Top 40 Pop Taiko Experiment: Beyoncé “Countdown”

A Mixing Challenge

One of the unique challenges of the Top 40 Pop Taiko Experiment was the rim playing. The rim is much quieter than head, but is of equal importance musically. Despite the rim being much quieter, it needs to be heard just as much as the rest of the drum.

Initially, I had tried adding a massive amount of Compression to the Chudaiko tracks. This made the rim audible, but the drum head lost any kind of breath and sounded absolutely squashed.

Recording in a small room that doesn’t provide a good balance between the rim and head is not ideal. That being said, what could I do? In order to resolve this issue, I called On Ensemble’s Shoji Kameda to ask for advice.

The Solution

Shoji’s advice was to duplicate the Chudaiko, and use one track for the Rim, and one track for the Head. Compress the Rim track so that it’s audible in the mix. Then Use a high-pass filter on the Rim to eliminate the squashed Head sound. Finally, blend the two together so that they sound like a single audio source.

For the final version, I also used a generous amount of EQ to bring out the Rim. It’s not perfect, but the rim is relatively audible and the drums aren’t as squashed as they initially were.

An Alternate Solution

I think it’s worth noting that Shoji also suggested recording the rim as a separate pass.  In other words, overdubbing just the rim.  I’ll have to experiment with whether that works in a situation like this.