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Floor Tom Sounds in STUDIO


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Dear Forum,

 

Im not sure if this should be here or the pro.rec forum but this is the Drum Talk section so I thought you guys would probably have some advice - I have a burning question about my mixing that I just cant seem to figure out. I am doing a rock mix at the moment, 4 peice band with two guitarists. The drummer does a lot of "tom" work - tuning his toms to actual musical notes and playing melodies on them (hard to imagine but it sounds great) so obviously I have to mix the toms fairly "upfront" to portray this musicality in the toms. My problem is this: I am mixing on Event 20/20 bas - I know they cop a lot of flack in these forums but I really cant upgrade at this stage - jeez I wish the review* in EQ mag happened to mention they are CRAP oh well, and I also have a pair of NS10's. Now, when I mix the floor tom nice and "big" on these speakers it never translates well - Im talking about everytime a tom hits the whole mix craps out - like a limiter being slammed way too hard. Very very bad news, especially when the client lives hours away and can't come back for a remix. So I offer to do it for free, and setup the home hi-fi speakers (which I actually discovered the problem on) in the studio for another reference. When I mix on the NS10s or the Events, the floor tom is so goddam hard to make stand out. When you think you have it right, I flick to the hi-fi speakers (Linear Phase with Marantz amp with loudness button ON) the floor tom wipes out everything in its path (in a bad way). What is going on? I have tried the approach of re-designing the control room and re-positioning the speakers countless times, getting information from acoustic consultants and the Manufacturers of my monitors as to the optimum listening position. This has made me lose any confidence I had left in my monitoring system. This is ridicolous, and I feel I should write to Event stating complete dis-satisfaction with their product and the sheer frustration they have caused to my business due to purchasing a tool that is supposed to be an "industry accepted standard" that turns out to be a well known dud. It breaks my heart evrytime someone says "You bought $3500 worth of shite". The bad comments outweigh the good 5:1 everytime (6 months after I bought them of course).

But the strange thing is I get the same problem on the NS10's - but I kinda expect that because they dont have an extended low end response - but the Events should. And you would think kick drum and bass guitar would follow suit, but they seem to translate perfectly. I usually use a large diaphram condesner on floor tom, but if I get too much cymbal spill, I'll go a dynamic, like a 57 or a Beyer M88. I am told these mikes should not be the cause of such problems. I dont compress or gate to tape unless critical, and usually roll off the very low frequencies below 75hz, depending on drum and style. Please help - I really love big pounding toms ala Tool, but cannot seem to get it in the mix - I mix it right it plays back too loud / I mix where I think it will translate it it never cuts through. This brings up one more quick question regarding drum miking - how do you know if everything is in "perfect phase" without a DAW? I know its pretty obvious when something is 180 degrees out of phase, but are there not smaller "degrees" of phase cancellation? How do you check for this in a analogue studio? I have heard of the 3 to 1 rule, but how does this apply when you want everything in phase with the kick mike? Especially if your front end desk is a Mackie with no phase reversal switch?!? I have made some phase reversal xlr-xlr leads but this only cures 180 degree phase shifts.... also, I have been experimenting as per advice of this forum with placing my overheads behind the drummers head - I find this is a very bad sound - what am I doing wrong? I use a pair of KM84's and all they get is HiHat - I sure dont need hats in my overheads, I want the ride and crash.... I find this method quite perplexing - is it done in conjunction with another pair of "higher" overheads???

 

Thanks in advance

Adam B

SMOKIN & JOKIN RECORDING STUDIO - Sydney Australia

www.angelfire.com/music/smokinjokin

 

*Speaking of EQ reviews I just read the review on the ART Tube MP Studio. Now I know for a fact ART stuff is crap, everyone on these boards say its crap but yet it still gets a glowing review. Anyone else find this immensly frustrating and dishonest? grrrr...

 

This message has been edited by smokinjokin@one.net.au on 06-08-2001 at 04:12 AM

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Don't believe everything you read. (I wouldn't believe this either)

 

20 20's are great and NS-10's are dry and flat...but both are tools to get you there. I have worked with both alot...no, they ain't genelecs...but who has genelecs in their boom box, car or computer...yeah, I thought so.

 

Put an EV RE-20 on the floor and some sennheiser 321's or my fav 421's on the toms if you get the chance. I just love those mics for toms. There are probably alot better out there but I have had great luck by just plugging these puppies in a darn mackie and having at it. Your nuemanns are sweet but I would roll off all the mids and lows and not try to get toms with them...let them do what they do best...cymbals only. Remember the more you bring up your overheads in a mix, the more of a chance you will have of making the toms sound small...just bring them up easy...I like alot of compression from a good box on overheads as well...I have a Meek SC2...they are tits for overheads in my pocket book. With some tweaking you can even get a good two track mix if you are limited with track count.

 

side chain a compressor in some noise gates and pop them in the inserts on your board...behringer composers and multigates are 4 channels each of cheap but are very usable and listenable. they get ripped on all the time here but a good room, mics and ear make up for a lot.

 

sounds like you might be getting some sympathetic vibrations on the kit when that FT goes off or the drum set is taking up parts of the frequency spectrum that the other instruments are in...I would just squish it some and play with the decay on the gate maybe play with the panning. Make up with some reverb and eq to make it huge again when you get it corraled.

 

If someone says it sucks all the more reason to draw your own conclusions. I was never a fan of doing what is fashionable anyways.

 

have phun...see you around and hope this helps... I would love to live in austraila it must be nice there with all the koalas and stuff.

 

-felix

the token jew

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have AT Pro25's on all 4 of my toms.They sound almost too musical.I am on the verge of buying a gate just to control them.I like a fast attack, punchy tom sound.Do you use a parametric EQ or compression?It sound to me like dynamic outboard processing is what you need.

:ian*

ian*
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I disagree with Felix on the overhead recommendation. IMO, it's not a good idea to try and isolate the cymbals with the overheads. For one, it can't be done right. You'll never have cymbals only with no toms. then, when you try to EQ for the cymbals only, it'll make your toms sound like crap. Plus, most of the time, I don't like to gate the drums during tracking, or at mixdown. I just don't like the sound that you get when, for example, you hit you tom, the gate opens, and your ride that's fading out from an earlier hit "pulses" because the tom mic is picking it up and is adding to it's signal.

 

Try this. Get the most rocking sound you can of the whole kit with the overheads only, first. Then add the kick. Three (and fewer) mics are how it's been done for a long time. Then, add the snare. Then the toms.

 

I usually try to treat every other mic other than the kick and overheads, as "highlight" mics. If you have a great sound with the three first, it's hard to go wrong. Then, for hard-rock, I'll group everything but the snare and compress the crap out of it. I usually put the snare on it's own group (because I like to mic the top and bottom of the snare), and compress/effect it seperately.

 

If you're getting a lot of boom/mud/thud, try cutting EQ at 200-250Hz.

 

Remember, none of this is set in stone. Just one way to try.

 

Bob

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I've worked with 84's up ...can one get a great overhead sound with these alone? I'm thinking you would need a happening room....

 

I think one would need U-87's or something overhead to get an overall great sound with just a few mics. Probably a great room would help here also.

 

What are your fav. overheads?

 

I heard Neal Peart strapped a U-87 to his chest when he recorded Moving Pictures...ever hear that story?

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Adam,

 

I will try to address your problems one at a time, and if I miss something, I may just not have time to answer right now and I'll come back later.

 

First of all, any studio (including mine) that relies exclusively on nearfield monitors is going to have something of a problem getting the low end to translate perfectly. You generally need at least one other set of monitors for comparison, even if it's consumer hi-fi speakers, because those are usually hyped in the bass whereas studio monitors are flat. Second, I don't know what kind of acoustic treatment you have in your control room but if you have standing waves, some of the bass may be cancelling. Some bass traps might help you. So I wouldn't be too quick to blame the gear. I'm sure you know that many world class records have been mixed on NS-10's (which I hate!), so if you are having the same problem with your NS-10's that you have with the Events, you can hardly blame the Events. I find both of those monitors to be hyped in the high mids which can be painful to listen to for long periods. But if you get used to whatever monitors you're using you soon learn to compensate.

 

Also, I don't know if you're listening to the toms soloed a lot, but that could be a problem as well. Often a lot of mud builds up between all the combined tracks of drums and if you get what you think is a great sounding tom track when soloed, then you add in the whole mix and listen to it on a consumer hi-fi, it just turns to mush. Don't be afraid to roll out some of the low-lows on floor toms or even the kick. Many of the primary frequencies aren't as low as you think they are. Sweep through with your EQ (if you have sweepable frequencies) and roll out anything you can't hear or which obviously sounds muddy. Same deal with the overheads. Anywhere in the 250-500 range is often a suspect area for mud, ditto anything below 80Hz although this tends to be more of a problem with digital recordings than analog.

 

More later.

 

--Lee

 

 

 

This message has been edited by Lee Flier on 06-19-2001 at 11:24 AM

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Originally posted by felix stein:

I heard Neal Peart strapped a U-87 to his chest when he recorded Moving Pictures...ever hear that story?

 

Our drummer was working with another band and when they recorded, the engineer taped a Crown PZM to his chest. I've always wanted to try that trick, too.

 

Bob

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Thanks for the tips guys - I have been implementing them and they are certainly cleaning things up a bit. Here are the problems I have now:

 

I cant seem to set the gates right. When I set the tom gates stay closed when the snare plays, it stays closed on the softer tom hits, and the decay gets cut off way before the note of the tom finishes. But if I set the threshold lower to get the softer hits, the snare and ride always open the gate, which sounds like a hip hop beat in the background (its not hip hop!).

 

When I eq the "mud" out of the floor tom, it certainly clenas up tom rolls (imagine a build up section on floor tom and snare) but when it is just one big hit, (think one tom hit after a 4 bar silent pause in a song) there is no power.

 

I would like to address the notion of getting a as close to a final sound with just the overheads. I find this to be quite a challenge - it never seems to have the "in your face" punch to it that I am looking for. Sure it sounds good but not for what I am producing - but I will continue to try this method as it has been recommended by many people on this forum.

 

I am saving for a 421 for the floor tom. I am also hoping to get a Royer setero ribbon for overheads, and then put the km85's on rack toms. Looking into the Behringer 4 channel gate. The other day I had another drum tracking session and I spent the time to audition all of my mikes on the floor tom of the kit I was to record. After shooting out Rode NT1, SM57, and several other floor tom "stamdards" I found the mike that won was a Shure SM99 lavalier microphone! I was amazed - they were very punchy with a bottom end that was not at all flabby.

 

Lee Flier, I am getting used to my monitors more & more every session, but I find the notion of "compensating" for your monitors a bit counter-active, dont you? I mean, I would think that the monitor would be the most crucial component in mixing, but still we have to second guess what is happening.. I have done what you suggest and brought in some hifi speakers into the studio, just to cross reference the bottom end - but once again I have to "compensate"....

 

A couple of tips I have been shown since having a whinge earlier:

 

Put a large diaphram condenser out about 4 feet from the kit, on a "desktop" mic stand placed on the floor, angled at 45 degrees up towards the drummer - blend it with close miked sound. Bonus meat section, makes the kick a lot phatter.

 

Send snare out Aux send to compressor, compress very hard, return down spare chaneel, eq out mid range 1 - 2k, blend in with original snare signal. Makes every hit clear and defined, and means snare can be mixed a bit lower without losing power.

 

Before setting up kit, play just the floor tom in several places in the live room. Find the "beefiest" spot where the tom resonates nicely and does not "woof" out with too much bottom.

 

Any more quick tips people? Thanks for the help so far.

 

Adam B

Smokin & Jokin Recording Studio SYDNEY AUSTRALIA

www.angelfire.com/music/smokinjokin

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Uh, don't gate your snare...sorry forgot to tell you that-unless you are going for that.

 

Pearl makes these floor tom feet that are the hippest things. They actually float the floor tom off the floor. I didn't believe it would work till I tried it. Totally opened up my floor tom tone. I could not believe it!

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Adam,

 

Yes it's a pain to have to second-guess your monitors. But, there's a reason why big studios always have 3 sets of monitors on average: nearfields, midfields and big as hell. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif If you can't afford anything but nearfields, and inexpensive ones at that, you will have to do a certain amount of compensation. The more you mix, the more intuitive that will become. And do check out your room acoustics - if you have standing waves anywhere, it will definitely cause you problems in hearing things properly even with the best monitors.

 

Another thing I am wondering is what kind of floor do you have in your tracking room? If you have carpeting in there with a lot of padding, that would definitely woof out your floor tom. If there's no way to change that, I've even set up the drums on a couple of sheets of plywood with thin indoor/outdoor carpeting on it to keep them from sliding around. It helps a lot. Drums on thick or padded carpet have always been a disaster to record in my book.

 

If you are missing some power from your floor tom you might use some compression on it. Also don't EQ ALL the mud out of JUST the floor track - EQ a little mud out of each drum track because it's usually the combined tracks that build up and cause mud.

 

Regarding overhead placement: I don't know how high your ceilings are or what they are treated with. My ceilings are quite low for a studio but they have acoustic tiles so they are not too reflective. If the ceilings are highly reflective and/or low it's tough to get a good overhead placement that picks up everything. There tends to be too much cymbal and not enough toms.

 

The way I get around this is to place my overheads lower than the "standard". My left overhead (from the drummer's perspective) tends to be situated about a foot and a half up from the left crash, between the crash and the hi hat. That's fairly standard. On the right side though, I place the "overhead" from behind the drummer, and it's LOW - just up from the ride cymbal and angled toward the toms so it picks up mostly toms. Using this placement plus a kick and snare mic, I often don't even need mics on the toms. Of course the drummer's dynamics have a lot to do with it too. If the drummer tends to place the cymbals very low near the toms, and/or he plays the cymbals very loudly in relation to the toms, it's tough. Some drummers who are very studio savvy have worked hard on their dynamics and play the drums deliberately louder than the cymbals, which makes your job a lot easier. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif But don't think you have to be married to a standard placement of overheads - move them around and find the sweet spots.

 

Regarding phase cancellation: Yes, you can have many degrees of cancellation as well as amplification of various frequencies. Search these forums for the phrase "comb filter" to find more information about what exactly happens when you combine multiple mics on the same source. You can't get rid of this effect, and you can't tell whether two mics are "in phase", but you can use it to your advantage rather than your disadvantage, if you move mics around and find the appropriate "sweet spot". Definitely search for previous discussions of this topic, it will help you a lot in understanding the myths and realities about phase relationships.

 

One other thought: if you really want in-your-face tom sounds, are you using gobos (baffles) in front of the toms? If you're not, you're picking up a lot of the room sound which is going to be more cymbals than toms. I like the room sound on cymbals, but not necessarily on toms, so if I want a tight tom sound I use low gobos (4 feet high) so the cymbals still stick out above them but the toms are tightened up.

 

Hope that helps.

 

--Lee

 

This message has been edited by Lee Flier on 06-20-2001 at 11:23 AM

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