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unique drum micing situation, advice needed.

Discussion in 'Drums' started by tr3eman9, May 6, 2008.

  1. tr3eman9

    tr3eman9 Guest

    here is my situation:

    my drummer has a shitload of drum mics and a shitload of drums, a huge set, and likes to use them all when redcording. He also has a Peavey PV20 mixer with 16 mic inputs. This is what we use for live sound but we are about to start recording using it.

    I have a MOTU 8pre audio interface that we have previously used. We were planning, however, on using the PV20 instead since obviously that has twice the inputs and we want as many inputs as possible since we're talking 11 drum mics, plus bass and rhythm guitar being recorded at the same time.

    Unfortunately we have discovered upon closer inspection that the PV20, although it has a USB output, only outputs the main outs (left and right), through this, not each individual channel (like a regular audio interface would). This means we can't go back and really edit or mix the channels after they are recorded.

    So what I think we're going to to do is this: put all the drum mics into the PV20. Mix them on this mixer as well as possible (by this point the drummer is very good at doing this) to minimize the amount of post-recording mixing we need to do.
    Then we are going to split the mics into four groups. Group one will be panned totally left, group 2 totally right, group 3 will be muted in the main mix but mixed in the MON1 mix, and group 4 will be muted in the main mix but mixed into the MON2 mix. Each of these groups will then have its own output (The left output, right output, MON1 send, and MON2 send).

    These four outputs will go into the first four channels of my MOTU. Two MOTU inputs will be used for bass and rhythm guitar. The last two MOTU inputs will be used for the left and right drum overheads.

    So basically, after recording the drums, we will have the ability to mix, edit, EQ, etc., the four different drum mic gorups, but not the individual mics in each group. For example if we put all the cymbal mics in one group, we can do whatever we want to all the cymal mics tpgether, but not to any individual one. So as you can imagine this requires some careful planning as too exactly what mics will go in what group. The overheads are spoken for, these will be on their own tracks so we can get some good stereo image of the drums and body etc.

    So what im asking is, how should I group the remaining 9 drum mics. I'm not sure of exactly where he puts each one, but i belive they are something like:
    a kick mic
    a snare mic
    a high hat mic
    2 cymal mics
    4 tom mics (one for each tom)
    he has like a million cymals by the way.

    i was thinking of doing this: putting the snare, HH, and kick on one group, since later I can use EQ on my computer to seperate the kick from the snare and HH. So that way the kick will be on its own track on the computer, and the snare and HH will be together. Then i was gonna put all the cymals together in one group, and then have the upper toms and the lower toms in seperate groups.

    is this a good idea? can you think of a better way to solve my problem? will my bass-snare-HH thing work?

    thanks in advance

    PS the mics are all SM57s except the kick drum mic which is a nice fancy kick drum mic, dont know what kind, and the overheads (also dont know the make).
  2. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    How about going straight to MOTU with probably better preamps with guitar 1, bass 2 , kick 3, snare 4, overhead 1 and 2 thru 5 and 6, and submixing the 7 other probably unnecessary drum mics through the Peavey to stereo and into MOTU 7 & 8?

    11 mic drums are going to create a headache for you. Or even the first six, with two more strategically placed drum mics going into MOTU 7 & 8..if it's really necessary...and perhaps skip the Peavey?

    Just because you have them doesn't mean you HAVE to use them. May be a large kit, but when you get that many that close, you will likely have phasing problems, and lack of separation, anyway. Take the problems compounded by one unnecessary one, and for each other one, it's exponentially multiplied.

    But, that's just my opinion. We'll see what others have to say. :wink:

    BTW, each channel on the Peavey has an insert that you could probably run out of and into the MOTU if you wanted to use those for some reason. Won't be digital, and you'll be running through extra stages, though.

    Good luck,

  3. Sheehan-J

    Sheehan-J Guest

    I'm with Kapt.Krunch. I'd skip the Peavey and just use 6-8 mics straight into the 8pre. 2 OH's, Snare, Kick, and 4 toms gives you 7 mics. If you want, you can throw in a hi hat mic, but i find it sort of unecessary since the hi hat is very well picked up in the overheads. It sounds like you're making more work for yourself than you need to. It's very possible to get a good drum sound with 3 or 4 mics, so don't discount the 'less is more' philosophy when micing drums.

    good luck!
  4. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    I agree with KK. No need for separate hihat channel, submix all the toms into one bus and use mixer's inserts to feed AD.

    Sometimes just kick, snare and two carefully placed overs are all you need.
  5. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    +2 for Kik, Snare and two OH's... done.

    MAYBE rent a good large diaphragm condenser and put it out front of the kit where you peak on the kick sound.
  6. tr3eman9

    tr3eman9 Guest

    thanks for the advice people. i realize that so many mics is probbaly quite unnecessary, but i dont usually say anything since the guy bought them all for this purpose, and he almost never voices opinions on any other aspect of the band, being very agreeable, and this is really his "speciality".

    anyway, what i think all do is basically KK's idea, put the guitar and bass in the first two MOTU inputs, then the two overheads in 3 & 4, then bass, snare, then putting the remaining cymbal mics in the right output of the Peavey, and the tom mics in the left output, and sending these too 7 & 8. This should satisfy everyone and make my mixing easier.

    I just have a few questions:

    can you explain this in more detail? i never understood really what the "insert" hole even was for (i have one on my guitar amp too) although i have some vague idea that it both sends and returns a signal for processing in an outside piece of equipment...? and how would i use this to run out of and into the MOTU? i'm pretty new too a lot of this.

    i also don't really understand phasing. is this when mics pick up the same frequency, but one picks it up a fraction of a second after the other since it is farther away from the same source, thus causing an swooshy "phasing" effect on the recording? couldn't this be remedied by using the 3-band EQ on the PV mixer?
  7. natural

    natural Active Member

    While we're waiting for KK to answer, here's another thought.
    I agree to leave out the HiHat mic. This works best in mixing where you can bring it in a little if needed, but it needs to be on it's own track.
    Are we saying that there's 2 cymb mics and 2 room mics?
    Since this is probably a demo, I would skip the room mics and use the cymb mics to do double duty.
    That would give you 2 more channels to spread kick snr and toms.
    Especially if it's a hi energy band, the extra room mics usually get eaten up by everything else. Maybe substitue a good reverb in mixing that has some good parameters for Early reflections.
    I would rather hear more detail on the toms. (assuming that there's a good amount of focus on the toms and that the drummer plays them well)

    Of course, If this isn't a demo, then you probably shouldn't be doing any of the things your doing.
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Lets only hope that since this is his 'specialty' that he knows how to properly tune a drumset to minimize the sympathetic rings and hums you get with that many drums and cymbals that close together. Or the phasing caused by early reflections from under the massive array of cymbals .

    I always asked drummers just what drums they were planning on hitting on each track. Those that werent being used got sent to the waiting area where they could be used properly ....like coffee tables or serving trays for the deli items.

    Just because its shiny and you brought it to the session doesnt mean you need it.
  9. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    DD, (et al)

    It's not that big of a kit... fairly standard, acutally... its only 4 toms.

    I've played far bigger kits... and far smaller as well... and mic-ing a kit with 4 mic's can do anything from the biggest kit to the smallest kit.

    You're right in pointing out removing unused gear for a particular song. It really can help to simplify the number of drums AND cymbals in the room.
  10. tr3eman9

    tr3eman9 Guest

    its a demo in the sense that it will probably find its way into some demo bins. but its also going to be a self-released EP (remember we're talking high school level here). im doing it the way i am because we've discovered from trial and error that us attepting to make a totally track-by-track recording with such little equipment, money, experience, and knowledge, results in a stilted, unexciting recording that doesn't represent how we actually sound. Thats why we're focusing more on capturing the energy and feel of us playing live instead of agonizing over every little detail, since what's the point when i dont have monitors to mix it (yet) or really know what the hell i am doing. my influences in terms of production (not necessarily the music itself) are albums like Funhouse or Kick Out The Jams, or Anthem Of The Sun, live (ish) albums that might not be perfectly produced or recorded but man do they kick ass.

    no room mics, just 2 drum overheads that i want to use to get a good stereo image and a blending of the whole kit, more than just picking up cymbals. yeah and ill tell him to leave out the hihat mic.

    what i meant by speciality was that hes the only one in the band who knows anything about it. he probably doesn't know how to do most of that stuff, although i could be wrong. he's also a pretty spontaneous guy, and asking him which drums he was planning on hitting would probably result in a puzzled look.

    thanks for your help everyone, keep the advice coming. maybe someone could point me in the direction of a good guide on doing all that fancy stuff with drums, minimizing sympathetic rings, early reflections, phasing, etc.? i dont really know what any of that stuff means, let alone how to avoid it.
  11. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    OK, I've got some time right now, so I'll attempt explanations. (Correct me if I'm wrong :shock: )



    1) Cymbals in the right and toms in the left?

    Probably don't want to do that. You'll have no panning. All the cymbals and all the toms will be coming from one point, wherever each track is panned to. IF you want to submix toms and cymbals, each tom and cymbal mic should be panned in it's own channel, FROM left to right, in the same order according to their relative positions in the set. Then, they should be mixed to stereo outputs and then to the recorder. As you can see, this will take either 2 or 4 channels of the MOTU. 2 if you submix them all to stereo mains, 4 if you can somehow get two stereo mixes out of the mixer to separate the cymbals and toms.

    You'd generally want to place the kick center, and the snare/hi-hat center or very slightly off center. Then the rest of the kit should follow spacing and pan positions according to their placement IN the kit. You can do this from the drummer's perspective left-to-right, or the audience perspective, which will be opposite. It doesn't matter as long as you choose one and stay with it. I try to envision from an audience perspective, because it's meant for an audience.

    If your drummer takes a tom roll over all his toms, and the toms are all in one pan position, it's gonna sound...uh...weird. And if he's hitting different cymbals quickly, it's gonna smear them together if they are in one place.
    Find a way to pan the toms and cymblas, respective of their placements.

    2) Inserts may be a 1/4" TRS I/O, or possibly a 1/4" TS in and 1/4" TS out. They may be pre-fader and pre-eq, post-either, or a combination and/or switchable. It's in the mixer manual.

    On some, (Mackie, for instance) you can plug a 1/4" TS jack into the first click, and take the channel signal out to something else. If it's post-eq, you can use that channel's eq settings to eq a track before going elsewhere. If it's pre-fader, the channel fader won't affect the outgoing signal.

    As I said, it's in the manual. AND, you only get that particular signal out.

    You may have AUX outs that can be assigned an output (or stereo pair) that you can mix any tracks to run out of.

    The manual, sir. :wink:

    3) You have the idea. The same sound arriving at slightly different times into several mics creates phasing problems...the jet-airplane "swoosh". And, the more mics you have, the more problems that may cause.

    Yeah, you could TRY to roll the highs off the toms' highest notes, and the lows off the cymbals' lowest notes. If you had enough EQs you could try to dial in every mic. But you may constrict the overtones and harmonics of each drum so it sounds unnatural. Then if you try to open up each again a bit, you'll be capturing parts of other drums, again...which puts you right back into phasing problems. And if you are EQing groups of mics, from the lowest to the highest tom, they will pick up parts of each other, because some of those toms may be pitched closely.

    AND, if you DID manage to EQ each separately, if you have that many mics that close, it's certain that another mic will pick up where the intended mic left off. Since it's at a slightly different location, it'll be a bit delayed...and you may have a weird hole in the EQ spectrum.

    Lastly, when you have that many mics close together, each is going to pick up something else. It's logical, and simple physics. You can't change that. You COULD try gating each mic, if you had enough noise gates, but a bad noise gate may open up and shut down and cut off cymbal trails, etc. You'd likely have things popping in and out. Could get fugly.

    And since each mic is liable to pick up something else, even if you managed to get all 11 mics onto separately recorded tracks, you may have problems trying to mix. Why?

    Anytime you change the level or EQ of one main mic track, you're also changing the extraneous material that the mic also picked up. If you had a mic on the Roto-toms and some on the nearest two cymbals, and the Roto mic was also picking up the two nearest cymbals, and the cymbal mics are also picking up the Rotos, anytime you change the cymbals to get more, or less, "zing", or more or less volume, out of them, you'll also brighten or darken, or change the volume, of the Rotos. And, vice-versa.

    Come mixdown, you could be chasing your tail trying to balance things out, because you have too many interacting elements.

    Hope that cleared things up a bit. You can TRY to please your drummer, and it doesn't hurt to experiment, but just keep all the ideas in this thread handy when you want to create a recording that actually sounds good, and is easier to manage.

    Dumping too much chili powder into your chili...just because it's there...is also not a good idea. :wink:

    Good luck,

  12. tr3eman9

    tr3eman9 Guest

    well im not one to scoff at advice from someone who obviously knows a lot more than i do about this subject. i will push hard to have the drummer remove some of his mics (and hopefully some of his cymbals) so that i can cut the mixer out altogether and just use 6 MOTU inputs for drums and the other 2 for bass and guitar. If i do any submixing it will simply be too mix the two overheads down to one input, if we even need that extra input. lemme think...

    -high toms
    -low toms
    -overhead left
    -overhead right

    nope, shouldn't even need to submix the overheads.
    unless i feel like doing something crazy like also recording the keyboards along with everything else. but i doubt it, because with the overheads in only one channel i lose panning on the cymbals. so nevermind!

    anyway thanks for your help everyone. i feel much more enthusiastic about micing and mixing these drums now, i did feel like it was a bit over the top before anyway.
  13. natural

    natural Active Member

    Yeah, that looks like a better layout.
    Certainly do-able and should result in what you're looking for.
    and still give you plenty of control come mix time.

    If you needed one more track, you could use your other mixer to submix the Gtr and Bass to one track while tracking the drums, (go direct with the gtr and bass to avoid bleed into the drum mics)
    Then after the drums are recorded, you can go back and redo the guitars and bass. And possibly do some multiple micing on the gtr if you like.
  14. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Really wouldn't want to mix two overheads to mono, anyway. Think about it. :wink:

  15. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    You MIGHT if the kit is six metres wide and you NEEDED 2 mics to pick it all up but can't make them stereo.

    But otherwise, keen observation.
  16. tr3eman9

    tr3eman9 Guest

    what, you mean they're normally smaller than that? ;)
  17. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Haven't you seen these new 52" kick drums?

    Oh wait, that was an HDTV I was looking at.
  18. tr3eman9

    tr3eman9 Guest

    actually, thats a funny coincidence, because i was screwing around in my school's band room today and i was thinking about what if some really crazy ass drummer made a drumset with all the same parts as a normal set, but each peice was replaced by its conert- or marching-band equivalent.

    so, like, a marching snare, big hand-cymbals for crash, a giant marching bass drum for a kick, marching quads for toms, etc.

    i could see it working for someone.
  19. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    My friend John has a marching bass for his kick - I think it's a 28".

    PITA to record.
  20. tr3eman9

    tr3eman9 Guest

    i was thinking actually maybe like an orchestra bass drum, the ones like as tall as the people playing them.

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