In Hammers, depending on the drum type, there are up to twelve signals available, and every single one has been processed so that it sounds ready to go, right out of the box. The signals captured during the recording sessions are as follows:
- Close mics, which appear on the Signals page as “Close”, were captured using up to four Rode NT-2a large-diaphragm condenser mics that can withstand the high SPL of being inches from a massive drum and provide a detailed, uncoloured sound. These were recorded using Cranesong preamps and usually appear in the Signals page as a stereo pair, except in the case of the Bass Drums, where a separate Close Mic was placed on the resonant rear head of the drum and is presented as an individual mono signal. For other drums, if more than two close mics were used they were mixed into a single stereo pair with the appropriate stereo perspective, and this signal provides a surprisingly dry and close sound, with almost none of the characteristic sound of the reverberant space.
- Overhead mics, which appear on the Signals page as “Over”, were captured from about eight feet above the floor, directly above the drums, using a matched pair of Neumann M-149 large-diaphragm tube microphones and a matched pair of Neve 1084 mic preamp / eq modules. This signal is startlingly realistic, and provides the best single-source impression of the natural sound of the drums in the room.
- Room mics, which appear on the Signals page as “Room”, were captured from about twelve feet above the floor and twenty-five feet away from the drums, using a pair of Schoeps omnidirectlonal small-diaphragm condensers and Cranesong preamps. The omnidirectlonal pattern of these microphones captures to full range of reflections and reverb from the unusual architecture towards the rear of the recording space, which includes a two-story wall of glass, an angled stairway and a second-story loft area. For those mixing in immersive formats, from quad to 5.1 surround and beyond, routing this signal to the rear channels will provide a shockingly realistic and enveloping sound.
- Catwalk mic, which was captured in mono using a single vintage AKG C-451 small-diaphragm condenser and a Cransesong preamp, with the microphone placed about 18 feet above the drums, on the catwalk that runs from front to back in the recording space, and pointed directly downwards. This signal is also used as one of the source signals for the Crush stereo pair that appears in some drum types.
- Chimney mic, which was captured in mono using a single vintage AKG C-451 and a Cranesong preamp, with the microphone mounted a few feet up inside the chimney of a wood-burning fireplace located in the drum pit. This microphone captured a unique, boomy, slightly distant tone that, depending on what drum type was being recorded, sounded like either a sub-kick boom or a “down the hall” tone, and provided a great source for both the Sub signal or the Crush signal, depending on the type of drum being recorded.
These signals were then processed, and in some cases mixed together, to create the elements presented in the Signals page in the UI of Hammers. If more than two Close Mics were recorded they were mixed into a stereo pair with appropriate stereo perspective, and gentle EQ and very light compression was applied to bring them to life. The Overhead Mics were given similarly gentle EQ and light compression with an ear toward preserving the realism and bigger-than-life quality that the M-149 microphones naturally possess. The Room Mics received similarly light processing to enhance the incredible accurate image they had captured. The Catwalk and Chimney Mics received specialised processing and treatment depending on the type of drum being recorded.
For the Bass Drums, Surdos, and Toms, which all have a strong low-frequency component, the Chimney Mic was carefully filtered and enhanced to achieve a clean, solid signal that appears in the Signals page as Sub. For the Frame Drums, Darbukas, Snares, and Scrap Metals, the Catwalk and Chimney Mics were time-aligned, processed to make them sound more similar to each other, heavily compressed, and panned in stereo to be presented in the Signals page as Crush.
While the Close, Over, and Room Signals have a realistic, relatively un-processed tone, and therefore make a great starting point for further mixing and processing, the Signals named MIx 1, Mix 2, and Mix 3, have been through a much more extensive set of processes. Charlie crafted these Signals to sound ready to use right out of the box, using sometimes extreme techniques, and they are comprised of a mix of the Signals listed above. For that reason, selecting any one of these three Mix signals will automatically mute all of the individual microphone signals as well as the other two Mix Signals, in order to prevent doubling or phasing effects. The Mix Signals can be described as follows:
- Mix 1 is a relatively un-processed mix of Close, and Over, but perhaps with a bit of Room, Catwalk and Chimney as well, generally aiming for a less reverberant, closer sound that is fairly civilised and intimate without being completely dry. Additional EQ and compression has been applied to make this Signal ready to use, and in some cases where the Room, Catwalk, or Chimney mics were used they were time-aligned to eliminate any flamming or slap-back effects in the final composite Mix.
- Mix 2 is a more heavily-processed version, with more of the Room mics used to create a denser, more reverberant sound, and for many users this will be the go-to for a huge but not over-the-top sound. For many of the drum types additional specialised processing was used to make this Mix bigger than life, including everything from hardware compressors like a UBK-modified Fatso, Distressors, 1176’s, and even a Cwejman EuroRack compressor, to EQ, distortion and saturation units like Neve and API EQs, SansAmp PSA-21 and RBI processors, SPL Transient Designers, pitch shifters and distortions from the Eventide H-9000, and a few specialised plug-ins like Waves Torque and Submarine.
- Mix 3 is the full-fat, no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, turbo-charged Signal. This is the biggest of them all, and any pretence of believable realism was cast aside and trampled underfoot. But for many users, too big is just enough. Multiple layers of compression, pitch-shifted signals mixed with un-shifted signals, transients split off and processed separately, layered and stacked and side-chained right up to the threshold of pain, Mix 3 is the full monty, and when you need your drums to be over-the-top, this is the Signal to use.
For many of the drums, some of the elements that were created for Charlie’s three Mix Signals are also presented individually, so you can create your own custom mixes that have those pitch-shifted and processed elements without going through the extreme techniques necessary if you were starting from scratch. These pitch-shifted and heavily-processed versions of the Close, Over, Room, and Crush Signals are abbreviated in the Hammers UI as Cl Pch, Ov Pch, Rm Pch, and Cr Pch. By combining these and other individual Signals you can create variations on Charlie’s mixes, and by routing them to separate output channels in your DAW you can apply additional processing to take Hammers even farther into the unknown and create your own personalised versions.