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LIVE drum micing? Condenser Microphones
Old 7th June 2006
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Question LIVE drum micing?

Hey All,

I'm trying to get a clue on live drum micing. The kit will be a four, possibly five piece. I've currently got an i5 and D6 Audix, and two B1's. Question is can I get away with two overhead condensers, or micing each tom a must?

Oh and going into a Mackie 1642 VLZPRo, any other pointers would be much appreciated...gates/compression, etc., or just straight.

Thanks much.
Old 7th June 2006
  #2
Gear Addict
 
TyRip's Avatar
 

I usually find that if it is in a small club, I use more tom mic signal and usually run with little to no overhead at all, the vocal mics usually pick up too much drums on a small, low ceiling stage anyway.

If I am outdoors or in a large indoor area like a theater setting, etc, I will use more OH and prefer the sound of stereo OHs alone to tom mics and OH.

As far as processing, I think keeping a good drummer with a well tuned kit as unprocessed as possible is best. I would insert a gate on kick though, but only use if if you have to.

That said, there are no rules, so try out some different things if you can. Have fun.
Old 7th June 2006
  #3
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
For me, it is always about the overheads. I spend a good amount of time positioning and listening to the overhead mics. They usually consist of a left & right pointing straight down and a sweet spot mic positioned over the (righty) drummer's right shoulder pointing towards the center of the kit. I may move the mic depending on what I'm focusing on. I get my blend between the three mics then if applicable, I add the others to taste.

So, if you asked me, “can I get away with two overheads,” I’d say certainly but, make sure you hear everything you need to hear from them. Condensers are cool but, I prefer ribbon mics. Even before the digital crazy – Smoothing out the top end (of the digital sound) that is.

I think the last time I used gates on drums as a standard practice was back in the late 80s and early 90s. I do still use gates for effect or to repair problematic tracks or when there's too much bleed from the backline but, never when I’m tracking. To be clear – Live sound at FOH or MON world is a different story. You almost always need to go there.

Compression is a choice thing. If you need to make the drums larger than life and the room isn't giving it to you, I say go for it! It's the key to a phat live sound mix.

On the tracking side of things, (lately) I’ve been waiting until the mix session for any serious treatments.
Old 8th June 2006
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness
Compression is a choice thing. If you need to make the drums larger than life and the room isn't giving it to you, I say go for it! It's the key to a phat live sound mix.
Remote,

As far as compression can you give some examples, i.e. just the d6 or are you mainly talking overheads...and yes I'm after thet "phat sound". Doing rock/country.

Not recording this, just looking for the best FOH sound.

thx
Old 8th June 2006
  #5
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
I usually put a stereo buss compressor on the overheads to help keep them taimed.
I like to slap the foot, snare and toms a lot more than the OHs...
Almost too much compression on the individual mics and light compression on the OHs.
The kit or sweet spot mic is usually hit pretty hard too.
Old 8th June 2006
  #6
Gear Addict
 
ExistanceMusic's Avatar
 

As Ty said, if it's a small stage, the other mics on stage will pick up enough of the cymbals to make them present, and you'll want to use use mics on the toms (with gates if required) to bring them out, especially if you're drummer is using brushes at any point.

Having said that, from your post, it doesn't look like you have any tom mics, so I'd just run with the 2 condensers. I wouldn't put them on the toms for the simple reason that if they take a hit with a drumstick, it will come through VERY LOUDLY and sound noticeably out of place.

Don't compress the overheads. I usually have a compressor over the kick as a matter of habit, but unless I want a slappy rock sound, it's not taking more than 1 or 2 db off. I'd run a compressor over the snare, and use it to bring the brushes out if they're used, but bear in mind sometimes pushing into a compressor too hard can bring out the ring of the snare a bit too much. I only ever use gates if the toms are really bad, but I play drums too and usually take a key to 'em. Sometimes I'll gate the snare for rock and roll, but not for country.

hope this helps!
Old 8th June 2006
  #7
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nathanvacha's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axiz7

Not recording this, just looking for the best FOH sound.

thx
That's what I was looking for before I posted -- If it's not a big place, mic the toms, not overheads. For recording, no, but for sound reinforcement the cymbals will still sound splashy and cut mostly throughout the crowd, esp. w/ vocal mics out front... mic the drums. Mic each one if you have the mic's. That is the only way you're gonna get the drumset sounding "fat" out front.
I'm not sure what the b1's are, though I assume you meant all audix... I'd go ahead and stick those on the toms, personally. Just keep them far enough from center and try to position them well. If you have compressors & gates, good. I'm guessing by the fact that these are your mic's and they're going to a mackie mixer that that's all you got. If it's whatcha got, just go with it.

FWIW, I am not the most experienced guy to post on your thread, but that's just my $0.02
Old 8th June 2006
  #8
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
Why do most folks think overheads are only about the cymbals?

When I place mics over the drum kit, I go for the complete sound; not just the cymbals. I don't roll off the bottom and I use the OHs to help bring out the toms, snare and foot. Even in a live FOH situation, OHs are as important to me as the snare or foot mics.

But, everyone has there way of doing things. IMO, there really isn't a bad way of doing it... unless it sounds like crap.
Old 8th June 2006
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

Holy Cow Steve!

Is there anywhere or anyone you haven't recorded live. Thanks to you and the rest of everyone for helping here.

One other question, for the overheads LDC or small... or just nix it and use a couple of 57's overhead with the d6 in the kick and i5 on snare? I understand this is all subjective, but I'm trying to finish out the shopping list.

*** Feel free to inject your favorite FOUR piece mic set up for recording/live.***

Thx fellas.
Old 8th June 2006
  #10
Lives for gear
 

For years my live mic'ing and studio mic'ing have been similar as far as close mics.
Obviously you are not going to use room mics live!

I too am pretty picky about OHs.
I use them to make the kit sound "real" as oppossed to the close mics which sound like a p.a. mic'ing job.
They pick up the cymbals, but they make the snare sound like a snare.
I only roll off stuff below 100 hz. and I try to keep from adding 10K shelving, but the temptation wins out most times.

I barely use a hi-hat mic because they OHs cover it.
I'd rather have one OH and no hi-hat!
I'd prefer to have an extra condenser (preferably an SM81) in addition to an SM57 on the snare.
I never use a bottom snare mic live or in the studio.

As far as tom mics go...
I don't mind them being split and if it is up to me I'd rather have fewer mics live.
Unless the drummer sucks I prefer not to mess with gates on anything.
I always have a probelm where toms want to jump out with a powerfull drummer.
Gates seem to make this worse at times.
If I split any toms then I want them ALL split.
With a "Ringo" set (five piece) it means that the rack toms are split and the floor is mic'd... it works.

I have to add that I am fortunate in that I get to work with a few damn good drummers and this helps.
Still, I use the good payers as a benchmark.
When I do a live festival type event I don't have time to taylor technique to each players idiosyncracies.
I tend to stay with the simple approach and the show sounds good and things run on time.
The time factor is a big thing because if you jack around with players early on you'll be behind schedule or tight when the headliners or important acts hit the stage.

OHs... Yes!
Tom Gates.... No!
Go ahead and slpit those toms!
Hi-Hat mic... NO!
Bottom Sanre Mic.... NO WAY!

Danny Brown
Old 8th June 2006
  #11
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Axiz7
Holy Cow Steve!

Is there anywhere or anyone you haven't recorded live. Thanks to you and the rest of everyone for helping here.

One other question, for the overheads LDC or small... or just nix it and use a couple of 57's overhead with the d6 in the kick and i5 on snare? I understand this is all subjective, but I'm trying to finish out the shopping list.

*** Feel free to inject your favorite FOUR piece mic set up for recording/live.***

Thx fellas.
Thanks! I guess you saw my client/artist list on my website.

IMO, when it comes to mic'ing, anything goes. See what you have available and give it a shot.

I love M160s on overheads with a LDC tube or condenser for the sweet spot (Kit) mic but, that just me.
Instead of SM57s consider MD421s or MD441s, They sound really nice as (full range) overhead mics.
Old 8th June 2006
  #12
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tnjazz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Axiz7
Holy Cow Steve!

*** Feel free to inject your favorite FOUR piece mic set up for recording/live.***

Thx fellas.
I normally mic each drum, and use at least one overhead in a club setting. I have gotten surprisingly good results with a kick-snare-dual overhead combo on a full kit though. I think it was a D112 on the kick, a 58 on the snare and a pair of KSM32 as the overhead pair.

I spent a good amount of time moving the 32's around until I felt like I was capturing the whole kit. Luckily the drummer was a good sport about me turning a 10 minute drum check into an hour long ordeal!

One of these days I'll try Steve's "over the shoulder sweet spot" technique. Most of the drummers I know tend to flail around quite a bit though, so I've been a little hesitant...

Dirk

EDIT: this is with regard to recording, not FOH...
Old 9th June 2006
  #13


I end up using a lot of dynamics processing and parametric EQ when I can for FOH.

A 57 on the snare with the top end rolled off and SDC on overhead close to the cymbals while trying to put the snare in the nulls. This tends to keep the elements separated a bit - gate everything you can.

Close mic the toms and try to boost the natural resonance with an EQ - use gates again...

Kick, I will compress a bit sometimes and play with EQ to get some thump and some beater snap.

Try to point the HH mic away from the snare if you can.

Every kit is different and two drummers playing the same kit are often quire different.

Do what you have to and what you can.

It'd be a lot easier if the stage volume were lower and the mains didn't end up in the stage mics.......

...you might even be able to do a 3-mic job like the remote truck.




-tINY

Old 9th June 2006
  #14
Lives for gear
 
ajfarber's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness
Why do most folks think overheads are only about the cymbals?

When I place mics over the drum kit, I go for the complete sound; not just the cymbals. I don't roll off the bottom and I use the OHs to help bring out the toms, snare and foot. Even in a live FOH situation, OHs are as important to me as the snare or foot mics.

But, everyone has there way of doing things. IMO, there really isn't a bad way of doing it... unless it sounds like crap.
Steve is %100 right! The overheads ARE the mics for the entire set. As a matter of fact, most of your classic records, jazz records anyway, were done with 1 or 2 mics for the entire set. RVG used 1 mic to pickup the entire set plus 1 more between the HH and snare for extra HH "chip" and brush work.

In a live situation, you'll get enough leakage that you won't need a bass drum or tom mics. Unless your recording rock/country/pop etc.... In this case you could try 2 OH mics, 1 hh/sn mic and 1 bassdrum mic. 4 mics total. As for the actual mics used, it's up to you. I like a large condeser to pick up the entire set plu a small condenser for hh/snare. Whatever You like will probably work.

Leakage is your friend, use it to your advantage. A vocal mic or horn mic can double as a room mic. You may have to pan things differently than you would in a controlled studio situation to avoild wierd phase issues.

I do only jazz, so I may be overlooking things that may be more desireable in traking a live rock band. I just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents. That and a metro card will get you on the subway.
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