21seven recording studio in Edinburgh

Rock, blues, indie & punk

Recording protocol

The last 20 years saw increasingly cheaper and more powerful technology, but rising property prices. The result is a greater number of professional recording studios, with smaller and smaller tracking rooms. 21SEVEN is a prime example of that!

Unfortunately in small rooms drums just don't sound right and recording live becomes very problematic, especially at useful volumes for guitar based bands... 21SEVEN developed a recording protocol to overcome this...

Advantages of 21SEVEN's protocol:

EVERYTHING IS PERFORMED LIVE - when doing so, music takes a life of its own. Musical intuitions and happy accidents are allowed to happen, injecting life and character into your recording.


QUICK SET UP - normally setting up a band takes 5 hours, with the protocol it takes 2.

FASTER, BETTER MIXING - no corrective EQ needed for drums; playing live musicians produce more consistent dynamics/levels and parts that fit better together. This means better mixes in less time.

How does it work?

The protocol is based on a custom built hybrid drum kit (pictures & sound samples below). This bypasses all issues stemming from recording in small rooms.

Guitar, bass and drums are recorded all together, live, yet with total separation. Everyone is in the same room, wearing headphones. This allows the proximity and visual contact that is so important. The amps themselves are in a different, sound proofed room.

Singer + keyboard player/lead guitarist play with the rest of the band, though usually their parts are overdubbed at a later stage.

What you hear in the headphones is pre-mixed and many people comment they never heard each other so well before! This is essential for a great performance, making everything easier and more enjoyable.

The only real draw back is that the drummer needs to get used to the playing feel of the hybrid kit, which is different from that of a traditional one.

Some drummers are initially wary of this, but when they start playing the hybrid kit they absolutely love it.

The hybrid drum kit

This custom designed, hybrid drum kit is an outstanding recording tool, combining acoustic and midi drums to get you the best sounds you've heard. In a nutshell:

HI-HAT, CRASHES AND RIDE ARE REAL, ACOUSTIC CYMBALS MADE BY ZILDJIAN. The sound of these special, perforated cymbals is picked up by a magnetic sensor, catching all the nuances of your playing.

SNARE, KICK AND TOMS ARE MIDI DRUMS, BUT HAVE REAL SKINS. They trigger sound libraries using specialised software in the computer.


These were recorded by the very people who defined the sound of recorded drums as we know it, such as Steve Albini, Joe Barresi, Andy Johns and Jim Scott. They miked drums for Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Pixies, Mogwai, PJ Harvey, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dixie Chicks, Sting, Ron Sexsmith, Bad Religion, The Stooges, Bob Dylan, Crowded House, Tom Petty, Nirvana - you name it!

These seminal sound engineers used drum kits from their personal collections, tuned and prepared to perfection, miked up with their best gear, in the best sounding rooms for recording drums. The results are truly stunning.


Each of the 60 different kits available comes with close-miked samples as well as several room mikes and overheards. These are not simulations, but REAL ROOM AMBIENCES recorded in great sounding rooms.

This is vital as the sound of a drum kit is largely determined by the room it is played in, generating complex natural reverberations and resonances.

Hear how differently kick/snare and toms sound using different libraries ("out of the box", without any additional processing or tweaking):

Hear the variety of sounds and ambiences available and how natural they sound. Each kit has been sampled using sticks, brushes, rods and mallets - providing tons of flexibility.

These are just "raw" sounds, a starting point. To hear these a mix, go to the sound bites page. All you hear in there is recorded using the hybrid kit.

If you are interested in recording here, please get in touch to arrange a demo so that your drummer can try the kit and you can hear how great it sounds yourselves. There is no charge for that and it is completely commitment-free. You shall be impressed!