positive or negative attributes of hi-hats

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by audiokid, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    From a mixing perspective, there is nothing worse than a bad sounding hi-hat in a mix. In some cases, they shout such annoying freq's similar to the annoyance of a baby screaming during a romanic moment, or, 60 cycle him, AC noise, standing wave etc. etc.. I'd rather have no hi-hat than one that is augmenting, exaggerating, contributing, accumulating sss and top end sibilance, including phase swirl to vocals and all other tracks in a mix. They will accumulate positive or negative attributes in everything so all I can say, spend good attention to detail when it comes to a busy track with hi-hats.

    One of the first things I do to improve a mix is to source out the hat-hat + bleed and listen for issues. The worst mixes I hear usually include phasy sibilant hat-hat bleed from poor micing, poor quality gear, bad conversion character and overdubs that have different versions of bleed. They are one of the worst offenders home studio recordings possess but when you get them right, they are equally as awesome for creating feel and life to any song.

    For pop and basic 4 on the floor rock, I'd replace them 9 out of 10 times with my drum replacement arsenal and never look back.

    Being said, if you want to help improve your mix... this is what I deal with all the time.

    For all other music genres, invest in the better gear that can handle their requirements to capture hi-hats accurately. Learn how to track them best you can because they are what I hear as a deal breaker for poor, good, better and best sounding mixes and vocals. They can be like a bad virus that accumulates.

    De-essing isn't really my thing but they can help sometimes. I will more often use object editing in Sequoia to cue out the worst freq.
    What do you do to the accumulating track bleed from room micing or headphone bleed as well?
    What about the clients that use autotune or shift various tracks in their editing or overdubbing process which includes even more pieced together hi-hat bleed or no bleed? Thus creating dynamic phase level swings that are now randomly shifting bar to bar.
    It can get worse.. the client is convinced hybrid analog is the next best thing. Not paying attention to how the voltages are randomly shifting the transients away from the original overhead bleed? Ah, the beauty, pros and cons of round trip processing.
    You not only have bad hi-hat bleed but now hi-hat bleed at a different pitches in a song.

    Same goes for cymbals and crashes. These fast transients and particular freq points demand stellar conversion counterparts and attention to detail.

    From a mixing perspective, how do you deal with hi-hat issues?
  2. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    Do you have any examples of these issues? It really depends on the type of music and what you want to do with the tracks.

    What do you mean by track bleed from room micing? Or autotune or track shifting?

    Your options are filtering, gating, multiband compression/dynamic eqing, or sound replacement when it's bad.
    Hopefully it's not so bad that you have 12 tracks of hihat. Which sometimes happens with a basher and mic placement that is too far way.
  3. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    I'm intrigued by this. I'd like to shoot some video with different techniques etc. Playing around with different ideas and approaches for hihat sounds or even drum sounds in general as it will be all together when you actually mix.

    Do you Chris, or anybody else out there have any suggestions on what you really like or don't like sound wise?.
    You only get better by doing I'd like the challenge and learning experience of trying to get those sounds.. good and bad.
  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I savagely edit noises out of vocals, from death metal to pop. As soon as you eq and compress all that audio garbage rears its ugly head.

    I've struggled with cymbals my whole time. I believe it's due to the generally low quality cymbals drummers use, and drummers hitting them too hard.

    Hi hats have never been a 'problem' per say for me, other than usually they aren't great cymbals and don't have that sweet but soft sssip sssssip sound I hear in my skull. Hats are the only thing I aggressively hpf in the studio on the regular. Easily I've pass at 500hz and above. There's a lot of hollow junk buildup I find, especially in the lower quality cymbals I'm used to.

    Chris how do you replace hi hats? I've heard the opposite approach of overdubbing love cymbals to replace sampled cymbals? Wondering how you approach this.

    Also what would you do in the case where there were OH drum mics also picking up the 'bad' hi hats?

    I will say, that the Vic firth drum headphones aren't super comfy or awesome sounding, but they are decent, and allow an incredibly loud click with no bleed. Worth it for people who like there headphones loud.
  5. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    Are you asking Audio kid or me? haha

    For any drum replacement that I'd have to do from crappy recordings, I use Cubase 7.5 It has a feature or turning audio transients into midi notes.
    It has a threshold and hitpoint marker setup. So the hardest thing is setting the right threshold and getting the exact hit markers. It can be painstaking work.

    Once that's done you just create a midi file and assign a sample to it. You can do the same for overheads to a degree as well for stuff that's a single hit each time. If more than one like a crash and ride at the same time you'll have to create a separate crash midi file for those spots.

    The drag is you don't get the kit sound/vibe in the overheads. But It will be cleaner. You could also try and blend some of the oh with filters/EQ to cut out cymbals etc to add back kit vibe but that might not sound good.
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I think most of the popular DAW's have transient detect/create mid triggers these days; as Chris mentioned, he uses Cubase... Samplitude has this feature as well, I'd be surprised if PT or Logic don't also have features similar to this.

    You can adjust the sensitivity of the transient detection, which can get you very close to just picking up only the HH strikes - you might need to tweak a little here and there - then you simply convert the transients to midi triggers, assign that data to any drum library/replacement sample that you want, and you're on your way.

    When I'm working with a live kit, it's rare that I direct-mic the HH; normally I let the OH array grab it; I find it to be much "silkier" that way, more natural sounding - although it does depend a lot on the room and the OH mics, too.

    I have no issues with replacing live drums with samples. You can still use the live performance, you're not altering that part - which is where your feel/groove comes from - so it doesn't have to sound "programmed".
    And, I don't always replace all the drums with samples, sometimes it's just snare, or sometimes just snare and kick. And, I've also mixed in the live OH's with the replacement samples, too. Engaging an HPF on those tracks can be helpful to lighten the kick and snare that might otherwise clash with the new replacement sounds.

    Drum samples have come a long way in just a few short years. BFD, Slate, Superior, etc., have all created quality samples that rival that of any miked-up kit - often times they're even better, especially when compared to the results of recording live drums in the sonic environment(s) of the typical home studio, where you're often dealing with limited space, low ceilings, odd acoustic signatures and reflections, nulls, standing waves, etc.

    I wouldn't go as far to say that this technology is limited only to home studios, either...
    Even on the professional/commercial levels, I'd bet that at least 30% of the drum tracks we hear on current commercial releases uses some form of sample-replacement technology.

    Sample replacement isn't new, either... Roger Nichols ( R.I.P.) has been recognized for the invention of his drum sample replacement system - a computer he built himself that he referred to as "Wendel" - which he introduced and used on Steely Dan's 1978 Gaucho album, most notably on the song Hey Nineteen, where he used a sampled snare, kick and percussion. Wendel was used again in 1981, on Fagan's Nightfly album, (arguably) one of the finest sounding albums of its time.


  7. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    I remember getting a ZZTop greatest hits album. They used something like an Alesis D4 to trigger from the original tracks of the drums and replaced all the drum sounds on some of the older songs like Tush.

    Old Version

    New Version
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm sure you can hear that the drums aren't the only thing that's different between those two mixes... one is very obviously "70's" in production and sound; the other sounds more "modern"; the HH is silkier and less "brash", the snare has more space, depth, and even some "beef" down around 240 or so. The guitars are panned and EQ'd differently, I'm also hearing effects on the LV that weren't on the original LV, which was very dry and up front - the second version LV has what sounds like maybe a short delay, or maybe a room type of verb - maybe even both.

    ZZ Top started out as a straight-up rock and blues trio - kinda like any good bar band you would have heard then. When they first came out, they never really used much studio processing or special effects - in their early mixes, the sonics were always very "honest". But then the 80's came along, and they started sounding like an entirely different band, their mixes began sounding quite processed, most noticeably with the guitars, but certainly with drums and vocals, too.

    Any idea on when the second version was done? Just curious... IIRC, the D4 came out around '90/'91 or so, so it would have been then or after.

    I am hearing what I'm almost certain to be is the D4's "Air Burst" snare patch on the second version ( I think it was patch number 38? LOL.. yeah, ask me how I know ...isn't that sad? LOL. I still have a D4 around here somewhere; it still works, but the LCD is out, so I can't see any of the parameters to tweak the patches... )

    I used the D4 a lot in those days - having the ability to trigger and replace drum sounds was something that was really new then, and it turned out to be a very popular module with a lot of mid-level engineers; in fact, you were hard-pressed to not see one in any studio. With 12 standard 1/4" jacks - with separate ins for each instrument/trigger - and the ability to internally tune, gate and tweak the X-Talk and X-Over of each patch individually ( and easily, too) made it a very flexible module for replacing drums. All samples were at 48k/16 bit ... And while we might kinda chuckle at those specs now, those numbers were actually quite respectable for that time. ;)

    Thanks for posting the vids, Chris. It's cool to hear the differences between the two. :)
  9. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    I can't remember I think it was early nineties to mid nineties. I assume it's a D4 for the sounds. It also could be a DDrum as they were another big dog back then in electronic drum kits/triggers.
  10. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    That shows the contrast of the same tracks being remixed with gear 15 years or so later haha,, Big difference.
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    The reason I guessed the D4 was because the snare sounds very, very similar to the "air burst" snare I used to use quite a bit - back when I was frequently using the D4 to replace poorly recorded live drum tracks.

    Though I'm sure other drum modules probably had snare samples that sounded similar ( or maybe even identical ) to it as well. It was just a sort of "muscle memory" kind of thing; kinda like how you can pick out a DX7 "Rhodes" patch ( which sounded nothing like a real Fender Rhodes, btw)....the second I heard it, I thought " Ahh.. that's a D4 Air Burst Snare, uhmm, patch # 38..." because that one was one of my main "go-to" snare patches back when I was using the D4. ;)
  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I still have a D4 in my live rig.. I use it's sounds as click track ! :)
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I would wholeheartedly agree that one of those itchy little annoying things that can destroy the feel and power of a mix can be the hat. I quit even listening to drummer's hats when they come in my room. That may sound like a bit of a pompous attitude but it is based on real-time real-life experiences. I have a nice old set of Zildjian hats. These things wouldn't cut through a jazz room live mix as faras volume goes but with a mic on them they are really really sweet. So I insist upfront. And I explain why. Most good drummers aren't idiots and they will certainly give things a try. When I can't get them to bite, we go to the next level.....superior mic technique and gear. This will sometimes include a compromise on the drummers part of moving his hats just a bit and being able to position the snare mics and phase the kik mics to eliminate most of the bleed. Then placement of the mic on the hats. If the drummer keeps a chik as a time device with the hat foot, I will move the mic to the edge...if he bashes and holds it slightly open for sustaining I will angle the mic sometimes almost 90 degrees away from the snare side....this is an extreme number but I'm not afraid of the results. It doesn't happen often either. I ALWAYS use a Neumann KM184. Nothing else gets close to natural and has the range to capture a large amount of different brass. I use a secret weapon mic pre for this. (sssshhhh don't tell anyone) Presonus Eureka. Single channel strip. It has everything you need. Its sorta frozen to my settings for the hats and I saw no need for something else when this works so brilliantly. When all else fails (it rarely does) I will replace it. Its a fine line getting the overheads and the bleed from the old hat to sync and sound natural. I record a lot of REAL bands and this is a factor in my decisions and choices. I RARELY completely replace a drum sound. Its got to be organic and real. At least real
  14. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Before samplers it was gated pink or white noise lol. Also tush was inspired in the studio cuz one of the guys held that key down on the keyboard, they ended up using just that one 'note' for the basic bed of that track and wrote on from there. I forget if it was a moog or another model.

    I rarely completely replace, I usually blend samples in for consistency or just clean reinforcement. Nirvanas nevermknd had drums samples "for ambience", didn't thriller have a linn drum on it or something.? I think bob rock was notorious for "flying in" sections too.

    And like I always say, before technology they just had a group of studio musicians to play on every song. Have the artist sing over it, send it next door to the radio station. That's just as manufactured as any other synthesized song. musicians have been being replaced on their own records since probably the dawn of pop in the 50s. I'm pretty sure it's Charlie Parker and the Boston symphony on their own recordings lol, but as soon as dawn of pop and FM, you get an image factor, and a business model. It's fascinating how relatively new the recording/sound reproduction arts really are.

    +1 on eurekas! Those thing rock, and are a sure fire bang for your buck channel strip. Tough to beat. I've used them on snares lead vocals guitars drum overheads. Very nice.
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    The Eureka's ONLY function is the hi-hat mic. I have plenty of other channels for everything else. It's kinda funny.....I came across this out of necessity rather than searching for this. I had a group in for some tracks and they wanted to all play at once and they weren't particularly concerned about bleed as this was to be more of a songwriting demo for material they had been in rehearsal for and wanted to get a handle on how it might flesh out as a multi-track recording before they went into a big room to work. So every channel got filled with something. I mic'd it all like we were going for the ONE. I was down to my last channel and the drummer wanted a hat mic "just in case".....So the only preamp left was the Eureka. I fiddled with the settings for about an hour while he played all sorts of hat riffage....using the EQ, the comp, the drive, all in different orders like the box allows and all of a sudden just when it seemed that this was going to be a utility capture without any hope of it being right the Dial Gods directed it to a setting and BANG, there it was. This was on his hats...a pair of old Paiste 2002's that sizzled like high-grade bacon and had a kind of snap when keeping the chik so I didn't really think it would carry over to another set. After they tracked a couple and took a break I asked the drummer if we could put up my old hats for fun and experiment. He said yes and the rest has been history. Like I said, I don't touch this pre in any way for anything other than hih-hats and so far the "magic setting" seems to work for everything with only the mic placement as a variable. So...KM184>Presonus> PT. Done. Next. And to think I was going to sell it........
    kmetal likes this.
  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I've used the eurekas instead of things like Manley tube press and 1176/Tula 100, it's nobody's neve, but useful piece. Nice happy accident d dog!

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