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Micing the Hi Hat

I am the drummer and the guy that mics the drums when we track. It trully is a pleasure, like cooking a great meal and then eating it, but I have a philosophical difference with my hi-hat Micing technique. Here is the rub- I like to position the mics so they don't interfere with my range of motion or cramp me mentally, and thus I keep the hat mic back at the stem, above the clutch, and aI'm it on 45 degrees to the point of impact. It sure doesn't get in the way but I could be more happy with my sound from that mic. I realize most folks have it tight on the stick, but I don't like that as a performer. Any tips, compromises? I am all ears. Cheers, Doc.


anonymous Sat, 05/11/2002 - 19:26

You didn't mention what the mic is, that's certainly a major factor in the sound.

I use an Earthworks SR-77 or a Shure SM81 for HH cymbals, certainly there are many others that'll do a great job. But the key is often finding the sweet spot on the cymbals.

While the point on the top HH where you typically play is a logical place to point the mic, it may not offer the best sound.

I mic on the opposite side of the top cymbal. If you think about it the point where your stick is making contact is the least resonant point on the cymbal at the moment you play it, the stick is dampening it. You may however like that point, but I just have never seen anyone use it.

I start with the mic pointing down, but at less than a 45. I then work with headphones, and ideally, have the drummer listening through the monitors at the board. I move the mic through a range of angles and stop in small increments, all the while asking the drummer to compare the sounds and let me know which they prefer. Then I move the mic in and out from the cymbal at the chosen angle and go through the same process.

Like all instruments, there is a particular 'sweet spot' to mic, it can make a huge difference in the sound.

Hope this helps.

Guest Sat, 05/11/2002 - 21:43

I pretty much agree with Kirk.

I always mic from the opposite side of the HH from the drummer - no way it gets in their way then! I aim at the outer edge of the top cymbal from above - typically that's where it sounds best to me. In the process i try to position the mic so it is not also pointing at the snare or other parts of the kit (for minimizing bleed), while being careful to stay well away from the puff of air squeezed from between the hats.

I also use small diaphragm condensers exclusively.

Oddly enough, after all that, at least half the time i don't even use the HH track at mix time because there is more than enough captured by the overheads.

Mike Simmons Sun, 05/12/2002 - 06:40

I second Littledog... and like Kirk, I also like the SR-77 on hat (when the track gets used). Usually though, the hi hat sits nicely in the overheads. Have you played around with a room mic? You could always position it to favor the hat... although I always seem to be trying to minimize it. You must have a more delicate touch than the drummers I work with.

anonymous Sun, 05/12/2002 - 11:14

Oddly enough, after all that, at least half the time i don't even use the HH track at mix time because there is more than enough captured by the overheads.

I can agree with that - by adding that it depends on _what_ the drummer plays. A close HH mic would be helpful for anything "subtle" and "fragile" getting played with the HiHat.

anonymous Mon, 05/13/2002 - 09:02

Yep - small diaphragm condenser pointed (basically) straight down at the top hat, opposite the impact point, about 6-8"-ish above. Barely used in the mix - just enough to give the hat some presence.

The way the drummer plays the ENTIRE kit is paramount to how the drums overall will come out in the end. Balance is the key.

anonymous Mon, 05/13/2002 - 18:45

No! No! We must not all agree. I disagree on general principles. Oh yeah, I started the thread...
I am not a pounder on the drums, but my hat tends to be moellered pretty hard- I have no problem w the hats coming through, I am wanting the signal in case I want to accent the hats or put delay strictly on the hats (me with my New Wave influences- will post some MP3s as soon as mix done). Always trying to improve my miking as well, and gents, I thanks ya for the help.
BTW, Curious G., I am using a room mic but I try to minimize the cymbals and hats on that track (I stand the mic at belly button height to catch more of the drums vs. cymbals). Any relation to "Furious" George Tabb from NYC that used to make me laugh so hard with his weekly columns? Last I remember he was being sued by Disney for being too "Curious". I believe he said that if he lost the suit he was going to change his moniker to "The Artist Formerly Known As Furious George". Cheers, Doc.

Mike Simmons Tue, 05/14/2002 - 16:46

Originally posted by
BTW, Curious G... Any relation to "Furious" George Tabb from NYC that used to make me laugh so hard with his weekly columns?.

Nope, I'm afraid not. There *was* a band called "Furious George" though. Curious G. is a name my wife gave me since I started cutting my hair very, very short. She says I'm deaf and fat too... go figure.

Delay on the hat eh? Very Police! "giant steps are what you take...walking on the moon..."



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