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Drum Overhead Spread Problem Condenser Microphones
Old 18th December 2010
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Drum Overhead Spread Problem

Hey I was wondering if anyone could give me any idea on how to fix a drum problem im having.

Every time I seem to track drums I never seem to be getting a nice spread in my overhead mics.

Ive tried raising the mics, changing mic position, changing mics etc. Ive also tried the X/Y positioning which doesnt give as much spread in general.

Its more a symbol spread in looking for in my overheads because i 90% of the time filter out the rest when mixing. Im very cautious about phase problems and always check before tracking.

I always seem to be getting far to much cymbals in each mic and even with both mics fully panned left and right find it had to tell if the drummer hits his left or right cymbal because they seem to be the same level in each mic even thought he'd have them spread as far apart from each other as possible..

The mics i use for tracking overheads are normally pairs of rode nt2a's (would also love to know your opinions on these as overhead mics) and se electronics SE1a's..

Any help you can give me would be really appreciated. Im thinking it might be a problem with my room but im still not sure. Its not a huge room i track drums in but not overly small either..

Thanks in advance
Old 18th December 2010
  #2
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FreshSkweez's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by leitrim_lad View Post
Hey I was wondering if anyone could give me any idea on how to fix a drum problem im having.

Every time I seem to track drums I never seem to be getting a nice spread in my overhead mics.

Ive tried raising the mics, changing mic position, changing mics etc. Ive also tried the X/Y positioning which doesnt give as much spread in general.

Its more a symbol spread in looking for in my overheads because i 90% of the time filter out the rest when mixing. Im very cautious about phase problems and always check before tracking.

I always seem to be getting far to much cymbals in each mic and even with both mics fully panned left and right find it had to tell if the drummer hits his left or right cymbal because they seem to be the same level in each mic even thought he'd have them spread as far apart from each other as possible..

The mics i use for tracking overheads are normally pairs of rode nt2a's (would also love to know your opinions on these as overhead mics) and se electronics SE1a's..

Any help you can give me would be really appreciated. Im thinking it might be a problem with my room but im still not sure. Its not a huge room i track drums in but not overly small either..

Thanks in advance
How are you placing your mics?
Old 18th December 2010
  #3
Gear Nut
 

What polar pattern are you setting your rhodes at? If they are set to omni, then I could see why you might not hear much seperation between the right and left stereo fields. I would try the SE1a's in a "NOS" setup. That way one mic is off axis to its opposite field, and should theoretically pick up less of that opposite field, and more of the field that it is pointing towards.

http://www.btinternet.com/~paformusi...reo_mics_1.gif
Old 18th December 2010
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Same question as above ^

Try A/B Spaced Pairing them using the 3-1 Rule.

Basically if the OH mics are 2 feet above the cymbals, the mics have to be 6 feet away from each other.

That should help with stereo wideness. X/Y is only nice if it’s a small kit IMO.
I generally A/B the kit, since it gives me that wideness that I like.

Best of luck,

Louis
Old 18th December 2010
  #5
Sen
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Sen's Avatar
Have a look at the overhead positioning here

http://www.riblja-corba.com/Images/studio/vicko.jpg
This will give pretty good separation

Also if you have tracks already recorded and you need more separation, try sidechaining a multiband compressor (focusing on the cymbal freqs), inserted on the left OH, to the right OH and vice versa, so that when your crash , lets say, is playing on the left side it squeezes down the spill of the same crash in the right mic and same for the other side. This is a bit harder to do with cymbals than it is with toms, but improvement can be made by carefully setting your compressors, especially attack and release times.

Cheers

Last edited by Sen; 18th December 2010 at 03:42 AM.. Reason: photo too big
Old 18th December 2010
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Hey thanks a million for the swift replies.. I mic using the a/b method using the 3-1 rule (or as close as i can to it).. I have my rodes in Cardioid when I use them.

I must definately try the se's in NOS position.. Never tried that.

Sen thanks a million for that tip, its something i would have never thought of and will definately try. Would this method be used often on drums in general to help spread?

Cheers
Old 18th December 2010
  #7
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What's your monitoring setup like. If your monitors are too close together, or too far from the listening position you won't get an accurate idea of the true separation. If they are too close to the side walls or if your console/ work surface is causing too much early reflection information, the image will be skewed. If there isn't adequate diffusion on the rear wall you may be getting the first reflection from the right speaker reaching your left ear too soon and vice-versa.

You should also be aware that cardioid mics can pick up quite a bit of information from 50-60 degrees off axis. There might very well be a lot of similar information in both overhead mics.

Some folks (I'm not one) close mic ride and crash cymbals to aid in placement. Lots of folks (sometime myself included) use a hi- hat mic to augment what they overheads are hearing.

If you want more spearation than what you are hearing, move the mics further out to the sides, or closer to the cymbals. It might not look like the pictures you see in CD booklets, but if you get the results you want, you're doing the right thing.

I don't like a ton of separation between the opposing sides of the drum kit. I usually use a stereo mic (a Neumann SM69) as a coincident XY overhead pair. I often do not pan the two channels hard. I use very little spread in the close tom mics as well. I find exaggerated stereo drum panning distracting. I usually get a sense of space from the room mics.

Good luck-
Old 18th December 2010
  #8
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NOS61's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lrichner View Post
Same question as above ^

Try A/B Spaced Pairing them using the 3-1 Rule.

Basically if the OH mics are 2 feet above the cymbals, the mics have to be 6 feet away from each other.

That should help with stereo wideness. X/Y is only nice if it’s a small kit IMO.
I generally A/B the kit, since it gives me that wideness that I like.

Best of luck,

Louis
Hum...Are you sure about that Rule ? 6 feet is wider than the drumset itself...You mean that if the mics are , let say , 3 feet over the cymbals, then the mics would need to be 9 feet away of each other ? Imagine at 4 feet over ? Am I getting this right ?

Thanks !
Old 18th December 2010
  #9
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lrichner
Try A/B Spaced Pairing them using the 3-1 Rule.

Basically if the OH mics are 2 feet above the cymbals, the mics have to be 6 feet away from each other.

Gotta chime in here and say that's not the 3-to-1 rule, although it's a pretty common misunderstanding.

The 3-to-1 rule is for multiple mics on multiple sources, not for multiple mics on one source. The idea is that if you put mic A on source A at a distance of Q, then you need to make sure mic B on source B is at a distance of at least 3x Q from source A.

The purpose of this rule (of thumb) is to reduce the amount of bleed from other sources so that when you turn up mic A you don't get a bunch of source B coming up as well.

When stereo mic'ing a single source, *most* phase-coherent mic positions involve having the mics very close together, often as close to touching as possible, regardless of how far they are from the source. 3-to-1 does not apply in these scenarios.

OP, try googling 'recorderman' for your overhead setup, it's pretty bulletproof and gives a great spread left to right. If you still have troubles, it might be the case that your monitoring environment is smearing the image.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 18th December 2010
  #10
Be careful when mixing...
If you compress each overhead mic seperately this will narrow your spread.
If you send both mics to a stereo aux and compress them as a pair you will maintain your imaging relationships (and width).
Same approach if you use stereo rooms.
Old 18th December 2010
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Hey Joe, cheers for the post.. My monitoring should be perfect i think. Im working in a well treated room with all reflection points (well the main reflection points!!!;-) catered for.. have never had any problems with it before or on anything else apart from drum overheads. I seem to be getting the same problem in headphones as well though.. The cymbals just seem all meshed together, no clarity or definition to them. Its not so much its a bad spread im getting in general its just more like its not exactly up to where i want it. Im not a fan of over panning drums either by any means but i like listening to a record and when separate cymbals are hit you can kinda hear them definitively and the stereo image of the cymbals, this is just what i seem to be missing. I experiment ALOT with room mics and kinda get alot of my overall drum sound with them but I'd still like to be able to sort out whatever it is thats bothering me with my overheads as i think they are the, or one of the, most important aspect of miking a kit and i think if i can get it sorted it will improve my drum sound greatly..

Thanks a million
P.S any Irish connection with your surname being Egan?!!;-)


Gregory: Cheers for the reply, will definitely give the recorderman a go. This will give a good stereo image of the overall kit but will it also be good for helping the stereo image of the cymbals etc as i normally filter out and use room mics?

anguswoodhead: This is very interesting. im still at the ITB mixing stage so i normally get and EQ and Compression I like and copy the exact same plugins onto the 2 overhead tracks.. Would this be effecting my width?
Old 18th December 2010
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by leitrim_lad View Post
anguswoodhead: This is very interesting. im still at the ITB mixing stage so i normally get and EQ and Compression I like and copy the exact same plugins onto the 2 overhead tracks.. Would this be effecting my width?
Definately - a common mistake.
Think about it for a minute....
When a cymbal is hit on 1 side that channel will compress but the otherside won't (depending on your threshold of course) and this will move the image to the opposite side of the hit.
However if the channels are grouped as a pair the cymbal hit will hit the compressor and both sides with drop together keeping your image intact.
Try it and see for yourself.
Using seperate compression on the overheads definately narrow's the perceived image.
I like to have the cymbals coming out of the sides rather than in the middle.
I even get the drummer to set his cymbals up to the left and right sides and close mic (maybe a foot or 2 at most).
But I always use room mics and tend to use the overheads less for the whole kit and more for the cymbals.
Hope that helps mate.
Old 18th December 2010
  #13
Gear Nut
 

Hehe it actually makes so much sense that i fell so stupid for not thinking of it.. I bet thats probably my main problem.. Thanks a million angus, ill try it out tomorrow and see if it helps anything..

Cheers
Old 18th December 2010
  #14
I'm sure you're not the first mate. heh
Old 18th December 2010
  #15
Sen
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Sen's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by leitrim_lad View Post
Sen thanks a million for that tip, its something i would have never thought of and will definately try. Would this method be used often on drums in general to help spread?

Cheers
Did the job for me many times..although I'm not too worried about the cymbal spread, it can definately be done, especially when closer micing the cymbals with OH mics...On toms it works really good...but keep in mind that the comps have to be tweeked really carefully, especially when trying to do it with cymbals..
Old 18th December 2010
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

Try also using an M/S technique with the A/B. M/S would go behind the drummer, but measure the distance of the mic-drummer with this technique:

Use a mic cable to measure the distance between your ride and your snare. That measurement will direct you to how far you should place your M/S mics to minimize/avoid phase issues.

Cheers!
Old 18th December 2010
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by anguswoodhead View Post
Be careful when mixing...
If you compress each overhead mic seperately this will narrow your spread.
If you send both mics to a stereo aux and compress them as a pair you will maintain your imaging relationships (and width).
Same approach if you use stereo rooms.
I've used 2 compressors on the overheads for years and not had that problem ever. Just set them right, For overheads I use a fairly low ratio, and I don't smash them.
Old 18th December 2010
  #18
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NOS61's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Musiclab View Post
I've used 2 compressors on the overheads for years and not had that problem ever. Just set them right, For overheads I use a fairly low ratio, and I don't smash them.
You mean two types of differrent comp without any "links" ? Why would that be preferrable to a stereo comp ? In a "unlink" setup, it means that whatever is hit hard close to either one of the OH mic, let say a tom close to the hat side, would trigger a one side level change unequal with the other, giving the effect contrary to what is suppose to be: the opposite side (ride) will be "louder" than the side of the tom, and a "room" effect ( shift) will be apparent ...no ?

Maybe I am wrong, but it is logical ?

Salute !
Old 18th December 2010
  #19
Gear Nut
 

Would anyone be fans of using stereo compression when tracking the overheads? Im in the middle of building a dual la3a clone that i was going to use (very lightly of course) when tracking overheads. Would ye be for or against using it when tracking?

Thanks a million for all the replies by the way.. Tried out the stereo comp today as angus said and it has seemed to help the overall image for me. VERY interested in trying the M/S behind the drummer with the A/B miking position, cant wait to see what it sounds like and will be trying it out in my next session..

Has anyone any non-traditional or "out there" techniques or tips they use when tracking drums? I love hearing and trying out different ideas when tracking, its very interesting to see what you can come up with and what sounds good with different styles/drummers etc..

Thanks again
Old 18th December 2010
  #20
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John Suitcase's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anguswoodhead View Post
Be careful when mixing...
If you compress each overhead mic seperately this will narrow your spread.
If you send both mics to a stereo aux and compress them as a pair you will maintain your imaging relationships (and width).
Same approach if you use stereo rooms.
If you're working ITB, be careful to test your stereo compressor/limiters. Some are dual mono, and some actually will sum the signal to mono, while others do stereo linking using one of several topologies. The linked compression can be based on a summed signal, or on the louder of the two signals, these will give somewhat different results. You also probably want to high pass the key signal, unless you want the overheads to pump with the kick and toms.

Another problem can occur with overheads if the condensers you're using tend to distort a bit. The distortion is often in upper frequencies where you might not notice it (it blends with the cymbals waveforms) but it's limiting the cymbals before they even get to the preamps. Also, if the output of the overhead mics is very hot, it can overdrive the inputs of your preamps.

Using mics with pads will solve that issue, of course!
Old 18th December 2010
  #21
SRS
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Couple things... I read through the post and did not catch a few very important elements. First, how high is your ceiling? Is it treated, like with a cloud directly above the kit to help give the illusion acoustically of a much higher ceiling? Also, the drum kit is one instrument and should be first and foremost approached as such. After capturing the best overall balance of the kit (cymbals and drums) with the overheads, bring in the spot mics on the individual drums to fill in the holes and add beef.

Taking away the comb filtering and direct first reflections from the ceiling will go a long way to getting the clarity and cymbal spread you are seeking during initial tracking.
Old 18th December 2010
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOS61 View Post
You mean two types of differrent comp without any "links" ? Why would that be preferrable to a stereo comp ? In a "unlink" setup, it means that whatever is hit hard close to either one of the OH mic, let say a tom close to the hat side, would trigger a one side level change unequal with the other, giving the effect contrary to what is suppose to be: the opposite side (ride) will be "louder" than the side of the tom, and a "room" effect ( shift) will be apparent ...no ?

Maybe I am wrong, but it is logical ?

Salute !
I use 2 of the same compressors but they are unlinked, I use a low ratio and I don't smash overheads. Generally I use 2:1 or 3:1 tops with a slower attack and fairly quick release. You could use a stereo comp if you'd like , but I don't think it's necessary to use parallel compression on the overheads which was my point. The room mics might get hit harder with compression depending on the track but I tend to X/Y the room so even there it's doesn't affect it in the manner you're describing. So basically no there is no real apparent shift in the overheads. Maybe if you were wacking them really hard, but that's not something I do.
Old 19th December 2010
  #23
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David Watts's Avatar
 

the actual drum kit itself plays it's part too... try to keep the hats, ride and cymbals as far apart as the drummer can allow... and think about the parts themselves - like, if he's on bashing on his hi hat, then get him to hit the crash on the 'other side' of the kit, rather than the one right next to his hat... I find little things like that help keep things sounding 'wide'.

But generally, a spaced pair is gonna sound 'wider' than an XY.

And don't be afraid to brutally pan things left and right; eg hats - left, ride - right // rack tom - left, floor tom - right.....
Old 19th December 2010
  #24
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Have any of you guys tried using a Jenklin Disk with a pair of Omni mics as overheads? I don't have a pair of suitable omnis (or a disk!)

It seems like something worth trying out, just curious if anyone can speak from experience?
Old 19th December 2010
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrichner View Post

Try A/B Spaced Pairing them using the 3-1 Rule.

Basically if the OH mics are 2 feet above the cymbals, the mics have to be 6 feet away from each other.
Well the 3:1 rule would mean that if you have the Left Overhead 2 ft from the left cymbal, the Right Overhead would have to be at least 6 feet from the left cymbal, not the other mic.
Old 19th December 2010
  #26
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monsieur x's Avatar
Linked and unlinked on stereo OH are just two different sounds. It's nice to use the one that will work best for the music. Sometimes unlinked will sound more "open". But hey, I prefer linked most of the time, probably just has to do with how I record and work though.

Hope this tiny bit of information helps,
Old 19th December 2010
  #27
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u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by unitymusic View Post
Well the 3:1 rule would mean that if you have the Left Overhead 2 ft from the left cymbal, the Right Overhead would have to be at least 6 feet from the left cymbal, not the other mic.

Again, this is not the 3:1 rule, if anyone's interested my earlier post in this thread explains what the 3:1 rule is and where it applies.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/6124318-post9.html


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 19th December 2010
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leitrim_lad View Post
..Has anyone any non-traditional or "out there" techniques or tips they use when tracking drums? I love hearing and trying out different ideas when tracking, its very interesting to see what you can come up with and what sounds good with different styles/drummers etc..

Thanks again
Not way out, off the beaten path perhaps.. I go low and slightly back and to the sides. It's been working out quite well. I came to it for the added isolation and picked up a little 'closer to the skins' perspective and a bit tighter/drier down there as well. (Almost always have two to four other instruments tracking along with the kit in my fairly limited spaces.
Drum Overhead Spread Problem-earthworks-600w.jpg Drum Overhead Spread Problem-mk012-overs-kit-600w.jpg
This placement typically lands panned at around 50-75% in the mix, but sums nice and thick to mono.
I supplement these kit mics with a cymbal pair out front as well for the options up there.
..The snare shield was an experiment since bailed on from back when this was shot
Old 19th December 2010
  #29
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dcrigger's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Watts View Post
the actual drum kit itself plays it's part too... try to keep the hats, ride and cymbals as far apart as the drummer can allow...
As a drummer who also does some engineering, I would never think of having a player nudge his kit around for such often miniscule sonic advantage. A cymbal moved further out a few inches is going to have next to no effect on the stereo spread - and yet could have a seriously detrimental effect on an inexperienced, over-accommodating drummer that's too wanting to please.

Even experienced pros, though usually able to accommodate, will still not be immune to the shift in comfort level. So just saying it something to think twice about doing.

And sadly as drummers, I've dealt with a few guys along the way that quite irritatingly don't even think once before wanting to move stuff all over the place - sometimes into workable, yet less than ideal for playing the part ways - and sometimes in "Are you out of your flippin' mind?" ways.

David
Old 19th December 2010
  #30
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David Watts's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dcrigger View Post
As a drummer...
I ain't talking feet here, just small movements and in my experience they do make a difference. I just see it as all part of getting the right sound, in the same way I would suggest a guitar player adjusts his amp to get a better sound down on tape. There's no point in getting precious about it.

If you're after a big, huge drum sound, you ideally need a big, huge kit to achieve it. If he only has a twee Jazz kit, then you've just gotta try and squeeze any little advantage you can get, in my opinion.

If the guy really can't adapt to these small changes, then yeah, fair enough just plop 'em back into his comfort zone - this hasn't happened to me yet though. The way see it, you've got to at least try.

But like I say, the more important factor is what he's actually playing - you need to keep reinforcing the width by keeping the the parts themselves nice and 'wide'.
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