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Good article in latest Recording Magazine - rec'ng drums

Discussion in 'Drums' started by poprocks, Jun 30, 2005.

  1. poprocks

    poprocks Guest

    Though often one long advertisement for gear, this month's issue contained a fantastic discussion of phase issues inherent to recording drums with overheads. The author (can't remember who) gives a detailed example of a great way to fix problems. I jumped right to my DAW and followed his instructions on some recent drums tracks I recorded. To my delight it much improved the kick and snare tone, and most notably the stereo field of the recording. Check it out!

  2. BDFitz

    BDFitz Active Member

    Thanks for the tip.

    The more mics you end up using, the more phasing problems you get. The Earthworks concept (3 mic kit) sounds cool and obviously, some people can get more out of the 2 high end Schoepps than a whole array of mics of lesser quality. I prefer mostly dynamics on the kit with a good condensor on Hi Hat and a pair of tube mics on Overheads. Phasing is always an issue. I'll check it out.
  3. ErikFlipside

    ErikFlipside Guest

    I stopped subscribing to RM a long time ago. What's the trick? Is it nugging the overhead tracks to line up with the kick and snare tracks?
  4. poprocks

    poprocks Guest

    Yeah, more or less. Nudge the snare, tom and kick tracks to line up with the OH's. Also, and this was the little twist that I was missing ... flip the phase of everything except the kick and under snare. Worked magic for my tracks.

  5. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    I don't get it. Why not just flip the phase of the kick and under snare instead?
  6. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    It has to do with how the head starts its cycle, and how its transient is not symmetrical (a drum is not like a sine wave - it is highly asymmetrical on the attack). The top snare mic is going "negative pressure" on the start of the hit (the head is moving away from the mic - rarefraction), and the bottom mic is providing "positive pressure" (moving towards the mic - compression). You want to start with the "positive pressure" (compression) of the wave, so you invert the top snare mic.

    Same with the kick - you want the positive pressure to lead the wave. With the inside mic, or a resonant front head, the "positive pressure" is already reflected properly at the mic. If you mic the batter head by the kick pedal, this may need to be flipped (the head will initially move away from the mic in this case).

    I couldn't see why this would matter until I saw what a Kick Drum's waveform actually looks like, and how we hear its transient as a listner (a drummer may prefer opposite polarity to match how he hears the kit at the throne - with the kick and snare going negatve pressure, or "moving away" from the drummer on initial impact). Makes sense now...

    Something to that effect :cool:
  7. poprocks

    poprocks Guest

    Exactly, Randyman.

    You want the kick to thump you in the face, not suck the air back on the transient.

  8. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Awesome. never really considered it that way before. I thought I was just tricking my mind when I thought it sounded better flipping them that way when I tried it a while ago. :cool:
    Thanks for the further insight
  9. TornadoTed

    TornadoTed Guest

    An interesting article by the sound of it. I guess when you say flip the phase of everything except bass drum and bottom snare you flip the phase on the overheads as well yeah? I'll have an experiment with this technique when I get some time.
  10. wwittman

    wwittman Active Member

    I will only add:

    If you put on your favourite records, the very best recordings you know, of all time...

    ask yourself how many of them recorded drums (or anything else) using those techniques.

    I suspect the answer is NONE.

    learn to put the mics where the sounds work. Then you don't need to "fix" them later.
    Some people seem to ENJOY "needing" to manipulate things in the computer as much as possible.

    I repeat, NO great recordings were made that way.

    Odd, isn't it?, how Dark Side Of The Moon or Abbey Road or WHo's Next or Crime Of The Century and on and on... odd how they have amazing drums sounds without "needing" to align tracks in a computer.

    perhaps it's because they knew how to record.
  11. TheArchitect

    TheArchitect Active Member

    They didn't have digital reverbs and delays either. Doesn't mean they wouldn't have used these techniques if the ability to do so was available to them. What we do is the art of recording, not the art of recording they way they did 30 years ago. To ignore a new tool because Pink Floyd didn't use it (because it didn't exist) seems a little short sighted and a needless handicap to achieveing the goal of recording the best audio possible. Isn't that what the client is paying for?
  12. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    If you can make something today sound as remotely good as any of the records quoted By WW then you'll have little lack of cleints..the real trick to that is mostly with the client though. Biggest Catch-22 or 'em all.
  13. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    <2¢> Actually I would prefer my recordings NOT sound like that. Sure they are great recordings, but my goal is not a retro sound. I am one of the weirdos that likes the crisp, modern sound. Classic stuff recorded in the 60's/70's are not the be-all-end-all of the correct way a record should sound. I don't think any of us really think phase flipping is a cure-all, just another tool that is useful at times. Something to fool around with mostly. I would actually be surprised if the phase wasn't flipped on a mic here and there on at least a few of your favorite tunes.
    Pink Floyd, Beatles, Zep, etc records would be great even if they were recorded on a modern-day DAW. Heck they would still probably turn out great if I was the fool recording them; the music just transcends recording gear sometimes. </2¢>

    With all due respect good sirs.

    BTW: Next session that I have some extra fool around time, I plan on trying the Recorderman micing technique. People say good things. :cool:
  14. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    The only phase problem I really notice are with ride and high hat mics. I never mic the hh anymore because there is already enough in the overheads. When the drummer is going to the toms, they aren't doing much else. Everybody (in rock or metal anyway, even blues and country) demands at least a little sound replacing/drumagog no matter how good the original tracks, which actually helps any possibility of problems. Trimming around the toms in the DAW helps immensly. Trimming the ride also sounds quite nice so the only thing you hear on the track is when the ride is played. Usually I do spaced pair on the overheads, panned 9 and 3...the ride goes hard right (drummer perspective). I haven't noticed any problems with 7-9 mics, just good sound when done right.
  15. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    I don't think WW was referring to making your drums sound like they did in the 70's, I think his point was to avoid phase issues when tracking rather than fixing it in the mix. The kit, heads, tuning and room will determine whether or not it sounds classic or modern.

    I do agree it's nice to have a way to fix a problem that was not apparent when tracking but care taken with mic placement up front can almost make this a non issue.

    BTW Reggie, you're gonna love RM's technique. Not only does it avoid the issue above but the image is fantastic and it really let's the drums sit in the mix perfectly. I can't say enough good things about it. I've been using it for about a year now and have gotten pretty quick at setting it up (in other rooms). Since I do most of my recording in my room (usually my kit also) I dedicated a pair of booms just for this and marked their location on the floor with masking tape. Setup takes all of about 30 seconds since all I have to do is line up the booms and check the distances. Good luck with it.
  16. TheArchitect

    TheArchitect Active Member

    I'm not sure this technique is really intended to fix a 'problem' so much as simply tighten up an already good sounding recording. Lets face it, the OH's are going to be a good distance further away than the spot mic of a given drum. By definition that mic will be slightly out of phase. It may sound just fine as is but this technique has potential for making it better.

    Everyone has their own methods for recording. Its seems odd that people like ourselves who thrive on creativity get so dedicated to techniques refined 30 years ago. Of course they work and we need to know them as a baseline but to believe nothing else has come along since then that is as good or better seems to be a short circuit of audio potential.
  17. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    true..but that's always been the case..pushing the envelope. I guess some of us geezers have come about our opinion from the "fact" (very subjective) that things have past the prime and not really gotten any better even with 30 years of pushing the envelope to do so.

    Still every once in a while....
  18. poprocks

    poprocks Guest

    With all due respect to the "geezers", I wonder if it's really the recording methods that you feel have "past their prime." Could it be the crappy music being churned out by big labels?

    Clearly mic choice and placement, drum tuning and the room are the most important factors in getting great drum tracks. But, if there had been an easy way to tweak tracks back in the day to make them just that much tighter and fuller, every engineer worth their salt would have done it.
  19. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    nice what ifs' ..just not the reality.

    My experience is that their are far fewer well trained bands of musician's than 25+ years ago. Maybe that's why there is such "crappy" music out there. It's not like you surf through myspace and hear some qualitative difference between the unsigned/indy and major label stuff. You guys (current generation) have sat in your bedrooms trying to make records..instead of play, play, play live.

    You don't need to tweak and tighten a well played performance..it's right as it is. Same with the recording aspect as well.
  20. poprocks

    poprocks Guest

    I'll try not to go off on too many tangents here ...

    I agree that one good take always feels better than "the perfect track" which is comp'd from several passes. And I agree that "fixing it in the mix" is a lazy mindset. However, I still have to believe that an engineer should strive to harness all the power that digital editing affords us.

    Gotta go, I have rehearsal. Playing two shows on Saturday. RM, I see you're in LA ... we'll be at the Joint on Pico Saturday night.


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