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just wondering what the general view is on compressing the overhead drum mics during tracking. Necessary?,Stupid?,Imperative?
I realize that its mostly a matter of opinion and taste,but if anybody has any input or suggested threshold/ratio-attack/release settings theyd like to share id dig it very much.


anonymous Sun, 11/18/2007 - 18:39

what placements can you reccommend dave.the one that i tried today, and the one i will never try again is as follows, two sure sm 81's centered over the kick drum(opposite drummer side) about two feet above the cymbals and two and a half feet above the two rac pointing left at the ride,crash,low rac tom,and floor tom,and the other ponting right at the other crash,hi hat,high tom, and snare.

I tried to keep the mic diaprams as close as possible to avoid phase issues(which i know nothing about as well) it kinda looks like this - /

my first guess is that the height was a little low, coz i wasnt getting as much cymbal as i wanted and the mics seemed really hot, even padded at -10 db. peakin around -6 db.

i guess after that i decided that lack of compression could be an issue.but if you think not then thats how i gotta roll coz im sure your experience is beyond mine.

thanks davedog

Cucco Sun, 11/18/2007 - 18:51

Yeah...what the Dog sez.

So, your XY pair over the was pointing down-ish right? In other words, the diaphragms were aimed towards the heads, right? And at this placement you weren't getting enough cymbals...??

If you're going to do an XY overhead pair (which, I honestly don't like very much but it works if the space is constricted and you have no choice), I like to come from behind and above the drummer. Aim the capsules so you get a good balance between toms and cymbals.

Varying your distance to the drums from the mics will give you more or less depth and breadth to the drums. Too much distance though and your drums collapse (this is one of the main reasons I don't like XY for drum overheads). Too little distance and you now have a 20 foot wide drum set...

anonymous Sun, 11/18/2007 - 19:05

So, your XY pair over the was pointing down-ish right? In other words, the diaphragms were aimed towards the heads, right? And at this placement you weren't getting enough cymbals...??

that is correct but mabe a better way of saying it is that i was getting too much drum,as stupid as that sounds.

what other placements or remedies can you suggest coz ive had better luck with way worse equipt. and much less knowledge.

Cucco Sun, 11/18/2007 - 19:22

You might simply want to try a spaced AB pair - Left mic above and pointing down in the vicinity of snare/high-hat and right mic over mid tom (assuming 3 toms).

Move the mics forward (from drummers perspective) to get more cymbal and back to get more toms. Move left mic more over snare for more snare, more over high-hat for more...well, high-hat. Same thing with right...for better mid/high tom, move in towards drummer, for more low/floor tom, move out.

This can all work at heights as low as 5 to 6 feet. If you're not happy and getting a splashy sound, it's probably slap back from a low cieling. Try getting a cheap Auralex kit and stapling/tacking some tiles above it. You only need HF absorption up there and not too much to tame the kit.

Trapping elsewhere in the room will help too, but for your kick, you're probably close mic'ed so it won't be a giant improvement (different story on Vox, Guitar and Bass!)

I've recorded some great sounding drums in some very sh*tty rooms. You may have to work a little, but you can usually get drums sounding good in even a relatively small room. If they sound good in the room, you can get them sounding good in the mics.


Davedog Sun, 11/18/2007 - 22:23

The very first thing I do when I'm micing a kit is to listen to the drummer work out on the kit without a single mic on it. I dont want to be influenced (at first) by anything I know about micing a kit. I only want to mic the kit at hand.....

First impressions are almost always correct. If I do NOT like the sound of the drums in the room at that time, then right away I seek the problem in the environment.

Let me edit this to also point out that this means changes in the drumset orientation in the room, tuning, any mechanical problems, head changes, and cymbal heighths. Moving the cymbals up and down greatly influences the wash coming back at them from the drums...(and greatly amplifying these sounds BTW!!) as well as visa-versa.

Think on this: You put up a close mic on a tom and theres an 18" crash cymbal 6" above it that gets worked on a lot. Before you use a gate, you should try positioning the cymbal so theres not an immediate wash of the crash entering the tom mic. Bleed is one thing and you're gonna get it. Lets just adjust it to suit our purpose and make it our bitch and not the other way around.

Ass in = ass out.

Its not a 'rule' but it is true.

When I like the drumkit from all angles then I'll place the mics.

It aint rocket surgery, but you do have to pay attention.

RemyRAD Mon, 11/19/2007 - 03:50

Jeremy and Dave both know what they're talking about. Whereas I just talk a lot, but then, most folks already knew that.

There are such variables that go with your question. Thick cymbals, thin cymbals. Ringy drums, dead drums. Good acoustics, bad acoustics. Chocolate covered doughnuts, jelly filled doughnuts. No, I wouldn't/don't generally compress overhead microphones while tracking. Of course if I'm doing live for broadcast, everything is out the window and the skies the limit. With my original 1978 Sphere, I could EQ to the stereo bus while not tracking the EQ to the 24 track. Or vice versa. I can't do that with my old Neve as there is no separation between church and state, between microphone preamp and EQ. So I really have to be committed.... to do something like that. Where it is fun to crunch drums, with all of the pumping grunge and distortion you can eat it, is when all else sounds like crap. Then, it might be slightly uncrappier to try and make it sound crappier. Crappie rooms and crappy acoustics can sometimes benefit from crappy compression. If not, it's Miller Time.

Does anybody like Bush anymore?
Ms. Remy Ann David

Cucco Mon, 11/19/2007 - 04:56

RemyRAD wrote: Does anybody like Bush anymore?
Ms. Remy Ann David

Oh Remy....there are so many contexts to that question.

Let me answer accordingly.

No - it tastes like stale piss

Yes - they ROCK

No - he's ruining our country and our socio-economic standing as the most powerful nation

Yes - but only when it's neatly trimmed - I don't like it '70s style (Buckwheat in a headlock...)