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Unhappy with snare mic, advice please!
Old 22nd December 2011
  #1
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unit13's Avatar
 

Unhappy with snare mic, advice please!

Hi everyone, hope you're all enjoying the festive season so far!

Anyway, I'm becoming increasingly unhappy with sounds I'm getting from my top snare mics during tracking. Once the overheads & bottom mic are in play I'm much more happy with the sound but I really want the top mic to sound better on it's own as I just end up smashing it with extreme EQ to get a better sound. Any advice would be appreciated!

Mics at my disposal are -

Shure Sm57, 58, Sm7 & PG56
Beyerdynamic TG-X80
Audio-Technica AT4080 & AT4081
Rode NT-1
AKG C1000 S

So far I've only tried the Shure mics & the Beyerdynamic due to pushy clients and rushing around to get a good drum sound quickly. So any advice using what I've got at my disposal. More than 1 mic on the top skin perhaps?

The best sounding so far from the ones I've used to my ears is the Beyerdynamic but it has a massive output and I end up in peak city if the drummer is a bit aggressive (have to destroy it with a comp/limiter going in to get the level useable)

Ahhh!!
Old 22nd December 2011
  #2
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I do a couple things. First, beta57 on top, but a Neumann KMS105 and Beyer m201 will also get you into that ballpark. Audix i5 on bottom. Daking pre on top, Burl on bottom. Then I've also been adding my r92 sideways at the shell, bright side facing up and backed up a few inches so it can pick up the top and bottom heads with its figure 8 patterm.

As for the top mic, the biggest thing that made my sound better is not burrying the mic onto the top of the head. Back it up off the snare, make some distance and angle its pickup pattern toward the shell of the opposite end. Technically it's not just the top head that makes the snare sound, so backing it up allows for the mic to pick up a fuller, rounder sound from the instrument. Now, you just need to deal with the hi-hat, but I'm sure you can figure that one out. That's the best advice I can give.
Old 22nd December 2011
  #3
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Yeah, I've been slowly backing the mic off but I feel like I'm constantly battling against the sound the drummer thinks he wants. For example the last band I recorded the drummer was obsessed with the Paramore drum sound and I just struggle to get close with my modest set-up/equipment. I hate doing it but any advice on getting that huge, processed snare sound you hear in modern hard rock stuff? It seems to be all drummers want these days :P
Old 22nd December 2011
  #4
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No offense, but is the snare tuned decently? I have no trouble picking up almost any sound I want snare wise just a 57 on top.


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Old 22nd December 2011
  #5
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I usually like to throw a dynamic and an SDC on the snare. Depending on the snare/song arrangement, I usually throw the SDC on bottom and dynamic on top, but sometimes I'll do it the other way around. Having said that, I've not heard good things about the AKG C1000 S so, it could be worth a try, but I won't guarantee anything. As for placement, you just have to move them around until they sound good and don't pick up too much bleed, but micing the shell as opposed to the head, especially with the underside mic, is always a good option to try.
Old 22nd December 2011
  #6
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cheu78's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by unit13 View Post
Yeah, I've been slowly backing the mic off but I feel like I'm constantly battling against the sound the drummer thinks he wants. For example the last band I recorded the drummer was obsessed with the Paramore drum sound and I just struggle to get close with my modest set-up/equipment. I hate doing it but any advice on getting that huge, processed snare sound you hear in modern hard rock stuff? It seems to be all drummers want these days :P
I think that despite the different drummer and tracking tools, the biggest difference in those productions is that real drums are usually heavily augmented with samples.. especially snare and kick..
(and the sound of an SSL4k pushed hard..I think that CLA mixed that album..or am I wrong?)

Just my 0.02$,

Bests,

Cheu
Old 22nd December 2011
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaoz View Post
No offense, but is the snare tuned decently? I have no trouble picking up almost any sound I want snare wise just a 57 on top.


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Probably not, 9 times outta 10 I usually hate how the drummers I record seem to want their snare sound. It's usually a case of their opinion wins out since they're paying me to record them, I try and push for them to change up the sound until it's clear they will go no further. I'm not much of a drummer and I certainly can't tune myself so I have to just go by how things sound in the room.
Old 22nd December 2011
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheu78 View Post
I think that despite the different drummer and tracking tools, the biggest difference in those productions is that real drums are usually heavily augmented with samples.. especially snare and kick..
(and the sound of an SSL4k pushed hard..I think that CLA mixed that album..or am I wrong?)

Just my 0.02$,

Bests,

Cheu
Sounds about right, I've got Drumagog but rarely use it. Maybe it's the way to go for those fussy drummers who don't actually want their drums to sound like the drums in the room
Old 22nd December 2011
  #9
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Kaoz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by unit13 View Post
Probably not, 9 times outta 10 I usually hate how the drummers I record seem to want their snare sound. It's usually a case of their opinion wins out since they're paying me to record them, I try and push for them to change up the sound until it's clear they will go no further. I'm not much of a drummer and I certainly can't tune myself so I have to just go by how things sound in the room.
Yeah well I'd say that, + the aforementioned sample friendly radio drum sound are contributing to the problems you're having.

I honestly don't know if there's anything you can do about it.


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Old 22nd December 2011
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaoz View Post
Yeah well I'd say that, + the aforementioned sample friendly radio drum sound are contributing to the problems you're having.

I honestly don't know if there's anything you can do about it.


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Yeah, Like I said the only time I get major problems is when I'm recording bands that want to sound like other bands instead of themselves.
Old 22nd December 2011
  #11
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Slikjmuzik's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by unit13 View Post
Yeah, I've been slowly backing the mic off but I feel like I'm constantly battling against the sound the drummer thinks he wants. For example the last band I recorded the drummer was obsessed with the Paramore drum sound and I just struggle to get close with my modest set-up/equipment. I hate doing it but any advice on getting that huge, processed snare sound you hear in modern hard rock stuff? It seems to be all drummers want these days :P
Tell him he needs to call David Ben and ask him to give him the exact snare samples he used in order to get that sound. Either case, unless he hits his snare like him and your room sounds like the room they recorded in and you use the exact same mixing technique, he's not going to get that sound. He's gonna need to get over that quick.
Old 22nd December 2011
  #12
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For those sorts of drummers, it would seriously be worth hiring an old drum tech (or at least someone who looks like an old drum tech) to tell them that their drums sound like ****.

The "drum tech" doesn't even have to know anything, you can just use him as a filter for your suggestions.


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Old 22nd December 2011
  #13
Here for the gear
You can try with a small condenser, i.e. AT AE3000. Very open yet punchy sounding snare mic!
Old 22nd December 2011
  #14
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unit13's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaoz View Post
For those sorts of drummers, it would seriously be worth hiring an old drum tech (or at least someone who looks like an old drum tech) to tell them that their drums sound like ****.

The "drum tech" doesn't even have to know anything, you can just use him as a filter for your suggestions.


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Haha, that's a brilliant idea!
Someone like Steve Coogan's Saxondale perhaps?

Old 22nd December 2011
  #15
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With regard to the Paramore sound, that drumset sounds very roomy to me, not quite like 'Hero' by Foo Fighters, but still its a very dominant room mic sound with samples on kick and snare mixed in. I'd place some large diaphragm condensers in the room about 9ft back. I usually go for about 45 degrees from the drummers body sitting at the kit, so one on the side of the ride and floor tom and the other around the snare/hat area. Keep them low or your room mics will be all cymbals, even face them away and bring them closer for a different flavor. I hard pan these left and right along with heavy double tracked guitars. They don't ever end up competing as they are completely different sounds.

Best wishes.
Old 22nd December 2011
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaoz View Post
For those sorts of drummers, it would seriously be worth hiring an old drum tech (or at least someone who looks like an old drum tech) to tell them that their drums sound like ****.

The "drum tech" doesn't even have to know anything, you can just use him as a filter for your suggestions.


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Haha, that's awesome!!
Old 22nd December 2011
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unit13 View Post
Haha, that's a brilliant idea!
Someone like Steve Coogan's Saxondale perhaps?

Spot on.

Smoke and mirrors dude, you'd be amazed how often **** like that works.


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Old 22nd December 2011
  #18
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unit13's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikjmuzik View Post
With regard to the Paramore sound, that drumset sounds very roomy to me, not quite like 'Hero' by Foo Fighters, but still its a very dominant room mic sound with samples on kick and snare mixed in. I'd place some large diaphragm condensers in the room about 9ft back. I usually go for about 45 degrees from the drummers body sitting at the kit, so one on the side of the ride and floor tom and the other around the snare/hat area. Keep them low or your room mics will be all cymbals, even face them away and bring them closer for a different flavor. I hard pan these left and right along with heavy double tracked guitars. They don't ever end up competing as they are completely different sounds.

Best wishes.
I'll give it a try, thanks

I've heard it's best to compress the **** outta room mics for that 'rock' sound. Would you agree or shall I leave them dry?
Old 22nd December 2011
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unit13 View Post
I'll give it a try, thanks

I've heard it's best to compress the **** outta room mics for that 'rock' sound. Would you agree or shall I leave them dry?
I would generally let room mics go, but if you're using them heavily, some compression is definitely in order. I wouldn't personally go overboard though.


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Old 22nd December 2011
  #20
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Cheers for the advice guys!
Old 22nd December 2011
  #21
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by unit13 View Post
Once the overheads & bottom mic are in play I'm much more happy with the sound
This indicates that the drum is tuned / sounds good... but I dare say it may not be the microphone... it sounds like a microphone positioning issue from the description.

Personally - I hate bottom snare mics... they almost always sound "broken" to me so I try to get the snare with 1 mic. Very often not mic'ing the top snare head is the ticket to happiness.

Try mic'ing the shell of the drum with the mic 3-6 inches off the side of the drum - aimed at the shell between the top and bottom rim. This position will give you no less "whack" from the drum, a good balance of "snares" and may very well lead you to the promised land.

Best of luck with the hunt.

Peace
Old 22nd December 2011
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
This indicates that the drum is tuned / sounds good... but I dare say it may not be the microphone... it sounds like a microphone positioning issue from the description.

Personally - I hate bottom snare mics... they almost always sound "broken" to me so I try to get the snare with 1 mic. Very often not mic'ing the top snare head is the ticket to happiness.

Try mic'ing the shell of the drum with the mic 3-6 inches off the side of the drum - aimed at the shell between the top and bottom rim. This position will give you no less "whack" from the drum, a good balance of "snares" and may very well lead you to the promised land.

Best of luck with the hunt.

Peace
Sweet, the mic the shell thing keeps coming up so I'm definitely going to give that a try on my next session. Thanks again
Old 22nd December 2011
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unit13 View Post
Sweet, the mic the shell thing keeps coming up so I'm definitely going to give that a try on my next session. Thanks again
YOu can also get different tones by keeping the mic at the shell but angling it slightly up for the top or down for the bottom. I have trouble doing this with a cardioid only patterned mic as many young drummers I record are not at the level of the ones Fletcher records, so they bash away no matter how much I tell them to relax and play the insrument as opposed to hitting it...
Old 22nd December 2011
  #24
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Fletcher's Avatar
Yeah... most of the time I get some pretty serious players... but not always. Last drums I cut the drummer was pretty far from Pocaro... consistency of velocity was a definite issue (!!) but at least he was pretty consistent in where he hit the drums [permitting some 2251s to get used on toms... which was a first for me and I must say - highly pleasant experience but I digress].

I'd never actually worked with a guy that hit the H/H's as hard or as open as this guy [think "lead H/H" - not the easiest thing to record by a damn sight]. I went through several snare mics and positions in an effort to get a decent sound with minimal hat. Finally settled on a T-funk M81 [it comes out in a few weeks, probably at NAMM... mine was a proto-type] as it doesn't have the "forward" top end the M80 does but it does have the same VERY tight hyper-cardioid pickup pattern.

It took a good while... but I finally got a drum with great "crack" - good "sizzle" and blissfully - damn little H/H... but it was a struggle!!

Peace
Old 22nd December 2011
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
Yeah... most of the time I get some pretty serious players... but not always. Last drums I cut the drummer was pretty far from Pocaro... consistency of velocity was a definite issue (!!) but at least he was pretty consistent in where he hit the drums [permitting some 2251s to get used on toms... which was a first for me and I must say - highly pleasant experience but I digress].

I'd never actually worked with a guy that hit the H/H's as hard or as open as this guy [think "lead H/H" - not the easiest thing to record by a damn sight]. I went through several snare mics and positions in an effort to get a decent sound with minimal hat. Finally settled on a T-funk M81 [it comes out in a few weeks, probably at NAMM... mine was a proto-type] as it doesn't have the "forward" top end the M80 does but it does have the same VERY tight hyper-cardioid pickup pattern.

It took a good while... but I finally got a drum with great "crack" - good "sizzle" and blissfully - damn little H/H... but it was a struggle!!

Peace
Imagine being in my world where most drummers are just 'ehh'. Then when I try to get a pop diva a good drummer, she doesn't want to pay for that drummer with a Masters from the University of Miami who actually knows how to work his instrument and the room at the same time. If I had a drummer like that all the time, I'd probably only ever put up overheads and kick, but hey, 'C'est la vie', right?
Old 22nd December 2011
  #26
There are always different mic options, but if you can't get a good snare sound with a 57 then the problem isn't the mic.

The snare, its tuning and damping and your mic technique are what you will have to look to.
Old 22nd December 2011
  #27
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musimedia's Avatar
try removing a PZM mic element from the metal plate. Use this mic on the side of the snare with the capsule just sticking out enough to stick out of the snare shell, 1/2 an inch over the snare skin, but keep it parallel to the shell, not the skin. Use a bit of foam between the mic and the shell and tape the mic on the snare, with it's back to the hi-hat.

and maybe parallel compresison could help you get a sense of a bigger room on the drum buss and/or rooms ?

good luck!
Old 22nd December 2011
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikjmuzik View Post
Imagine being in my world where most drummers are just 'ehh'.
That's actually a good world to be in, because you can do whatever you want. I have a couple of drummers that trust me to that point, and it's bliss. I actually see that sort of attitude (up to a point) as a vote of confidence.


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Old 22nd December 2011
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaoz View Post
That's actually a good world to be in, because you can do whatever you want. I have a couple of drummers that trust me to that point, and it's bliss. I actually see that sort of attitude (up to a point) as a vote of confidence.


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Good point! I guess I do have drummers that trust me to that point, but it's just nice to have a drummer that knows what he's doing once he hears how I'm placing the mic as well!!
Old 22nd December 2011
  #30
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monsieur x's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikjmuzik View Post
Imagine being in my world where most drummers are just 'ehh'. Then when I try to get a pop diva a good drummer, she doesn't want to pay for that drummer with a Masters from the University of Miami who actually knows how to work his instrument and the room at the same time. If I had a drummer like that all the time, I'd probably only ever put up overheads and kick, but hey, 'C'est la vie', right?
Which drummer might you be speaking of BTW? Name starting with J (normally in LA), L (normally in NYC), or A? (He's Venezuelan)

PM me, I think we might know some of the same people.

--

Anyway, I don't like a microphone on the bottom of the snare, but the truth is I am very into hi-fi sounds. Never figured it out. I am sure there are great people getting great sounds with tools I'd never use.

I just use an RE20 on top, through an NPNG. Notch out the shell a bit with EQ if necessary. It also takes additive EQ in the top very well, never harsh. I get my very fast attack by making sure to use a fast pre, so I don't need to depend on EQ for "attack".

I can share examples of my drum recordings upon request.

Best,
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