Recording Drums on Your iDevice with Jammit
Recording drums can be daunting even using a full-featured DAW, so it stands to reason that getting a good sound and negotiating the logistics of recording to Jammit may be challenging. Here is an overview on the best way to record your drum performance on your iPad (iPod Touch, or iPhone implied throughout this article) using Jammit.
The latest versions of Jammit OS X (1.0.6) and iOS ( 2.1.4 for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch) now support stereo recording, which makes capturing your drum performance a more gratifying experience. Now it’s just a matter of getting that killer performance into Jammit. Drums are notoriously difficult to record at home or in rehearsal because of how loud they are. Although it can be done easily, using the built-in mic on your iPad usually makes for disappointing sonic results. Even though the recording feature in Jammit is more of a “scratch pad”, to get a recording closer to a studio-quality you’ll need a few microphones, a mixer that accepts mic level inputs, an input interface for your iPad and a decent amount of patience!
Put a microphone in front of or inside the kick drum, one pointing at the top head of the snare drum and one over top of the entire kit. If you have an extra mic you can make this overhead configuration a stereo pair. Plug all these mics into your mixer and feed the output of the mixer into your iPad using an interface that supports stereo input via the 30-pin dock connector. I know that there are others out there, but I highly recommend the Line 6 Mobile In. Even though it’s geared toward guitarists, its 1/8” mini stereo input can be used to record a stereo signal into Jammit. So this means you’ll need to get from your mixer (RCA phono or ¼” female) to the Mobile In (1/8” stereo mini). This is a pretty common cable these days so you should be able to find it a Best Buy or Radio Shack.
Now dialing in the sound can take a lot of trial and error. If you have cables that are long enough to run into another room and a fearless volunteer to hit your drums while you set the levels on your mixer, you may be able to get a decent sound pretty quickly, otherwise it will be: record a bit, listen back, tweak the settings –over and over again until nothing is distorting and the mics are well-balanced.
While recording, you definitely want to be in Record/Listen mode in Jammit. This can be found in the settings menu (the little gear icon) under “Input Monitoring”. This will allow you to hear yourself while recording and when you’re NOT playing the song but will allow you to hear playback of what you recorded when you press play. If you keep the input monitoring on Play Along, you’ll only hear what’s coming through the mics and NOT what you may have previously recorded.
When you’re ready to actually record, you’ll plug your headphones into the mini headphone jack on your iPad , adjust the playback level of the isolated drums, the band and the click track via Jammit’s mixer. The overall level of your live drums can be adjusted on the channel labeled “User”. If you want to record through the entire song (and not just one section), be sure to press play first, then record.
That wasn’t so hard was it? If you struggle to get the desired sound from your drums, you may have to add more mics, some sound processing gear (like compressors, eq and reverb) and if possible treat the room that your drums are set up in. This is just a starting point---remember, most of the original drum tracks that you hear in Jammit were recorded in expensive studios by professional sound engineers, so, well, let’s just say that it’s something to aspire to!