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cymbals vs. drums

Discussion in 'Rides / Cymbals' started by idiophone, Mar 10, 2004.

  1. heinz

    heinz Guest

    tell Animal to lay off the cymbals if he wants a good recording. :)
  2. sosayu2

    sosayu2 Active Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    to get the snare to really pop out in the mix begins with how it's tracked.....that's why mic placement is key. if it's a tape that i get from someone else then it's an eq issue with a little compression. i've never run into a situation where i had to replace the snare completely, maybe i've just been lucky.
  3. idiophone

    idiophone Guest


    It seems that people who are able to bring the snare in from the overheads without just bringing up cymbal clatter as well, or can gate it effectively without getting tons of hat or ride when the gate opens are, indeed, lucky to be working with real players, and not the savage, drooling beasts that wander in and out of my recording studio, carrying the 2x4s they call "drum sticks".

    I thought about this, and came up with the following:

    The mean approach (AKA the Skinner Box approach):
    Turn up 2.5-3kHZ REALLY LOUD in the headphones. If they want to hit cymbals that badly while tracking, make 'em hurt.

    The Frustration approach:
    Track 'em anyway, but just know you won't get an ideal drum sound. Use EQ/Comp/Gate/etc. to get it as close to passable as you can, and call it a day.

    The Philosophical approach:
    Take drummer aside, try to coax drummer into calming down. Play Yanni in the background of this discussion, use soothing tones of voice, and serve Earl Grey. Optional: incense and foot massage

    The "Screw It" approach:
    As soon as drummer peels out from the parking lot, go redo the drums yourself.

    That's what I came up with (short of using sound replacer and its ilk). My solutions are more than half serious, though.

    I'll keep marching on until I can afford to send the band on a cruise and hire guys who know what they're doing (see: Mixerman).

    Thanks, fellas.
  4. El Goodo

    El Goodo Guest

    Hey idiophone,

    Yes you can use sound replacer or a sampler, but let's face it - it's a pussy move (at least on an alleged punk/rock record). Why not actually learn how to record a snare right first? On the plus-side, you won't have the band wiping buggers on your wall while you "fix" every take. I get the sense that that's more what you're after. Here's a few suggestions:

    Mic choice/placement:
    For me, it's almost always an sm57 on top of the snare. A lot of the time I'll add something on the bottom, but it's not required. FWIW, 90% of the big budget sessions I've witnessed use them, too. (The point is only that you don't need an expensive mic). For me, condensers are too sensitive and pick up too much hi hat for rock stuff like this. Of course, there are other dynamic choices as well.

    Placement is very important. If you're having a problem with RIDE cymbal bleed, then you have a problem with placement. Try this:

    Assume your standing in front of the kit. In the middle is the kick. To the right there is typically a crash on a stand, then a hi-hat stand, and a snare in the back - maybe a mounted tom. You task is to find a path though all this to run a boom with a snare mic and to be able to place it where it will pick up the most snare and the least of everything else. I usually go between the crash stand and the hat stand. You know that the 57 is cardiode, so the most rejection is from the rear. Try to get the mic pointing downish on the snare, while presenting the rear of the mic to the hat. It's always a compromise and will require tweaking to get it right. I like to point it at the center of the snare toward the drummer's stomach, but adjust to taste. If the hat is sitting directly over the snare, you might want to ask (gently) if it could be move a bit back without "blowing his vibe".

    If you still have too much hat, I've seen engineers add a physical "filter". This can be a McDonnald's fries container, but I would use a Styrofoam cup. Cut a hole in the bottom and fit it over the mic so that it gets between the mic and the hat, but allows the mic to see the snare directly. I would also add some foam to the inside of the cup to stop any weird reflections.

    After all this, you have to check the phase of the snare mic with your overheads (and really with all the other mics, but let's keep it simple for now). If there is a problem, you have to adjust the overheads and not the snare mic.

    Compression/EQ: For the sounds I think you are looking for (Lit, Blink 182, and a better example, "Dookie") generally the snare is bright and highly compressed with a fairly slow attack and relatively fast release. You must understand the dynamics of a snare signal and really get to know how a compressor's attack and release works with and modifies that envelope. People spend years figuring it out. To make a snare "pop" you have to preserve a large portion of the attack transient and then adjust the release so that it accentuates the "body" of the snare without bringing up too much hat. For this sound, you have to make the snare brighter and "snappier" than you think it should be so that it pokes through the mix. Often you might cut a lot of low-mids in the over-heads to "make room" for the snare.

    Snare sounds are molded throughout the process. Often compressed/eq'd to tape and again at mix. You can also mult the snare track to another mixer channel (or dupe the track in a DAW). The new track is your "smack" track. Compress the bejesus out of it, then gate it so that it's only the "knock" with little decay or ambiance. Then mix it in REALLY low so that it just adds to the snare, but you can't hear the gate effect. Another "trick" bus all the kick, snare, and toms (maybe a touch of the overheads) to a new track and then compress it (slow attack, fast release) and mix it in with the other tracks.

    Some or all of these techniques are used on most of the records you're probably referring to (and yes, probably sound replacer). Remember, engineers careers have been made and broken on drum sounds. Don't expect to get a simple answer on a web board and be able to do it tomorrow.
  5. bgavin

    bgavin Guest

    As the perpetual newbie, I'm having trouble wrapping around the bleed issue with regard to a close mic'ed snare.

    The cymbals are MUCH farther from the SM57 in a close-mic position, than is the snare head from the SM57. Yes the cymbals are loud, but so is the snare at the close mic position. The SM57 mic channel is gain adjusted accordingly, yes?

    Looking at the flip side, if the snare SM57 is the same distance to cymbals as the overheads, then directional pattern will help. A hypercardioid positioned with the 120-degree axis at the cymbals will be almost entirely deaf to the cymbals. Or the SM57 with the 180-degree axis pointed at the cymbals.

    These are just newbie thoughts, nothing more.
  6. moles

    moles Active Member

    Jan 5, 2004
    Winnipeg, MB
    Idiophone, any chance of you posting some shots of how the gor*cough* drummer in question sets up his kit? The more I think about it, the more I conclude there's gotta be something very whacked about the kit setup...
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Well-Known Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Idiophone...All have gradually come to the same conclusion I had originally and that is the rejection characteristics of your snare micing is out of whack somewhere...its why I suggested perhaps a much 'deafer' mic to capture this track.I have recorded lots of 'bashers' and have run into a bit of a problem with this which really comes to the surface in a mix.Its not the mix problem thats causing this but the tracking.bgavin was on the mark as well as everyone else.Sometimes this will require a bit of quality producing in order to get the sounds you know will sound right.Moving the drums is always a tentative thing and a lot of drummers,particularly bashers,cannot make an effective change in setup and still play their part.If this becomes an overwhelming problem without a good solution, perhaps the leader of the group can be recruited to solve the problem.If this is all being paid for and is a project that will see a product at its end then by all means go to the money and voice your concerns.Do this without judgement but simply as a technical problem that needs solving and you may find an ally in this.Good Luck.If you have access to Earthworks, or the Beyer 201 or 422 mics you might give these a shot.This would also be part of a solution that may require a rental in order to move the project forward.
  8. idiophone

    idiophone Guest

    My snare mic (Beta 57A or 57 - both have the same problem) is positioned about a half inch above the rim, pointed at the center of the drum (though i've pointed it toward the rim side, and that didn't help). About a third of the mic is over the drum. Make sense? I don't have pics.....

    The mic is also as close to the rack tom as I can get it. I had it under the hihat (I was thinking rear-rejection here), but this didn't work for two reasons. First, the pressure of the hihat going up and down was getting into the mic. Second, the mic ended up pointing at the ride cymbal anyway. Lesson learned: no matter what the charts say about polar pattern, proximity to the source-to-be-avoided plays a BIG part. To put it another way, just because I put a cardioid mic facing away from a jet engine, doesn't mean the jet engine sound will be silenced - it's still loud.

    My problem may be what is currently being addressed by Recorderman in the "overhead phase" thread. Very interesting.....

    Also, the last session I did (which was me, on drums), I moved the cymbals away to arm's length. Granted, I'm no basher, but this improved the already good snare isolation. Maybe the same thing will work with King Kong. His ride *was* awfully close.....

    Good comments, all.
  9. i dont even know what "punk rock" means these days. if you're talking good charlotte or anything that mtv plays, then yes there's samples added to those recordings. also im sure that mohawk guy from blink 182 adds drum samples to everything he does. heck, matt chamberlin does as well, and that guys a vintage drum nut.

    i understand the argument of learning the proper way of recording drums, but when the recordings your modeling your sound after are using samples, the argument of using samples or not becomes moot. even mooter when you factor in an sm57.

    i personally wouldn't use samples on any of the recordings i do, nor would i use pro tools or shure sm57's. but the bottom line is, especially if your recording at home, and you dont have access to a nice room, a nice pre amp collection, a nice spread of mics, a good drummer: adding samples can give you a better more useable sound, and isn't that what its all about anyway?

    the problem with gating/compressing/Eq'ing a snare to cut out the cymbals is you have to process the sound so much that there isn't much resembling a snare left after you cut the cymbals.

    believe me on almost all major label recording, and a lot of indie releases you're hearing drum samples mixed in. anything done by andy wallace, tom lord alge, chris lord alge, terry date, brendan obrien, etc. even stuff where you don't think theres samples mixed in, they probably are. tom lord alge even adds "white noise" in addition to samples to his mixes.

    the way recordings are being mastered and mixed to have zero dynamics you simply cant compress a gated eq'd snare to such a level without it coming across like a small "ping"

    the only "name" engineer i can think of off the top of my head who doesn't do this ever is steve albini. but albini rarely uses compression and his recordings are extremely dynamic.

    one trick ive found that works quite well is having the drummer play cymbals [including hi hat and ride] with a brush instead of a stick. again, some songs this is simply impossible cause of the need of two stick drumming patterns on either hi hat or drums. but it works pretty good, even with the hi hat open. it gives a very thinned out hi hat sound, similar to the way hi hats are eq'd anyway on alot of recordings these days. your snare track will be almost all snare even with tons of compression. i cant imagine this working for any type of fast "punk" music tho.

    i wouldn't worry to much about adding or not adding samples. you're not using very good mics anyway to record the drums so i wouldn't be too proud to use samples. everyone knows that recording engineering pride and elitism begins with a hatred for the sm57. adding samples is probably a distant second to that.
  10. bgavin

    bgavin Guest

    I've been cataloging various mics by response patterns in my free time. There are several mics that are almost stone deaf at 120-degrees (E608, E845, E855, AE6100) that still have excellent 90-degree rejection. Several of the ATMxxx and Audix D series are almost as deaf, but not quite.

    You can download my Excel spreadsheet from my signature and sort the MICS tab by 90,120,180 degree columns and the data becomes apparent.

    The SM57 by comparison is a very lively listener. It hears MUCH more off-axis signal than do the above.
  11. NolanVenhola

    NolanVenhola Guest

    I like the screw it approach.
  12. NolanVenhola

    NolanVenhola Guest

    And lately I've been using a LD condensor underneath the snare along with an sm57 on top, with great results.

    Cymbal bleed is minimal even with the condensor. It's all about listening and placing. Listen, place. Solves a world of issues. You know... using your ears.
  13. idiophone

    idiophone Guest

    bgavin: to steal from Douglas Adams, this list is "Mind-Bogglingly Useful". Thanks a ton, man. ''

  14. another thing that might be helpful would be if you could post what youve recorded, even if is just the drum tracks.

    just an idea.
  15. El Goodo

    El Goodo Guest

    I should have been more clear. Using samples or sound replacer because you can't get a decent snare sound is, imo, a pussy move - especially in place of learning recording technique. Yes, these things are used almost all the time on major label projects. But, most of the times that I've seen (with a few exceptions) they were used to beef-up an existing snare track that was well recorded. That's the idea with the gated/compressed track - you don't want to use it as your snare sound (ick), you lay it behind it to "shore-up" the snare-vs-hat ratio. Personally, I don't ever want to hear the gate.

    Besides, it sounded like he wanted to know how get less hat on his recorded tracks. Engineers have been battling this problem long before samplers or Pro Tools ever existed. Believe me, it can be and is done every day. Sure, use samples if that's the sound you want on the song. But don't use them as crutch and especially don't use them in lieu of developing the skills needed to record drum tracks that actually sound good.

    Good luck, and keep at it!
  16. Aziel

    Aziel Guest

    Many things are involved...and it`s really hard to find the reason of the bleeding without been there...

    Maybe your room is small and with reflections...you have great mics, there is no doubt...maybe the drummer have to raise a little bit the cymbals...maybe you have to correct the mic position accord the new drummer...
  17. Marching Ant

    Marching Ant Active Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Maybe I can offer some help.

    You made reference earlier to Travis Barker, and getting drum tracks to sound like his. I have had the pleasure of watching him play privately, without the band, and I can assure you that he is the hardest hitting player I have ever seen, EVER!!!! I was standing 2 feet from him while playing, and all I could hear was cymbals. I am pretty sure that his drums aren't replaced in the studio. They sound and feel pretty real to me. As others have already said, its all about mic placement. I have found that if you can get a 57 to sit almost vertically against the snare head, under the hihats, you should be able to get it isolated fairly well.

    I should mention that I am one of these drummers. I hit hard. Really hard! I think that the reason that drummers do this is because you get an energy from the drums that just can't come from hitting lightly. I just got back from recording an album with my band where the producer spent 2 weeks with me, trying to get me to hit even harder than I already do. I came to the point that i could only play for about 10 min at a time and then it felt like my arms were going to fall off. I'm getting off track. sorry.
    Anyway, the engineer for the album had a 57 placed at a 45 degree angle to the snare, directly under my hats. There was a huge amount of bleed with this mic placement, so he cut a 2 inch by 4 inch piece of cardboard and taped it to the top side of the 57, so the cardboard was inbetween the mic and the hats, and the cardboard was 1 inch past the capsule. This eliminated almost all of the bleed.

    Might be something to try.

    Also, as a side note. I just bought a "Vented" snare. This is a snare with 1 inch or larger (depending on the size of the snare) holes cut in the side of it. Try micing the top, and then placing a 57 so that the capsule is completely inside the snare. We got AMAZING results.

    Just a suggestion.
  18. PlugHead

    PlugHead Active Member

    Jul 2, 2001
    I just skimmed the posts here: sorry if this has been covered already: For micing lesser-skilled (kit) players...

    Try positioning the OH's behind the drummer, above their head, but not too high (under 4 ft) - I like XY, as it eliminates phase issues, and presents a nice stereo image, with little or no mono incompatibilities. I find this to present a natural kit sound, representative of the drummer's perspective. This tends to keep wash/smear of the cymbals down, tho does not eliminate a drummer that smashes with their right, and doggy-paddles with their left.

    Another alternative is OH's with ribbons: Royer SF-1's, or better yet, a stereo SF-12, Coles 4038's, or possibly the inexpensive Beyer M160: tho ribbons can be unexciting, they can take drastic amounts of EQ, and might be the solution to cymbal smashers...

    As for snare: possibly EQ'ing/compression on the way in: keep in mind, great outboard can provide results, but nothing can make a shitty drummer sound awesome - Sound Replacer can help, but can only be somewhat effective if the drummer plays without ANY dynamics, (tho that seems to be the trend) - could be more work than you want to offer for a shitty player/performance. :roll:


    PlugHead Productions
  19. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Iteresting thread.
    The answers supplied are part of the answer. Keeping the cymbals as high as possible is a fix, as is a drummer who understands dynamics and digs into the drums with out pounding the sh*t out of the cymbals. Thinner cymbals for recording work are also in order.

    Replacing the snare and kick hits with samples or with a D4 also can help. In some situations it is better to blend the samples in with the original sound for better results. Gates can help also but there are few gates that really work well. My favorites are Drawmer DS202's and DS404's. They have a very cool filter sections that can really deal with false or failed triggers.

    In a DAW you can go into the snare, kick and tom tracks and draw out all the bleed between tom hits. If the mics are close enough to the toms, the sound of the toms should mask offending cymbal spill. When gateing or drawing out wave forms, go to the overhead tracks and use them to blend in with the snare and toms to help mask the artifacts and prvent the sound from being too choppy.

    This is how it is done.. Great question.
  20. idiophone

    idiophone Guest

    I just finished a drum session with another basher, and it worked fine. Here's what I did.

    1. I got the loudest snare I could find.

    2. I put all the cymbals at arm's length, and made him swear not to crash on the ride cymbal. Boy, did he whine! I made him stick to it, though.

    3. I got the hihat as high as it would go.

    4. I used Recorderman's overhead phase setup, and I moved them around until the snare was as loud as it could get.

    All of this stuff translated into a servicable drum sound. It wasn't great, but only because the drummer wasn't great, so I know I did my job.

    Thanks for all your help,
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