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Taming Cymbals

Member for

21 years
Alright, so I just listened to a really rough mix in my car of a song I've been working on for a few days, and I noticed that the cymbals in the song, almost all the highs actually, were really shrill almost to the point of being unlistenable. The whole song is also rather thin sounding. This is contrary to how everything was sounding coming out of my monitors. Is this something that I'll be able to adjust in the mastering process? I know very little about it, so any advice would be helpful.


Member for

16 years

RemyRAD Mon, 05/05/2008 - 20:53
Piccadilly, did you monitor your mix through any other speakers? Do you rely on a single pair of monitors? Maybe a little too much enhancement added?

How about a sample? You could frequency weight a limiter to create a high frequency limiter. That might help you? Otherwise, sounds like you created a beautiful lousy mix. Congratulations!

Take two
Ms. Remy Ann David

Member for

21 years

Member Mon, 05/05/2008 - 21:08
I haven't used any other speakers to monitor yet, but the mix, and the recording in general, is still in its early stages, so this isn't horribly devastating. I'll post a sample tomorrow. When I got home, I threw the cd on a small stereo in my house and it sounded much better. Not nearly as harsh. I'm hoping it's only in my car.

Member for

14 years 7 months

EricWatkins Tue, 05/06/2008 - 02:59
To take this a little further, Remy, would it be safe to say that small diaphram condensers do a better job as overheads in a situation like this? I mean, do they offer a little less shrill sound in general or am I just thinking wrong? Cymbal taming is a major problem in a lot of small or project studios. It would be nice to know a couple rules of thumb on this situation. Also, couldnt a stereo tube pre help smooth something like this out when initially tracking?

Looking forward to your s(m)oothing advice,


Member for

15 years 5 months

BobRogers Tue, 05/06/2008 - 04:23
What are you comparing the SDCs with? Condensers are often the choice for overheads because they generally have better high frequency response. Small diaphragms have better off axis response (+) but higher self noise (-) than large diaphram. In a small studio without high ceilings the advantage is important and the disadvantage isn't as important on drums. So all things being equal (which they never are) the most common choice is SDC over LDC for overheads.

However, darker mics like dynamics or ribbons can be an advantage if your cymbals aren't up to snuff. You can only be shrill if you have lots of highs to work with. (I have a rather tense relationship with cymbals. I consider the best barely good enough. Can't stand cheap cymbals.)

Member for

19 years

Michael Fossenkemper Tue, 05/06/2008 - 07:10
If it sounds good in your studio, then it can sound good after mastering. what you are experiencing is a translation problem, your monitors/room don't translate well. an ME should know what to do to bring it where it should be to be able to translate to other systems better.

The problem with using multiple monitors is it takes a lot of practice to decipher what you are hearing. By sticking to one set of monitors, most of your problems will be global problems. When using multiple monitors, what you end up doing is focusing on a few elements when in fact all of your elements are suffering the same problem.