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Why not XY/ORTF micing on overheads? Condenser Microphones
Old 4th November 2008
  #1
Why not XY/ORTF micing on overheads?

Just looking through the fantastic drum mic pictures thread. I notice that many many people use spaced pairs for overheads - i.e. one over hi-hat, another a couple of meters away over the ride - or similar.

I'm always using either XY or near XY over the middle of the kit to try and minimise phase issues between the mics and with 'near XY' - to introduce some timing cues. 'In theory' - I have troubles with spaced stereo micing - mics aren't acting like a pair of ears.

Of course everyone has their preferences but am I missing something?

The question is 'if you don't use XY for overheads, why not? What is better for you about a spaced pair?'
Thanks!
Old 4th November 2008
  #2
a lot of people like spaced pair for its wider stereo image and potential ability to capture more cymbals and less drums
Old 4th November 2008
  #3
It all depends on what type of sound you are trying to get out of the kit. An XY pair will give you more of a "live" sound. Especially if you are only using a minimal 3 mic setup. Great for jazz. Not so great for hard rock where a more synthetic and controllable sound is desired. A lot of engineers will forgo a coincident pair and strategically place their mics around each drum to isolate it and use a couple of condensers to capture the cymbals. (Great, if you have enough mics...I don't )
Old 4th November 2008
  #4
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turk sanchez's Avatar
I LOVE ortf overheads with a pair of sdc's...right over the drummers head...one of my favorite methods. I prefer ortf over xy.
Old 4th November 2008
  #5
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springer's Avatar
 

Having tried many XY /ORTF setups on live jazz dates I opted for AB as it just sounds better to me. the others place the strengths of the mics pattern away from the meat. I even tried MS with a pair of UMT70S and kick myself for not going AB on that one. If in ISO maybe it would work out better but I leave ORFT and suck for large ensembles.
Old 4th November 2008
  #6
Dan
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I've had great luck with ORTF, but I guess it depends on the sound you're going for.
Old 4th November 2008
  #7
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5down1up's Avatar
 

i just dont like the way it sounds, xy, ms, ortf ...

i prefer the spaced pair sound using small condensers as well.
Old 4th November 2008
  #8
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ORTF sounds great, but some may find it boring because it doesn't give you the same extra-wide stereo image as a widely spaced A/B.
If you find the right spot, though, the stereo width and especially the depth of the kit can sound very lifelike.
It's a good starting point if you're going for a "drummer perspective" imaging.
Old 5th November 2008
  #9
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ORTF is a good compromise, technically speaking. it's not as mono compatible as XY or MS nor as mono incompatible as AB. it's just between, a near-coincident technique if you want. you cant really go wrong with it in all cases. that's what i recommend for beginners.

i, for one, use them all; it all depends on the material you want to achieve. but most of the time it's AB since the stuff i record doesn't really hit broadcasting (so not so mono demanding).
Old 5th November 2008
  #10
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I personally feel that the context dictates the setup. Sometimes a coincident or near coincident pair is fine, but if you're going for lager than life, an AB pair gives you both level differences between mics (to varying extents, depending on the mics' patterns) and time of arrival differences (unlike X/Y, which relies strictly on level difference, or ORTF which relies on both). There seems to be an added bit of dimensionality to systems that incorporate both time and amplitude differences. While that may not be the direct reasoning process involved, I think that the "lager than life" outcome has shifted many towards the AB pair.
Old 5th November 2008
  #11
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warhead's Avatar
 

I love ORTF and prefer it most times. Much better stereo image / separation vs XY which I find boring in this position. I think ORTF is the perfect balance between mono compatible and great spread / balance. Then again, I like to capture the depth of the entire kit with the overheads and have never really been one to try and minimize the drums and maximize the cymbals only.

War
Old 5th November 2008
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead View Post
I love ORTF... Much better stereo image / separation vs XY which I find boring in this position.
Oh so true...
Old 5th November 2008
  #13
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Ozzy's Avatar
 

I love, and regularly use both.

Funnily enough, the 2 (pretty crappy tbh) pics of drums in my studio on my website show xy and ortf (or a weird varient of, facing drummer as apposed to behind).

Oz
Old 5th November 2008
  #14
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Drumsound's Avatar
I haven't used x/y in a while. It's never juiced me. I've really liked ORTF a lot lately. I'm getting really good hihat and ride placement and that makes me happy. When I do a spaced pair lately I do what I call 'off axis' spaced pair. I face the capsules down to the floor and dangle a mic cable from the mic and adjust placement so it goes to the floor. Nothing is directly under the capsule.
Old 6th November 2008
  #15
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why spaced pair?

Yes the stereo image is larger than life.
You can get a lot of room control by being closer to what you need to be close to.
You can phase match them with respect to at least one drum if needed by time aligning the tracks, or smart placement.
You can "mix" the drummer to some extent with a spaced pair, avoiding use of close mics.

other factors:
If you need to do anything but hard pan a spaced pair you can get into trouble.
If you use a verb on the drum bus, the verb will sum spaced pair to some extent, resulting in possible bad colored reverb.
In a daw any differential effects treatment of the channels will ruin phase alignment in high end anyway - even with good latency compensation. So why compromise other elements.
In all but the very best rooms there will be significant reflected low end reaching the xy pair from different reflection points... so the phase alignment advantage of xy doesn't always get you what you wanted.
If you apply any room or verb to symbols you are introducing phase chaos in the high end at least - so, once again, you didn't get everything you wanted from the xy pair in the end.
People hear symbols as phase chaotic in any room anyway, so by allowing phase chaos in high end you are likely to be recording what the listener experiences "live".

Think about spaced pair as a mono overhead and a significant other mic somewhere else. . Then use ears, and pray to the spirit of Led Zep. t.
Old 8th November 2008
  #16
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I've been wondering a lot about this too recently. I've been using ORTF on overheads for years, but noticed I hardly ever seem to see it used anywhere else!

I actually tried a spaced pair recently instead, and noticed immediately the toms were a lot less solid than usual. Not only that - the drummer noticed too, so it was a quick switch back to ORTF!!

87s, Milab VIP50s, AT 4033s, Schoeps CMC6s, KM84s or Coles 4038s (not actually ORTF, but still sound great) all seem to do the job the way I want.
Old 1st February 2018
  #17
Gear Nut
I record a lot of jazz, and my vote is for XY. It paints a lovely unified pictured of the drum set as a single instrument in its own right....
Old 2nd February 2018
  #18
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsundergroun View Post
a lot of people like spaced pair for its wider stereo image and potential ability to capture more cymbals and less drums
yeah i use overs as basically cymbal mics ..451's rolled off at 500hz
Old 7th October 2018
  #19
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andychamp's Avatar
Our new studio partner brought in - among others - a USM69.
So today I set it up as x/y overhead, along the snare-to-kick axis, and I was stunned by the realism.
Granted, not as spectacularly wide as a/b, but so true to the source that it made up for it.
Old 8th October 2018
  #20
Big fan of ORTF about 36+” above the snare and slightly to the left of the center of the snare (facing the drummer) but I usually cheat both mics a little forward closer to the cymbals and turned back tward the snare and floor Tom. This might sound confusing but it’s the best way I can describe it. Try it. You’ll like it.
Old 8th October 2018
  #21
Spaced pair always helped me to balance the cymbals. Unless the drummer was A+ then I could more or less find the spot where one cymbal might be a little too hot and compensate. In mix I would usually do 10-2 or maybe 9-3 less often and things sounded larger than real so to speak. Phase relationships should always be paid attention to also.
Old 8th October 2018
  #22
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my choice of mic technique is depending on whether i'm trying to picture the whole kit or use the oh mics mainly as cymbal mics - genre and situation also are big factors (no way of using ortf for a metal drummer on a loud stage, but why not x/y on a jazz kit). when mixing live, witdth of oh mics is a non-issue...
Old 9th October 2018
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turk sanchez View Post
I LOVE ortf overheads with a pair of sdc's...right over the drummers head...one of my favorite methods. I prefer ortf over xy.
Same here. I have come to really like a more center image drumsound, including mono room mics.
Especially in mixes with lots of dirt guitars L/R the better center image of ORTF I prefer. I use two Josephson C42s, works great.

Regards,
Dirk
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
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For the ORTF crowd: have you drawn an imaginary line from kick through snare, bisecting the drums and straddling ORTF across this line?

George Massenburg talks about this imaginary line to create a centered snare and kick in the image but I haven’t tried it with ORTF, which I usually do above the drummers head, but more or less straight on.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
For the ORTF crowd: have you drawn an imaginary line from kick through snare, bisecting the drums and straddling ORTF across this line?

George Massenburg talks about this imaginary line to create a centered snare and kick in the image but I haven’t tried it with ORTF, which I usually do above the drummers head, but more or less straight on.
Yep! This is usually what I do, at least as my starting point, and then I'll adjust to taste. I also have a 3d printed ORTF clip for my Schoeps cmc54 pair that makes it super easy to setup. Especially for live recordings, I think ortf gives a reliably good to great sound with a nice width that blends well with spot mics.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by over-man View Post
Yep! This is usually what I do, at least as my starting point, and then I'll adjust to taste. I also have a 3d printed ORTF clip for my Schoeps cmc54 pair that makes it super easy to setup. Especially for live recordings, I think ortf gives a reliably good to great sound with a nice width that blends well with spot mics.
Cool. So pointed on a 45 degree downwards, positioned over the rack tom?

ORTF kinda throws me off, looks so weird, like the mics are pointing outside of the kit.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
For the ORTF crowd: have you drawn an imaginary line from kick through snare, bisecting the drums and straddling ORTF across this line?

George Massenburg talks about this imaginary line to create a centered snare and kick in the image but I haven’t tried it with ORTF, which I usually do above the drummers head, but more or less straight on.
That's what I do most of the time. I like the sound a lot

Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
Cool. So pointed on a 45 degree downwards, positioned over the rack tom?

ORTF kinda throws me off, looks so weird, like the mics are pointing outside of the kit.
ORTF has the mics at a 110º angle 17cm apart. I point the array "down" toward the drums. It does point somewhat outside the drums, but that helps have a really nice spread. It also puts the mics slightly off axis, which keeps things from sounding harsh.
Attached Thumbnails
Why not XY/ORTF micing on overheads?-20190216_211744.jpg  
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
That's what I do most of the time. I like the sound a lot


ORTF has the mics at a 110º angle 17cm apart. I point the array "down" toward the drums. It does point somewhat outside the drums, but that helps have a really nice spread. It also puts the mics slightly off axis, which keeps things from sounding harsh.
Ah, so you're coming at it from the back above the drummer's head, but slightly more over his left shoulder, or centered over his head, but rotated?

I've had it with my CM3s over the drummer's head but pretty much straight on.

Figured a picture is better, but here's what I think you're doing (green) and what I'm thinking of trying (red):



Obviously the red angle would be almost straight down (and as high as I can get: probably 12' or so).

Green would be about 45 degree angle.

Last edited by gravyface; 4 weeks ago at 04:50 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
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For live recordings, I'm pointing them almost straight down, with the L/R bisecting the imaginary line through the bass drum and snare as you've described. I usually start with the mics positioned above the kit, with an imaginary line dropping straight down from the center of the ORTF array in to the area directly between the snare and kick (could be over a rack tom depending on the arrangement). I'd say it's pretty close to what Drumsound is describing and showing in that picture.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
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I quite often use a single-point stereo mic, but typically either in M/S, or my SoundField.
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