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triangular drum mic setup issues

Discussion in 'Drums' started by Unregistered-curtis, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. i'm having trouble controlling the volume of the cymbals in relation to the rest of the kit when using a three mic triangular set up.
    the set up is two overheads, one above far side of the floor tom rim, pointing at the centre of the snare batter head, the other is the same distance from the snare horizontally but much higher up over the hi hat, again pointing at the snare. then i have a kick drum mic about a metre from the kick at the height of the top of the kick.
    the drums all sound great but the cymbals are too loud, and if i turn the overheads down i lose too much tone from the snare and toms. does anyone have any suggestions for mic placement, eq, levels, etc, that could help me.

  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Go to the Recorderman website and read VERY CAREFULLY how to use 3 mics on a kit. It can be done beautifully with great results. Helps to know what mics you're trying to pull this off with, as well.
  3. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    This seems to me to be more Glyn Johns method than Recorderman - if you check out the Johns tutorials, it is important that you not point your "OH" mics directly at cymbals.
    The key to both of these methods is getting a full kit "picture".
    If you're getting too much cymbal, you need to reposition your mics.

    And like moonbaby said, certain mic types work better than others for these methods.
    Difficult to know what the problem is w/o more info.

    It's about mic placement, and choice, first. Play with that, then worry about EQ, levels.
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I think the thing here is to go one mic at a time. First position the mic over the snare. Do whatever you have to do to get a balanced picture with that: move it away from the cymbals, point it away, move it down, up, whatever works. Also, pay attention to positioning the set in your room. You may want to get closer to the walls, farther away, etc. It's worth spending some time working with that one mic to get the best possible picture of the kit. If you want to spend a few dollars this tutorial concentrates on this question - micing a kit with one mic (a vintage C12 - life's tough). I don't know if you'll consider it worth the money since it doesn't really come up with any magic formula, but it does demonstrate the effect of moving the mic, moving a gobo, moving the kit in the room, etc.

    After you get the best sound out of one mic, build up the sound with the additional mics. If the first is balanced, the second and third are going to be that much easier.
  5. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Bob's got some good advice here, and it's advice I often forget - because I took the wrong approach.
    Too often we want 8+ mics on a kit, because we have more options, right?

    Well, as he points out... it's about a balanced picture.
    One might assume it's easy enough with 3 mics - but, I think his emphasis on learning to get the picture right w/ one mic is justified.
    Once you learn that, then 2 and 3 mics.

    It's really pretty asinine to start w/ 8 mics and try and get them balanced, much less get a sum that does a good job of capturing the sound of an entire kit in a room.
    Add in guitars, bass, and vocals, and the job gets more difficult.
    I did just that, and had to do a lot of working backwards before I started getting good drum tracks.
    (Actually I started w/ 5, but the point remains!)

    Even though I'm starting to get known in town for drum tracking (primarily because of my rooms)...
    Sometimes the full picture is a little fuzzy, and Bob tells us why.
    I may get some thumping raw tracks that sound good together, but they start to lose focus as all the other song elements come into play.

    Recording/Mixing is more a subtractive process than an additive one.
    That is, as more is added, more is subtracted from the original sound - elements start stepping on each other.
    While some selective EQ can help this in the mix, starting w/ a great overall kit sound will reduce the subtractive effects of adding more elements.
    That's why sometimes a single mic in a room can give the best sound - nothing's been watered down yet.

    It's sort of like trying to fit a lot of people into a phone booth -
    You can do all the massaging and repositioning you want, but it will always be easier if the people you've got are lean and tight, as opposed to flabby and loose.
    And sometimes, you only need one person in the booth to make it work.

    Does this make sense? Or at least help reinforce Bob's points?
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I have to admit that by default I record 8 mics now (two overheads, snare top and bottom, kick and three toms). I seldom use the tom mics in the mix. (I have 421s on them and they sound great, but I have plenty of them from the overheads most of the time.) The mix is usually the overheads, a good bit of kick, a touch of top snare, a little more bottom. I went through the process you describe. Starting out with too many mics. Trying to do too much in the mix. Ending up with an unnatural sound. (More on the subject of the Attack of the 50 ft Drumset below.) Cutting back to two or three mics. Eventually adding back mics but using them sparingly.

    The thing that people get caught up in is that the close mics are easy to record. Then you can spend a huge chunk of time getting each individual drum sounding just the way you like it with compression and eq. But then you have to put it all back together. I guess if you spent a lot of time programming a drum machine before you started recording, this last step is pretty easy. But for most of us it take some time to learn to do well. But even then the wild card is the overheads. They both include the entire kit and can introduce a lot of phase problems if not positioned carefully.

    The good thing about the Recorderman and Glyn Johns methods is that they give a great formula for the relative position of the two overheads so that they have minimal phase issues. The thing that they don't emphasize is position of the first mic. Yeah, they give a guess - two drumstick lengths over the snare for Recorderman, same over the "center of the kit" for Johns - but it's crazy to think those positions work for any kit, any drummer, any room. To me, moving that first mic around to get the best sound in a given situation is crucial.

    BTW, since I got a Royer SF12 and tried it on overheads I have another method for positioning the second overhead: put it in the same place as the first mic. Yes, it's called coincident stereo pair (XY, M/S, Blumlein) and it's been around as long as stereo recording. But I liked the Royer in Blumlein so much that I tried a pair of 414s in XY on a session where I was using the Royer on guitar and vocals. I was really pleased with the sound. (Though I liked the Royer better.) The coincident techniques give a narrower stereo image than spaced pairs, so they aren't as good for someone who wants to pan the toms across the entire stereo field. But I'm not a fan of that kind of panning. It might make sense from a drummer's point of view, but from an audience perspective it's like the drum kit takes up the entire stage.
  7. x_25

    x_25 Active Member

    Something I read somewhere (maybe fromrecordermans origenal post?), and am finding it to be very true, is don't try to record the cymbals, record the rest of the kit. The cymbals are loud ans obnoxous enough to get in there anyway.
  8. Mysterious Squirrel

    Mysterious Squirrel Active Member

    You know, I spent ages trying to find the best way to mic up drums and the problem being, you never want nor need the same drum sound twice. You will find ample well meaning advice but by far the most successful method I have found is to place mics around and above at equal distances and feed each mic via its own path onto a recorder, preserving each input and then, listen back and tinker until it sounds as you want it, not how some other cloth eared clot thinks it should sound. Trying to feed the entire drumkit into one track means you have no control over the sound as a whole.

    Also, the room you're recording in makes a difference. Experiment with hanging dustsheets or drapes so to enclose the kit and drummer. This will change the overall sound and ward off echo. If you want echo, put it on yourself later.

    And one final tip - microphones are just like speakers, which are just car engines. The more pistons you have, the less each piston has to work to produce the same power as an engine with less pistons. Likewise, while thre mics is better than one, five are better than three. Three each side, one overhead and one kick is pretty damn well perfect.

    Good luck

  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I doubt that we are all that far apart on the actual tracking and mixing of a kit, but I want to disagree with the general philosophy of these two paragraphs. The first paragraph comes off like you are arguing for the mix engineer taking maximum control in every session. Now, of course there are times when the drummer sucks, and we are still supposed to make the song sound as good as possible. But if the "cloth eared clot" behind the drum set knows his business I'd rather just put his work out there for everyone to hear. Again, I record with eight mics, but I'd really rather turn most of them off.

    I really dislike the car engine analogy. If we are looking for "power" we can just push a fader or adjust a compressor. Multiple mics don't give power, they just give us more control. If we do too much of this, the recording session is simply an inefficient way of collecting samples. Might as well leave the job of recording samples to someone else and use midi to program the drums. I also object to the "more mics the better" thrust of this post because (while it might be good practice for someone experienced) it's bad advice for someone starting out. Close micing is easier (so you never learn the basics of placement), and mixing eight mics without creating a phase muddled mess takes a lot of practice.

    Again, we may not disagree about any of the actual practice of tracking and mixing, but I disagree with the things you chose to emphasize in this short post.

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