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Miking a snare top and bottom,, Why doesn't the phase flip sound any better
Old 31st January 2012
  #1
Miking a snare top and bottom,, Why doesn't the phase flip sound any better

When I record snare I like to mic the top and bottom like a lot of people do but. When I do this iv read or learned it is an essential practice to flip the phase on the bottom skin so I do. A lot of times I don't hear the difference and sometimes it seems its better off without it. I record sometime with the phase flip and often without the phase flip so I can use the phase flip in protools to actually hear the comparison. It seems to me with good EQ neither way is better or worse. Everything iv read says flipping the phase is mandatory but I just don't hear why in either instance.
Am I doing something wrong , could somebody who really knows what they are talking about explain. I use a sm57 batter side. Beta 57 on bottom.
Old 31st January 2012
  #2
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lynngraber's Avatar
move the mic til you do hear a difference.
Old 31st January 2012
  #3
Or save yourself the trouble of following the as-many-mics-as-possible-on-the-drums crowd and just use one mic.
Old 31st January 2012
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Not always necessary to flip phase. Use your ears and you'll be fine.
Old 31st January 2012
  #5
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Showcase's Avatar
 

There is no "rule" to when you flip the phase, if it sounds good without flipping the phase, its probably because the mics are working together nicely!
But it could mean trouble micing the same source with 2 different mics, flipping the phase sometimes remedy this!
Old 31st January 2012
  #6
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RedWallStudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand View Post
Or save yourself the trouble of following the as-many-mics-as-possible-on-the-drums crowd and just use one mic.
Amen.

Don't look for the phase reverse button to be a magic bullet. Maybe the mics are within a close enough phase that flipping it isn't changing much.

You should also ask yourself how much the snare bottom is adding to your mix. I actually try to get as much snare sound out of my overheads and use the direct snare mic for a little extra oomph. Stopped using the snare bottom quite some time ago and never looked back. But, again.. that is just me and I'm sure there will be a herd of folks who swear by it. Your results may vary.
Old 31st January 2012
  #7
A lot of bands Iv worked with are not that pro . They play fast and heavy.
So drummers of this skill level seem to like the snare wires really tight.
I find with fast music the tight snare strainer does not come through enough so I mic both sides. Doing so is essential at this point. If I were doing a JAZZ thing I would consider trying the M/S technique or just a minimal John Bonham type thing.
If the it sounds good use it approach is the way to go,and it always is, WHY do people say flip the phase on the bottom skin like its a rule. (I know there are no rules). I can't be so lucky that my mic positioning is always this good
it never is on tom-toms
Old 31st January 2012
  #8
Just go with whatever sounds best to you and the band.
Old 31st January 2012
  #9
I really respect the go with sounds best ideal but does anybody know the answer to my question
Old 31st January 2012
  #10
Gear Nut
 

I didn't want to say what I thought, because I wanted to be nice. I'm gonna go ahead and throw my two cents in though-

I'd say if you can't hear the difference in the bottom mic polarity, you either don't know what to listen for, or aren't working in an accurate environment at all. Play with polarity switches first, before any EQ or dynamics processing. You will find one way will have more bottom end, and the other will sound thinner and maybe more "snarey". You want as much meat as possible out of the drums.

Sorry, stupid iPhone is hard to type on, I'm gonna make another post with a way to maybe help you-

. Get a gain setting
Old 31st January 2012
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Ok.

Place your mics.

Get a rough gain setting on the mics. Solo the overheads, and snare top. Flip your monitors to mono. Push the snare polarity switch and listen. One will sound thinner. Use the setting which sounds the biggest. Rinse and repeat for every mic in the drum setup.
Old 31st January 2012
  #12
My environment is crappy but my monitors are BAREFOOT mm27s.
I didn't mean that I can't hear a difference I meant I seem to be able to get the same result either way.
Old 31st January 2012
  #13
Lives for gear
The fact that you don't ear any difference shouldn't happen really..
The fact that is better without flippin' the phase it's normal,
as others said already, sometimes is better, sometimes is not..
Depends on what mics you used and positioning, also very important
to listen to the snare mics with the OH and flip the phase of those too

Getting the best sound is not a matter of getting the mics
sample-perfectly in phase, that'd make the task much easier..
Old 31st January 2012
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Only rarely will there be no difference. If you can't hear the difference you should work on your monitoring chain/environment.
Old 31st January 2012
  #15
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by phatbeatstudio View Post
My environment is crappy but my monitors are BAREFOOT mm27s.
I didn't mean that I can't hear a difference I meant I seem to be able to get the same result either way.
That just means your microphones are close enough in phase to not notice much of a difference. As long as you're hearing a difference, we know you're capable.
Old 31st January 2012
  #16
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RedWallStudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by phatbeatstudio View Post
I really respect the go with sounds best ideal but does anybody know the answer to my question
I did.

Your mics are probably close enough in phase where the reversal button does nothing. It is possible for your ears to not detect the change if the mics are close enough.
Old 31st January 2012
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mixermarkb View Post
Only rarely will there be no difference. If you can't hear the difference you should work on your monitoring chain/environment.
BS. Think about it - think about how cycles in waveforms work. Think about how it might be possible that a mic pointing the opposite direction might constructively sum with another. Hint - you don't always have microphones at the same point in the cycle.

I agree there's often, maybe even most of the time, a polarity change improvement. But it's not "rare" to find the better way is both mics with the same polarity.

I agree if you change polarity and don't hear a difference, you should move mics. But no-one's monitoring chain is that bad. It's just insulting and condescending to make that suggestion. In this situation, you're actually displaying a lack of tracking experience.
Old 31st January 2012
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatbeatstudio View Post
I really respect the go with sounds best ideal but does anybody know the answer to my question
It's possible that one of your mics or cables is wired backwards, giving you an inverted signal to start with.

Also, contrary to what some are saying, I suggest that if the sound at a given frequency is reaching 2 mics at about 90 degrees out of phase, instead of closer to 0 or 180 degrees out, then inverting polarity on one mic will not sound much different at that frequency, which could explain why you don't hear the difference sometimes. If the mics were close to "in phase", meaning close to 0 degrees, then you would hear a huge change when flipping polarity. Likewise for 180 degrees. But at 90 degrees...
Old 31st January 2012
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand View Post
Or save yourself the trouble of following the as-many-mics-as-possible-on-the-drums crowd and just use one mic.
If you want a big room sound and still want some snares in your snare drum, that second mic can be useful, however I think micing the bottom of the snare sucks, micing the shell is MUCH better, the shell mic gives you top end and snares with out the ugliness of the under the snare mic. Also you should find you w overall use LESS eq with the more mic idea.
Old 31st January 2012
  #20
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Beyersound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Brown View Post
Not always necessary to flip phase. Use your ears and you'll be fine.
Wise words!
Old 31st January 2012
  #21
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Beyersound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musiclab View Post
If you want a big room sound and still want some snares in your snare drum, that second mic can be useful, however I think micing the bottom of the snare sucks, micing the shell is MUCH better, the shell mic gives you top end and snares with out the ugliness of the under the snare mic. Also you should find you w overall use LESS eq with the more mic idea.
Also wise words! I have mixed records with great side-snare miking as well as the top. I don't really like bottom snare mics either. The big gun engineer most famous for his snare sounds uses only top mics. Maybe he's on to something......
Old 31st January 2012
  #22
Gear Nut
 
rumbletone's Avatar
 

how are your mics placed? if the top mic is facing downward toward top head, and bottom mic upward toward snares, and mics are same distance from the heads, and polarity is not flipped in either of the signal chains, then it should cancel the low frequencies when you sum them (which isn't necessarily bad or good) unless you flip polarity. If one or both of the mics are perpendicular to the heads, for example, the issue doesn't arise.

so although i always agree re 'use your ears, and go with what sounds right', you should understand the reason for the 'rule', then you'll understand why it exists and when you should/can ignore it
Old 31st January 2012
  #23
Gear Head
 
theDAWstudio's Avatar
Never Completely Out-Of-Phase

Quote:
Originally Posted by phatbeatstudio View Post
I really respect the go with sounds best ideal but does anybody know the answer to my question
Back in recording school I had this very issue explained to me by the wise and experienced Roy Pritts (former president of AES). He pointed out that it is not the exact same signal traveling in phase from the top of the drum and out of phase from the bottom. There is the reaction of the top and bottom heads that creates a rich resonating sound from the center of the inside of the drum. Now think about that with phase, rich thick sound coming from the inside center of the drum and out in all directions hitting the top and bottom mics at the same time. When you throw one out of phase, you have just cancelled out the rich thick sound coming from the inside center of the drum, which is why mic'ing top and bottom is problematic. Some information will be good to try and cancel out and some will be bad to cancel out.

I personally took this advice to strive to get a better snare sound with one mic by often pulling it away from the top head and sometimes beyond the rim to pick up the full sound (top and snares) of the drum.

Hopefully this answers your question. 180 degrees, 90 degrees, completely variable won't fix it because it isn't like duplicating a track and throwing one out of phase to completely cancel each other out. This is nature and acoustics where nothing is ever perfectly out of phase at all frequencies and amplitudes.
Old 31st January 2012
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyersound View Post
The big gun engineer most famous for his snare sounds uses only top mics.

Did I miss the voting? Who won this illustrious title?
Old 31st January 2012
  #25
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sleepingbag's Avatar
I don't know where you got the idea that this is a rule or a necessary practice. In my experience, checking the snare top + bottom mic phase alignment is something that I was told to look out for if the snare sounds weird. It's not something axiomatic. I'd say most of the time when I personally record drums it's not necessary to do, the sound coming from the top + bottom mics are different enough that there's no real conflict even if the phase isn't perfectly 100% aligned, and more often than not if I'm moving the bottom snare waveform after the fact it's to create the illusion of a bigger drum rather than for the sake of any ultraprecise phase thing. But then I don't use the same mics for top + bottom snare so that might be part of it (I use a 57 or similar on top and a SDC on bottom), if you have a 57 on both there might be conflict.
Old 31st January 2012
  #26
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
I almost never use bottoms snare mics, but if you are going to use one this is the important thing to remember:

Top and bottoms snare mics are spaced apart which means sound generated by almost every part of the snare drum will be reaching each mic at different times. flipping or inverting the phase on spaced mics never fixes phase problems, it just screws it up in a different way that you might like better.

Also important to remember that if you invert the phase of the bottom snare mic you have also altered its phase relationship with all the other mics on the drum set.
Old 31st January 2012
  #27
Gear Nut
 

Ok.

In either one of my control rooms, flipping the polarity switch on a bottom snare mic makes a very noticeable difference. Every time.

One will sound better. It's up to you to decide which one is better, but if you can't hear that something changed, then something is broken.

It may be insulting to say, and I really shouldn't have even responded. But if you can't hear differences in polarity on multiple mics on the same source, either you don't know what to listen for, or something is wrong.
Old 31st January 2012
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by theDAWstudio View Post
There is the reaction of the top and bottom heads that creates a rich resonating sound from the center of the inside of the drum. Now think about that with phase, rich thick sound coming from the inside center of the drum and out in all directions hitting the top and bottom mics at the same time. When you throw one out of phase, you have just cancelled out the rich thick sound coming from the inside center of the drum


This is, of course, nonsense. If you've ever put a microphone INSIDE a snare drum, you would know this to be true.

Fact is, what we know as "snare drum" is a complex combination of many factors. And two of the biggest are "stick meets top head" and "snare wires meet bottom head and take it out for coffee", or something like that.

If you want a little more of one or the other, put a mic where it sounds the way you want it, or more than one mic to combine to create the sound you desire.

And if you can't hear a difference when flipping polarity, guess what... There might not be one.
Old 31st January 2012
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by mixermarkb View Post
if you can't hear differences in polarity on multiple mics on the same source, either you don't know what to listen for, or something is wrong.

OR, some frequencies might be 90º out of phase, in which case, inverting polarity doesn't create the huge difference one might expect.

Now usually, you'll notice one variation that has a lot more low end. But there are certainly cases where the difference is a subtle shift, neither better - just different.
Old 31st January 2012
  #30
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Beyersound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Podgorny View Post
Did I miss the voting? Who won this illustrious title?
I didn't mention any contest, but in years past Clearmountain used that method, got huge snare sounds, and sold many a snare sample CD. It seems he would qualify as a "big gun" engineer, as well as engineering some of the more popular snare sounds in history. If a contest does arise, feel free to vote for whoever blows your skirt up........... hehhehheh
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