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One or Two mics on snare?

Discussion in 'Drums' started by cruisemates, May 16, 2004.

  1. cruisemates

    cruisemates Active Member

    I started this as a separate topic from SM-57 on snare because I have a different experience. Drummers ALWAYS loved my snare sound and I never used two mics. I "could" have used a bottom mic to add the snare sound, but every time I tried it I dumped it because I didn't need it. I can't think of one session where a drummer asked me "where is the snare sound?"

    For me the key was always WHERE I put the mic, and I never put it over the head. I usually had it a few inches out from the top of the head, just above level with the rim and pointing down at a 45-degree angle. The point was to "mic the drum, not the head" and position the mic so it "saw" (as in a "clear view for the polarity pattern") the entire body of the drum and not just the top head. It worked for me every time, and if anything, I had a lot of sessions where I had to ask the drummer to tighten up the snares or tape them because they were rattling. The result was that you heard the "wood" of the rim in the snare sound. If I needed more or less snare I would change the angle of the mic.

    For me, this gave me a truer snare sound than combining two mics. Doing the top mic that way, I could have added a bottom mic, but I just never needed to.
  2. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure exactly what you are asking here, other than maybe starting a discussion on 1 vs. 2 snare mics.

    I have always used just one mic on the snare top...that is until a few months ago. The first time I tried a mic on the bottom, sold me so that I can't imagine not using one now!

    To me, the snare sound is so important to the overall drum sound that I think that it actually defines the drum sound. Getting the crack of the snare is what it's all about baby!!!

    Just my 2 cents...
  3. cruisemates

    cruisemates Active Member

    The discussion could be "where do you place your close drum mics in relevance to the drum heads?" I never had a problem getting a great snare sound with one mic because I always thought in terms of mic placement, pickup pattern, proximity, etc knowing I had to get the snares. I always strived for that spot where I got a balance of top and bottom (snare) head resonance.

    When people ask me what I think the perfect snare drum sound is I say "an 8-inch wooden shelled snare miked from 2 feet away being hit by a baseball bat" an exaggeration, but the point is that I like to hear the entire drum, especially the "wood" sound of the shell.

    I have heard a lot of BAD two-mic snare recordings (people bringing in masters for remix) where the top mic sounds like someone hitting tissue paper with a chopstick.

    So, I am saying for some engineers I wonder if the top mic is too close to the head. If so then you are not getting the full sound of the drum, you are just picking up the harmonics created in that segment of the head you are focusing in on. I have seen a lot of engineers put tom mics within 1/2 inch of the head, and I just don't think that cuts it. I prefer seeing at least 3 - 6 inches when possible and up to 8 or 10.

    According to mic theory, anything twice the distance from the mic is down 6 dB in volume. Conversely, anything within 1.2 times the distance is fairly audible. Using that rule it isn't hard to get the snares into your snares sound. I know for me I often deal with snares that are too loud and leaking into everything based on drummers adjusting their tension from their sitting position.

    Too close miking is a mistake when you want to hear the entire instrument. I wouldn't recommend two mics on an acoustic guitar, one for the strings and one for the f-hole, so I think a bottom mic on snare - * for me * - is a fall-back position, not an automatic one. If you can do it, I suggest one try getting the snare sound with one mic first, and I believe in many cases the sound will be so perfectly balanced you will decide the bottom mic just adds noise.

    Just my 2-cents...
  4. sneak

    sneak Active Member

    I agree. I want the drum to sound exactly the same way as I hear it when standing close to it. So very close micing is not my sound, I like room mics also very much to further achive that sound.
  5. dale116dot7

    dale116dot7 Guest

    I've come to liking a small-diaphragm tube condensor right by the rim, like a C60+CK1 or that sort of combo, but I like to get a good snare sound in the overheads first, since it's coming through there anyways. But when I add in the snare mic, I blend them (and maybe time-delay the snare mic by a couple ms) to get them sounding nice - and that ratio changes a lot depending on the snare, player, and style. For jazzy stuff I end up using mostly overheads, for teen rock/punk stuff with a cheap kit I use a lot of close mic on everything since the snare itself ain't so good and the players don't know much about tuning them. I'm convinced I need to learn how to tune drums, though I rarely tape them - I do mostly bluegrass and folk.
  6. svart

    svart Active Member

    i found myself doing this the other day experimenting with the snare mics. I agree that the tone and nature of the sound was more natural than micing the heads.
  7. cruisemates

    cruisemates Active Member

    When I was working steadily I was lucky enough to be working in Studio City/Burbank/Hollywood so most of the drummers I worked with were pros with great sounding sets. I love a deep wooden snare, I hate metal ones, or light, thin ones with a high tone.

    Tuning is vitally important with drums, just like intonation is with a bass or guitar. The right heads are important, too.

    I like my drums tuned low... I want the toms to roll like thunder, but not to resonate when playing. I like the snare to have a low presence, too, but I often used a strip of tape to stop the rattle. For the kick the thing that always worked for me was putting a pillow inside against the beater head (but below the point where the beater makes contact) and weighting it down with a mic-stand base. I always had both waiting in the drum booth.

    The high-hat I always miked from above at 45-degree angle looking at the spot where the cymbals meet (NOT directly over them), but about 4 or 5 inches away. You get the sound of the player using the pedal as well as the sticks without getting the whoosh of the air getting pushed out.

    The OHs I varied, sometimes a close pair but more usually more separated at closer to the tops of the cymbals at either end of the set. One thing to keep in mind is that the sound from the side of the cymbal where the mic is between the two arcs of its up and down motion is harsh, but the sound from directly above is sweet and splashy.

    just two more cents . . .
  8. heinz

    heinz Guest

    Where I'm from we call that a room mic. (hee hee)

    Seriously though at 8 or 10 inches from the snare I would think bleed would become a serious issue, especially if you compress it. It depends on the type of music I guess. Honestly I think it's hard to make a snare sound on the snare mic alone, the O/H & room mics play a role in getting that sizzle on top of the thwak. Bottom-snare mikes rarely sound good to me for some reason.
  9. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    My only problem with mic'ing the snare from a distance is that you end up with so much bleed from the other sources, that it becomes similar in sound to the OH's! Also, I and actually getting my snare sound from both close-mic'ed snare mics, plus the OH's, and then also from the room mic...lots of sounds to blend that help pick up the "whole snare" sound you are talking about...

    Good discussion!
  10. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    To each his own, I guess. I have only recently started addind a bottom snare mic, and all I can say is "WOW!".

    It does need to be balanced in the mix obviously, and it does not obliviate the need to get a good sound out of the top mic also, but for me, it really added the "whack" that I was looking for in a rock drum kit.

    So far, I have only mic'ed one maple snare in this way, the other 3 have all been metal, but all 4 drum kits came out with a fantastic sound!
  11. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    Those are all great tips Paul.

    There are definitely a dozen ways or more to skin the old drum cat.

    Keeping your mics up and away is a vary valid way for sure. Those that are worried about bleed should remember that there is always (even with really close micing) bleed. bleed is good. Try micing the whole kit the next time with more of a "cruismates" approach. Any single mic you solo may be a little different than your used to, but as a whole you'll probably find a nice balance.

    2 mics!

    for the really heavy hard rock (or whatever the latest progressive term being used) tape a 451 (with 10db pad) to an sm57. Phase is important. the capsules must be aligned. The way I do this is plug them into the board in the control room with the monitors cut and wearing cans (headphones). Make each mic equal of level in the cans. Flip the 451 out of phase with the 57. Have them parallel and touching, aiming at the area of your mouth. while talking "testing, 1,2,3,4" stuff, slide the 451 up and down until you get the least gain. this will mean they are the most out of phase from each other. Now tape them tight with the gaffers tape. The SM57 can be held with one 57 mic clip and the 451 comes along for the ride.
    Use these as your top mic and another 57 or something else as the bottom mic. You can now add a bit of 451 instead of eq on the snare mic. Some rare types with a lot of mics/pres/time cut all the drums including toms, this way.
    Or like Andy Johns used to do (last album I know of he was normal top & bottom). Use the OH's mostly and mic the side of the shell with one mic.

  12. svart

    svart Active Member

    I have mic'd the shell on a few occasions with a modified mc012 and it sounded tremendous! however it just doesn't fit with the project i'm currently doing(see other thread!)
  13. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    I've gotten a good snare sound out of close micing with an nt1- if you don't ming risking getting it hit it sounds great-
  14. heinz

    heinz Guest

    I'm with ya man on the ambient thing, but sometimes in a close-mic situation I don't want the extra hat or whatever's bleeding into the snare mic magnified if I smash it. And yeah I could gate it or envelope it out, but sometimes I don't want a lot of that hat "kisk" in my snare "whack".

    Just sayin. Like you said million ways to skin a cat. I've seen 30+ mics on a kit, plus a dozen or more room mics work so no doubt it's all about what the music requires.

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