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Experimenting with mics and preamps Condenser Microphones
Old 16th August 2002
  #1
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Experimenting with mics and preamps

For no real reason other than boredom, I'm going to experiment a bit tomorrow. Here's some background: I have a house drum kit here at the studio, and the drummers who work here typically only bring out cuymbals, a kick drum pedal and a few snare drums (though at least a couple of the guys will prefer my old Ludwig snare tot heir own drums).

I've had essentially the same drum mics and on the kit for the last couple of years, and use the same preamps on the drums. Why? Because (A) it's consistent and works just fine, and (B) it saves lots of time, which is important to the guys who work here. In fact, the last time I made a major chance to the setup what replacing the D112 on the kick drum (which I didn't like at all) with a Beta 52 (which works fine). I'll use other things - 421's, RE-20's, etc from time to time when I need a specific kick sound, but I always know that the default set-up will work. But since I've got a little time this week, I've hired a drummer to come out in the morning; we're going to spend a couple of hours changing out microphones and preamps, and experimenting with mic placement, extra mics, etc. I want to try and improve what I already have, which works just fine.

My current drum setup includes a 57 on snare, a Beta 52 on kick (both into Daking preamps and limiters), 421's on toms (into Vac Rac preamps) Neumann UM57's on overheads (with a wide spacing) through either a Great River MP-2 pre or (prior to that) a Manley 40 dB pre, and an AKG 480 on hat (which I almost never use in the mix).

Among the other mics I've got to play with are a pair of Shure KSM44's (which work great on overheads - I already expect to move those back to the OH position), a pair of 414ULS's, a pair of Gefell M582's, a pair of AKG 460's and a pair of 480's (if I move that one off of the hat), a pair of Shure SM81's, a pair of Earthworks SR71 cardioid mics, a pair of TLM 103's, a pair of KM184's, an RE20, and some old RCA ribbons that I really don't want to put on a drum set. Other preamps include Vintech X73, Great River NV Malcolm Toft's A Range preamps and a Universal Audio 2108. Oh, the preamps on the Drawmer 1969. And the preamps on my D&R Cinemix.

Any suggestions will be welcome - I just want to find a better drum sound.
Old 16th August 2002
  #2
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No one may care, but I found some very interesting things today - First, the preamps on the Cinemix are a lot better than I thought they were (I really never did use them much). I started out this morning with my usual destup (referenced above), and got the sound I was used to (Except that I did go back to the KSM44's on overheads).

Starting with the kick and snare, I first listened to them through the Dakings with the EQ off (Didn't like it nearly as much) and then tried the Vintech, Great River NV and the MTA A range. All were fine, but none sounded as big and forward as I want kick and snare to sound. The Universal Audio 2108 was slamming, with the impedance switch in on the snare and out on the kick. I wouldn't characterize the sound as 'natural', but thenm there's nothing natural about putting a mic two inches away frm a drum heard either... I had pretty much finished with kick and snare by adding a little low end on the kick and cutting a little 400Hz on the snare with the console EQ, but more as an experiment than anything else, I ran the UA output through the Daking EQ - there's the sound I want. To my ears, a definite improvemnt over the sound I started with. The next time I get to do this, I'll try the Vac Rac EQ, since I've doe 6 channels of them. I tried a couple of other mics on the snare while we were at it - the Earthworks SR71 had a marvelous detail to its sound, but the pattern was wider than I like (too much hat and a surprising amount of kick).

I've used the Vac Rac preamps on toms for a few years now, mostly because they were the only outboard pre's that I had three of (I keep the house kit set up with three mounted toms - 10", 12", and 14", instead of using a floor tom - I like the consistency (though I do have a floor tom for those situations where that's the sound I want). So as a first shot at changing them out, I used the console pre's. And stopped there - the D&R preamps sounded bigger and beefier than with the Vac Racs. I'll stay with them until I gat a chance to do this again. I wanna try the Dakings and the A Range preamps on them.

For the overheads, I had been using an original Great River. I tried out all of the other preamps (including the console pre's), and decided that the Great River NV definitely was the winner (with both the input impedance and loading switchs pushed in). The Daking pre's were a little harsher, and the console pres and the original Great River were a bit sweeter (and with a more high end) than I wanted.

Though I'll certainly experiment a bit each time I have a drum session, my new starting setup for drums are:

Kick - Beta 52, Universal Audio pre, Daking EQ, Daking limiter.
Snare- SM57, Universal Audio pre, Daking EQ, Daking limiter.
Hat AKG 480, D&R pre
Toms - 421's, D&R pre
Overheads KSM44, Great River NV.

That was fun...
Old 16th August 2002
  #3
Yeah, I found serching for the best overhead mic / pre combo to be a most worthwhile exersize, when you have time that is!

Cool!

Old 17th August 2002
  #4
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

Geez, I really need to hear the Great River Stuff...

I use KSM 32's on OH all the time, both Live and in the Studio, I am relly liking them.... I am still partial to 414's, but I do not have a pair here... guess it's time to make the owner here a bunch of extra cash so I can convince hm to spend it...
Old 17th August 2002
  #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Steve Smith
Geez, I really need to hear the Great River Stuff...

I use KSM 32's on OH all the time, both Live and in the Studio, I am relly liking them....
If you like the 32's,the KSM 44's will amaze you. They're large diphragm mics (unlike the 32's, which are medium diaphragm) and multi pattern. Really nice. They're also as good an acoustic guitar mic as I've ever heard, which is why I took them off the overheads. I wanted to use them somewhere else.
Old 17th August 2002
  #6
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I usually have a set way I mic drums, but I almost ALWAYS change/experement/etc with my hat mic to give it the prefect flavor for the song. I use the "Make the drums in the control room sound exactly like they should in the live room" method. The exception being the hat. The latest hat chain that gets me all giddy is SM81-> Jensen 990 -> LA-2A ->NTI 3d -> "tape" I love the LA2a on hats but some people hate the 'tugging' you can get from it.
Old 17th August 2002
  #7
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Martin


If you like the 32's,the KSM 44's will amaze you.
Not Helping the Gearslut rehab stick........
Old 17th August 2002
  #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by e-cue
I usually have a set way I mic drums, but I almost ALWAYS change/experement/etc with my hat mic to give it the prefect flavor for the song.
You're a better man than I - I always put a mic on the hat, and then I almost never use it in the mix - I get enough from the overheads and the 'nuke' buss, which does bring out cymbals.
Old 18th August 2002
  #9
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jiminy christmas....i've been wanting to add the ksm44's for a long time now and look what ya done...i demoed one for a week and thought it was one of the best sounding mics for damn near anything i've ever heard!..at least i know what i'm getting for christmas...........JONESJONESJONES.....
Old 18th August 2002
  #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by sonic dogg
jiminy christmas....i've been wanting to add the ksm44's for a long time now and look what ya done...i demoed one for a week and thought it was one of the best sounding mics for damn near anything i've ever heard!..at least i know what i'm getting for christmas...........JONESJONESJONES.....
You knew that the guest moderators get a percentage based on the amount of gear sold during their month, didn't you? My family and my banker would appreciate it if you'd go ahead buy the mic before the end of the month. Thank you.
Old 19th August 2002
  #11
Dont forget the NDA Dave!



heh
Old 22nd August 2002
  #12
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Dave, how different do the KSM32 and 44 sound from each other in cardiod? I've spent some time with the 32's and like them a lot but I think the 44's might make more sense in my collection.

FWIW, I'm not a big fan of the Daking preamp on inside kick. I almost always end up using the Vintech 1272, Telefunken V672 or even the console for that. Now outside kick is a different story, I'll use a 414B/ULS in figure 8 into the Daking because I want/need to EQ that a bit on the way to tape. I still like the sound of the Daking on snare most of the time but the OSA has been working for me too. Also, try the 103's on overheads if you get a chance.
Old 22nd August 2002
  #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
Dave, how different do the KSM32 and 44 sound from each other in cardiod? I've spent some time with the 32's and like them a lot but I think the 44's might make more sense in my collection.

FWIW, I'm not a big fan of the Daking preamp on inside kick. I almost always end up using the Vintech 1272, Telefunken V672 or even the console for that. Now outside kick is a different story, I'll use a 414B/ULS in figure 8 into the Daking because I want/need to EQ that a bit on the way to tape. I still like the sound of the Daking on snare most of the time but the OSA has been working for me too. Also, try the 103's on overheads if you get a chance.
I used the 103's for overheads for close to a year - in fact, I had a pad added to the input side of my Manley pre's just so I could do that.

To me, there was a fairly substantial difference between the two Shure mics - I'm not sure why, and it's been a good while since I compared them ( I don't own the KSM32's - someone brought them over for me to try).

And I really think that what makes the Dakings work for me (on kick, at least) is the EQ - for Friday's session, I'm planning on starting with the UA 2108 into the Daking. This is with a Beta 52, by the way.
Old 22nd August 2002
  #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
Dont forget the NDA Dave!

Damn - did I blow my bonus check?
Old 22nd August 2002
  #15
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Martin
And I really think that what makes the Dakings work for me (on kick, at least) is the EQ - for Friday's session, I'm planning on starting with the UA 2108 into the Daking. This is with a Beta 52, by the way.
I had the same setup for a while. Beta 52 into a Daking then whatever compressor was making me happy. Sometimes a 160VU or the 1176. The EQ is really what makes the Daking shine IMHO. The preamp sometimes leaves me a little flat and wanting more. Getting a pair of 1272's again was pretty big improvement. Now for inside kick I'm going with the 52 or 421 into a 1272 and a Speck ASC. That's been making me happy for the last few months. I'm sure it'll change again soon.

I'm pretty surprised to hear that the VacRac pres sounded smaller then the console. I thought those were supposed to be pretty good. Are you sure it wasn't a phase thing? When I'm using outboard pres on toms I end up using the VMP-2 on floor tom and Telefunken V672's for the rack. Most of the time I just run them through the console and I call it a day.
Old 22nd August 2002
  #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs


I'm pretty surprised to hear that the VacRac pres sounded smaller then the console. I thought those were supposed to be pretty good. Are you sure it wasn't a phase thing? When I'm using outboard pres on toms I end up using the VMP-2 on floor tom and Telefunken V672's for the rack. Most of the time I just run them through the console and I call it a day.
It's one of those things - the Vac Racs are good pre's, and I've used them with great success on other instruments and voices. It's either that the D&R pre's are also damn good (wouldn't be surprised - still like that board after 5 years, and continue to lear new things about it), that I prefer the sound of solid state preamps on tomes over tube based preamps, or simply that the combination of those drums and those mics work better with the console pre's than with the Vac Racs. One of these days I intend to try the NV's on toms - I'd need to use an X73 for one, though...
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