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Low ceiling / Acoustic Question Condenser Microphones
Old 15th March 2005
Gear nut

Low Ceiling issue for tracking drums..

So...I just setup this very nice studio that I will be working in, and have a band to record next week...only problems are that the ceilings are very low. Probably a foot lower than ur typical house(7' i think)...I'm very worried that the drums aren't going to be able to breath enough to get that full big sound..and I'm worried about overhead placement, and reflections off the ceiling(using 414s)...I was going to treat the OHs like if I were micing close to a piano lid..and get them as close as I can to the ceiling..without touching...that way the reflections don't have enough room to build around the mic. What would you guys do about this? I really want to get this band sounding good(drums wise)...any suggestions?
Old 15th March 2005
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brendondp's Avatar

Have a look here, my friend. Oh, and try the search function - there, I said it nicely.


Old 15th March 2005
I hate close reflections on drums so I dont at all agree with the folks suggesting wood under the kit to 'liven it' - no, suffering with the 'low ceiling, early reflective crap blues' I took a tip from Loudist and put a very heavy carpet under the whole kit area, it stops the floor ceiling 'slap'

I also use cardiod patern OH mic's as close as possible to the cymbals / kit (to avoid ceiling 'bounce back')

Again, having once nagged at a studio owner to put wood around a small drum area to "liven it up" - (was a total & absolute failure, it semi ruined an already perfectly workable room) I now belive that "adding wood' in tiny studio spaces is totally DUD advice and is misguided, simplistic logic at it's very worst.

Old 15th March 2005
Gear addict
bobby yarrow's Avatar

I'm with Jules on wood. I actually don't think a small, deadish room is big limitation. . . maybe cause that's what I'm stuck with. If you had all options, having a big, great sounding room would be great -- tho most of the studios around here with big rooms either make them sound like small, dead rooms, or have no control over the room at all. Small & dead works fine. I'd move the mics closer to the source instead of closer to the ceiling, and get at least 4" of foam or something over the overheads.

For what it's worth: I have 8' ceiling in my live room. By opening the ceiling to the rafters, I picked up another foot I guess. Using foam over pink insulation directly over the kit, and bass traps and whatnot elsewhere, I don't hear the ceiling much at all, even with M/S overheads. Of course it's not ideal, but it definitely works.
Old 15th March 2005
Lives for gear

Another Idea

I've done this successfully with voice. Place a decent sq. ft. of Auralex foam on the surface behind the mics. (In your case, the ceiling, in my case it was a wall). I was getting all kinds of undesireable vocal reflections until I put a 4 x 4 piece of foam on the wall behind the vocal mic. It worked like a charm.
Old 15th March 2005
member no 666
Fletcher's Avatar
Originally Posted by dreamaudio
I'm worried about overhead placement, and reflections off the ceiling
Then don't put the mics over the drums... "overheads" are great when you have [minimum] twelve foot, [4 meter] ceilings... other than that I would suggest 'underheads'... which are mics out in front of the kit roughly halfway between the ceiling and the floor in approximately an equilateral triangle to the snare... sometimes it works... other times the room sucks to bad to be used for any purpose what so ever... in which case, run a snake to another room and try that [or drop back and punt... whatever your instinct tells you to do is probably the right course of action].

Best of luck with it.
Old 15th March 2005
Gear addict
Buddhaman's Avatar

I have 8 ' ceilings in my 20x30' live room/control room (every surface is concrete--including the ceiling!!)

I have had good success with Ockatava MC012's using the fletcher suggestion--- about 6' high and 3-4 feet out from the front of the kit..

a much clearer image than overhead (too cimbally up there)....

I also use a dissimilar pair (U195 and an R84) if I want a different sound---but pretty much in the same position.

Mind you, I also use 4 realtraps on Mic stands as Gobos to cut down on room reflections...

YMMV Buddhaman
Old 7th April 2005
Gear nut
Micgiver's Avatar

try the "underhead" idea except you need a pair of omni's. put them underneath the cyms about two feet off the ground and 2 ft under the cyms pan hard L and R.
dont forget to put a few sheets of plywood under the kit for that great wood room sound. dont forget to close mic the rest of the kit. I promise it will make your small room with low celings sound like abbey road.
Old 7th April 2005
Deleted User
I've been using a very small but well treated booth to track drums and am getting a very good sound.

I have been using the recorderman oh mic technique - I must try out fletchers idea though.

Old 7th April 2005
Lives for gear
rainsinvelvet's Avatar
Here's a recording of a band that I did a while back that had 7' ceilings. I thought it came out decent. having a 12 ft ceiling is nice ( what I have now), but you make it work.. you know?

Attached Files

Artist - small room example.mp3 (3.69 MB, 20374 views)

Old 7th April 2005

Get a couple of Crown PZMs (they make directional ones) and tape them to the ceiling. Keep the floor dead with a drum rug. Play with that and see what happens.....


Old 8th June 2005
Gear nut
PurpleGuitars's Avatar

Low ceiling / Acoustic Question

Hey there,

I was working in a studio where the ceiling was really low,
The mix we made was very nice sounding in the studio itself, but when we listened outside the studio it sounded far away / thin and the stereo image wasn't really nice.
Could this be a result of the room acoustics / low ceiling?

-with music-
Old 8th June 2005
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moon_unit's Avatar

In short: Yes.
Old 8th June 2005
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moon_unit's Avatar

Originally Posted by Labs
In my experience, it has nothing to do with the height of the celing. Most rooms can be treated to be usable for mixing to a certain point...

Ceiling height plays an enormous role.

With the right treatment, this can be worked around ... but it takes a lot of treatment and the right kind of treatment.

If your mixing position is in the wrong spot, you would not be able to accurately guage the bass content of your mixes. Things would just come out all wrong.
Old 8th June 2005
Gear nut
PurpleGuitars's Avatar

Thanks so far! What would be a good way 2 treat this room?
Old 8th June 2005
Lives for gear
moon_unit's Avatar

Originally Posted by PurpleGuitars
Thanks so far! What would be a good way 2 treat this room?

Drop ceiling with rigid fiberglass insulation (Corning 703) would be about the most practical and cost-effective.
Old 9th June 2005
Gear Guru
Ethan Winer's Avatar



> I was working in a studio where the ceiling was really low <

There are two slightly different issues - low ceilings in the room you record in, and the same thing in a room you mix in. In either case the low ceiling (or nearby walls) causes comb filtering, which is a series of peaks and deep nulls that give a very skewed response. In either case, the most effective solution is absorption on those surfaces. In larger rooms diffusors (opposite of absorbers) can help, but in most small rooms absorption is preferred. This is what Moon Unit recommended.

Old 16th June 2005
Gear nut
PurpleGuitars's Avatar

Thank you Ethan and Moon Unit
Old 17th June 2005
Gear Nut

What I find helpful when working in a crappy space (like my room) is to always compare your stuff against other known-to-be-good recordings - in that same crappy listening environment. It's not a perfect solution by any strech, but it helps...
Old 17th June 2005
Gear Addict

Originally Posted by mikedaul
What I find helpful when working in a crappy space (like my room) is to always compare your stuff against other known-to-be-good recordings - in that same crappy listening environment. It's not a perfect solution by any strech, but it helps...
to take this one step further, my method is to have about 4 or 5 commercial recordings loaded into Itunes, along side my mix...this way I can play 15 or 20 seconds of the commercial mix, then a bounced version of my mix for 15 or 20 seconds, then back to the commercial mix,'s a quick way to compare...

BTW, I mix in a room with low ceilings......and the best thing I did was treat the reflection points...(areas above and to the sides of the mix position)...also, center the mix position between 1/3 and 1/2 the length of the room....this is just very basic room treatment....

oddly enough, when I a/b commercial mixes and my mixes, it's usually never a question of "loudness", it's usually a drastic difference in space, air, and stereo field, to which the commercial mixes are vastly superior.....that being said, even though I am mixing ITB, I can get pretty close to commercial mixes, but the space, air and stereo field issue has to be addressed in tracking and mixing, rather than after the fact.....
Old 21st June 2005
Gear nut
PurpleGuitars's Avatar

Cool, Thanks you guys so far!
Old 17th February 2006
Lives for gear
Treating a low ceiling

My room is about 12' wide x 18' long x 8' tall. Should I put skylines over the kit or some 4" thick absorption panels like Auralex or 703??? Or should I alternate with 2x4 panels of each. Almost all the walls are carpeted and I put rolls of carpet in the corners to help the low end a little. Yeah, home studio remedies suck. The floor is carpeted also. One more thing, I plan on building a small stage to help decouple the kit from the floor......putting the kit even closer to the ceiling. Anyone having luck with similar problems?
Thanks - Matt
Old 17th February 2006
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BradM's Avatar
I think with a ceiling of that height you might have better luck with putting broadband absorbers directly above the drums. It will have the effect of raising the ceiling as far as drum overhead mics are concerned because there will be less sound reflecting back into the mics.

What kind of mics are you using above your drums?

Old 17th February 2006
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Old 17th February 2006
Lives for gear
Oh, I was only going to treat the area directly above the drums. Definitely over the mics. Just was wondering if skylines will be better than absorption.
Old 17th February 2006

Remove the ceiling and hang drywall from a second A-frame to make catherderal ceilings......


Old 17th February 2006
Gear Guru
lucey's Avatar
Pull the carpet, wood floor. Absorb the entire ceiling. Diffuse and absorb the side walls to taste ....

So, you have a live floor for first reflections to the mics, a dead ceiling that simulates a high ceiling, and diffuse/absorbed side walls.
Old 17th February 2006
Lives for gear
limey222's Avatar

Re: ceiling treatment

I concur, with ceilings that low definitely go for absorption rather than diffusion. My ceilings are 7'- 8'' and that was what i was advised to do by the works. Also above the mix station if you have one. BTW, I don't have wooden floors, just hard glossy lino tiles from the 50's.
Old 18th February 2006
Gear Head
Robert Dewar's Avatar

Having the same problem, I used two runs of exceptionally heavy canvas, slung over three crossbars, chained to the ceiling, about 10" from it (one bar at each end, and one in the centre), with about five feet of slack at one end of the cloth, pulled tight and clamped off at the bar. With this setup, with the cloth pulled tight, I have a high-ish, dead ceiling, or, if I let out the slack, and let the canvas hang down, I can create the acoustics of a very dead iso booth. Sort of a flexible solution in a mediocre room. I have the side walls diffused somewhat. I use gobos with selected sources, to further improve my environmental acoustics, from a mic's perspective. My $0.02....
Old 18th February 2006
Lives for gear
AdamJay's Avatar

rockwool DIY absorbers..
as seen on this ceiling:
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