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Because he is a drummer capable of writing his own beats, Vrenna never uses loops. For programmed sounds, he often uses Battery and employs the drum sounds his synths have. “I tend to just start from some of those and layer stuff,” he remarks. “I just layer sounds underneath and then make my own stuff, and then put those through pedals.” With limited space in the crib room, Vrenna uses a compact Yamaha custom drum kit. Vrenna pads the room down when he records vocals, but then he pulls the padding off the walls for a boomier drum sound. Longtime friend and engineer Bill Kennedy, whom the drummer has known since his NIN days, helped him experiment with different ways to mike the kit and they created a good overall scheme. To record the kit, Vrenna placed a vintage AKG D-12 inside the kick and a Yamaha NS-10 (used as a mic rather than a speaker) outside the kick. “It gives you a nice sub,” he says. “You put that in front of the kick head.” For the snare, he placed a Shure SM7 on top and a Sennheiser 441 below. Sennheiser 421s are used on the two toms and either an AKG 451 or a Shure SM7 on the hi-hats. He favors the 451 because while the SM7 “gives a nice, thick chunky hi-hat, being such a small room, I kind of needed to thin it out.”
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