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Hi-hat bleed (not samplers) is killing the drummer profession in the studio

Discussion in 'Hi-Hats' started by zblip2, Nov 11, 2012.

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  1. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    i was not speaking to mics specifically designed for recording hi hats but rather mic design in general. not much as changed since then, only variations of the theme. the comment was intended to elude to the idea that the OP most likely hadn't come up with an original concept. if he ever posts his solution i would bet it's not anything some of us hadn't tried previously.

    as i have said twice already, one mic on a drum set is enough if the room is good and the drummer knows how to play. my favorite approach is 2 overheads, kick & snare to 4 tracks (a hangover from the 16 track days). hat is optional and often not even used in the final mix.

    the real problem is most young musicians do not know how to set up, tune or play drums correctly.
     
  2. zblip2

    zblip2 Active Member

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  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    well ... we will never know until you spill the beans. until then i reserve the right to remain skeptical.
     
  4. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    Sure, TBH a cleaner snare mic would be fine by me.

    I've already got a few fairly esoteric systems cooked up to keep the snare out of the kick drum batter head mic.
     
  5. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

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    I must disagree!
    Many sound engineers seem to forget that it isn't about them and what they do. It's about the artist who wants to express himself with his/her music. If a drummer needs his hi-hat to be low because it's the way he's most comfortable while playing, then it's his right to do so. If he's hitting the cymbals hard, then it's his way of playing (whether it's good or not is another thing...).
    In the end, it's the performance that counts. And it's YOUR job to make it sound as good as possible.

    You wouldn't tell a painter how to paint his pictures so they look best in a certain lighting. You take the picture as it is and adjust the lighting to compliment the picture as good as possible.
    Or, to stay in the music realms, you wouldn't tell a singer to squeeze in a corner with his face to the wall while singing just because his voice sounds so much better in that particular corner. He would feel uncomfortable and that would interfere with his performance.

    That doesn't mean that you can't make suggestions to the musician. But you can't expect a drummer to change his well-known and comfortable setup and then play a perfect take right away.

    So stop whining about drummers who "don't know what they're doing" and start thinking about what you as a service provider can do to make the best out of the artist's performance.
    (No offense intended! :)
     
  6. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    That's precisely the point. So since it isn't about sound engineering, but instead what the musicians are coming out with, if something is sounding rough, then you don't try to fix it with engineering tricks.

    I've worked with quite a few quality drummers. They love having stuff explained to them about how to get stuff to sound good. They complain if it sounds poor. Proper musicians are into playing the right part in the right way, and can adapt what they're doing. The better the musician, the better and quicker they adapt.

    Obviously sometimes you've just got to work with what you've got.

    Yea obviously if somebody can't play for $*^t with something changed, you put it back where they had it before. Somebody with studio experience will already have everything spread out, cymbals up high, drums tuned properly etc.

    Thinner cymbals is another solution.

    The point is that good drummers have dynamic control, and get a good mix on the kit. Crappy drummers don't have that control, and no amount of mixing trickery will solve that problem.

    Same with kick drum sound. Or snare sound. If the drummer can't tune or play the drum properly, it'll never sound right. There's no magic plugin (although when presented with the "wow... that's terrible" sound, some people do just pull out some drumagog stuff and start replacing things with samples).

    TBH I don't know of any painters who work under fluorescent (terrible) or tungsten (passable but no blue). People who do looking on a professional basis tend to figure out quite quickly that daylight is the right stuff to be working with. If I did detect that a painter was messing up his paintings due to an environmental problem in his studio which was preventing his pictures from translating to a show or a photoshoot, sure I'd tell him what to fix. In future. In the meantime, work with what you've got.

    Hopefully a musician has more flex in 'em than a finished painting.

    I have even gone so far as to put singers in a wardrobe with the coats. Budget vocal booth. Worked quite well.

    With the right player, sure you can.

    Not only that, I can perform such feats myself.

    Mmm, it's not really a question of "whining" that it's impossible to get a good sound.

    However, it's entirely true that people with 10 or 15 years of studio drumming experience don't make basic errors in how they play or configure their kit which will ultimately result in a poor sound. With an acoustic sound source, you can only work with what's there, truth is there's no fixing stuff in post that's broken in the room. That's the first place that one should start fixing things. If a guitar is out of tune, it needs tuning. Same with a drum. Same with things being in or out of time. You send somebody out to practise the part to a metronome. Fix problems at the source. If something is causing a problem, that's what needs fixing. Usually everybody can hear what's "$*^t" sounding, they complain when they hear it, and fixing it is often a question of somebody playing different, or doing something to their instrument.
     
  7. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

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    I meant, if you were an exhibitor you wouldn't tell the artist what colors and brushes to use so that the picture would look good with the lighting in the exhibition room. you would adjust the lighting in the room to support the picture.

    You can do that and if the singer/drummer/artist goes along and does a good or excellent performance that's okay. But you can't expect him/her to do that.


    A good drummer can play on any drum set and still get a great performance. But how many good drummers do you know...?
    Most of the drummers I know can't play a straight and grooving 4/4 on their own kit. Let alone on one that is set up differently than the one they're used to.


    Experienced drummers will know how to play in a recording situation and could/would adjust their kit/playing to get a better sound, because it wouldn't really affect their performance.
    But inexperienced ones are a different matter. Change their familiar set up and their playing will fall apart. And given that studio time is expensive you will have to deal with the musician's skills as they are.
    So better put up with some hi-hat/cymbal bleed and maybe get the better performance than having great sounding drums that don't groove.
     
  8. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    If that's the problem, one need not get into the technicalities of microphone spill, that one can be fixed with a practise pad, a good drum teacher, and a metronome. Takes 6 months to a year, no more than an hour a day is necessary, although more is good. Proper real practise, not noodling. If people have natural talent, quicker results, on the other hand no aptitude whatsoever, marginal results.

    When people go into a session, one expects them to be able to play. If just one part is flaky, but the player is OK, it can be prepared properly in a few hours with a metronome in the lounge in a short enough time to sound OK. If they can't play well enough in general, the correct method is to tell them so, and re-book for 6 months later. If they're a band, send them off on a tour.
     
  9. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

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    Unfortunately most people don't want to hear something like this... :)

    There are obviously two factors for a great recording. The artist and the recording engineer.
    In a perfect world the musicians know what they are doing and come well prepared to the recording session. They are open for suggestions and happy to learn new things.
    The recording engineer does also know what he's doing. He listens to what the artist has to say, supports him in every aspect of the recording process and gives valuable tips on how to improve the performance and sound without forcing his opinion.
    But since it's not a perfect world you deal with what you get and make the best of it.

    I am a musician who has learned over the years how to make acceptable recordings. Though I mostly record myself I have recorded other people and bands and have come to know both sides. So I do understand that having to deal with bad musicians and/or big egos can be frustrating for an engineer. But I don't agree with what has been posted before, that the musician has to adapt or change his playing to get a good sound. The musicians part is the performance, to make it sound good is the responsibility of the engineer. Though both sides can make a contribution to either part it is the engineers job to support the musician. Not the other way around.
     
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    well i do think it's about me as well as the artist. it's my name and / or my studios name on the record and it's my right not to record them ... i have declined to record many projects and have kicked people out of the studio many times for many reasons.

    listen to yourself. that is so contradictory. it's not my job to sit in silence suffering through a basher. i am not so horny to record someone or financially needy as to have to subject myself to turd polishing. furthermore, i am more than just another "service provider" or an art gallery operator. i am artist also and if people can't accept that i don't want to work with them. i produce records. as such i seek out TALENT and i don't cast pearls before swine.

    1) you say to put up with hat cymbal bleed but it's exactly those kinds of drummers (inexperienced) who will whine when you cant pull the snare and toms out in the mix. they are their own worst enemies. to compound the problems when there is too much cymbal / hat wash, the guitar players are going to want "more guitars" ... and there you have it ... tons of cymbals, guitars too loud, vocals buried ... undefined snare / kick ... in other words a big mess with no way out. you can't make good recordings that way.

    and how would these "artists" as you put it, feel if i (as recording engineer) were "inexperienced" too? given that studio time is expensive it behooves the artists to be at the top of their game. otherwise, don't waste my time. i don't need to deal with sh*t.

    2) it's my experience that a drummer that doesn't know how to set up correctly, couldn't groove their way out of a paper bag. come on man .... these folks are idiots!

    3) IF i were posed with such a situation, forced to deal with someone like that i would do what i have already said to do 4 times. put up one mic and let them have at it. multiple mics/ tracks and the time it would take to execute would be a waste. no matter what you do, one mic or eleven, it's gonna sound like sh*t! once they were finished i would tell the client, let's get a good drummer in here now.

    to summarize; this all comes to the question i often pose; "why do you want to record?" just so you can say you have recorded? or because you have a good song or you have real talent?

    hint; some answers are good ones other reasons are poor. really there are way too many people making recordings that shouldn't be. it's all part of the democratization of recording. in years past there were screening processes, producers and a&r people, record companies and publishers who held the keys to the doors of the studios. a basher would never gain entrance.

    bottom line, what i said before is how great drum tracks are recorded. you're not going to get a great drum track from a drummer such as you describe. why even bother?
     
  11. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    TBH I'd find it very hard to define specific parameters on a perfect world, or have some sort of concrete system of ethics, or roles and responsibilities. What I've found is that if you've got the right capable people, theres's no worries or insecurities, people just get on with it, and good stuff gets made.

    Ultimately, the more that people can do, the better. The more skills you have in the room, the better. Skill and experience are naturally supportive. Drummers who are engineers is a good thing. Engineers who can read music, or fix/set up guitars is a good thing. The more skills and experience that people have, the more likely it is that what they collaborate on will be viable, well informed, realistically achievable and fruitful, and that critical flaws will be correctly identified. If a person takes on a task, and cannot perform that task properly, it helps if other people are conscious of that deficiency, and recommends the remedial action or additional skills/people required, rather than just biting their lip and beating their head against a brick wall "ethically".
     
  12. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    I can think of a few bands I've worked with who didn't want to be told they weren't ready, but were very happy to make a proper success of their work when they really were ready, and were keen enough to do what it took to get ready (which was an enjoyable process comprised largely of playing music), and are enjoying touring the world playing to large audiences at this point. Working on the music is the most important and critical part.

    Not to say that an engineer necessarily should be getting involved in a band's music, but ultimately if the music isn't being worked on properly, it's not going to sound right. Somebody has to do that work. It's almost invariably better if it's the musicians doing that work before it hits the microphone, rather than the engineer after it hits the microphone.
     
  13. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

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    I totally agree with what you are saying.
    Maybe I didn't express myself properly. This "perfect world" (in lack of better words) is exactly what you are saying. Everybody contributes to the recording with his skills to make the best record possible. But often the egos get in the way.
     
  14. zblip2

    zblip2 Active Member

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    Well, there you go, hi-hat bleed is killing the music. That's why I invented the darn thing:)
     
  15. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

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    Of course engineering is an art too. And of course you have the right to not record somebody. But usually you don't book musicians to do your art you are booked by musicians to record their music.


    What's contradictory about that? Performance goes first. There's nothing contradictory about that.
    If you have enough business to decline projects, good for you. Other engineers might not be so lucky, so they have to deal with it and still make it sound good.


    There's always drum replacement! :)

    Again, they pay YOU. Not the other way around. They have the right to have an engineer who knows what he's doing when they pay for him.


    What is the "correct" set up? Drummers usually don't set up their drums for good recording purposes but for effiency and ergonomics. And for the looks of course.
    Calling somebody who's not setting up his instrument the way you would like it an idiot is very intolerant and arrogant.

    What if the drummer is the client?


    When somebody wants to record his music, whether it's good, bad, whether he's got talent or not, it's his right to do it. If YOU don't want to record it, it's your decision and your right.
    Otherwise it's your job to support him or her to make their music sound as good as possible. Give him tips, tell him how you would do it, but in the end the one who pays decides.
     
  16. zblip2

    zblip2 Active Member

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    I hate hi-hat bleed...
     
  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    in one ear and out the other. and herein is exactly why music sounds like sh*t these days.
     
  18. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

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    And here's another arrogant and intolerant remark...
    Well I'm sorry they don't record directly to wax cylinders anymore.
     
  19. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    not sure what you mean about wax cylinders but i sure would prefer to be considered "arrogant & intolerant" than some hack with a mac book and a $250 interface. anyone can make a good mix with samples. no art to that imo. where true talent lies is in capture. FWIW I really perfer 2" tape to wax cylinders.

    there was a guy named Pete Best. he was a drummer in a band that auditioned for another guy named George Martin. the first thing Mr. Martin did was to tell the band to sh*t can Best and he replaced him with a guy named Andy White to do the recording.

    i guess Sir George Martin was arrogant and intolerant too. Not bad company to keep. Thanks for the off handed complement.
     
  20. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    Now that I'm thinking about it, one could build a circular or semicircular baffle that fits onto the hihat stand below the bottom cymbal, which shields the snare microphone from direct sound from the hihats, it could eat up / reflect away quite a bit of the direct sound coming off the bottom hihat, and one could then hide the snare mic under that...
     
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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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