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Miking toms
Old 22nd June 2009
  #1
Gear Nut
 
jaakkol's Avatar
 

Miking toms

I always feel I could do better with tom sounds I´m getting. The tuning, drum sound & the player are of course major factors. But I´d like to hear some different mic selections & setups for toms.

So what´s Your approach for thundering & kick ass tom sounds expecially on rock / heavy genres?


cheers
Jaakko

ps. not into soundreplacing at least for this...
Old 22nd June 2009
  #2
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Grumblefoot's Avatar
 

Senn. 421, a bit of compression, and then lightly gated.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #3
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Infernal Device's Avatar
 

d4 and d6 with Great River preamps. Come mix time, turn up the faders. Done.

It is all about the tuning. almost 100%.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #4
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
If I'm looking for "phasey" / "washy" cymbals leaking into my tom tracks [even if it's low level] MD-421's are the best!!!

If I'm looking for great tom sounds then usually Josephson e22S's top and bottom mixed to two tracks through an API 3124MB+

Gefell UM-71's are great too.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #5
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AudioWonderland's Avatar
 

Probably an unpopular approach but I think the toms sound more realistic if you just back whatever mic you use off the head 3-6 inches depending.

Probably won't work for everything but I like the result. But then I often don't mic them at at all and just roll with the kick/snare and OH's
Old 23rd June 2009
  #6
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camerondye's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
If I'm looking for "phasey" / "washy" cymbals leaking into my tom tracks [even if it's low level] MD-421's are the best!!!

If I'm looking for great tom sounds then usually Josephson e22S's top and bottom mixed to two tracks through an API 3124MB+

Gefell UM-71's are great too.


Wow, that's $2600 per tom for the mics alone...now that's high end. Josephson makes some nice stuff though...
cam
Old 23rd June 2009
  #7
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Fletcher's Avatar
Many [MANY!!] years ago I dropped by a session to visit a friend who was engineering at Skip Sailor's in helLAy... he was mic'ing the toms with TELEFUNKEN ELA M 251 E's... the e22S's aren't quite sales tax on those bad boys.

It all depends on what you have and where you feel like using it.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #8
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norman_nomad's Avatar
Some things that have worked for me...

Positioning:

- Position the mic so the diaphragm it's just peaking over the rim of the tom pointed flat across the tom or pointed slightly at an angle towards the center of the head. Flat across the rim will capture more shell tone, angled will capture more stick hit and "thunk".

- Hold your hand in a fist - this is the approximate height the mic should sit above the rim. Adjust by ear and find a place where the proximity effect gives the tom some weight.

- Point the tom mics towards the snare for additional snare reinforcement.


Tuning/Setup:

- For kits with multiple toms, tune them in musical intervals. 4ths or 5ths. Use a tuner to tune each lug if you have to. Something like 10"=E, 12"=C#, 13"=A#, 14"=G, 16"=E works well for rock. Heavy genres tend to have lower tuned toms which produce less note and more smack. Tuning your toms musically even with lower pitches is still important.

- Top head + bottom head tuned to the same pitch delivers a sustaining pure tone. Most modern heavy genre's have toms which have the top head tuned slightly lower than the bottom head to achieve that pitch bending 'doo' sound. One technique is to tune both heads to the same pitch so that you get a even pure tone, then drop the top head by a semi-tone or by ear until you get the right amount of pitch bend. You'll lose some sustain, but this is generally preferable in modern music. Lowering the pitch of your top head equally across the toms will still maintain their musical coherence.

- I usually prefer single ply heads for toms in recordings (even heavy genres). They will wear out quickly but they produce more smack/tone. They require more disciplined tuning efforts however.

- Hit them hard.


Mix:

- For modern stuff: Big bass boost for size, big low-mid cut for clarity, big upper mid boost for smack/stick sound. Be careful with 8k and above as too much will make them sound too 'clicky/flappy'. Compress/Limit to taste. Pan aggressively.

- Modern genres tend to require unnatural separation between instruments so you may end up gating the toms. If you're applying extreme processing the bleed may not work anyways. Don't hesitate to experiment with some bleed however... the toms can often help glue together the kit in a nice and unexpected way, especially if your completely replacing kick/snare. In some cases it may work to your advantage to duplicate the tom tracks and process them specifically for the best 'bleed' sound and then include the the other gate/processed tom tracks for punch.

- Automation + Transient Designer is your friend.

- Don't be afraid of reverb.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #9
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Barish's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
Many [MANY!!] years ago I dropped by a session to visit a friend who was engineering at Skip Sailor's in helLAy... he was mic'ing the toms with TELEFUNKEN ELA M 251 E's... the e22S's aren't quite sales tax on those bad boys.

It all depends on what you have and where you feel like using it.
No drummer I have known so far had the capability of handling the pressure of having that much money on the tip of their sticks. They immediately get an inescapable urge to hit them right on the grill or something. And they don't even wait for the main take to do that.

I just fvckin' stick a stock dynamic on and move on. I'd need to see their credit check report and advance swipe slip first before putting on a mic of such calibre (provided that I have the fvckers at my disposal in the first place).

B.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #10
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
You need to work with better drummers. I haven't worked with a drummer that has hit a mic in well over 20 years. Rule of thumb, if they're not good enough to hit the drums consistently then they're not good enough to make them sound good... and if they're not good enough to make them sound good, then they're not good enough to work with me.

Excellent policy... makes me look like a genius from time to time.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #11
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bobsandifer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
Rule of thumb, if they're not good enough to hit the drums consistently then they're not good enough to make them sound good.
How do you determine that they are not consistent with their strikes? Wouldnt that be right after they smash into one of your mics?..LOL

I say 421's and 57 if the marks on the heads are all over the place then put the good stuff in the overheads, bottoms and rooms. Then....drumagog
Old 23rd June 2009
  #12
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Slikjmuzik's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
You need to work with better drummers. I haven't worked with a drummer that has hit a mic in well over 20 years. Rule of thumb, if they're not good enough to hit the drums consistently then they're not good enough to make them sound good... and if they're not good enough to make them sound good, then they're not good enough to work with me.

Excellent policy... makes me look like a genius from time to time.
Geese, if I had that mentality, I'd probably never get work or everyone would hate working with me. At least here in South Florida, knowing the bands down here as well as I do because I also run live sound in this area.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
abtech's Avatar
 

Doing live sound for several years, I began to realize that bringing my mic locker on the road had it's caveats. After a few of my mics were essentially destroyed by "enthusiastic" drummers, I started a basic drill.

While setting up the mics for the kit, I would ask (totally seriously) if the drummer felt that he might hit one of the mics. If the answer was anything but an emphatic "NO WAY!", I would start placing my "especial" mics on the kit.

This group of mics consisted of about 8 "slightly used" SM58s that had been through several punk and new wave shows and all had "asymmetrical" heads and bodies (gross understatement). After mumbling something like "too bad the drums will sound like crap with these mics", the drummer would usually start offering comments like "I'll be careful, just let me use the good mics" or something to that effect.

After 4 years of using this procedure, I never had a mic that was damaged from being hit by the drummer. I explained that I wasn't putting $15K+ worth of mics up there without a credit card swipe and that either resolved the situation or they used the 58s.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #14
Gear Nut
 
jaakkol's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
If I'm looking for "phasey" / "washy" cymbals leaking into my tom tracks [even if it's low level] MD-421's are the best!!!
This is what I usually get! Almost every time I´ve used 421´s on toms, so far with not good results.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #15
Gear Nut
 
jaakkol's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by norman_nomad View Post
Some things that have worked for me...

Positioning:

- Position the mic so the diaphragm it's just peaking over the rim of the tom pointed flat across the tom or pointed slightly at an angle towards the center of the head. Flat across the rim will capture more shell tone, angled will capture more stick hit and "thunk".

- Hold your hand in a fist - this is the approximate height the mic should sit above the rim. Adjust by ear and find a place where the proximity effect gives the tom some weight.

- Point the tom mics towards the snare for additional snare reinforcement.


Tuning/Setup:

- For kits with multiple toms, tune them in musical intervals. 4ths or 5ths. Use a tuner to tune each lug if you have to. Something like 10"=E, 12"=C#, 13"=A#, 14"=G, 16"=E works well for rock. Heavy genres tend to have lower tuned toms which produce less note and more smack. Tuning your toms musically even with lower pitches is still important.

- Top head + bottom head tuned to the same pitch delivers a sustaining pure tone. Most modern heavy genre's have toms which have the top head tuned slightly lower than the bottom head to achieve that pitch bending 'doo' sound. One technique is to tune both heads to the same pitch so that you get a even pure tone, then drop the top head by a semi-tone or by ear until you get the right amount of pitch bend. You'll lose some sustain, but this is generally preferable in modern music. Lowering the pitch of your top head equally across the toms will still maintain their musical coherence.

- I usually prefer single ply heads for toms in recordings (even heavy genres). They will wear out quickly but they produce more smack/tone. They require more disciplined tuning efforts however.

- Hit them hard.


Mix:

- For modern stuff: Big bass boost for size, big low-mid cut for clarity, big upper mid boost for smack/stick sound. Be careful with 8k and above as too much will make them sound too 'clicky/flappy'. Compress/Limit to taste. Pan aggressively.

- Modern genres tend to require unnatural separation between instruments so you may end up gating the toms. If you're applying extreme processing the bleed may not work anyways. Don't hesitate to experiment with some bleed however... the toms can often help glue together the kit in a nice and unexpected way, especially if your completely replacing kick/snare. In some cases it may work to your advantage to duplicate the tom tracks and process them specifically for the best 'bleed' sound and then include the the other gate/processed tom tracks for punch.

- Automation + Transient Designer is your friend.

- Don't be afraid of reverb.
Good stuff.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #16
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
I love my e22's matched with my sebatron pre.

I have drummers who insist on using my studio largely due to the tom sound

I mic only the top (I only have 3 e22's)

narco
Old 23rd June 2009
  #17
Gear Nut
 
jaakkol's Avatar
 

Thanks for the input, keep ´em coming!

Next session I´m gonna record I´ll try something else. The mic selection in the studio is pretty good; U67´s, U47´s, 4050´s, 414´s, 441´s and all the usual suspects. I´d love to try the U 67´s on toms, maybe U 47´s room mics and 4050´s as overheads... Or 441´s on top of and 414´s under the toms.


jaakko
Old 23rd June 2009
  #18
Gear Nut
 
jaakkol's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by narco View Post
I love my e22's matched with my sebatron pre.

I have drummers who insist on using my studio largely due to the tom sound

I mic only the top (I only have 3 e22's)

narco
I´d really like to try those e22's, seems like a killer mic!



jaakko
Old 23rd June 2009
  #19
Gear Addict
 
Admiral James T.'s Avatar
 

I often don't mike toms at all.
But if I do I usually take 421 or sm57, sometimes RE20 or e602 for floortom. Always like "four fingers" off the skin. Lately I had no 421/57 left, so I took sm58's with surprisingly great results.
I never gate toms.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #20
Gear Nut
 

Just hearing that you might possibly put U67's and U47's in harms way on the toms makes me cringe a bit.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #21
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaakkol View Post
I´d really like to try those e22's, seems like a killer mic!



jaakko
they're worthwhile investing in, as they are one of the most universal mics you can get, by that I mean they work on just about everything

narco
Old 23rd June 2009
  #22
I think anything too high end is a waste (like putting 67's or ELAM's on toms, leave them for the overheads), but a lot better tone can be yielded with $700-$1100 condensers beyond what any dynamic can do that I've ever heard. People used to put U87's on toms all the time.

I personally have 4 TLM103's that I have dedicated to the purpose. I actually like them better than 87's because of the more relative dip in the TLM's midrange which is perfect for a tom. I wouldn't hesitate to alternatively pick a set of Bock 195's or BLUE Bottle Rockets (the solid state series 1 version) for toms either if I didn't already have the Neumanns. Yes, my TLM's are beat up on the back of the mic, and it hasn't changed their tone one bit.

But if I find a piece of gear that I really like and know works well in an application it's going to get very used and 'resale' isn't what's on my mind...getting great tone is. I'll keep these until I die. Just my 2 cents.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #23
Gear Nut
 
jaakkol's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by banevt View Post
Just hearing that you might possibly put U67's and U47's in harms way on the toms makes me cringe a bit.
Yeah but I´m not too worried about the drummer hitting the mics, never happened to me. Plus the drummer is pretty darn good which makes things better & easier.

The more I read about this matter the more I´m convinced to try the two mics per tom approach for my next session, which will musically be quite hard & fast.

Should top and bottom mic be the same pattern ie. hypercardioid? Or is it just matter of taste?


jaakko
Old 23rd June 2009
  #24
Gear Addict
 
greyskull's Avatar
421s, 441's and 57s for me.
positioning is the key to keep the cymbals out.

that and making the drummer raise their cymbals, boy do they cry when you do this.
I manually edit silence in between toms
Old 23rd June 2009
  #25
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
Many [MANY!!] years ago I dropped by a session to visit a friend who was engineering at Skip Sailor's in helLAy... he was mic'ing the toms with TELEFUNKEN ELA M 251 E's... the e22S's aren't quite sales tax on those bad boys.

It all depends on what you have and where you feel like using it.
...done it with 67s a couple of time... but it's overkill
Old 23rd June 2009
  #26
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AudioWonderland's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by greyskull View Post
421s, 441's and 57s for me.
positioning is the key to keep the cymbals out.

that and making the drummer raise their cymbals, boy do they cry when you do this.
I manually edit silence in between toms
I can't really blame the drummer for that. While I understand completely why, they are likely inexperienced in the studio and probably not understanding why that's necessary. They are feeling the pressure to begin with and then to have to think about were the cymbals are on top of everything else would probably set me off too in their shoes. They will learn though and adapt accordingly.

I prefer to not edit the silence if possible. Sounds more natural to me
Old 23rd June 2009
  #27
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lynngraber's Avatar
Well, just to be the antagonist, I use 421's all the time and get great sounds. I dont understand why people cant. Maybe people are just burnt out on the sound.

I have 3 DW toms. A 10, 12, and 15. All tuned to their respective note. I may tune them down a bit, depending on the song, but never higher.

I put the 421 body at 90 degrees to the drum head, about 1" in, 1" off. This actually keeps your mic from getting hit, as it is perpendicular to the drum head.

Also, dont underestimate the power of MOVING the kit. Find a spot in the room where the bass drum is just huge, the toms will sound good there too.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #28
I favour CAD M179s in hypercardiod, with -20 pad engaged, I very rarely need to eq, comp or gate my toms now, I usually just leave them flat, mic placement is important too.
Old 4th July 2009
  #29
Same here! They rule!

Quote:
Originally Posted by creative.control View Post
I favour CAD M179s in hypercardiod, with -20 pad engaged, I very rarely need to eq, comp or gate my toms now, I usually just leave them flat, mic placement is important too.
Old 4th July 2009
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
davew's Avatar
 

i've gotten great results with sm57's, audix d2, sennheiser e604, e904, 421's.
i recently did a session with inexpensive audix f10 on all toms except floor tom, which had f12. sounded great! again, tuning is 98%, and never forget the overhead mics contribution to the mix! i'm a big pusher of these little
f10's now!
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