Hip-Hop Taiko Experiment: Higher Brothers “Made in China”


This Hip-Hop Taiko Experiment comes via a request from Nathan Wong who watched the Rich Chigga “Dat $tick” recording.¬† Over the past few sessions, I’ve become a lot more comfortable with the new setup. However, I’m still not at a point where I can say I’m intimate. I still need to develop more vocabulary on this setup. Additionally, I’m unable to mold the sound through the recording and mixing process. There’s still a lot of guesswork and I’m still unable to envision the final product at the beginning of the recording.

Recording Methods

My recording setup for the Hip-Hop Taiko Experiment remains the same for the past several sessions. However, I made a few major changes to my recording methods.

The first change is more of a workflow improvement. I created two templates – one for recording and one for mixing. The tracks are ordered and labeled the same. The only difference is the mixing template has plugins already on them. This serves as a starting point, and all I need to do is fine tune things to better match the song.

The other major change is in the recording volume. I had previously been taught to record as hot as possible without clipping. I confirmed with a few engineers that in the world of 24-bit recording, this is no longer the case. Instead of recording as hot as possible, I am now recording at around -12db.

Performance Methods

Instead of coming up with different patterns for each section of the song, I decided to change drums altogether. For different parts of the song, I’m playing different rhythms on different drums. I feel this will help bring out the physicality of taiko and make the performance more interesting.

Mixing Methods

One technique I implemented is this time is Gain Staging. I made sure all my recordings were playing back in my DAW at -18db (plugins are calibrated to -18db) before any faders were touched or plugins added.

This ensures there is never any clipping from the start of the recording process to the mixing process. It also ensures there is plenty of headroom for me to work with. Previously, when I would change something in the mix, it would cause a chain reaction of other unintended changes.  Proper Gain Staging allows me to get more accurate results quicker.


Using the templates and proper Gain Staging significantly decreased the amount of time it took to complete each recording. There are still a few things I am unsure of regarding recording levels and how to use the Limiter to bring the gain back up.