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I am looking for some advice when mixing drums using the 3 mic method regarding eq, grouping and general mixing techniques. I am challanged with getting the drums to have impact in the mix.

Eg. I want a little more air and I get a raging hi hat. I want to have a stronger kick and things get muddy or the bass looses impact.

When soloed the drums actually sound very good.



anonymous Mon, 06/09/2003 - 06:51

It sounds like the drum sound that you want to hear with your other instruments is more of a close mic'ed type of sound.

Your room obviously has a big impact on the sound with the 3 mic setup of course, that could be part of your problem

The distant miked 3 mic type of setup usually sounds great solo'd but it doen't always sit right with the tracks.

Maybe you could go to close mic bass and snare and 2 overheads as a middle ground, a fairly common 4 mic setup.

Or add some snare and bass close mics to the 3 you have set up, but gate the close mics so they just add some punch. Make sure to solo the gated tracks to make sure they don't sound too unnatural by themselves.

The above assumes you can re track the drums I guess.

If you are trying to fix the 3 mic drum tracks, gating (actually just expanding not a hard gate)the mic that is providing the most bass drum might help.

Not sure what you could do with the other 2 mics, you could try expanding them a LITTLE, perhaps that would make the snare and toms a little punchier.

Twiddle the EQ and maybe that can help. Part of the unfocused bass drum could be the coming from the bass drum being picked up in the overheads, maybe roll off the bass freqs fot the OHs. Bass from the OHs can sound like a distant rumble sometimes.

Your scenario is why a lot of people put up close mics even when going for the minimalist 3 mic thing, you might want to use them later.

anonymous Mon, 06/09/2003 - 18:57

I use a kick mic and a snare mic when using the Fletcher method (the guy who wrote it up in such inspiring detail at Mercenary Audio). Those are usually what need oomph if anything needs added oomph.
Two suggestions-
1. Try changing the balance of the tracks while listening to everything. Monitor on different speakers at different volumes to make sure you aren't diagnosing speaker-specific issues that disappear on other systems (in other rooms).
2. To add to what Scott S. said, try cutting a hole for the "good" track to come through intead of boosting frequencies on the good track.
2. Try multiband compression (my third choice easily, the less you do the better- Fletcher clearly states that the drum sound you get is the drum sound you get).
4. Try throwing a Tchad, oops, I mean an amp simulator on the tracks to ugly it up. It may make it sound more interesting (no offense to TChad Blake, who uses amp sim like an artist, I am just starting to get really sick of the copy-cat abundance).
Good Luck, Doc

vinniesrs Tue, 06/10/2003 - 07:43

With these three mics, what drums were mic'd? I would have some other info for you if I knew.
For now I will assume it's kick, snare and a mono overhead. If so, try and invert the phase on the kick, or snare track and see if it pops out in the mix.
As for other issues, i can get more specific if I know your setup, but you could copy a couple tracks and chain compseq's and gates to bring out other sounds, and control them better in the mix.

On one mix repair I did, I had to sidechain the overheads through the kick, and copy the right overhead to another track. The kick had it's own comp and gate, but I sent a dry copy out through an aux to another gate which had a higher threshold, so that only kick accents over cymbal work triggered the overheads.(it suited the peice of music ,though) I then setup an eq through a comp to act as a revers de-esser and panned 50% right to bring out the hi hats.

P.S. in this situation, the sound of gates opening and closing was quite audible, so I set up a nice verb to smooth everything over. Worked wonders.

Good luck!

anonymous Thu, 06/12/2003 - 15:54

Ah, so a stereo pair at the drummer's ears and a kick mic. My earlier comments assumed you were using the so-called Fletcher Method. You should have plenty of air coming from the OHs, but obviously you want more. Maybe try duplicating the OH tracks, EQ off below 8k pretty hard then run it through a comp to smooth things out. Also you could try de-essing the hi-hats between 3-8k. Maybe try sending the treated signal out to a pair of speakers (or a git amp, but f*^% am I ever sick of amp simulators) and miking them up with some SD condensers to grab the silk. Just throwing out ideas. Doc

anonymous Thu, 06/12/2003 - 17:04


Thanks for your input. I gave the set some space. I moved the bass from center a bit. I made a little adjustment to the compresson as well. Things are sitting a lot better now. :)

The root of the problem was that I had to push the OH's too hard which gave me a raging HI hat. I compensated using eq for the hi hat which suck the air out of the kit. The Bass and the kick drum were competing for the same space now they are playing together :D

Thanks Again!

vinniesrs Fri, 06/13/2003 - 11:50

Axeman, In this situation, I might solo eack overhead and see if on of them is picking up less hats than the other. If this is the cas, then maybe using just one will give you a better mix. Even if it is mono. You could add some depth with stereo fx.
One word of advice. If you are recording drums it is good to listen to the way the drummer plays for each take, and during the sound check. Sometimes changing the mics around, or a simple request on playing technique would save you loads of headache in the future.

wwittman Sat, 06/14/2003 - 22:44

The bottom line with 'minimalist' drum mic'ing techniques is that you are really dependent on the drummer's good internal balance.
Back in the days when EVERYONE recorded with only an overhead and a bass drum mic, drummers who recorded simply had to learn to balance themselves to the mic.
So we got guys who had loud back beats and just enough cymbals.
Then in the multi-track era we spawned the opposite: guys who have monstrous cymbals (selected to cut 'live' usually) and a weak back beat or toms, because they are used to having everything mic'ed and adjusted at the desk. (AND to hearing it back at them through phones or wedges as well). They don;t HAVE to sound good to a single mic, so they never learned to.

I'm not a personal fan of the mics by the drummer's head thing... but i DO use two left and right mics plus a bass drum and snare mic often (Joan Osborne's Relish, for example)
But again, it requires that the drummer sound right in the room.
There are other tricks (towel on the high hat; light, fast cymbals; blanket over the bass drum; etc) but nothing you can really do AFTER the fact.
The IDEA of mic's near the drummer's head was that you'd get the "good balance' the drummer heard himself as he played. The problem is that rarely do drummers listen to their own playing acoustically in the studio... they're almost always wearing phones and NOT hearing just what those mics 'hear'.

About the only thing i might suggest now that you've already recorded is to try the SPL Transient Designer. That can sometimes add the missing attack.. but if you've got high hat all over the place you;'re pretty much stuck.
Call it a new sound! Learn to LIKE it!


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