound is much more livelier and deeper and you can hear every ghost note unlike with digital which is already dead and sounds like plastic. It is totally different, like comparing an mp3 to vinyl. One of the most important things when recording on tape is that you have to play the song all the way from beginning to end without mistakes as it’s a bit hard to punch-in on a drum track. The positive side is that this is very good and improves your skills.

I love the fat sound of Astia-studio’s Tama Superstar Hyper-drive drum set. These drums are very nice and reliably constructed. I thank Anssi for his hospitality and such luxurious reception. This was a great experience for the whole band. Thank you so much!
–Maxim Cingurov / Pyatno

End of part three

Thanks for reading and please leave your questions and comments below. Check out our FAQ page to learn more about tape recording. To reserve a session, please use our contact form. We hope you have enjoyed our tips and the drummer comments.

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I cannot wait to reply your questions and comments so please do leave them below. To reserve a full analog tape session at Astia, contact me privately by clicking here. Thank you very much and all the very best!

Astia-studio is a full analog recording studio located in eastern Finland with 25 years of experience. Bands and artists from all over the world including USA and the furthest corner of Russia, Vladivostok have arrived to us for tape recording sessions.

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