Overhead mic placement

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Overhead mic placement

Postby Drumstruck » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:09 am

Any hot tips on this topic? Secret methods perhaps to reduce spill? *-:)

I'm using pretty standard AB atm with 2 Rode NT1s, but have them quite low at about 1.7m and quite close at about .7m apart - trying to induce some phase cancellation and a hole in the middle to reduce spill from the snare and BD - no toms on this kit, just BD, Sn, cymbals and hats.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby ChrisW » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:31 am

Overheads and spill reduction seems a contradiction to me.
Most of the recording engineers I've worked with have used the overheads as a major part of the entire kit sound.
I did an album once where we recorded the cymbals and hi-hats separately to the main kit because the producer liked the room sound on the drums, but didn't like the room effect on hi-hats and cymbals.
That approach is not really advised however.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby stosostu » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:47 am

I did a job a few years ago where we had mics on every drum, then only used the overheads in the final mix, and they were just a pair of Sony electrets, but the sound was just too good without anything else to clutter it up.

Usually place them about a metre or metre and a half above the kit, in line with the rack, about a metre off centre on each side, pointing in slightly. Not magic, but it usually works for me.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Lee » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:42 pm

Placing the microphones in AB at an equal distance to the snare should help to give the snare more definition in the centre position. I was shown the quick and practical way by using a mic cable to measure the distance from the snare.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby The Tasmanian » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:11 pm

Interesting topic.
I have spent decades moving/trying different overhead positions and mic's.
Ive gotten down to a pretty basic rule these days:
If the song is gentle - then the overheads can/should be part of the main drum sound, embellished with close spot mic's and room mics.
But if the song is not gentle - then I get the overheads (cardioid) close to the cymbals - even as low as 50cms, and point them forwards - avoiding the snare, and never want them as the basis for the kit sound.
I would rather put 2 close mic's either side of the kit (about 1.5ms away) down near the floor, pointing slightly up towards the snare giving me a stereo image/space and vibe and avoid the cymbals.
So in this instance I'm going for "underheads" with spot mics on the cymbals.
I have control over the meat of the drum sound from below, and the focus/clarity on the cymbals from above.

Sometimes I put 2 sets of overheads for later mix choices - like a pair of Coles or Wagners up about 1.5m, plus the close cymbal mics. (and the underheads)

There is nothing worse than being in a mix where you want a touch more cymbals - but your hands are tied, as it alters the whole level of the kit if you re balance the overhead fader's - and if I EQ a touch more top end sparkle in to boost the cymbals, the snare/toms/kick sound gets this (unwanted) EQ boost.

Ive been doing this for years now - so much more flexible outcomes at mix time, and this simple rule works every time for me at the mix stage.
I get to the mix and can change everything about the kit sound if needed.
I've never agreed with the philosophy of always using the overheads as the main drum sound - and hundreds of albums that I have tracked and mixed have allowed me to arrive at this belief.
But then I've never been a sheep who blindly follows what others do.....
When I hear a phrase like "industry standard" - I want to vomit. I'll make and break my own rules.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Lee » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:15 pm

That was well put Chris.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby ChrisW » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:55 pm

I live by industry standards. :D

One thing I've done over the years is change the kit around to help the sound.
For quieter music I've often lowered the cymbals, then the overheads have come down, and in closer. Then the kit has been recorded more holistically. For louder, rockier recording, I've often raised the cymbals (quite a bit) and we've been able to adjust the overheads to capture the cymbals mostly, and a lot less snare, toms and kick.
In general I find the often seen crashes right on top of the toms set up to be the least effective when hoping to achieve separation between drums and metalwork.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Chris H » Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:05 pm

As other posts have indicated, there is nothing better than to have a variety of options you are familiar with, then vary the mic technique you use to suit the players style, the kit and the music style. My favorite OH mic placement is for when they are used for overall kit sound with or without other mics, and that is what's commonly known as the Glyn Johns Technique. There are various explanations but here is one that's short and to the point:
( http://www.wikirecording.org/Guide_to_Recording_Drums )
One mic is placed in front of the bass drum, usually 6" - 1' from the resonant head. It is placed further than usual because it is mostly there to pick up the attack of the drum as opposed to the low end. Then two matching overhead mics are placed in positions equidistant from the snare drum. (By making the distance to the snare uniform, you prevent phase problems on the snare drum.) One of the "overheads" is usually placed about 4" above the floor tom pointed directly at the snare drum, and the other is usually directly over the #1 mouted tom and pointed straight at the snare, and once again, both are the same distance from the snare drum. The key is that the mics can go anywhere around the kit as long as they are the same distance from and pointed directly at the snare drum. Small cymbals may help when using this technique, as they can become overbearing if the drummer plays them hard.

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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Drumstruck » Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:42 pm

Chris T - you're in the money - with a 57 on the snare and a D11 just inside the hole in the BD I have plenty of isolation for those 2 and very close to the sound I'm after.

Now I'm trying to get the overheads to focus on the cymbals - best result so far is with the mics (NT1s / cardioid pattern) oriented vertically about 1m above the cymbals and facing outwards at about 60degrees - so the fields are avoiding the Sn and BD - but I'm still getting a lot of Sn and BD in those tracks. The sound is actually great for a kit recording but I want cymbals to dominate those channels.

I'll give your underhead technique a go next - there's sure to be a lot of cymbal wash projection using that method.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby jkhuri44 » Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:48 pm

do whatever the engineer on Perfect Circle - 'Mer De Noms' did....they are the nicest cymbals i can think of at the moment...

not a hint of cymbal "noise"...and such a mint tone...
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby The Tasmanian » Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:58 pm

Ian - I'm not sure of how wide the NT's cardiod pattern is - and this could be the problem here if you want focus on the cymbals, and avoid the snare etc.

I have ended up being a fan of (older) 451's as the close mics for cymbals, Ive tried it with many other mics - but the 451's always do this job exceptionally well.
They really are great versatile mics - can be just the ticket on toms and snare too.

The mics on the floor can also be parallel with the floor if you find too much cymbals in these mics - but get them in close - the closer you get - the less cymbal bleed
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby rick » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:25 pm

ChrisW wrote:I live by industry standards. :D

One thing I've done over the years is change the kit around to help the sound.
For quieter music I've often lowered the cymbals, then the overheads have come down, and in closer. Then the kit has been recorded more holistically. For louder, rockier recording, I've often raised the cymbals (quite a bit) and we've been able to adjust the overheads to capture the cymbals mostly, and a lot less snare, toms and kick.
In general I find the often seen crashes right on top of the toms set up to be the least effective when hoping to achieve separation between drums and metalwork.



lemme get this straight.... you can move your cymbals if it will help the recording !

whats next ..

your going to tell me you can hit the outro runoff a bit louder if it needs it as well ...?

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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Ausrock » Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:45 am

ChrisW wrote:I live by industry standards.
One thing I've done over the years is change the kit around to help the sound.
For quieter music I've often lowered the cymbals, then the overheads have come down, and in closer. Then the kit has been recorded more holistically. For louder, rockier recording, I've often raised the cymbals (quite a bit) and we've been able to adjust the overheads to capture the cymbals mostly, and a lot less snare, toms and kick.
In general I find the often seen crashes right on top of the toms set up to be the least effective when hoping to achieve separation between drums and metalwork.



Have suggested to few drummers that they reposition their cymbals..............I might as well have been talking to a brick /:)
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Drumstruck » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:12 am

Ausrock wrote:
Have suggested to few drummers that they reposition their cymbals..............I might as well have been talking to a brick


Has anyone ever suggested to the acoustic guitarist or double bass that they swap their strings around so you could record it better? I think you'd get the brick response too. We drummers are sensitive little souls (ha!) - actually a lot of the time learning to play drums is embedding the position of your kit parts into your memory so you don't have to look where you're hitting :ympray:
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby ChrisW » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:44 am

I think in London or LA if you suggested anything to a studio musician they'd do it unless they counseled it was a huge mistake.
Maybe it's all about competition. The hardest thing I ever had to learn was playing quieter.
I worked regularly with one engineer who said I'd get a bigger, warmer sound if I slammed the drums less.
When I tried it I found the energy in the track was lost. Then we worked together on an album that didn't need high energy drums and I tried it again - worked a treat.
I always tell young drummers to learn how to play any kit in any configuration (within reason).
When I did the Edie Brickell album they'd spent a week at Rockfield working with the band's drummer. After much tuning and tinkering, the producer loved the drum sound he'd achieved, but wasn't happy with the drum performances. So I was asked to drop in and play the parts while not changing anything about the kit if possible.
If a rimshot backbeat is required, I really have to have the snare at the right height (for accuracy and consistency), but any other set up - more/fewer toms, no toms, toms high, toms low, cymbals high, cymbals low - is ok with me, and I think most studio drummers. But then I'm usually playing bread and butter beats, not trying to be Bozzio or Donati.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Ben M » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:46 am

hmm I'm continually asking drummers to move there cymbals (notice I said 'asking' not 'telling'). I do it every session. For some reason drummers always have the ride sitting on top of the floor tom and the crashes sitting lower than I like. I've never had a "no way" from any of them. Generally they are happy to move things if it means the results are better and more defined.
I did an album last year with a 3 piece rock punk group and the female drummer was 8 months pregnant. Ouch!
I got her to just play the meat of the kit and we od'd the rest. She thought it was really fun and the results were fantastic. Much hard hitting and consistant and than she normally plays which suited the rock/punk sound.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby ChrisW » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:15 am

Good news.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby seancook » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:18 am

The band I was in did a record and drummer was asked to change his sticks from 5a to 7a and to play with a featherlight touch, as soft as he could
Play it, he wasn't given a crash cymbal to play he just had to flat stick the ride, wasn't allowed to rest the beater on the kIck skins (which he had been) and everything tea toweled to oblivion.

Whilst that's not really what you would ask of every drummer on every session (unless you have serious Beatles passion) out drummer chris just did it.

Some drummers are precious about every tiny thing, other drummers care less about 'their thing' than getting the right drums down on record.

But I guess we were also playing bread and butter beats in bread and butter pop songs.

Probably not relevant to the op's thread regarding separation in the oh.
We had a mono oh, kick, snare, and a mic between the kick front skin and shell
Of the floor Tom. Separation was not the aim
Of the game.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby seancook » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:24 am

Also, to actually reply to the op

I have really like the separation from underheads as well. There is an interesting thread on gearslutz regarding Eric valentines use of a pair of Coles as underheads capturing an extreme left right image of the cymbals and toms and leaving kick and snare in the null. If you don't wantthe toms in the picture you could easily
Replace the coles with a m160, same deal.

The two figure eight mics either side of the drum kit echoes Peter Katis' approach on some of his work if you wanted to get a reference, I think he said he used that on the boxer by the national. Again, interesting ideas.



I love recording drums
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Ben M » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:32 am

seancook wrote:

I love recording drums



Mee too :)
If you can get the right drum sound and part for the style your recording.... things just fall into place.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Drumstruck » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:07 pm

Ben M wrote:
seancook wrote:

I love recording drums



Mee too


Me three

Latest experiment was using a wide spaced XY technique (NT1s at .5m apart and .5m above the cymbals with the mics spread to 90degrees) - this is getting a really clear cymbal sound with good brush impact and has reduced the Sn/BD spill even more. Then added a NT2a with fig8 pattern / mounted vertically / 2m back / 2.2m high / oriented 90 degrees - this has added some top end and made it a bit more full. Maybe I should record something 8-}
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby GlennS » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:26 pm

Isn't wide spaced considered AB? I always thought XY was coincident.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Drumstruck » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:43 pm

GlennS wrote:Isn't wide spaced considered AB? I always thought XY was coincident.


Actually you're right - I was thinking more of the angle of orientation of the mics......
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Lee » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:56 pm

Me 4. I love recording in general. :)
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Ausrock » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:41 pm

Drumstruck wrote:
Ausrock wrote:
Have suggested to few drummers that they reposition their cymbals..............I might as well have been talking to a brick


Has anyone ever suggested to the acoustic guitarist or double bass that they swap their strings around so you could record it better? I think you'd get the brick response too. We drummers are sensitive little souls (ha!) - actually a lot of the time learning to play drums is embedding the position of your kit parts into your memory so you don't have to look where you're hitting


Well as a (hack) guitarist I won't consider recording anything I regard as "serious" without a new set of strings on the guitar. If I'm just putting down sketches I don't give a rat's.

B-)
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby Chris H » Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:24 am

...each to his own....I like my electric guit strings to be a day old or so and my maton premier has strings that are a year old ....Dr Tomastics...it's the sound i like on that guitar, and my guild .........a few days old strings for recording. So you could say I don't like recording with brand new strings. I think I'm an odd ball on this one though?
............back overhead mic placement.......! How about overhead mic placement for guitar?
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby GlennS » Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:04 am

As long as I play a guitar regularly I don't have the change the strings for years and they sound almost new (just right). It must be the oil in my fingers - Cretan blood. I have a friend who plays a guitar and the next day the strings are starting to rust.

This is probably too silly and won't work, but I wonder if you had an SF-12 or SF-24, or other stereo mic in blumlein, if you could position it to pick up the cymbals in the horizontal plane with the end of the mic (the null) pointing at the snare and/or bass drum. Might put the mic in the drummer's way though.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby jkhuri44 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:31 am

from my experience, fresh fresh strings have too much high end in recording...
especially unwanted since digital + condensors usually have a good bit of that already!
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby ChrisW » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:22 pm

I think it can go both ways.
Experienced guitarists will know when they need fresh strings.
For years, in my early days as a studio drummer, I religiously re-headed my kit before each recording session.
I think that was playing safe, and a little lack of confidence on my part.
These days I rarely re-head right before a session
New heads sound great it's true, but slightly used heads stay more true in tuning, and can be warmer, fatter than brand spanking new ones. I tend to change snare batter if anything.
Of course, all heads should be changed periodically, depending on the amount and type of use.
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Re: Overhead mic placement

Postby ChrisW » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:25 pm

I heard a story once about Sly Dunbar - who had that fat, pretty dead sound going in the 1980's and 90's.
He was in the studio working with a star artist. At some point the star artist got behind the kit and started slamming away, ending by fatally damaging the snare batter. Sly was pi$$ed saying he'd been using that head, cultivating it for years.
Don't know if it's true or not.
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