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Overheads: Cymbals vs Drum body Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 31st July 2014
  #1
Overheads: Cymbals vs Drum body

A lot of people on GS talk about using the overheads as the meat and potatoes of their drums sound. Personally, I really like this method and my drums aound great.
However, loud cymbal heavy sections get way too washy, causing me to have to compensate and lose the body of my drums. What gives?
Old 31st July 2014
  #2
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spambot_2's Avatar
Well try and mixing the sound of overheads with the sound of mics set near the single drums.
Also maybe cut a bit on the high end on the overhead mics.
Old 31st July 2014
  #3
I am mixing in the close mics quite a lot.
Old 31st July 2014
  #4
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spambot_2's Avatar
Then I'm not sure I understand what you mean.

Clips please?
Old 31st July 2014
  #5
Lives for gear
very quick, general, reply without attention to necessary details: look at placement, orientation of drums in the room then spend a lot of time (min., roughly speaking, with two people, is about 3 hr.) adjusting mic placement to achieve the sound that seems, on average, to work best.

Think seriously if a recording requires as many cymbals as live situations seem to demand of drummers (in their minds) . . . when there can be some 'control' of acoustic space . . . less cymbal can be beneficial.

then while Overheads can be anchor for a drum mix, in the mix, the spot mics on snare, Kick (etc.) can be used to emphasize, de-emphasize elements in the mix, this is where a distinct (distant) room mic can be very helpful (with appropriate phase attention

it is labor intensive . . . (simply trying to magically fix washy cymbals 'in the mix' is seldom aesthetically satisfying)
Old 1st August 2014
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by oretez View Post
very quick, general, reply without attention to necessary details: look at placement, orientation of drums in the room then spend a lot of time (min., roughly speaking, with two people, is about 3 hr.) adjusting mic placement to achieve the sound that seems, on average, to work best.

Think seriously if a recording requires as many cymbals as live situations seem to demand of drummers (in their minds) . . . when there can be some 'control' of acoustic space . . . less cymbal can be beneficial.

then while Overheads can be anchor for a drum mix, in the mix, the spot mics on snare, Kick (etc.) can be used to emphasize, de-emphasize elements in the mix, this is where a distinct (distant) room mic can be very helpful (with appropriate phase attention

it is labor intensive . . . (simply trying to magically fix washy cymbals 'in the mix' is seldom aesthetically satisfying)
Totally agree with you! Mic placement is your best friend. It takes time to find the the "sweet spot" but it's worth it.

I'm lucky to only track myself and my drums in my studio, so I've found a sweet spot where it works for my setup, my playing style and my room. But believe me, it took a lot of time and experimenting and trying different positions.
Old 1st August 2014
  #7
Gear Nut
for a beefier drum sound with toned down cymbals, I seem to prefer knee high stereo. not sure if that's what you're looking for, though...lol
Old 1st August 2014
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robangledorf View Post
A lot of people on GS talk about using the overheads as the meat and potatoes of their drums sound. Personally, I really like this method and my drums aound great.
However, loud cymbal heavy sections get way too washy, causing me to have to compensate and lose the body of my drums. What gives?
you can high pass them, but that opens other can or worms since you can lose body that way too. But it will eliminate lots of the heavy metallic sound of cymbals which can help let actual drums sound better.

What I have done in the past is when the drummer got out of hand in a section of the song using a crash as a ride, I will gate the drums and then drop in cymbal samples to clean it up. They never know when it's all mixed. Other times I will edit out the part of the drum track I don't like, replace it with some other parts of the song. It can be tedious but it has endless possibilities. I have even edited out sections of one song and replaced it with sections of a completely different song. Of course tempo stretching is required but it works like a charm. No rules as long as you can fool the drummer. Often times they don't care as long as it sound good.
Old 1st August 2014
  #9
Gear Addict
Is everybody forgetting about the drummer? Drummers need to play differently during a recording session than a live show. The hardest thing to do is learn how to back off the cymbal strikes for balance without sounding weak. I suggest working with the drummer first, and mix the close mics in more if that doesn't work. I think the overheads provide the life and main sound of the drums, the close mics should only be to add a little flavor in where needed.
Old 1st August 2014
  #10
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by oretez View Post
Think seriously if a recording requires as many cymbals as live situations seem to demand of drummers (in their minds) . . . when there can be some 'control' of acoustic space . . . less cymbal can be beneficial.
this
one major difference between a professional studio drummer and an amateur band member drummer is this understanding how MUCH of the drum sound is in the drummer's hands, literally.

educating your clients on the things THEY can do to make their recordings better may take a long time, which IMO means it is never too soon to get started!

In the end, it's not how many cymbals you have, it's how hard you are hitting them.

Quote:
I am mixing in the close mics quite a lot.
there is nothing to stop you from doing a mix that is ALL close mics with zero overheads if that's what will control the wash. You hope it doesn't come to that, but the option is there.

I like split overheads, (vs X-Y) and one reason is that I can move them around to favor the toms vs favoring the cymbals. But that only gets you so far. You can automate your close mics up, you can deaden your room, you can make sure they are using wood tips instead of nylon tips. You can own (and promote the usage of) a set of thinner, lighter cymbals. Your "Recording Cymbals"

I sometimes resort to "underheads" - mics about rack tom-high out in front about 4-6 feet. Not crazy about it, though.

IMO, "bashing" is the bane of most amateur band recordings. It's a thing that says this is not a Pro recording. Put this attitude on the bands. Challenge them to step up and control themselves.

to be honest, I don't particularly care for bashed cymbals in a live setting either.
Old 1st August 2014
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nosajjao View Post
Is everybody forgetting about the drummer? Drummers need to play differently during a recording session than a live show. The hardest thing to do is learn how to back off the cymbal strikes for balance without sounding weak. I suggest working with the drummer first, and mix the close mics in more if that doesn't work. I think the overheads provide the life and main sound of the drums, the close mics should only be to add a little flavor in where needed.
+1

If you look at old footage of guys like Kieth Moon and even Bonzo
They didn't always hit full force. Moon often hit cymbals rather lightly. Bonzo would often lay back on cymbal hits.

It was all the pop punk and raprock guys in the 90s who bashed crashes as ride cymbal and sort of set a noisy lack of dynamic trend
Old 1st August 2014
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by chainrule View Post
you can high pass them, but that opens other can or worms since you can lose body that way too. But it will eliminate lots of the heavy metallic sound of cymbals which can help let actual drums sound better.

What I have done in the past is when the drummer got out of hand in a section of the song using a crash as a ride, I will gate the drums and then drop in cymbal samples to clean it up. They never know when it's all mixed. Other times I will edit out the part of the drum track I don't like, replace it with some other parts of the song. It can be tedious but it has endless possibilities. I have even edited out sections of one song and replaced it with sections of a completely different song. Of course tempo stretching is required but it works like a charm. No rules as long as you can fool the drummer. Often times they don't care as long as it sound good.
Maybe that works for more hobbyist drummers. But for me as a professional drummer would rather have you work with me on it while I'm there tracking. If you as a producer or engineer hear something in about my playing that you don't like, tell me! And I'll do my best to change it so that it sounds better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nosajjao View Post
Is everybody forgetting about the drummer? Drummers need to play differently during a recording session than a live show. The hardest thing to do is learn how to back off the cymbal strikes for balance without sounding weak. I suggest working with the drummer first, and mix the close mics in more if that doesn't work. I think the overheads provide the life and main sound of the drums, the close mics should only be to add a little flavor in where needed.
That is not necessarily true! Again maybe it's more an amateur vs pro problem. But IMO the sound engineer and producer are there to capture a performance. It's your job to capture my playing. But as I also mentioned I, being a session drummer for a living, rather have the producer or engineer tell me what's not working as far as drum sound and we'll work on it together.

I also recommend drummers to record themselves with one mic placed in front of the kit when they practice. Just to hear how balanced they are! I tell this to my drum students, and I've also suggested this to drummers on sessions where I've been engineering or producing.
Old 1st August 2014
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nosajjao View Post
Is everybody forgetting about the drummer? Drummers need to play differently during a recording session than a live show. The hardest thing to do is learn how to back off the cymbal strikes for balance without sounding weak. I suggest working with the drummer first, and mix the close mics in more if that doesn't work. I think the overheads provide the life and main sound of the drums, the close mics should only be to add a little flavor in where needed.
Agreed. Drummers who have spent a lot of time recording will play differently in the studio vs. live. If you have a cymbal basher you could try talking to them about it.

Other options are backing off the OHs in the mix or try moving the OH mics back further over the drummer's head
Old 1st August 2014
  #14
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Niklas_J_Blixt View Post
That is not necessarily true! Again maybe it's more an amateur vs pro problem. But IMO the sound engineer and producer are there to capture a performance. It's your job to capture my playing. But as I also mentioned I, being a session drummer for a living, rather have the producer or engineer tell me what's not working as far as drum sound and we'll work on it together.

I also recommend drummers to record themselves with one mic placed in front of the kit when they practice. Just to hear how balanced they are! I tell this to my drum students, and I've also suggested this to drummers on sessions where I've been engineering or producing.
So you say its not true then follow it up by affirming that its true?

Just like you say, I recommend giving the drummer the overheads in their iso headphones so they can mix themselves within the space of the mic. If you give them a balanced mic mix feed that compensates for their cymbal bashing, it doesn't help them get a better take. They need to hear for themselves that the cymbals are being bashed to hell comparatively so they can take it down and notch and balance themselves (i.e. mix themselves).

Mix engineers should not have to rely on the close mics so much, they should only need them for tone options if they want them. The room provides most of the sound anyways, so you should want most of your sound to come from the overheads. Its why things like the Glyn Johns method were and are very popular mic techniques that rely on the drummer balancing themselves.
Old 1st August 2014
  #15
Gear Guru
 

in addition to the overheads, set up some close mics of the cymbals and hi hat and feed them into the drummer's cans. Often, having headphones on can change the musician's perception of his balance. Hearing 'plenty' of cymbals in the cue mix might make him hit them softer.

Theoretically, you could use this reverse-psychology idea all the way to up to the point of Operant Conditioning. He who will not heed, will be made to feel.
Old 1st August 2014
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niklas_J_Blixt View Post
Maybe that works for more hobbyist drummers. But for me as a professional drummer would rather have you work with me on it while I'm there tracking. If you as a producer or engineer hear something in about my playing that you don't like, tell me! And I'll do my best to change it so that it sounds better.
actually you'll find in professional situations editing is often done. It always has been too. Some of the biggest albums ever recorded have heavily edited drums tracks. While I see your point, sometimes you don't realize until mix time that something is not working. You can't bring the kit back in and record all over so someone's feelings don't get hurt. Break out the razor. Lars knows all about this.


in the 80s before good samples and Daws, we recorded drums in 3 passes, kick/snare...........toms...........cymbals
This helped avoid lots of these issues we are discussing here. It depended on musical style but it did work well,
Old 1st August 2014
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nosajjao View Post
So you say its not true then follow it up by affirming that its true?

Just like you say, I recommend giving the drummer the overheads in their iso headphones so they can mix themselves within the space of the mic. If you give them a balanced mic mix feed that compensates for their cymbal bashing, it doesn't help them get a better take. They need to hear for themselves that the cymbals are being bashed to hell comparatively so they can take it down and notch and balance themselves (i.e. mix themselves).

Mix engineers should not have to rely on the close mics so much, they should only need them for tone options if they want them. The room provides most of the sound anyways, so you should want most of your sound to come from the overheads. Its why things like the Glyn Johns method were and are very popular mic techniques that rely on the drummer balancing themselves.
Yeah, when I'm tracking drums myself I prefer to just have the OH's in my listening. Just to don't trick myself into playing unbalanced. The rely heavily on the sound from the overheads. When I'm not working from my own studio is ask to get the OH's before they go through any processing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by chainrule View Post
actually you'll find in professional situations editing is often done. It always has been too. Some of the biggest albums ever recorded have heavily edited drums tracks. While I see your point, sometimes you don't realize until mix time that something is not working. You can't bring the kit back in and record all over so someone's feelings don't get hurt. Break out the razor. Lars knows all about this.


in the 80s before good samples and Daws, we recorded drums in 3 passes, kick/snare...........toms...........cymbals
This helped avoid lots of these issues we are discussing here. It depended on musical style but it did work well,
I'm totally aware of that. And I'm not saying that there's something wrong with editing drums. I do it myself sometimes to deliver the absolute best to my clients. My philosophy is, get it as right as possible at the source. And I try to work on things as soon as it hear something that I don't like. But as you say, sometimes you don't hear that until it's time for mixing.
Old 1st August 2014
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niklas_J_Blixt View Post

My philosophy is, get it as right as possible at the source. And I try to work on things as soon as it hear something that I don't like. But as you say, sometimes you don't hear that until it's time for mixing.
for sure, the ideal way is to nail it the "real" way.
But it doesn't always work out that way
Old 3rd August 2014
  #19
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skillz335's Avatar
filters were invented for a reason
Old 3rd August 2014
  #20
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by skillz335 View Post
filters were invented for a reason
Garbage in is garbage out. People need to stop relying only on technology to 'fix' all the problems.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #21
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skillz335's Avatar
true, but not everyone has access to beautifully designed rooms/proper recording environment or can afford it. Dont get me wrong Im all for control the room and pick the right mic/mic placements first. The recording stage is the most important stage. but if you have a tool that can help then why not use it especially to contain harshness

And not to be an ass but rooms are a product of technology as wellheh
Old 3rd August 2014
  #22
Gear Addict
No no no, garbage-in means a bad drummer. The whole case I've been making is to have the drummer control themselves and balance their cymbal volume with the rest of the kit.

Also, the room sound makes up the majority of the recorded result. If you don't have a tuned kit, good drummer, and decent room you're basically screwed out of a good recording. Because it is insanely difficult and time consuming to fix that in post. Speaking of harshness control, I just started using Brainworx's Refinement tool and its fantastic.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #23
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skillz335's Avatar
no doubt, sorry about my misunderstanding.

I agree, cant polish a turd and whatnot, but one can still achieve a good recording of the source regardless of the source with the tools we have at our disposal. Its up to the artist to like you said be in control of their sound. We as engineers cant be responsible for someones talent or lack of for that matter.

Op, It shouldn't be expected of us to make the kid down the street with the 100 dollar kit sound like hes in a radio ready label backed commercial release. Unfortunately most people who come to be recorded are so misinformed they think its fact. Sucks that its allways our fault but cant win um all. Its hard to ignore things you would t and still grow but sometimes you have too, otherwise your doing too much for someone that wont appreciate it anyway. unless of coarse they are paying for it School taught me this and it always applys. fast, cheap, and right pick two.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #24
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
this
one major difference between a professional studio drummer and an amateur band member drummer is this understanding how MUCH of the drum sound is in the drummer's hands, literally.

educating your clients on the things THEY can do to make their recordings better may take a long time, which IMO means it is never too soon to get started!

In the end, it's not how many cymbals you have, it's how hard you are hitting them.


there is nothing to stop you from doing a mix that is ALL close mics with zero overheads if that's what will control the wash. You hope it doesn't come to that, but the option is there.

I like split overheads, (vs X-Y) and one reason is that I can move them around to favor the toms vs favoring the cymbals. But that only gets you so far. You can automate your close mics up, you can deaden your room, you can make sure they are using wood tips instead of nylon tips. You can own (and promote the usage of) a set of thinner, lighter cymbals. Your "Recording Cymbals"

I sometimes resort to "underheads" - mics about rack tom-high out in front about 4-6 feet. Not crazy about it, though.

IMO, "bashing" is the bane of most amateur band recordings. It's a thing that says this is not a Pro recording. Put this attitude on the bands. Challenge them to step up and control themselves.

to be honest, I don't particularly care for bashed cymbals in a live setting either.
Excellent tips. Extra thin crashes like the Paiste signature fast crashes record like a dream. It does seem crazy that we are talking about techniques to make up for a drummer not sounding good to begin with. Most of the tips about getting the drummer to hit the cymbals lighter are the only ones that will really work. I have also had good luck lately on hi hats with pointing my overhead straight down at the back side of the of the hats away from the drummer.

Peter
Old 3rd August 2014
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by chainrule View Post
for sure, the ideal way is to nail it the "real" way.
But it doesn't always work out that way
Surely not! But It's a good mindset to have when working in the recording domain of music. It gives you less issues to fix later!
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