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Mic Overload? Dynamics Plugins
Old 3rd July 2005
  #1
Gear Head
 

Mic Overload?

Hey guys i'm really stuck on something here and was wondering if anyone could help me out.

When i record drums on playback occasionally it sounds like the snare (and sometimes tom) mics are clipping. They arent though as my converters (Motu 828mk2) never go into the red, usually not into yellow, the pre signal (Focusrite ISA428) is low especially on the VU its is barely moving (another thing i find strange).

Ive tried moving the mic further away from the snare which seemed to help a bit but sometimes when a drummer really wacks it it sounds as though something has peaked. I use an sm57 beta on snare and 421's on toms.

Should the pre level on the vu be much higher than it is? When i record guitars obviously i can get it a lot higher to due the nature of the sound but it seems weird that the percussion levels look so low and yet i sometimes get this clipping sound.

I Hope this is in the right forum and apologise if it isnt.

Thanks

Jonny
Old 8th August 2005
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

it's probably more the case that the converters ARE clipping, but it's happening so fast that the display can't respond.

The waveform should be the giveaway... do you know what clipping actually looks like? squared off parts at the top & bottom of the waveform? ie. the smooth, rounded part at the top/bottom of the wave has been "clipped" off.

Your software will generally indicate that the channel has peaked? I use sonar, the recording level lights a red indicator at the top which will not go away until you click on it to reset it.


Anyway, maybe this will shed some light? who knows...

Matt
Old 8th August 2005
  #3
Lives for gear
 
nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

The VU is going to be very slow for transients that last about a milli second. I would watch your tape inputs mostly with type of signal. that is why most VU meter pres also have a peak LED. I have seen some peaks be as much as 10 to 20 db over what the VU meter was indicating.
Old 8th August 2005
  #4
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brianroth's Avatar
 

For grins (and testing purposes), I'd try inserting a 10 or 20 dB pad between the output of the mic and the input of the preamp.

Bri
Old 8th August 2005
  #5
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Screws's Avatar
 

I often record drum tracks with a really great drummer who smacks the crap out of the drums - but makes it sound great, albeit at a very loud volume.

My preamps (especially those used for overhead) clip badly unless I use a pad somewhere (on mic, in line or on preamp).

The A Designs ATTY is great as a variable attenuator for exactly this purpose. It's supposed to be used after the preamp as a line level attenuator but I've actually used it between a mic and the preamp successfully.
Old 8th August 2005
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Odds are the mic itself is overloaded and can't handle the high SPL... which is strange since you are talking about SM57s and 421s. But I have personally heard a 421 distort.

Your meters won't show this, assuming your gain structure is set appropriately. Listen first - mics clipping sound different than pres clipping - and look at the waveform in a DAW.

As stated earlier... Ballistics/resolution of the meters comes into play as well. Use your clip LEDs to make sure it is NOT the pre.
Old 8th August 2005
  #7
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DirkB's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robobo1
Odds are the mic itself is overloaded and can't handle the high SPL... which is strange since you are talking about SM57s and 421s. But I have personally heard a 421 distort.

Your meters won't show this, assuming your gain structure is set appropriately. Listen first - mics clipping sound different than pres clipping - and look at the waveform in a DAW.

As stated earlier... Ballistics/resolution of the meters comes into play as well. Use your clip LEDs to make sure it is NOT the pre.
a SM57 overloading on a crushing snare hit? Not in my world, or there's something wrong with the mic. I bet you could hit the snare with the sm57, get a decent rimshot and the mic still isn't clipping...

Greetings,
Dirk
Old 8th August 2005
  #8
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robobo1
Odds are the mic itself is overloaded and can't handle the high SPL... which is strange since you are talking about SM57s and 421s.
DirkB, I already agree with you.
Old 8th August 2005
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Yeah, I'd look elsewhere in the chain.....as already stated....check the waveform. Even without looking at that, I'd say converters or possibly mic pre. Heck, we don't know what your signal path looks like do we? Did you mention it and I've already forgotten what I just read 5 minutes ago? Unless they're broken, you're not going to clip a 57 or 421 in normal, drum usage.
later,
m
Old 8th August 2005
  #10
Gear Addict
 

If you really want to spend the time on this... audition the output of the pre by some means other than the A-D.
Old 24th August 2005
  #11
Gear Head
 

After testing i think ive found out the problem. It seems that the wallbox between the live and control room is somehow adding some distortion to the signal.

I did some tests on vocals straight to the pre and from the wallbox through to the pre and on the wallbox ones you can hear like a crackle type sound that is there no matter how how or little the gain is cranked. Even when i had the gain down loads and the waveform was tiny on screen in logic it was still audible.

Does this make sense to anyone? Anyone heard of this before?

This is driving me crazy and i wanna sort it asap.

Thanks again for all the replies.

Jonny
Old 24th August 2005
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandit666
After testing i think ive found out the problem. It seems that the wallbox between the live and control room is somehow adding some distortion to the signal.

I did some tests on vocals straight to the pre and from the wallbox through to the pre and on the wallbox ones you can hear like a crackle type sound that is there no matter how how or little the gain is cranked. Even when i had the gain down loads and the waveform was tiny on screen in logic it was still audible.

Does this make sense to anyone? Anyone heard of this before?

This is driving me crazy and i wanna sort it asap.

Thanks again for all the replies.

Jonny
Could be the cable or ends - those little devils!
Old 24th August 2005
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by bernieL0max
it's probably more the case that the converters ARE clipping, but it's happening so fast that the display can't respond.

The waveform should be the giveaway... do you know what clipping actually looks like? squared off parts at the top & bottom of the waveform? ie. the smooth, rounded part at the top/bottom of the wave has been "clipped" off.

Your software will generally indicate that the channel has peaked? I use sonar, the recording level lights a red indicator at the top which will not go away until you click on it to reset it.


Anyway, maybe this will shed some light? who knows...

Matt
Hey Bernie, sorry to bust the thread and digress, but have you had any issues with Sonar 4 (upgraded all patches) dragging midi against audio in dense multi track sequencing? Random question, but thought I'd ask. Thanks.

Again, mic clipping guy, sorry for the intrusion
Old 24th August 2005
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Fajita's Avatar
did YOU make the wall box? if so, you need to go back to soldering school...

Old 24th August 2005
  #15
Gear Head
 

Yeah i made it haha all seemed fine. Looks like i'll have to take it apart and have a look.

Sqye no problems thumbsup
Old 25th August 2005
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye
Hey Bernie, sorry to bust the thread and digress, but have you had any issues with Sonar 4 (upgraded all patches) dragging midi against audio in dense multi track sequencing? Random question, but thought I'd ask. Thanks.
I use very little (if any) midi, sorry...
Old 26th August 2005
  #17
Gear Head
 

Checked it all and nothings wrong. Also looked back at mentioned waveforms from the snare hits and they arent squared off but do have a sharp spike on the initial attack.

Could it just be the way the drummer hit the snare on those occasions? cause it sounds like a sharp crack which due to the initial transient being higher than the rest makes it hard to do anything with. If it is then compressed/eq'd it brings that sound out more. I can just replace these random hits but want to know if this seems normal as nothings peaking, clipping or distorting anywhere.

I just don't get it and it's driving me crazy!

Sorry to keep buggin you guys

Jonny
Old 29th August 2005
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

get yourself a copy of drumagog (legally of course), and use this track to trigger samples... i love it, use it all the time (every time a drummer turns up with a piece of ****e snare/kit)
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