Hi-hat bleed (not samplers) is killing the drummer profession in the studio

Discussion in 'Hi-Hats' started by zblip2, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. zblip2

    zblip2 Active Member

    Hi I work in a recording studio. Each time I record and mix a drum, I find myself spending more brain energy figuring out hout to make the drums sound as good as a sampler track without having too much hi-hat in the mix. This is sad. Drummers sound better and play better then computers, but the hi-hat bleed issue makes many producers and engineers think twice about going through the trouble of recording drums for a project. Sometimes the recorded drums dont sound as good as the drum machine track in the mix, the reason being hi-hat bleed in the snare drum. If we lived in a world without hi-hat bleed, I guess drummers would be working more in studio gigs. Does what I say make sense?
  2. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    I've never had that problem... experiment with different placement of hi-hat & snare relative to one another, and close-mic the snare with a dynamic mic that points away from the hi-hat.
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    mic the hi hat on the outside edge and you'll be standard. you could high pass the snare track. could also just layer some samples into the track. just tell the drummer to ease up on the hi hat.
  4. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    It may be an issue of the way that you're approaching how to mic up the drumkit. Close mics are best thought of as fill-ins, a way of changing the balance of the drum sound being picked up by the main microphones which record the whole drumkit. Spill, in that sense is what you're recording, the close mics just give you a bit of level control, a way of making something a bit louder in the mix to taste. Look into the Glyn Johns method.

    You could also use some sophisticated audio-repair software to wipe the hihats out of the snare mic.

    Also, do bear in mind that an acoustic-labyrinth cardioid microphone uses a pretty fudgey system to achieve a polar response, so the sound quality that you will get from a sound emanating to the rear of, for example, an SM58 will be pretty ropy. In some respects I'd rather get a bit more spill by using an omni, and achieve separation by putting the mic really close to the skin. The off-axis sound will be much nicer in quality.

    You should also get the drummer to put the hihats, and also the other cymbals, up as high as possible. A foot and a half between the snare and hihats really helps. The choice of hihat cymbal is fairly important, too. A good, thin jazz set, such as Zildjian Ks is advisable for studio use. A good drummer will be able to tone down the level of the hihat playing if you ask them, too.

    If you're really, really bothered, and want total separation, I guess you could switch the hihat for a rubber-coated trigger, pintech do some good ones. Most drummers would not be too happy about that, though.
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I agree with the comments above about equipment, mic placement, etc. But there is a more central problem of frame of reference.

    (emphasis added)

    So which is it? Is the sound in your head a collection of samples or is it a live kit? I think there are a lot of people out there who cut their teeth on modern music production for whom the reference standards for recorded drums are samples. Samples are what a drum set should sound like to them. But...real drums don't sound like that. And (while there are lots of tricks like parallel compression to give live drums more punch) sometimes you can do more harm than good trying to make a real kit sound like a collection of samples.

    If samples are the sound in your head, the sound that you want, there is no shame in using techniques like replacement to give you the feel that you want. As you say, recording live drums is a lot of work if it's not really the sound you are looking for.

    The aesthetic for live drums is different. You need to listen to older recordings, listen to live drums. Practice recording the whole kit with one or two mics. Again, if it's not what you want there is no rule that says you have to go with this sound.
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    what Bob said. here's the deal. samples are recorded one hit at a time. live drums have the cymbals and hat going all the time. there will be blood (spill). compression only makes spill worse. i love live drums and there's nothing better than a great drummer but you have to understand there's something wrong with a person who wants to spend a large portion of their lives hitting things. these are damaged people, these drummers. the fact that they are damaged is proven by their willingness to hang around with musicians.

    the best studio drummers learn to dig into the snare and toms while playing the cymbals softer. they "mix" themselves. they set the toms flat and low for a better stick attack, put the cymbals up way high to minimize spill as much as possible and place the hat as far as possible from the snare and the kick to minimize spill. a drummer like this can be gated or downward expanded and compressed for more punch with less spill issues.

    you're going to run into your bashers of course. i can almost tell how good a drummer is going to be even before they play a hit, by the way there kit is set up. invariably, the basher is going to be the one who sets the ride cymbal 2 inches above the floor tom and places the hat right on top of the snare and then wails away on the brass. a lot of times these cretins have cracked cymbals.

    there's not much you can do other than gating / expanding and triggering samples using radical eq to filter the trigger signal or to eq / filter all the lows and much of the mids out of the overheads getting most of the kit through the kick, snare and tom mics. in these cases i usually just turn the hat mic off and only bring up enough of these filtered eqe'd overheads to add some sheen to the cymbals. really a back ak asswrds way to do it but it is sometimes the only solution. somtimes it takes both eq filters and gating triggering replacement hits. in DAWs you can just draw out everytnig between drum hits and then trigger replacment samples.
  7. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    I wouldn't do that. The hi-hat plays a much bigger dynamic part in a groove than the snare. So instead of using a sampled hi-hat I would add a good sample to the snare. Don't replace it completely. Mix you drums with the mic tracks as good as you can. If the hi-hat is too loud then try cutting some frequencies in the snare mic and/or turn the volume of the snare down until you have the desired hi-hat volume. Than add a nice (multi) sample to your snare (be careful with phase alignment) and bring that up until it sounds right and loud enough.
    you could also make your own samples of the actual snare and add this, if you want exactly the sound of your snare.

    way better than replacing the hi-hat with a rubberboard. and more likely to be accepted by any drummer.
  8. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    It's a drastic idea, but if you want a certain sort of really drum-machine hihat sound, which can be buried deeper in the mix, it can be done. In actual fact, I've even seen quite a few people doing that for live shows, although in that case they usually have a real hihat as well, and use them from song to song to achieve various effects. Same with kick drum, sometimes people are looking for a triggered drum-machine sound rather than an acoustic one. In that case, you can use a trigger pad.

    Wouldn't replace a real cymbal with a trigger just for the purpose of decreasing spill, that's for sure.
  9. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    I am actually doing this! :) Though I'm playing a complete e-drum kit live, which is ok because I can set the whole kit up in about 15 minutes (when I'm in a hurry) and combined with our digital mixer with total recall we are ready to go in 30 minutes (if we have to, which sometimes is the case)

    But in a studio situation I prefer an acoustic kit or at least acoustic cymbals. a real hi-hat is so much more dynamic and has many more nuances than any electronic trigger pad.

    If you want that electronic/sampled sound than it's something completely different.
  10. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    Here's the sort of setup I'm talking about, mixing sampled sounds with acoustic ones:


    Attached Files:

  11. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    And the other side:

    Attached Files:

  12. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Nice kit! Is that Andrew Small's? ;-)

    But he's using a real hi-hat and additional trigger pads.
  13. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    Yup, it is indeed Andrew Small's. Lots of the Massive Attack material he was using the pads to produce the electronic hihat sounds, quite often layered on top of acoustic hihat, so both at the same time, one with each hand.
  14. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    I like hybird set ups like this. Gives you room and possiblities for experimenting.
  15. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    In response to zblip2's question, regarding how to get your drums to sound more like sampled drums, it's relatively easy. Problems with too much hi hat? Maybe you just need more cowbell? LOL, but seriously though, use of gates, is the first place to start. You gate your bass drum, snare drum, tom-tom's and your hi hat. And then whatever else you choose to do with your overheads? You can take those as is or, you can squash and gate the crap out of those as well. Then all of your drums will start to sound like sampled drum kits. So you're working in a studio and you didn't know this yet? So you were only doing cassette duplication until last week? I mean all those other examples of cool hybrid drum kits is certainly another way of getting that kind of sound. But I basically deal with real percussionists playing real drum sets. And a good set of traps with a good musician playing them usually results in superb recordings that brings more to life.

    I personally like using my external old-fashioned analog hardware but I've done the same within Cool Edit Pro/Adobe Audition's built-in dynamics processing. But hi hats causing problems? I've never really had that problem? I think you're talking about operator error? Of course some of this might have to do with whatever kind of musical genre you are dealing with, which you didn't indicate? But what I'm talking about should span across quite a wide range of pop music drum recording. From jazz and gospel to death metal.

    I love gating drums
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  16. zblip2

    zblip2 Active Member

    I'm not a pro at micing stuff, but I have a pretty good ear for mixing, I'm a musician myself. Of course we can get around the basic hi-hat blead issue, by gating etc. But I think that there is a fondamental flaw in the desing of drums in regards to recording. When we record the singer we put him in a booth. Whell, the drum is like a mini band and the snare is the signer. It is getting eaten up by the hi-hat and it's been like that for so long that people has just taken it for granted. In the best of worlds (a world without hi-hat bleed) the drums would sound a hec of a lot better. Better than a sampler cause you'd get the performance and the sound alltogether.
    Even if you think you dont have a hi-hat bleed issue, you have one. You are making compromises: you are not compressing as much as you would like to, you are gating the snare (loosing a bit of the attack on the snare and gost notes maybe), you are not EQing the snare track as much as you would like in the top end, etc... All this because of hi-hat bleed.
  17. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    You are simply describing improper microphone selection, placement and bad recording technique when it comes to Hi-Hat problems, affecting the recording of your snare drum. So while you say you think you know what you're doing, you obviously don't. I'm not trying to be hard on you but come on now, other engineers like myself don't have this problem or issue. Maybe you are using some kind of stupid condenser microphone on your snare drum and not a 57 or a Sennheiser 421? And yeah, then you would have that kind of problem, especially without gating your snare drum. And even though the gate may take a small slice out of the initial transient of the snare drum, the overheads make up for that. And that's the way it's done. That's how you get some beef out of the snare drum and where your hi hat will no longer be a problem. This is the way good drum recordings are done. Your drum recording is not good because of inexperience and a lack of proper basic necessary knowledge. And being a recording engineer is a little like being a brain surgeon. Not everyone is up to that task. You might have the desire? But you may not have the expertise or the talent that's really required to do a good job? Because that my friend, is a beginner issues you are having problems with. It's wanting to work for a studio, getting coffee, sweeping the floors, taking care of duplication. It's another thing being a professional who can deliver a professional product. If you haven't heard a good gated drum set, then ya haven't been listening to many good recordings. I get great drum mixes in mere minutes, not hours. That might be different if you're trying to develop some kind of new avant-garde musical style? Unfortunately I found that most avant-garde music ain't worth listening to. It's modern poop. State of the art crap. Musical nausea. So what kind of musical genre are you talking about? Good rock 'n roll I would think? No? Hip-Plop/wrap? Henry Metal or, Death Solder? Gospel? Or, a musical rendition of the evening news paper? So how do you think other people get good drum mixes and recordings? Just setting up a couple of microphones, turning up the volume controls and voilĂ ? Sometimes, that actually works well that way, depending upon the drum kit and the musician playing them. But then sometimes you want that tight, huge, fat, punch you in the face like sound. And you get that when you gate your drums. There is no problem with lopping off that first 1 ms. You aren't losing anything but your mind I can assure you.

    So a better solution may be had if you could actually include some comprehensive information as to how your drums are set up, who's drums and cymbals they are, what microphones are in use and where you have placed them? You're asking a question and then including your own reasons for the problem which you really have no understanding of what so ever. So is this a question or a comment you are making? Even that is unclear here. So how can you expect to become a better engineer if you can not properly verbalize what issues are confronting you? Most information you might think you know and might tell me, I already know to be incorrect. So don't bother telling me what the problem is because you really don't know what the problem is. I want to know what you're doing and with what so I can help you fix the issues you are having. Your information of I work for a studio says nothing. So let's get with the program and on the right track or tracks, please. I suppose you do not also understand how to utilize phase or phase inversion to your best advantage? In many situations with drum miking, phase can be utilized to cause good cancellation. Otherwise it can be completely screwed up causing all sorts of phase cancellation and comb filtering. You can get a particularly good sound by merely inverting the phase of the bass drum microphone. There will be a certain kind of cancellation effect that will bolster the thud of the bass drum and punch it out instead of making your woofers suck. Quite literally suck. Meeting the woofers are traversing in the wrong direction every time the bass drum hits. You don't put microphones under any other drums do you? Well sticking a microphone inside a bass drum is like putting your other microphones underneath the other drums. And when you put a microphone underneath the snare drum you must phase invert that microphone in comparison to the top microphone on the snare drum. And then you gate them both together. Put that on your hi hat and smoke it. Hi hat problem my ass....

    Drum recording 101
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  18. zblip2

    zblip2 Active Member

    Thanks for trying to help. Micing drums isn't my specialty, I must admit. But I'm not a total incompetent, after all I have 20 years experience in studio, got a couple of awards for best sound, Oscar nomination etc. So all that you are talking about, I sort of already new about. I'm just talking theoretically, I don't have a particular issue with my drum micing setup, nor am I asking for help. It is just a general observation. I just think that a drum set is an imperfect concept in regards to exploiting the full sonic potential of its individual parts. I don't need you explaining to me that some of us should stick to serving coffee while others like you are professionals. It's kind of way besides the point. When I was saying "Even when you say you have no hi-hat bleed issue, you have it reality" I was not talking about "YOU", it was only to demonstrate that micing a drum forces us to make compromises in the way we would like the drums to sound during the mix. One can not compress nor EQ it as much as he would like to without, at some point, having hi-hat issues. I was just imagining a world without hi-hat bleed, and how good drums would sound... It is the reason some producers record hi-hats on a different take even it he risks messing up the playing feel. Maybe I'm wrong to think this...
  19. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i think your last remark is the correct assumption. think of a drum set as one instrument. you should be able to record a drum set with 1 mic. after that everything is "frosting".

    the way you are thinking of drums (several separate elements combined) would be the same as considering a guitar as 6 different instruments ... each string being it's own voice. this comes from working with samplers and drum machines instead of real acoustic instruments. if you are having an issue with the hat being played to loud have the drummer back off. perhaps they are playing with the hat 1/2 open? that always kills a drum track. make them close the hat. drummers tend to prefer the most obnoxious sounds. they must be controlled!
  20. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    So you seem to be just as accomplished as I am. However your original posting came off like you are having issues and don't know how to correct for it?... It's not a problem... it's audio engineering. And, unfortunately, I generally assume that most accomplished engineers don't have problems with this. So the posting was moot. Advice or technique for those that might have an issue, was not really expressed in your post. Personally speaking, I take your a lot of this, before bed and into the wee hours of the morning when my thought process also gets rather convoluted. So I too have posted responses with technical advice for my brain switched over to a previous post from earlier combining the two in my brain at offering up something that had nothing to do with the original question. So sorry about that chief. My bad. I was just trying to express that this isn't not been an issue for me spending more than 40 years. Especially those of us that understand the true root of the term audio engineering. With Oscar nominations, you obviously understand that. Others think it's plugging in a couple of microphones and why doesn't it sound like a hit record?

    I don't necessarily consider this to be a free education site by posting problem oriented threads to inspire discussion. Nice for sharing some new technology and answering questions for those that have them. At which point I frequently include suggestive techniques and explanations, as audio engineers do in our professional life. So I basically misinterpreted your post. I apologize for any of my condescending commentary. No offense was intended to another professional. Though I don't usually have problems offending amateurs especially when they post questions and when I post a suggestion, they then tell me how they're going to do it their way and still wonder what the problem is. Where it becomes painfully obvious to me that you can't fix stupid. I had a great mentor for over 10 years. Two in fact. And I'm here to mentor but not necessarily to post classroom projects. So this was a missed conception on my part LOL.

    I've given birth to all sorts of faux pas's
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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