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Which Drum Overhead mics for ultra clean clear detailed image? Condenser Microphones
Old 24th August 2007
  #1
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Which Drum Overhead mics for ultra clean clear detailed image?

Hi everybody I am looking for a pair of overheads regardless of price that will give me the cleanest clearest most detailed in focus "hi fi" (clear doesn't mean bright and certainly doesn't mean harsh) sound available (not necessarily realistic, as we all know drums are not so clean in real life hence I am looking to "improve" upon real life). I mainly concerned with the cymbals. Should I use more than a pair of mics to accomplish this. I have found often (mostly by watching and listening to all these drum instructional videos) that I prefer the cleaner more studio sound on recordings rather than the real life raw sound (unless you are in a dream sounding live room which most of us don't have access to and I still think I prefer the ultra clean modern sound of these drum instructional videos anyway). My room (acts as live room and control room) is 22' by 17' carpeted floor with platform for the drums, auralex risers for the amps and 1/3 covered by auralex foam as per their personal instructions on the walls and over the drums and guitar amp. After reading some suggestions I am considering chaning from the foam to fiberglass as it is a little dry sounding (it is half decent sounding though but wouldn't call it a great sounding room). I have gained a wealth of information by reading the posts on these forums and especially from mp3 comparisons so I think I have my overhead mic choices narrowed down and could use your help. My picks are (in order of preference based mostly on reviews and mp3 comparisons) for either

1) neumann km84 (very difficult to find a pair so may not be an option)
2) beyer mc 930's
3) shure ksm 141/137's
4) Shure KSM32 or 27's
5) audio technica atm450's
6) josephson c42's.

Notice these are mainly all small diaphragm condensors. From research I concluded these do the best job at isolating the source from the room although I think it's important to have some sense of space around the cymbal (I don't like when cymbals sound like a sheet of sound with no air around them) which I don't think you lose with small condensors (correct me if I'm wrong). and I have a royer R121 ribbon mic I can always use for that mono raw room/FOK or even 3rd overhead track. I have been using shure sm81's for the past few years and found them to be too soft/fishy/wish washy/lacking focus and having that sound that the bbe sonic maximizer usually fixes by time aligning the treble and bass. You can hear samples of my recordings (mastered at trutone in manhattan) on my band's website Welcome to Mantra Band Site (I play keyboards). These are old recordings done in my parents basement that had noise problems from buzzing lights and the boiler room, recorded through presonus digimax LT preamps, a motu converter, also all monster cables (bleh I converted my whole studio to mogami), not to mention before my years of real life recording and mixing and studying books on the subject and before buying about an extra $30,000 worth of pro gear after tons of research. In fact I might as well tell you my entire current studio setup.

Intel Pentium Duo Core custom built by myself
Sonar 6 producer
Apogee AD-16x /w firewire-x card
Apogee Mini-Dac
m-audio midi interface
Genelec 1031A's
Brent Averill 312
A designs Pacifica (on delivery)
Demeter Stereo Tube Direct box
Allen Heath mixwizard 16 channel
All Mogami cabling

Mics:

Neumann TLM-103
Royer R121
Sennheiser MD421 (2)
Shure SM57 (3)
Shure Sm81 (2)
Shure beta98 (4)
AKG D112
Audix D6 (selling)
AKG C3000B (selling)

Instruments:

Tama Starclassic Maple 6 piece drum set
Zildjian A custom and K cymbals
VHT Ultralead
Avatar cabinet
Fender Deluxe Reverb
Gallien Krueger 2001 RBH head
Gallien Krueger 400 RB cabinet
Line6 Bass pod pro xt
Line 6 Guitar pod pro xt
Fender America Strat Deluxe
Fender Marcus Miller Jazz Bass
Modulus Quantum 5 string Bass

So basically as I said I am looking for a pair of overhead mics that will do the best job in giving the clearest most accurate image of the source with the best isolation from the room. I listed my choices above but all suggestions at any price are welcome. Thank you.
Old 24th August 2007
  #2
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Earthworks
Old 24th August 2007
  #3
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TornadoTed's Avatar
I'd vote for Schoeps.

Pretty flat, detailed and just....awesome frankly
Old 24th August 2007
  #4
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Thanks for the suggestions guys. Just a few more words to help me be more specific of what I want is a golden full bodied cymbal with every nuance and detail while in the midst of a black background (and not being harsh at all). I heard the earthworks are not so great when the cymbals are hit harder. Does this mean I should use them on quieter songs and swap mics for the heavier songs? In the mp3 comparisons I heard the Oktava MC-012 and Beyer MC-930 sounded more "in focus" than the earthworks. Also I should mention that my ceiling is 8 feet high. Like I said I think I narrowed my options down to 1) neumann km84 (very difficult to find a pair so may not be an option), 2) beyer mc 930's, 3) shure ksm 141/137's, 4) Shure KSM32 or 27's, 5) audio technica atm450's, 6) josephson c42's. Although I heard great things about the Schoeps (CMC6 MK4). But if you had to pick one of my listed options other than the neumann km84 cuz it may not be possible to find which would you choose? Thanks.
Old 24th August 2007
  #5
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It may be a little low-endy, but I have had really good results with a pair of the Audio Technica 3035 LDCs. Big and detailed, really pleasing sound. I like it better than 414s. Better than the pingy sharpness I was used to with the SM81s. There are better mics out there for sure, but take a look at these and you might be surprised.
Old 24th August 2007
  #6
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Those AT 3035's look like great mics. And I really like the audio technica sound especially on acoustic guitar and vocals. I already have an audio technica ATM450 as one of my narrowed down options yet is a small condensor as opposed to the 3035 being large condensor. I am not sure how the 3035 would compare to the 450 but my feeling is that the small condensor will eliminate the room sound and the cymbals will sound more in focus.
Old 24th August 2007
  #7
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Fishmed's Avatar
I am using a pair of AKG D418 for my overheads. They have been the best mics so far for my setup; I have not tried the ones posted above. Here are a few samples, tracked on an MCI 416, I posted on another thread of my OH with two different drummers just to give you an idea how they sound. The second half of Sample 2 has a lot of cymbal work. The only thing I did to these recordings was a little limiting.

Sample 1
Sample 2

(Critiques are welcomed. )
Old 24th August 2007
  #8
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I am sorry but those are good examples of what I am NOT looking for. I am mainly concerned about the cymbals. What bothers me is that it is very trebly and piercing with no real sense of focus. I am looking for full bodied cymbals that are in focus and I can hear the detail of the stick making contact with the cymbal. Search google for some mp3 samples of Oktava MK-012's to hear what I am talking about. They are not mentioned as an option because I have heard mp3's of better options as well as better reviews of the mics that I did mention. And as a I reminder you can hear the music I play at Welcome to Mantra Band Site.
Old 24th August 2007
  #9
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If you really dig the 012's, then why not a pair of them and then get the Joly mods? That takes what you say you like and makes it better.

m
Old 24th August 2007
  #10
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Keep in mind the room the cymbals are in has a huge effect on how focused they sound.

Before you spend money on new mics, build a couple tall gobos to put around the kit to keep the wash out of your overheads. Also having some sort of ceiling cloud to tone down the slapback off your low ceilings will also improve focus.

I've been on the same search as you (not totally there yet) and the biggest bang for your buck is working on the room. For $200 worth of fiberglass and 2x4's you should really be able to get the cymbals wash, hiss, nastiness down and improve your clarity.
Old 24th August 2007
  #11
Check out the Avenson STO-2 - I've been using these for overheads for the past couple of months and I'm continually blown away by their detail, smoothness and "realness". I'm liking them more than the B&K 4011's that I'd previously been using a lot.
Old 24th August 2007
  #12
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I really like the oktava 012's but I like the neumann km84 more and the beyer mc930 sounds really close to the neumann km84. That's why I think I'm leaning towards either the Beyer Mc930 or Shure KSM32 (becoming standard for live use and I love the modern drummer live recordings using these but then again would they be as good as the beyers in my not so great live room) or maybe shure ksm 141/137 for that shure sound but as small condensors. Oh and I put about $1000 into room treatment which consists of auralex 2x2's and their 6 of their 2x2 diffusors. Again the sound in the room is not bad. The sound is a little unfocused in the room but not too bad. I feel the recorded drums are more focused than in real life (of course that is after gating and eqing) but still the room is not too bad but any recommendations I can do to improve focus and clarity in the room would be great. Again I have 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 inch thick auralex foam wedges over the drums as well as guitar cab and 2x2 by 2 inch thick foam wedges are spaced out along the walls covering about 1/3 of the surface (sheetrock). I also have those 6 diffusors but they are kind of to the side of the drums so I don't think they are having much of an effect on the sound of the drums in the room. They're main purpose is to be behind me and my monitors when I am mixing but I can get more if they can make a significant improvement in the focus and clarity in the room.
Old 24th August 2007
  #13
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Fishmed's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diegel View Post
I am sorry but those are good examples of what I am NOT looking for. I am mainly concerned about the cymbals. What bothers me is that it is very trebly and piercing with no real sense of focus. I am looking for full bodied cymbals that are in focus and I can hear the detail of the stick making contact with the cymbal. Search google for some mp3 samples of Oktava MK-012's to hear what I am talking about. They are not mentioned as an option because I have heard mp3's of better options as well as better reviews of the mics that I did mention. And as a I reminder you can hear the music I play at Welcome to Mantra Band Site.
Thanks for the comment. I was debating about replacing them and I have not had any feedback until now. I was also thinking of the MK-012 too, so I feel better now about that decision. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
Old 24th August 2007
  #14
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chickencoop's Avatar
 

i will soon (next week) have a matched pair of oktavamodded mk-012's and if i can get any drum tracks done with them any time soon, i'll post mp3's. one of the nice things about these mics is the whole interchangeable capsule thing (besides the oktava omni and hypercardioid sd caps and various md and ld caps, there are the rtt lomos, and the red capsule)
Old 24th August 2007
  #15
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Those avenson's sound very interesting. Any sound clips available from these? How would you compare them against the neumann km84's as those are my #1 pick for overhead mics I have actually heard so far.
Old 24th August 2007
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planet red View Post
Keep in mind the room the cymbals are in has a huge effect on how focused they sound.

Before you spend money on new mics, build a couple tall gobos to put around the kit to keep the wash out of your overheads. Also having some sort of ceiling cloud to tone down the slapback off your low ceilings will also improve focus.

I've been on the same search as you (not totally there yet) and the biggest bang for your buck is working on the room. For $200 worth of fiberglass and 2x4's you should really be able to get the cymbals wash, hiss, nastiness down and improve your clarity.
Absolutely.

thumbsup
Old 24th August 2007
  #17
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What are gobos? I heard fiberglass panels/booths actually increase wishy washiness. I already have 4' X4' x 4 inch thick auralex foam over the drums. Would fiberglass be an improvement to replace the foam or they both accomplish the same goal? Again I already spent $1000 in room treatment. Only real things I can do at this point is change the auralex foam to fiberglass but don't really see the point unless someone can tell me from experience it makes a big difference and secondly get some of those fiberglass drum iso panels to put around the drums (which may hurt rather then help from what I've read) or maybe even something like the max wall kit from auralex to put around the drums.
Old 24th August 2007
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diegel View Post
Those avenson's sound very interesting. Any sound clips available from these? How would you compare them against the neumann km84's as those are my #1 pick for overhead mics I have actually heard so far.
Well, they're omni rather than the cardioid of a KM84, so a direct comparison isn't going to be perfect. I've always found KM84s to have a rather forward midrange which can be cool on the right source - the Avensons are much flatter and "true to life".

A bit later, I'll post a clip of the Avensons from a jazz project I tracked a couple of weeks ago.thumbsup
Old 24th August 2007
  #19
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Awesome! Can't wait. Thanks. The only thing is I am a little worried about what you say is about being truer to life. I am not sure that drums usually sound so great in real life. I really like how the drums and cymbals sound on most of these modern drum instruction videos (they sound like real life but without all the garbage that also comes with how drums and cymbals sound in real life) which is why I think I am looking for an "improvement" on real life. A mic that picks up the good and doesn't pick up the bad (as much).
Old 24th August 2007
  #20
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Sigma's Avatar
451's
Old 24th August 2007
  #21
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jmikeperkins's Avatar
A little expensive, but a pair of Neumann U87 mics as drum overheads are awsome and will get you what I think you are looking for. I know the "accurate" part is making you think small, like a pair of Neumann KM84's, but the U87 will get you the same overall warm sound but its "bigger" and better. I own and use both of these mics and the U87 is always my first choice as it has a certain magic on drum overheads and does great things to cymbals.

J. Mike Perkins
jmikeperkins.com myspace.com/jmikeperkins
Old 24th August 2007
  #22
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Here are some examples of some clips from drum instruction videos that I'm talking about. The sound quality is crappy but its the best I can do right now: YouTube - John Blackwell Ballad (You can see the small condensors in this John Blackwell video at right about 1:43 and and again at 2:34 are they shure SM81's? If they are than it just goes to show how much the room has an effect on the sound cuz the cymbals sound so full and clear here) YouTube - Thomas Lang Solo from His New DVD: Creative Coordination YouTube - Modern Drummer 2003 (live footage from modern drummer 2003 using shure ksm32's as overheads I believe). Although I still think there might be "better" mics out there than are on these clips that will give you more of the same goodness and less of the badness although I wish you could hear these clips straight from their original DVD's to hear how great these recordings really are.
Old 24th August 2007
  #23
Here's the clip I promised - no EQ or compression on the OH's and I've muted all the close mics, so this is just the Avensons through Vintech 473 pres:

Avenson OH's
Old 24th August 2007
  #24
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[quote=jmikeperkins;1456682]A little expensive, but a pair of Neumann U87 mics as drum overheads are awsome and will get you what I think you are looking for. I know the "accurate" part is making you think small, like a pair of Neumann KM84's, but the U87 will get you the same overall warm sound but its "bigger" and better. I own and use both of these mics and the U87 is always my first choice as it has a certain magic on drum overheads and does great things to cymbals.

Well I have a Neumann Tlm103 which I have done side by side comparison with the U87 and are close enough (to my ears anyway) would it be worth it to just get an additional tlm103 and use them as overheads?
Old 24th August 2007
  #25
Lives for gear
Oh my God those avensons sound amazing. I think one of the best I have heard so far. How were the mics positioned? I wonder how they will sound through a pacifica. They almost sound too big but that may also have to do with those big sizzly cymbals too but I like em a lot. It still sounds to me though that the sound I am after is to be a little more focused on the cymbals themselves and to get a slightly dryer sound with a little less room interaction as the avensons are omni's.
Old 24th August 2007
  #26
Earthworks cardiod will sound more focused. I personally like the ATM450's I also have Peluso CEMC6 for cleaner more detailed stuff. The Beyer is super detailed as well
Old 24th August 2007
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diegel View Post
Oh my God those avensons sound amazing. I think the best I have heard so far. How were the mics positioned? I wonder how they will sound through a pacifica.
Here's how they were set up:

Old 24th August 2007
  #28
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Nutra I am not sure which one would be your top pick out of the one's you mentioned could you be more specific. After listening to those Avenson's a few more times as great as they sound I think they sound too big and open and I think I am looking for a more isolated dryer focused sound which I think small condensors are best at. So again I think my main choices still remain:

beyer mc 930 $500
shure ksm 141/137 $400/$300
Shure KSM32/27 $550/$300
audio technica atm450 $225
Josephson C42 $400
maybe Peluso CEMC6 $350
Old 24th August 2007
  #29
Here for the gear
 

I use 2 old Neumann KMF4 ( 80s mics), it'is my first choise.
If you are lucky to find a couple used buy them with no doubt (500/700 each).

Cheers

Jam
Old 25th August 2007
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diegel View Post
Those AT 3035's look like great mics. And I really like the audio technica sound especially on acoustic guitar and vocals. I already have an audio technica ATM450 as one of my narrowed down options yet is a small condensor as opposed to the 3035 being large condensor. I am not sure how the 3035 would compare to the 450 but my feeling is that the small condensor will eliminate the room sound and the cymbals will sound more in focus.
My experience is that LDCs don't pic up room sound any more than SDCs do. The 3035s are more "focused" than a lot of SDCs.

If you don't want room sound at all, you're looking at close micing each individual cymbal. Try ribbons for that.
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