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Time Saving Hacks While Recording Drums

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

Why would you want save time while recording? I mean surely there's nothing wrong with your current workflow - and you're likely right. It could be better, though!

When you perform a task over and over again such as recording you begin to notice repetative reoccurring tasks you have to do every time. If only you could save time from doing these tasks and spend more time on what matters; recording amazing sounding drums.


Avoiding these repetitive, mundane tasks improves your creative flow when recording by helping you to focus on just that. Picture this: you get sent a project to drum for, you take a listen and your head is bulging with ideas so you set up your kit, mic it up, run cables, line check and before you know it, the ideas are gone and you're no longer in that initial creative state you were in. This is so VITAL in our industry.

The time you save from doing these tasks again and again will enable you to complete a session project much faster earning you more per hour, while opening up more time for yourself or more projects. Win-Win right?

Let's do the math:

Say you get paid £200 to record and deliver 1 song of drums, you spend;

1 hour setting up a kit and mics

30 mins running cables and setting up interface

15 mins setting up session file and assigning inputs

15 mins line checking input levels

30 mins fine tuning mic positions

2 hours recording the project

1 hour 30 mins packing down kit, mics and cables

1 hour comping and bouncing takes and sending session files

Total Time spent = 7 Hours

Income/Hour = £28.57 per hour

Let's say you implement these tips, or invest the money to if you have to and work on the same song for £200;

2 hours recording the project

1 hour comping and bouncing takes and sending session files

Total Time spent = 3 Hours

Income/Hour = £66.66 per hour

You've literally doubled your income per hour. Just imagine the extra money you'd make doing this for 10 projects. Even if you have to invest in the following options, it wouldn't take long for them to pay themselves off.

Another benefit is a lower risk of things going wrong during a project. If everything is pre set up beforehand the way it should be then there's no risk of you forgetting to do something, for example. It can be easy to rush about to squeeze a project in therefore not delivering the best performance/project you can.

Without any further introduction, here are some time saving hacks for you!

1. Keep A Kit Set Up

One of the most time consuming tasks you will have that annoyingly, doesn't directly bring income to you is setting your kit up. That's why I think it's so important for you to do what you can to avoid doing this every single project.

If you have the luxury of multiple kits, or a kit that you like to use for recording then keep a dedicated kit set up for recording. Spend the time positioning it in the sweet spot in the room and tuning it and then leave it. At the most you may have to retune your heads to the track or change a snare over.

2. Keep Mic's Set Up

This will kill two birds with one stone; not only will you not have to set up mics, but you won't have to fine tune placements to get the best sound every time either. If you can keep a dedicated recording kit set up at all times then you can definitely keep your mic's set up with it too.

Spend some time jamming on your kit and altering your mic placements to capture your kit the best you possibly can. Once you've done this, do whatever you can to keep these mic's exactly where they are so you don't have to touch them when it comes to recording.

There's nothing more irritating that having to mess around with mic positions when you just want to start recording.

3. Have A Run Of XLR Cables

Whether you can or can't do the first two steps, you should route some XLR's from your interface towards your kit. Not only does this save time routing cables every time, if you permanently route them somewhere neat and tidy that prevents cables being everywhere and you tripping up over them constantly.

If your kit and mic's don't move then keep the cables plugged in. If you can't have a dedicated recording kit right now then bunch the XLR cables together and run them down the room from your interface towards your kit whilst taping them together every meter.

Label up each end as 'kick', 'snare top', 'snare bottom' etc so when it comes to recording you can plug them straight into your mic's after setting up. At the very least label up each end and coil them up in a corner ready to run out.

4. Note The Gain Knobs

Every little helps, although you may not spend much time line checking your drums it can help to make note of the gain knobs on your interface or even just leave them exactly how they are.

Think about it; if your kit, mic positions and interface gain levels don't change then neither will your input levels in your DAW. This means you can quickly check everything is coming through OK and then start recording without needing to check levels or play with your interface. So simple yet effective.

5. Have Session File Templates

Save yourself from setting up the same recording session over and over agin by having session templates set up. You can create these easily on any DAW and load them up effortlessly whenever you start on a project. Here are some things to include in your session template:

  • Channels for each mic

  • Assign interface inputs to channels

  • Name channels appropriately (kick, snare top, snare bottom etc.)

  • Colour code channels

  • Add common plug-ins to channels

  • Add marker ruler ready to plot the arrangement of the song

If you follow these 5 steps, you will literally double your income and save yourself the most valuable resource in your life - time. If you have any more ways to save time during the recording process then comment below!

Article written by Eddie at The Professional Musician Academy


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