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#1039759 - 02/28/06 08:30 PM bad mic placement?
sadworld Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 156
Loc: bay city,MI,UNITED STATES
i tracked some tunes tonight and noticed that the rack tom mics are picking up as much snr as the snare track and overheads.... just looking at the signal, the tom hits are no bigger than the snrs in the tom tracks. i'm using 421's on them and the way the kit is set up i felt i had no other choices. it is pointing just over the edge of the rack toms but pretty much if it were a laser pointer, the laser would go over the toms and smack the snare. i wasn't expecting this much snr bleed, but what would you do? if i angle the mics down to point at the center of the toms the guy would have to raise his cymbals quite a bit.

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#1039760 - 02/28/06 09:34 PM Re: bad mic placement?
paully Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 05/25/04
Posts: 1129
Loc: Northern New Jersey
Bleed is not necessarilly a bad thing. Unorthodox, but try the 421s in different positions on the 'inside' of the toms. If you can't do a retake, you might try gating the tom tracks at mixdown. Also, if you're compressing the 421s, try reducing it or eliminating it.

Paul
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#1039761 - 03/01/06 06:16 AM Re: bad mic placement?
monitorguy Offline
Member

Registered: 02/28/05
Posts: 24
Loc: Missouri
Gating probably won't work in this situation because if the snare hits are at the same level as the toms the threshold for opening the gates for the toms would also open it when the snare is hit.

I've often wondered what the effect all the different arrival times has for the overall sound of the drums. For example, a snare hit will bleed into every mic in the room, arriving at a different time, producing some comb filtering and for me, this starts to ruin the "image' of the drum kit overall.

If your drummer places his cymbals low enough to get in the way of effectively micing the toms, try it without the tom mics! What are you using for overheads? A little experimentation goes a long way. Try to find 2 large diaphram condensors that don't exaggerate the top end. My current favorite cheapie is the Rode NT1, AKG 414s are great because of the different patterns you can use. Anything overly bright will give you all sorts of cymbal wash. Experiment with placement and spread. I start with one over the floor tom and the other over the snare. The only rule I have is that the mics be at the same height as one another to provide for the same arrival times. Over the past few years I've been using this technique in live situations and have been amazed at how good it can sound keeping things simple. If you must tweak, and otherwise musicians would only need engineers to plug in the mics, try a stereo compressor across both overhead channels to "tame" the intial percussive sound of a drum, and run the channels a bit hotter. The drums really start to speak and the attack is subdued. If you want, keep the snare mic but use it only as a way to drive a reverb unit. Experiment with panning. If you want your snare in the center, add some of the dry snare mic back in after time aligning it. Don't worry about the math, just move it back a few ms. Try it and hear what sounds best to you.

I save a ton of time during sound checks and I can only imagine how much time it would save cleaning up drum tracks in the studio. Good luck!

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#1039762 - 03/01/06 10:14 AM Re: bad mic placement?
paully Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 05/25/04
Posts: 1129
Loc: Northern New Jersey
**Originally posted by monitorguy:**

.. Gating probably won't work in this situation because if the snare hits are at the same level as the toms the threshold for opening the gates for the toms would also open it when the snare is hit...
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
It's still worth a try if retracking isn't an option..
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I've often wondered what the effect all the different arrival times has for the overall sound of the drums... this starts to ruin the "image' of the drum kit overall...
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Discreet room mics are specifically used to give a kit 'bigness', especially rock sessions where power and openness are more of a consideration than imaging. It's a pretty common practice, especially in smaller rooms where ambient reflection isn't present. But that's another issue.
*********************************************
If your drummer places his cymbals low enough to get in the way of effectively micing the toms, try it without the tom mics!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Good idea. Short of investing in new mics, why not try what you have first. Take a couple of the 421s and arrange them overhead. They have a limited hi-frequency response(as compared to condensers), and a selectable bass rolloff(which should help zero in on the toms). If you're going for a large sound, that just might be the ticket. As an experiment, try putting a room mike out front to a third track.

We might have gotten a little off-topic, but if any of this is helpful, mabee Sadworld could tell us a little more about the session: other instruments tracked at the same time, type of drum style, overall sound, rock, jazz, ??, etc,. This all contributes to the type of micing the engineer will use.

Best, Paul
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#1039763 - 03/01/06 12:31 PM Re: bad mic placement?
miroslav Offline
Cosmic Cowboy
10k Club

Registered: 05/23/00
Posts: 14215
Loc: NY Hudson Valley, USA
Yeah...I get the whole kit with a pair of overheads (M/S configuration)...
....and then I only spot-mic the snare, and one inside the kick.

My stereo overheads give me the kit as it sounds...and the snare/kick mics are there to only boost up those two key elements of the kit.

The toms, cymbals and hat all come through very nicely in the overheads.

Mixing the drums is a breeze...I just push up the Left/Right stereo pair...and then add the snare/kick mics as needed, and I can also apply a slightly different EQ on them, than the whole kit.
Also...if I run the stereo pair through a stereo comp...I can still really punch up the snare/kick tracks without whacking out the comp.

It's a big, wide drum sound...so it may not work if you want to keep things dry and tight...but so far, I'm really liking this approach...that I've used it on a variety of recordings...and it works.
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#1039764 - 03/02/06 01:50 AM Re: bad mic placement?
monitorguy Offline
Member

Registered: 02/28/05
Posts: 24
Loc: Missouri
Paully, automation in a DAW would work to gate the snare out of the tom mics. Good point but unfortunately, it's a lot of effort.

I wasn't micing the room just the kit. I do live shows (no studio setups). I use the live technique of the overheads that the FOH mixer uses and, as a monitor guy, had ignored the overheads for years because no one ever wanted them on stage. Well, that's not true either, one Motown Hall of Fame band once wanted the drum overheads in the SIDEFILLS! But that's another posting...

I also ignored them because most of the engineers were using SM 81 or AKG 451 to place over thier kits. In my opinion the smaller capsule really robs the drums of any power or fullness at the same time usually giving a slight brightness boost. That sound coming through a compression horn back at you at around 110 SPL will make you bleed. But using large diaphrams made all the difference to me. They add low mids and reach down into the toms. A visiting engineer used the 414s and it was the first time I really enjoyed listening to the overheads!

My experience is exclusively live so I don't get to pick room placement, the kit, or its tuning. The local backline guy is a drummer and his kits have usually been taken care of and tuned and frequently have thier heads changed. Let's face it, garbage in, garbage out. The size of the halls are 750 and up most of the time so I don't have to deal with small room acoustics but I have found that by using the drum overheads more as my drum sound in my personal headphone monitoring mix, I also gain the benefit of adding ambience to my mix as some stage and crowd sound bleeds into them. It's great for when the band is calling out a change in the set list, a band member without a vocal mic responds, added crowd noise (and from a perspective that most concert goers don't usually get). I can honestly say that drum overheads have been the single biggest improvement to my recorded mixes and I think are equal to many of the current drum sounds heard today. I don't fight the toms, I don't have to worry about EQing each drum. Push up the overheads and let the drummer know which tom is ringing or dead and let him choose to tune his drums. Doing monitors is always a political situation. So is producing a record.

It all begins at the source. Create an environment condusive to recording drums. If you have the control or input, suggest a location for the kit that you believe to be advantagous to the recording. To me, the best drum sounds have been captured in a prepared/treated room with natural ambience as opposed to eliminating room effects and later adding reverb. I have no idea how this technique would fly in a bedroom or basement. I suspect that it has huge implications. My bet would be that a room with a flutter echo would be the worst because the lack of dispursion creates discreet echos and not a reverb that we normally choose. Who knows, maybe it could be cool for a rockabilly sound, and if it gets to be the "in" thing, then I thought of it first! ;-) If you don't believe me, check out Dire Straits' Skateaway to hear a kit with some delay on it, kick included. It has "high school gymnasium" written all over it. A cool sound but probably not one you could use for an entire album.

The best situation, in my experience, is to be prepared for anything. I've been in Sadworld's spot with no room for tom mics and I've had the opposite. I worked with BB King a couple of weeks ago and his drummer had his cymbals literally at arm's length so that he could only hit the edges of them. They must have been 5.5' off the ground and 2 feet above the toms - no way to overhead the drums without tom mics, but heck, we coulda used shotguns with a boom pole there was so much room! I personally felt he had them up that high to provide shade. But he also required individual tom mics because years of playing too loudly required him to have the toms in the monitors too loudly. I wouldn't have been able to satisfy his needs without them.

I also recently did a jazz band in a symphonic hall. A friend was mixing and we only had a single SM 81 to use for drums so he placed it 16-24" in front of the kick drum angled up at the rest of the kit. Both of us remarked how good it sounded even in the headphones and it never got used on stage or in the house mix. For another example or micing techniques, see JJ Blair's posting on the In Your Ears forum in the EQ Mag forums, it's currently in the top couple of postings. I don't know how to post the link here but he includes an excellent example of a mono drum sound achieved with 2 mics. Awesome sound and you could probably name a bunch of records you've heard with that technique used. The Beatles used a mono drum kit panned to one side quite often; yet another variation!

My experience seems to be like that of Miroslav's. I can usually EQ out 1 (the worst) tuning problem or (best scenario) worst room mode to get an acceptable (at worst or at best) a very realistic "drum kit in a space" sound. And during mixing of any live drum overheads, in my opinion, compression is where I get to add my signature to the mix. I was fortunate enough to come across some classic compressors a few years when doing an installation. The guy knew what he had but the school he worked for didn't. He had no use for them and was glad to see them get some use and they do. I abuse them! You can get anything from John Bonham ultra squished to a traditional jazz sound.

Let us know what works in your space.

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#1039765 - 03/02/06 04:46 PM Re: bad mic placement?
Farview Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 78
Loc: Chicago-ish
The only way I have found to deal with guys who insist on having the toms at a 90 degree angle to the ground and the cymbals right on top is to mic the shells just below the rims, between the toms. Or you can use smaller mics, like the AKG's. Triggers could also be your friend.

It is a pain when drummers set the kit up in such a way that you can't mic it effectively
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#1039766 - 03/02/06 11:56 PM Re: bad mic placement?
monitorguy Offline
Member

Registered: 02/28/05
Posts: 24
Loc: Missouri
Sadworld,

Here is a radical idea. Since you already have 421s and the available tracks, try micing the toms from underneath and taking them out of polarity. The drums themselves should provide a little shielding. I would expect to hear a little less attack of the drum as you get further from the played head and more shell resonance. Just an idea. I mean I always mic'ed drums from the top because everyone else did. If you try it, please post your results of your experiment. I'd be very curious to hear them.

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#1039767 - 03/03/06 09:45 AM Re: bad mic placement?
Farview Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 78
Loc: Chicago-ish
Your results from micing the bottom head will vary depending on the tuning method used. If you are one of those guys that tune the bottom head an octave up from the top head, all you will get will be an annoying ring.
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#1039768 - 03/03/06 02:58 PM Re: bad mic placement?
paully Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 05/25/04
Posts: 1129
Loc: Northern New Jersey
Hey Sadworld. Are you still watching? Should we still be typing? How about some response, guy!!
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#1039769 - 03/03/06 04:06 PM Re: bad mic placement?
miroslav Offline
Cosmic Cowboy
10k Club

Registered: 05/23/00
Posts: 14215
Loc: NY Hudson Valley, USA
What was the question...??? \:D


(I think he's re-setting his mics) ;\)
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#1039770 - 03/05/06 01:37 PM Re: bad mic placement?
sadworld Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 156
Loc: bay city,MI,UNITED STATES
thanks guys for the responses... what i did was strike a deal with the drummer to move his cymbal to the other side of the kit, only about10 inches or so but still.... now that opened it up for me to do what i wanted. it helped alot in the second rack tom but no matter what i tried the first tom still has a ton of snare in it. i went with it anyways. the tracks are now recorded and i won't know too much more until it comes time to mix down. i've got all other instruments to track and vocals too... my thought for the moment is, i'll probably have to edit like crazy using automation within my program to boost volume when tom 1 is hit.... i'll let you know. thanks again.

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