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Top and bottom miking of snare and real world sound issues
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Sigma
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8th January 2011
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Top and bottom miking of snare and real world sound issues

i'm doing my drum video and setting up the snare was the biggest issue to work out .. it's like

.. if i have 2 exactly matched mikes on an essentially 2 dimensional sound source at the same level and distance ...top and bottom miking that similar sound source.. the phase would be 180% out..levels would be the same and they would cancel

but with miking a snare that's not the case

even if all of the above capture parameters were true you still have the beater head being hit with a stick and a resonating head underneath with a vibrating shell inbetween..the tuning/detuning of the heads and how they resonate would not be the same either..so there are so many variables involved, that to me what sounds good [or representative] and having a general "rule of thumb" is the only issue

[i got into an argument about how i did my set up]

so what i wanted to show and got those results when miking was that

taking 2 mikes and top/bottom miking a snare, putting in the bottom snare mic at a "tasteful level" while miking the top mic off axis to the head and the position of the bottom mic off axis to the bottom head and the mic above it..yielded better results and created a situation where when doing a phase invert, that it becomes a "taste issue" ..when comparing that to miking 90 deg to the heads and 180% inline between the microphones [ i got tons of combing whether untreated or inverted]..plus when i put a peak meter on each set and level matched to that [ which is what digital converters see as their "wall"] that the off axis's" apparent" sound level was so much louder than the on axis [no matter what phase switch setting for either were]

i wasn't doing a scientific "physics" test with matched mics. levels distance ..i was trying to simulate real world "mic it this way or that" situation


your thoughts? or experiences
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Sigma
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9th January 2011
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"crickets"
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9th January 2011
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I always think top and bottom mic'ing is a great idea until mix time. 90% of the time I drop the bottom mic.

But you are right that they are essentially two different signals - very different sounds coming off each end of the snare, and then even further differentiated by mic positioning. The 10% of the time I keep the bottom snare, it's pretty much from the setup you've explained - top and bottom off-axis. Never *need* to invert the signal with that setup.

I also find that I never reach for the invert button unless something sounds wrong - on any track, or just out of curiosity. Inverting is never a default action unless M/Sing.
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9th January 2011
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normally i just take the bottom mike and roll out everything below 500 hz and do a soft slope dip wide band from 1.8 down..and just get the wires

but i did this no eq..no reverb , no compressors etc.. because the video looks at from mic to pre to archive
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Yeah, maybe I try to get too much of the bottom in. I'll try focusing on the snare wires next time it comes up.
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9th January 2011
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.

i made samples off all my recording snares -> bottom miked, with different tensions of the snarewires.

then in the mix i trigger those samples with the top-snaretrack!
allows me to vary the tension of the snarewires to taste in every trackthumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
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9th January 2011
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It would be interesting to see pictures of the set-up you are describing.

FWIW, I usually place my top snare mic (M201) about a 30 degree angle to the top head, and my bottom mic (C414B-ULS) 180 degrees to the bottom head. This is mostly for bleed rejection reasons. Almost always, when I invert polarity on the bottom mic I get a really nice low freq. "pop" to the snare sound. What it does for the low end of the drum is what I like about bottom snare mics much more than the snare detail they give. I wouldn't dream of removing the lows from it. Sometimes I cut the highs. 90% of the time I keep the bottom mic and mix it a little lower than the top mic. It adds nice body in the mix.

Just my .02.

.
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9th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pongmaster View Post
i made samples off all my recording snares -> bottom miked, with different tensions of the snarewires.

then in the mix i trigger those samples with the top-snaretrack!
allows me to vary the tension of the snarewires to taste in every trackthumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
Clever. Melikes.

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I like the bottom mic for detail and some rattle (I tend towards looser wires in general). I often compress pretty hard with a quick attack and quick release to add some sustain and bring up detail.

On occasion, if I have a top mic with hi hat bleed issues, I'll kill some top end on it and use the bottom mic to restore a sense of brightness, although this can get kinda dodgy cuz the bottom mic's top end tends to be a bit rugged and harsh.

As for phase, yeah, it's a pain in the ass, but sometimes it adds a surprising amount of depth. The main issue I have is when using a top and bottom mic on a shallow snare (less than 5" or so). The combing when those signals are combined is, IMO, much more offensive-sounding than that of deeper snares/wider mic placements.
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9th January 2011
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on top or on bottom position or both?

I can swing both ways I like both methods...Its all dictated by the music itself and what snare tone you are going for. I first noticed bottom snare mic'ing on late beatles recordings. Especially on a song like revolution. Anyway. Phase is sometimes an issue when a snare is tuned low however with a higher tuning a bottom snare mic is sometimes not neccessary. Its always a good idea to have both mics set up and recorded so that you have the choice during mixdown between top or bottom or both. I like having the option when available because sometimes a snare may not be able to cut through the mix because it too dull sounding or something. being able to dial in that bottom snare fader is cool. The phase switch is handy when you have those isssues of phase But i find it can work both ways you have to listen and hear it it reacts to itself and to other mic's.
EQ will also help with the phase in either direction...
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I'm a big snare bottom fan, I like the sound of the snares, and it adds detail to "ghost" notes and rolls. There has even been occasions where I boost the low mid's on a bottom snare to give the whole thing a little weight. But, phase is always something to be aware of. I usually place the bottom mic on axis.
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9th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
i'm doing my drum video and setting up the snare was the biggest issue to work out .. it's like

.. if i have 2 exactly matched mikes on an essentially 2 dimensional sound source at the same level and distance ...top and bottom miking that similar sound source.. the phase would be 180% out..levels would be the same and they would cancel

but with miking a snare that's not the case

even if all of the above capture parameters were true you still have the beater head being hit with a stick and a resonating head underneath with a vibrating shell inbetween..the tuning/detuning of the heads and how they resonate would not be the same either..so there are so many variables involved, that to me what sounds good [or representative] and having a general "rule of thumb" is the only issue

[i got into an argument about how i did my set up]

so what i wanted to show and got those results when miking was that

taking 2 mikes and top/bottom miking a snare, putting in the bottom snare mic at a "tasteful level" while miking the top mic off axis to the head and the position of the bottom mic off axis to the bottom head and the mic above it..yielded better results and created a situation where when doing a phase invert, that it becomes a "taste issue" ..when comparing that to miking 90 deg to the heads and 180% inline between the microphones [ i got tons of combing whether untreated or inverted]..plus when i put a peak meter on each set and level matched to that [ which is what digital converters see as their "wall"] that the off axis's" apparent" sound level was so much louder than the on axis [no matter what phase switch setting for either were]

i wasn't doing a scientific "physics" test with matched mics. levels distance ..i was trying to simulate real world "mic it this way or that" situation


your thoughts? or experiences
The tried and true method for this is to put a dynamic on the top head and an SDC on the bottom head facing each other. If you flip the phase of the bottom mic, and add to taste, you should be able to brighten that top mic sufficiently without losing the bottom end which occurs from two mics facing one another in close proximity. This method is performed every day, thousands of times a day. At this point, I don't even bother recording the the top and bottom mics separately. I combine the two mics to one channel. The trick is not to add too much bottom snare mic so that all your hearing is the messy rattle of the snares.

You can play with all sorts of different combinations, just like every one of us that's been doing this awhile, and I wouldn't dissuade it. But in the end, the method I've just described seems to win out for most recordists, and if you're in a position where experimenting isn't an option, go with what works.

As much as it's good to know WHY things work the way they do, at the end of the day, what matters are the results.

Enjoy,

Mixerman
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9th January 2011
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I go through phases with mic'ing snares. Hell, for a couple of years there I was doing top, bottom AND side mic on the snare! These days I spend a long while choosing the mic and position for the top mic, then I add a bottom mic if I feel I need it, and that's probably 15% of the time.

Position wise I most often end up with the top mic at 45 degrees pointing at the 'point of impact' and the bottom mic pointing strait up towards the ceiling underneath the rattles, as close to the center of the drum as possible. 99% of the time, one of the two mics is polarity reversed. Which one I do depends on which way sounds better with the overheads.
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9th January 2011
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I've never really understood the need for "side" snare mic. What does it sound like? Are you placing a condenser near the vents (if a snare has one)?
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9th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Sullivan View Post
I've never really understood the need for "side" snare mic. What does it sound like? Are you placing a condenser near the vents (if a snare has one)?
I dunno, it kind of adds body I guess, bit more low mids or something. It's actually pretty useless IMHO, just a fad I got caught up in for a while...
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10th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mixerman View Post
The tried and true method for this is to put a dynamic on the top head and an SDC on the bottom head facing each other. If you flip the phase of the bottom mic, and add to taste, you should be able to brighten that top mic sufficiently without losing the bottom end which occurs from two mics facing one another in close proximity. This method is done every day, thousands of times a day.
I think what Mike's getting at, though, is you don't have to invert the signals if you offset the mic's axes, as he's demonstrating. You can choose whether you want to invert, according to taste. He's finding that he's getting better/more versatile results with that than the "tried and true" method you outline that we all know and typically default to.

Unless I'm using a 414 on the top head, which I position parallel to the skin, I never really like micing the snare on-axis. I know lots do, though. You obviously get good results.
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i find there are many equally valid way to record snare (or anything for that matter) and which way I choose to go on a particular song and part is relative to the song and intended production direction, the drum, the room, the drummer, and the mics available, etc. Recently I did km84's for one song... symmetrical... 3" above and in. On another it was somewhat symmetrical sm57's top and bottom... the mics closer to parallel with the head. On a third it was actually a pair of RE20's that did the trick. A mic on the shell, it the song is a real headbanger and all you need is the "shell" and the air is coming more from the overheads is great sometime too. The need to change polarity of one of the mics relative to the other is proportional to the mics diaphragms being parallel to each other and out of polarity with each other: i.e. facing each other. As the mic diaphragms become perpendicular to each other - two mic facing across the head (top and bottom) - then the need to flip tends towards unnecessary, as the mics are close to the same plane of phase.
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The trick that works best for me is to have the bottom mic as low as possible. I normally use one of those table mic stands on the floor. I usually place it somewhere in between the hi-hat and snare pointing at the snare but not directly at the strings. This way You get the bottom, side and a little bit of hi-hat and bass drum beater at once.
the sound of a closemiked snare bottom is quite useless to me. The nastiness is always there even at low levels. Keep that mic low and you´ll end up with something that is smooth and natural and phase won´t matter as much.
Use a smooth sounding, directional condenser mic for this purpose. Bottom snare is a harsh sound. 57´s etc. only accentuate that.
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10th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Greedy View Post
The need to change polarity of one of the mics relative to the other is proportional to the mics diaphragms being parallel to each other and out of polarity with each other: i.e. facing each other. As the mic diaphragms become perpendicular to each other - two mic facing across the head (top and bottom) - then the need to flip tends towards unnecessary, as the mics are close to the same plane of phase.
Hmmm. Isn't it the movement of the drum heads that makes flipping phase desirable, not the angle of the mic diaphragms?

I mean, no matter how you angle the diaphragms, one will still experience rarefied air while the other experiences compressed air because the top and bottom heads are moving in sync. Think about it; it's the mic's location, not it's angle that matters, no?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Hmmm. Isn't it the movement of the drum heads that makes flipping phase desirable, not the angle of the mic diaphragms?

I mean, no matter how you angle the diaphragms, one will still experience rarefied air while the other experiences compressed air because the top and bottom heads are moving in sync. Think about it; it's the mic's location, not it's angle that matters, no?

.

in short, no.
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10th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Greedy View Post
in short, no.
Heh! And in long? Come on, why? What is not true in what I said?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
I think what Mike's getting at, though, is you don't have to invert the signals if you offset the mic's axes, as he's demonstrating. You can choose whether you want to invert, according to taste. He's finding that he's getting better/more versatile results with that than the "tried and true" method you outline that we all know and typically default to.
thumbsup

4x's angled away from head and each other in ...followed by 4x's angled inverted followed by 4x's 90 deg to heads and 180 inline to each other in and 4x's 90 deg inverted

56 top..57 bottom..the video idea is cheap mikes can still make good drum recordings and basic drum recording advice

i used
d112,
56
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One of the big reasons why a lot of people don't like the bottom snare mic is due to

a: the snare wire being old and stretched, so the drummer has to crank the snare tension and consequently probably overcranked the bottom head tuning as well..

b: an aged bottom snare head.

Really serious recording players tend to swap bottom heads with a ratio as low as 3 top heads to one bottom head.

When you close mic, minute details can become colossal.... so what can sound quite ok with a minimal mic technique can be horrendous with multiple mics.
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Here's a great combination for getting the full sound of a snare-drum to any media.

Top is miked across with an AKG C460/CK1 capsule with the ring adapter, this is 60% – 75% of the sound.

Bottom is miked dead into center of snares (and body of snare) with a beta-57.

Set @ unity gain, mix with faders, flip phase at your own discretion...sometimes an out of phase bottom sound can scoop the tone. No EQ necessary!

See attached.
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Top and bottom miking of snare and real world sound issues-img_0701.jpg  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
I think what Mike's getting at, though, is you don't have to invert the signals if you offset the mic's axes, as he's demonstrating. You can choose whether you want to invert, according to taste. He's finding that he's getting better/more versatile results with that than the "tried and true" method you outline that we all know and typically default to.

Unless I'm using a 414 on the top head, which I position parallel to the skin, I never really like micing the snare on-axis. I know lots do, though. You obviously get good results.
He's inverting to taste two mics that are less than 180 degrees out of phase. So it's not about taste, it's about choosing between out-of-phase and more out-of-phase. Remember, the phase button is rendered somewhat useless on two mics 90 degrees out.

Mixerman
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10th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mixerman View Post
At this point, I don't even bother recording the the top and bottom mics separately. I combine the two mics to one channel. The trick is not to add too much bottom snare mic so that all your hearing is the messy rattle of the snares.
If you record it to a separate track it can come in handy for passages like quiet military snare stuff or press rolls - you can simply create a duplicate (copy) out of just that section and process and balance just for those bits. And the same goes if there are some very fancy / slinky syncopated grace notes that you want to pick out in certain passages, sometimes fading up just the under snare mic can be just the ticket!

But for sure dont get preoccupied with the top and bottom mic's having to have the same record level or fader levels. Typically the under snare mic level is set VERY low..(its too raspy, 'peaky' and transient to push up most times)

My 2 euro cents..
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Good point, Jules.

Also useful to have on a second track for rimshots and sidestick. The ambiance from it can add to the overall tone of the kit also. You don't need to gate it/expand it/clean it to death either. There's already too much sterility in modern drum sounds. Everything's starting to sound like (shudder) 1983 again.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Greedy View Post
The need to change polarity of one of the mics relative to the other is proportional to the mics diaphragms being parallel to each other and out of polarity with each other: i.e. facing each other. As the mic diaphragms become perpendicular to each other - two mic facing across the head (top and bottom) - then the need to flip tends towards unnecessary, as the mics are close to the same plane of phase.
Not wanting to derail this thread, I started a new thread to discuss why I question this:

Microphone Placement: Polarity

All insights are welcome.



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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mixerman View Post
He's inverting to taste two mics that are less than 180 degrees out of phase. So it's not about taste, it's about choosing between out-of-phase and more out-of-phase. Remember, the phase button is rendered somewhat useless on two mics 90 degrees out.

Mixerman
How about using a tool like the Littlelabs, etc where you can do in-between settings rather than 0/180?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
If you record it to a separate track it can come in handy for passages like quiet military snare stuff or press rolls - you can simply create a duplicate (copy) out of just that section and process and balance just for those bits. And the same goes if there are some very fancy / slinky syncopated grace notes that you want to pick out in certain passages, sometimes fading up just the under snare mic can be just the ticket!

But for sure dont get preoccupied with the top and bottom mic's having to have the same record level or fader levels. Typically the under snare mic level is set VERY low..(its too raspy, 'peaky' and transient to push up most times)

My 2 euro cents..

Surely there are times to record the two mics separately, but it's usually not necessary. As someone who learned how to record with a somewhat limited number of tracks, this wasn't even a reasonable option. At some point, you just learn how to blend the two, even in situations where there's ghosting rhythms on the snare.

I also prefer to record aggressively, and if I'm going to compress the snare, it usually occurs at the tracking stage, and I'd rather compress the snare as a whole in the tracking process. The more decisions you make early on in the process, the less decisions you have to make later, and the more aware your artist will be during the recording process of what the final product will sound like.

I've never actually had to ride the bottom snare on a recording. I'm not saying it can't happen, or that it won't happen, but it seems like the rare exception given my experience recording drums.

Enjoy,

Mixerman
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