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Drums room mics - too much cymbal

Discussion in 'Drums' started by tvguru, Dec 15, 2003.

  1. tvguru

    tvguru Guest


    I'm having an enormouse problem getting a drum sound at the moment. I generaly don't like to use too much close micing but end up having to because I can't deal with the noise from the cymbals any other way. Lots of ride required. Room is smallish 15x12 and has quite a low ceiling.

    I used to have foam on the ceiling but this got taken down when I re decorated.

    I use c1000's or 4033 in an xy thing as overheads.

    I tried m149's as room mics in various places but again, i just can't lose enough cymbal unless I eq out alot above 3.5k (5db) which makes the kit sound dull.

    Normally a ms-pair about 5ft infront of kick compressed quite hard has been quite a successfull basis for the sound but even this doesn't seem to work this time.

    I've tried listening in different parts of the room but although the underlying drums sound are different, the cymbals still want to take over the world.

    Is it possible that the bigest factor is the foam on the ceiling?

    Do they make special recording cymbals?

    (The drum sounds I like are usually quite dry but in your face. Bit punky really. Like XO, figure 8, revolver, coldplay, God save the queen(Sex Pistols) etc)
  2. tmix

    tmix Guest

    Lately when cymbals are too much, I only mic the Kick / snare and toms. The bleed from the drum mics are always enough. You can work on placement just a little, but generally I have been very fortunate just with 4 mics.
  3. radioliver

    radioliver Guest

    Replace them with smaller cymbals. For studio recording, i find that it is better to have smaller cymbals that you don't have to hit as hard to get the full sound out of them. This solved my case of cymbals being too loud. It's just another option among many others i guess..?!
  4. idiophone

    idiophone Guest

    I have tried everything under the sun to fix the problem you're talking about, and the only thing that works is for the drummer to pound the daylights out of his drums, and hit his cymbals *very* softly. If the drummer is experienced enough to control that sort of thing, then it'll work every time it's tried.

    This pretty much means that the drummer can't "rock out", and that's a drag, but it makes for better recordings. You'll get plenty of "rock" in the recording even if he hits softly, and you can always win yourself back in a drummer's good graces by giving him food. (To wit: I am a drummer.)

    Most "session" drummers I know hit their drums very hard, and their cymbals very soft.

    Barring that, try putting cheap towels over the cymbals (punch a hole in the middle of them, but mind what the lady of the house thinks about it first), or use some of those sound-off thick rubber pads ($10-$15 at any drum shop), and dub the cymbals later. I know these options are drastic, so that's why I stress that coaching the drummer might be your best bet.

    I could go on with all the other screwy things I've tried, but remember: you can try to fix things by micing and studio trickery and all that, but getting it right in the real world to begin with not only sounds best, it saves time (AKA: $$) and headaches, too.
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    What are you recording to? If it's DAW you can edit the tom tracks so there isn't any cymbal spill ... if it's not a DAW you can try some noise gates and you go to the recorder..
  6. mikezfx

    mikezfx Guest

    I have had the same problem, and I've found that coaching the drummer is the best option since it is the cheapest.

    However, smaller, lighter cymbals for the studio permanently solved the problem.
  7. Mundox

    Mundox Guest

    Do not put your room mics high. Put them around little taller than waist height and you will have less cymbals more drums. I don't believe in coaching the drummer into playing lightly because most of the time it makes them become preoccupied with hitting the cymbals lightly, and lose concentration.
    Most the time tightining the cymbals with thick felts work to minimize cymbal wash.
  8. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    This is true for the novice and those that lack experience, but a good seasoned pro drummer can and should be able to control the dynamics of his instrument just like any other musician does with theirs. No amount of pading, mic placement, mic choice, isolation or anything else is going to make as much difference as choosing the right type of cymbals that don't over power and a drummer that is capable of using the right technique in playing them.

    If the problem is in using the OH mics, don't use them. You don't HAVE to have or use OH mics. If you think it is the ceiling giving you grief, hang up a heavy blanket or sleeping bag from the ceiling over the drums and see what it does for you. You might even make a sort blanket drum booth to enclose the drumset. Here is your chance to be both creative and resourceful in solving a real problem.
  9. tvguru

    tvguru Guest

    Thanks. Have you any recomendations for a ride cymbal.

    I think what I'm gonna do is put auralex on the ceiling, buy a better ride cymbal. I understand peoples comments about not using overheads or room mics, but I jus don't like the sound of drums on close mics only. I can never make them sound real and mush together.
  10. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    Well, coaching the drummer on technique and cymbal thickness would certainly be great if it worked but unless your dealing with at least semi pro musicians you’re not likely to get very far that way. The acoustic treatment on the ceiling is the trick. Small rooms with short ceilings are notorious for having bad high-end problems. It's amazing how much a little foam on the ceiling can help. If your still having problems after you do the ceiling, it can help to do two adjoining walls as well. The main idea being to take care of the problem without completely deadening the room.
  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    If you have to use foam, be sure it is fire retardent. I would put up Owens-Corning 703 or 705.
  12. "If you have to use foam, be sure it is fire retardent. I would put up Owens-Corning 703 or 705." (quote: Kurt Foster).

    Hey, no Spinal Tap jokes, please!

    If the drummer isn't experienced with recording, the best time to tell him is at the end of the day so you don't shake his confidence. If he (or she) is a pro they won't have a problem adjusting.
    Another trick would be to boost the OHs in the drummer's headphone mix and add some high end/cut low end so they hear the cymbals real loud in the phones. David
  13. coysoundnyc

    coysoundnyc Guest

    if you can I would try to use something like a royer r 121 (one could be enough) in front of the kick about 3-4 feet away and about 6in. from the floor.
  14. coysoundnyc

    coysoundnyc Guest

    maybe a cool multiband compressor would do it too even a TC triple c could work. use one band only compressing really hard everything above 4k and then using a lill bit of eq after that and than another compressor (more like a vitage british one) after the eq to get a fuller sound. than I would blend it gently in the mix so it's not gona be too obvious.
    just an indea, good luck!
  15. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Just because you slap some foam on the ceiling that does not mean it will fix your problem, and if your not sure, this kind of shot gun apporach could give you other problems in recording or later in mixing.
    The Doc has the correct perscription to let the drummer know what is going on by making him hear and feel the same pain as you do. Dynamic control of your instrument is something every musician needs to know how to do, including those who play drums. Make the drummer aware that how his instruments sounds being recorded is just as much his responsability as the guy doing the recording, and is something that he needs to learn. While it does take some time and skill to master the ability of control in dynamic playing techniques, I find that most drummers can adapt to least doing a beter job after they understand and try to apply this then how they were playing before not knowing and understanding this.
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    As for cymbals...a softer alloy is called for here.The old A Zildjians.The older cymbals were made for tone not for projection..Everything today is for playing live and projecting.This is NoT what you want for recording.You want cymbals that sound good,with nice balanced tones throughout the cymbal from bell to edge, and ones that have a marked decay.It makes it so much easier to develope a mix when you're not trying to decide how to get the overrings out of everything else.In the old studio, we went and specifically found a set of cymbals just for recording.They were all old Zild A's.very soft alloy and very well mannered.I'm not talking dead, just physically controlled to begin with.It'll make your job much easier no matter what room you're in.

    As for padding the ceiling...well theres quite a lot you can do with the adjoining surfaces rather than the surface above the drumset.Opposite walls that join the ceiling are great big reflectors and heres where your best use of blankets/rugs/auralex will do the best.a packing blanket on the kick drum eliminates some of the reflections from under the cymbals as well as giving a better isolation of the kick mic.Reflective surfaces above and below a kit are not the worst thing as are the off-axis surfaces adjoining them.Its like cutting down the spray to a manageable level.
  17. Duardo

    Duardo Guest

    The Zildjian K's and the Sabian HH's tend to be on the darker sound as well, and that may be a good place to start. However, I'd agree that trying to get the drummer to not bash the cymbals so hard would be the ideal way to combat the problem. If he doesn't hear that he's playing the cymbals too hard, then you'll have to resort to some rather unnatural trickery to get things right. Having a drummer with a good ear and sense of balance makes life much easier for everyone.

    Having said that, I'd also agree that ribbon microphones do a good job of taking the edge off. Deadening the reflections in the room also should help...even a little bit of foam can help tremendously, as it's much more effective at higher frequencies than lower. Those movable foam panels that mount on stands can be lifesavers.

  18. tvguru

    tvguru Guest

    Thanks for that. It was one of the questions i forgot to ask!!

    I'm toying with the idear of buying a ribbon mic anyway for accoustic guitar. Do you think the Royer significantly better than the Octava. I assume it must be because if the price, but I few peoplw have mentioned its very good and for $400 I could afford to get that and a new mic pre.
  19. tvguru

    tvguru Guest

    No multiband comp i'm affraid. I do have a 1969 and my vari mu arrives tomorrow (I hope). Would it work using the 1969 with the side chain massively boosted at 4k?

    Thanks for your suggestions they are very helpful. Im borrowing an Octava tomorrow.
  20. coysoundnyc

    coysoundnyc Guest

    you can try the side chain or you can use some plugins, pretty much every daw as a multich comp. available.
    As far as the octava goes I could not tell because I have never used it, but I can tell you that the royer r121 is great for 2 reason:
    1 it have an unreal, full tone
    2 you can place it 1 ft from you amp blowin at 11 and won't break.

    coles does great sounding mics too, but if you hit them too hard the ribbon element will probably get messed up.
    have fun

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