Frequencies and Mic Placement

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by SYVNick, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. SYVNick

    SYVNick Guest

    Hey everybody, my name is Nick and I'm an aspiring drummer and recording engineer/producer.

    I'm going to be recording some drum tracks soon and I have been told that if mics are placed incorrectly then the frequencies will cancel each other out and effect the sound you are getting. What are the guidelines you guys follow as far as mic placement goes.

    The mics we will be using are a sm57 for the snare, beta52 for the kick, and two MXL 993 condensers for the over head.

    And another question: Generally is it better to close mic everything rather than using over heads?
  2. mark_van_j

    mark_van_j Active Member

    Oct 28, 2005
    Maribor, Slovenia
    There was a good article in Sound on Sound recently on drum recording. In a nutshell, what you are describing is "phase cancelllation". In your case, you'll have to listen to the snare and overheads. My method is as follows. Listen to just the snare track, then slowly bring up the overheads. How does the snare sound change? Does it lose low mids? Does it become thin? Try flipping the phase on the snare channel and see what happens. This is best done while the drummer is playing and you are monitoring, but I feel in your case, you might be doing both, in which case trial and error will be your game. Read up on some of the stereo micing techniques for overheads to get some good starting points.

    Close micing vs. overheads... Depends on the music you're playing. But in any case, the overheads should be positioned in such a way, that even without the close mics, you have a well rounded and balanced drum sound.
  3. tifftunes

    tifftunes Active Member

    Jan 13, 2003
    I'd like to re-emphasize what mark_van_j said - "listen" - "trial and error" - being the key phrases.

    In similar words, use your ears and experiment. There is no "wrong" way. Only the way it sounds best to you. There's no substitute for experience anyway. Hearing is believing.

    No "snot" intended here. That's just the nature of the beast!

    I use a combination of mic techniques. My personal favorite right now is as simple as possible - 2 mics, one over head, and one on the kick.

    I also like 3 mics - stereo over head, and kick, or single OH (since I don't really need stereo OH) plus kick and snare.

    But there are times when the 5 piece kit needs 15 mics too! And, I prefer close mics under toms and snare, rather than on top. Gives the OH(s) something they didn't already have.

    Try every which way you can and see what you like best. Nothing's written in stone unless you want it to be.

    As always, YMMV... :wink:
  4. Fancypicker

    Fancypicker Active Member

    Aug 9, 2007
    Traphill, NC
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    In situations where one has a room that actually has some acoustic value to it, you'll likely find that your 2 overheads and bass drum may be all that you need? Even if the room doesn't have great acoustics, if it has acoustics that you can use, use them. I love to do that for folks. Especially when I have a 8 or more tracks of drums. I'll play back the bass drum and the overheads even if I have a 10 microphones on the kit. They always marvel at the drums sound and I tell them they're only listening to a 3 microphones. That's when everybody understands the value of acoustic spaces.

    If on the other hand your room is a converted basement with a lousy acoustic signature, you'll want to keep your overheads lower towards the drums, in an attempt to eliminate as much of the acoustic surroundings as possible.

    It all comes down to the sound. It's nice to have some kind of reference to use, such as a well-known major artist CD. Then you have something to use for comparison. Realize that you probably will not be able to obtain that level of quality your first time out. But you might be able to get a similar sonic texture? Remember less is more and keep it simple, stupid. Put additional Mike's up in your room, when possible and record them to tracks, to later listen to what those microphones sound like in those positions in the room. You will soon learn where things sound good to you.

    Everybody else's response here has been wonderful! So many helpful suggestions. Which to choose? ALL OF THEM!

    Always trying something new
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    Can anyone explain to me in terms of pathlength and phase the principle behind the Recorderman technique? The bits of string are very cute, but some supporting physics would be more convincing.
  7. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    Mar 3, 2006
    it's pretty straight-forward...

    the "bits of string" ensure that your OH mics are of equal distance from the snare, and equal distance from the kick drum.

    so what? well, it means that sound waves are hitting each microphone at EXACTLY (or pretty close to) the same time.

    i could dive into acoustics + physics and explain how that helps. but consider this: if you have the choice between
    1) mics receiving sound at the same time
    2) mics receiving sound at different times
    which would you choose?? DUH!

    the recorderman technique satisfies, based on physic and acoustics, one of an audio engineers toughest chores -- getting a good sound out of OH mics!
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    OK, I think you've clarified the missing bit for me: what I saw from the video is that the string was looped from kick to snare and that the mic positions had to be on the taut string so that the sum of the lengths was the same. I couldn't understand how that would work. It makes sense that the kick-mic and snare-mic lengths have separately to be the same for the two mics. Thanks.
  9. SYVNick

    SYVNick Guest

    How can I tell if I have a good room acoustically? Is it just by how music being played by live musicians sounds in that room?

    The room we are recording in is a 12' x 15' space fully insulated with sound proofing on the walls. No isolation booths or anything.
  10. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    I agree that he didn't make it clear that you needed to keep the same spot of the string. Probably would have made it clearer to put a knot in it. For all you math geeks out there: the knot would mark a circle of phase coherent points given by the intersection of the spheres around the kick and the snare.
  11. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    You're right, it's not as easy as you would think. Basically you would bring up those room mic tracks and decide if it makes the drums sound better or not.

    In the beginning (in our first humble home made studio- way back in the last century) we tried all kinds of room mics/positions. Never was really knocked out by any of them.
    Then one day we got the opourtunity to transfer some tapes from a Major studio, and when we brought up their room mic tracks, WOW, you could really hear what a good room should sound like. We made copies of that for comparison tests, and then went on a mission to find a room mic combined with a reverb unit that had a lot of early reflection parameters and created something extremely close to our comparison tapes. So that might be something else you can experiment with
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