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Recording Gong

Can some of you give me some suggestion of what the best mic set up for recording big Gong.

I am doing post for a short film and need to recording these gong sound. The percusionist is creating all kind of weird and interesting sound from a big gong. She is running a piece of rubber on the surface of the Gong to create this ghost sound and I like to capture it right.

mic and pre I can always go out and rent. Much appreciation.



Greg Malcangi Sat, 12/01/2001 - 01:33
Hi JT,

You say a big gong but do you mean a Tam Tam? Tam Tams produce a wash of sound with no particular pitch, similar to white noise. A gong on the other hand usually has a sort of big nipple on the front and is tuned to produce a specific pitch.

The Tam Tam is very much a sort of "effect" percussion sound. Pretty much every time I've recorded a Tam Tam I've mic'ed it differently depending on the effect I'm after. Using a pair of mic's to the left and right of the Tam can produce an interesting stereo effect. Mic'ing from behind the Tam a bit off axis is often good for big washes where you don't want too much of the impact. Setting the mic/s back a bit from the Tam works well if you've got a good sounding live room.

I tend to use nice quality condenser mic/s but you can get a much darker sound using something like SM57s. If you've got the time play around a bit. I would start off using two mic's one to the left and one to the right, also try it with one mic in front (to one side or overhead) and one behind. If you record these four tracks the chances are that you will find the sound you are after in one of them or by combining two or more. You'll probably find that you need a bit of compression when you are mixing and if it's a big Tam Tam, 32" or more, you might need to roll off some of the bass.

BTW, just out of curiosity, who is the percussionist?


Pro Audio Guest Sat, 12/01/2001 - 09:44
thanks Greg.

The gong is a large Paiste with flat surface all around. The percusionist name is Karen and I don't know her last name but she is a local San Francisco, Ca. USA gal.

It took her one entire day to have that large gong in the make shift studio.

Does the room has anything to do of the gong sound. Dumb question I guess. I am thinking bringing this gong into a high school Gym and record it. sorry for stupid question but much appreciate the help.

Greg Malcangi Sun, 12/02/2001 - 01:33
Hi JT,


Then it's a Tam Tam. Paiste make great Tam Tams so you shouldn't have a problem there.


That's not a dumb question! It depends on two things: Firstly of course if you are going to try to mic it very close then the room is not going to have much of an effect. Secondly, in a medium to large room, if you hit a really large good Tam Tam (say 36" or more) with a proper beater the sound actually grows for a number of seconds after the impact before gradually dying away. My wife owns one of the two 60" Tam Tams that Paiste made. When you hit that the sound grows for about 15 seconds and then takes 3 minutes to fade out to the noise floor!


Good idea. Obviously if you are going to set the mics away from the Tam Tam to pick up more of the natural acoustics you are going to have a higher noise floor. So as well as some SM57s I would also try out some really clean condensers. My personal choice in a situation like this would be Beyer Mc740s. Ultimately though pretty much any mic will work, it just depends on the sound you are after. If I had the choice I would also take along a couple of ribbon mics and maybe even a good quality PZM, just to experiment with. Try placing one mic close and another say 15 or 20 feet away. Actually, give yourself plenty of time and try everything you can thing of. Not only will you learn a great deal but you'll also hopefully find exactly the sound you are looking for.