If you want a dose of reality, answer this question: When was the last time you recorded in a big-time studio with a generous budget and the freedom to experiment with drum sounds to your heart’s desire? The sad truth is, even for the cream of the studio crop, those days are largely over. If your amazing, buttery snare sound hasn’t been replicated with the latest software, you’re still working against the clock, recording a month’s worth of takes in only a few hours.
Adapt or fail, they say. Well, Blair Sinta will help you with that, as he offers a brilliant and practical home recording video course at promixacademy.com that can help you get great sound fast and relatively cheap. Sinta will guide you along as you take the next step into the unknown technological future.
Many top players have had home recording setups for a while now, but their secret methods on how to do it have usually been hush-hush. Sinta has been recording and touring with artists like Alanis Morissette, Melissa Etheridge, James Blunt, and Josh Groban for years, so getting his insight into what works and what doesn’t is like witnessing him pull back the curtain. “It’s a modern-day reality that to know how to do this is of importance,” says Sinta. “I had friends already making music in their home studios in the mid-’90s, and it was something I was intrigued by. The plan was always to be ‘out on the town’ in studios, but I started small and it grew. I never really knew that it would become a main source of income for me.”
Watching Sinta at work here is inspiring. Even if you don’t have a decent drum room in your one-bedroom condo, Sinta goes over all the basics to get a killer final product, from drum and cymbal selection to tuning and playing choices. He begins with a track he receives from a client, charts it, picks out the right microphones, deals with the signal flow and recording chain on his digital audio workstation (DAW), and then tracks several takes with varying musical applications. Sure, he’s got some great gear, including multiple snares and different rides, each changing the vibe of the song. But knowledge is power here, not the fancy equipment. When asked about the daunting nature of having to learn Pro Tools, Sinta is sensible. “You have to start somewhere, and I think this is a good spot,” he says. “The most important thing you can do as a drummer is get your drums to sound good. If they don’t, you’re fighting an uphill battle. It gets much easier, and the software becomes second nature as you do it more.”
Sinta lets you inside his head, and demonstrates how to make choices about what pattern to play without the input of a producer in the room. “On this tune, I really don’t want to step on the vocal,” he’ll offer. Or he’ll be unhappy with a certain fill and you witness him determining how to change it up, spur-of-the-moment. The fly-on-the-wall feeling here allows you, as a viewer, to witness the kinds of problems that will arise when you get to work on your own project at home. When Sinta talks about playing fills that match the phrasing of the vocals, he’s speaking from experience, having supported some amazing singers, and also because he knows the artist on the other end is probably unwilling to go back and forth for too long about how a performance isn’t quite there yet. “I try to get as much info from the artist/producer as I can up front, such as references on drum sounds, approach to feel and beat, and how they want the song to sound overall when it’s produced,” Sinta says.
Included in the package are .wav files of Sinta’s drum takes, the final Pro Tools session, and a play-along of the song, so you can be hands-on with Sinta’s tracks, editing them or comparing your own work with his. Production and camerawork are bare bones, but likely mirror what your home studio arrangement would be.
“This video provides an overview and a step-by-step guide for beginners, while also giving professionals some insight into how I approach what I do,” Sinta says. “So for those serious about getting their home recording career off the ground, this could be the place to begin your journey.”
With individual chapters titled “Drum Arrangement Considerations” and “Tweaks and Refinement,” you can absorb this course at your own pace. Maybe the technology is your obstacle, as opposed to figuring out where the kick drum should be placed in the bar. Either way, the different aspects of home recording can be separated for easy and pertinent digestion.