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iceman
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SM57 for toms?
      #1047791 - 12/05/13 05:45 PM
hi guys, im in a metal band, my kit is a pdp x7 with aquarian skins on ive played drums for over 20 years so i know my way around a kit, the setup we have is a mackie sr48.8 desk going from that into a motu 24 i/o into DP8

mics i have sm57's on all toms and sE X1R x 2 as overheads ive looked at several tutorials on how to mic toms on you tube and ive also read a fair few articles on the subject as well as obviously experimenting a lot, the latest way i have the mic's has given the best result but im still getting a lot of bleed especially from cymbals, ive been experimenting with vst noise gates with very disappointing results, i have access to a hardware noise gate but havent tried that yet, basically ive been using the overheads as the main source of the sound and introducing the tom mics in gradually, im not getting the super heavy poundy toms that a lot of metal bands have, the only way ive managed to achieve that is through drum replacement using superior drummer 2.3 any pointers or definitive tutorials/articles or advice glady received thx in advance!

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The Elf
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1047801 - 12/05/13 06:31 PM
SM57s are great on rock/metal toms - my second choice after MD421.

Hopefully you recorded great-sounding, well-tuned/dampened drums - without that you've pretty much lost before you've started. Hopefully you also mitigated phase problems at source.

Rock drums are all about close mic's and mic choice and placement is absolutely critical. Your overheads are often little more than cymbal mic's (and the HPF can be alarmingly high!) - don't rely on them for an overall kit sound. Room mic's rarely help - some crisp artifical room is usually preferable.

Gates are typically not going to help - you need to let those close mic's breath. You can't throw too many mic's at a rock/metal kit. The more options you've given yourself, the better.

Replacement may work - and this is common in modern metal. Personally I try to consider it a last resort, and more often than not I like to replace with samples taken from the actual kit at the time of the recording. Hopefully you took some samples?

After all this it's about applying the basics of drum processing/mixing - getting phase problems resolved is #1, then see what you have. With metal I often do some time-alignment to find more punch - this can work really well.

How about posting some examples of what you have?

Rock/metal drums are a great challenge, but when you crack them it's a very satisfying feeling when you feel the thunder, man!

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iceman
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1047806 - 12/05/13 06:44 PM
thx for the reply yeh ive put the mics pretty close maybe an inch away from the skin facing directly at it as when i angled them more to point at the centre of the tom i got a lot more bleed which added loads of cymbal to it im just exporting a just drums example now to put on soundcloud will post on here in a sec thx for the reply

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iceman
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1047811 - 12/05/13 07:05 PM
ok here goes, ive just noticed that the second floor tom is ringing its nuts off so i think i have probably left the moongel off that tom -.- ! anyway i'll still post it the toms are btw 3 rack toms 8" 10" 12" and two floor toms 14" and 16" and two 22" bass drums and a 14" snare

https://soundcloud.com/kuru-2-1/means-nothing-drums

and this is a different song with everything guitars bass vox etc

https://soundcloud.com/kuru-2-1/defunkt-dp8-version/s-838y4

--------------------
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Jack Ruston



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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1047813 - 12/05/13 07:10 PM
A few thoughts...

1. SM57's are fine on toms

2. The cymbal bleed can be somewhat minimised by how you place the cymbals (eg higher) and a lot minimised by hitting the cymbals gently, while continuing to hit the drums hard.

3. That approach of 'getting most of the sound from the overheads' gets you that sort of 70's drum kit sound where the toms sound quite distant, and relatively 'similar' to each other. If you want big, full, resonant toms it's more about the close mic.

4. You will probably need to gate or expand to some extent depending on the way the tom mics interfere with the kick and snare phase. Sometimes they help, sometimes not.

5. For metal the room is not a big element in terms of ambient mics in your mix, but it's always crucial in terms of the recorded sound. The room can make your toms weak or powerful depending on placement of the kit in the room, and it can cause unwanted harshness from cymbals. For slower types of rock, the room and the room mics are absolutely critical. Reverb can't recreate what the room does.

6. If you're doing commercial metal, you're probably better off beat detective'ing the whole kit and then replacing everything. Depressing huh.

J

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iceman
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1047818 - 12/05/13 07:48 PM
thanks for the suggestions Jack i dont know if raising the cymbals up and not hitting them as hard would be an option if im honest, ive had my kit set up the same way for about 17 years in this config so it would be really weird and awkward to do that!

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Jack Ruston



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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1047821 - 12/05/13 07:54 PM
I understand. It depends how low they are...But if they're low, as in as low as they can be without banging into stuff when you hit them, then you have to live with that level of spill. It's unavoidable. And if you want that big full on tom sound you're going to be boosting a lot of top end on those close mics, and possibly compressing too. And that's obviously going to make matters worse.

If you have an electronic kit too, you can set the electronic cymbals up as 'dummy's' feeding into the cues so that you can hear them, and record the shells and hat alone. Then go through and play the real cymbals over the top. Takes some practice and maybe a bit of editing on those overdubbed tracks. People usually do it when they want to really compress the room hard and not have the cymbals ramping up and down with every hit.

J

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The Elf
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1047822 - 12/05/13 07:58 PM
Quote iceman:

ok here goes, ive just noticed that the second floor tom is ringing its nuts off so i think i have probably left the moongel off that tom -.- ! anyway i'll still post it the toms are btw 3 rack toms 8" 10" 12" and two floor toms 14" and 16" and two 22" bass drums and a 14" snare

https://soundcloud.com/kuru-2-1/means-nothing-drums

and this is a different song with everything guitars bass vox etc

https://soundcloud.com/kuru-2-1/defunkt-dp8-version/s-838y4



Well in the second example it's hard to hear the drums! I think we'll draw a veil over that one...

In the first example (drums only):
Yes, you're relying too much on overheads/room.
There's a general lack of 'solidity' to the kit sound, suggesting phase-related issues and/or some odd EQ choices. You're going to have to check your mic pairs to see what's happening phase-wise.
Edit the tom close mic's to isolate the individual hits.
Clean up the low end - in a metal mix you need to be frugal with anything below 60Hz.
Consider time-alignment to find more punch (if you're confident doing it).
Compress, limit and gate the kick for consistency.
Compress, saturate, limit and expand the snare for the big hits, but let any grace notes get through. This is a bit of a fine balancing act, so easy as you go.

Hopefully you're using a DAW that can help you with replacement, because, as Jack suggests - an awful lot of metal is done that way. I prefer to avoid it, but if all else fails...

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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iceman
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1047825 - 12/05/13 08:11 PM
thx for the advice on that a lot to take on board! im currently using DP8 for windoze and ive got superior drummer 2.3 with the metal foundry add on and drum tracker replacing isn't really a problem ive done it on old recordings we have done but really wanted to try the whole full on acoustic set up, im going to persevere with this as the set up we have both premises and gear wise is the best ive ever had access to so i dont want to admit defeat just yet. as for the drums being to quiet i suppose thats what you get for letting a guitarist get involved in the mix process lol, whenever i mix our stuff i always drop the drums down a little i think ive done that and then he has raised the guitars a little ha! brilliant stuff but ive got all the recordings still here and up at the bands place so i can mix and experiment and redo drums with different mic placements if needs be, i need to look up about time alignment ive not heard of that before so will see what i can dig up on that, cheers for allt he help tho mate

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iceman
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1047830 - 12/05/13 08:57 PM
just read a SOS article on time alignment im going to look at that for a start off

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The Elf
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1047834 - 12/05/13 09:52 PM
Quote iceman:

just read a SOS article on time alignment im going to look at that for a start off



Time aligning is a double-edged sword. You can cause as many problems as you solve. This said it is a technique I've used very successfully with many metal tracks.

I like to use the snare close mic as my 'time centre'.

Again, if you took some clean samples before/after tracking your drums it will make time alignment much easier. A clean snare hit is ideal.

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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iceman
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1047840 - 12/05/13 10:43 PM
nice one thx for all the advice! its purely experimental at the moment to get the best possible recording from our setup not under any time constraints or anything so its quite good in that respect, and i have recorded clean hits of each drum to use as samples to replace with but realyl want to avoid that if possible for the first attempt

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4TrackMadman
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048047 - 14/05/13 07:40 AM
When I record metal I record ambient but I am a bit old school on that. If you're looking for the 80s thrash sounds or before, it is definitely the room. If you're looking to do Andy Sneap type of production, pretty much dump most of the original signal and trigger everything off of samples.

It is possible that the SM57s are chopping off your lows on the toms, since you have overheads try these purely as experiment as close mics on the toms and see if it drastically affects the low end when recording them, if it does you might have to go for different mics, I'd suggest AT2020s on a budget. One of the best tom jobs I did was in a studio that hired AKG414s for all the toms and that really changed the depth of impact (from small Senn drum clip mics to big condensers) but it was really the overheads that carried the weight. I also did a PZM trick where you stick a reflective wooden board about a foot in front of the kit at snare level and slightly overdrive and overcompress the hell out of that channel and place center until it starts to jel the whole mix, definitely brings impact to the hits. Similar effect can be reached y overcompressing stereo room pair or just a single mic, has a nice jelling effect.

You could also play around with the tuning, getting triggers and triggering drum replacement samples, taking off the bottom skins and miking from the inside. For a really heavy dark Black Sabbath/Carmine Appice sound I tuned the toms low to where they were actually bit loose and took the bottom skins off and miked from there up (I know every engineer's nightmare!) and it worked wonders. I was using tape at the time so that might have also contribution.

--------------------
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iceman
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048245 - 15/05/13 07:38 AM
ive actually gone and got different skins for the toms, ive used aquarians for the last 10 years and went back to remo's the emperor ones, and they sound fantastic really poundy and chunky, im wondering if this is going to help a lot i spent most of yesterday tuning the kit and im going to be spending the weekend recording with a few different setups, ive got a room mic and a new floor tom mic to try as well, thanks for all the tips/advice guys defo going to be trying these!

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Jack Ruston



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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048382 - 15/05/13 08:50 PM
The heads will make a big difference. I always take clear and coated, one ply and two ply, top and bottom, for all the toms. New heads and tuning are everything in the close mics. They do need a bit of stabilising. But if you change them first thing on the setup day, they'll have a chance to settle down by the time you come to tracking.

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Phil Reynolds



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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048551 - 16/05/13 06:09 PM
In a related question, what do you guys think of mis-matched mics on toms? The setup I tend to end up preferring is to use Beta 57s on the rack toms and a little old Audio Technica Pro 25 on floor toms. I've got enough Betas to do the whole kit, but I much prefer this setup. What would be your opinions? I've worked with drummers who see odd mics and go into conniptions. It's pretty funny...

--------------------
"We knocked on the doors of Hell's darker chambers..." But no-one answered, so we went to the pub instead.


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Jack Ruston



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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048576 - 16/05/13 09:12 PM
The tom close mics are not related pairs in any sense. There's no reason why they should be the same mics. That said, I think particularly if you find yourself in a position where you must record more than one hanging tom, you can achieve a consistency of character by using the same mic on those shells. The floor tom can certainly be something different if you wish. Toms usually need slightly different equalisation anyway so the chances are you're going to compensate for any slight differences in mic response. It's not something that would bother me personally, but if I've got three 421's I'm going to use those. If there are ANY C12a's I'm going to use those regardless of whether it then makes one tom sound different.

J

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iceman
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048614 - 17/05/13 02:17 AM
hi Jack, thanks for replying!

im using a pdp x-7 kit with 3 rack and two floor toms, before that i used a tama rockstar with 4 rack and one floor tom, ive kept the tama kit but it is nowhere near as nice sounding as the pdp, ive always used aquarians before ont he tama kit but as soon as the remo's were on and having a rehearsal with the band wow they came into there own, so im wondering if its just a kit-head, synergy thing like different tom heads suit different kinds of wood, i.e. the pdp is solid maple the tama is basswood i think. the tama sounded great with the aquarians but kind of dull and boxy on the pdp. im going to record a lot of drums this weekend coming so i'll report back how that went

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The Elf
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: Phil Reynolds]
      #1048622 - 17/05/13 06:11 AM
I prefer matching mic's all round, but I at least try to match all rack toms with the same model and all floor toms with the same model. If I'm going to compromise it is with the floor toms. If the drummer is into his 'Neil Peart'-type rolls it can jarr the ears if the character of the mic's changes significantly across the rolls, but most other times it's not really a problem.

Floor toms can sound great with typical kick drum mic's, such as D112 and D6, but a nice LDC works well.

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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Jack Ruston



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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048624 - 17/05/13 06:22 AM
Yeah the Aquarians do tend to be short on decay vs Remo and Evans. Especially the more rock oriented ones like the Super2's and studio X's etc etc. That can translate to boxiness. But some of that resonance and openness is just new head factor. Remos are hard to beat for studio use, but they're badly made and inconsistent. Unfortunately there are some you just have to throw away immediately which is a bitter pill to swallow at the price. I've been experimenting with the Evans 360 stuff and it's really good in general. The coated G Plus is really nice for recording. But I wonder if clears might be your thing for metal? Clear emperors on top and ambassadors on bottoms are really a good combination.

If you can, try to minimise the number of toms you record with. The benefit vs cost is not great. In the context of the mix, two or more smaller toms tend to add nothing tonally, pose a panning problem, and in return cost you a fortune financially and in terms of time on the session. What do I mean by all that...while the toms sound quite distinct in isolation, once there's a fair bit of masking going on they can tend to blur into 'hits'. As you pan them away from the extremes they become even more indistinct which makes a single rack and floor, hard-panned, a good option for big clear punchy toms. As you've discovered, new heads make a huge difference, but at 25 quid a tom and the time taken to replace, tune, and continue to tune between takes, it's a lot of outlay. The 'size' of those toms is very tuning dependent...How do they relate to the track? The harmonics are crucial. So it's generally the case that fewer toms have greater contrast, more clarity and make for an easier session flow than many. The only time that more than two seems to add something is where you have two floor toms playing a pattern that can't be played on one. Incidentally the same goes for multiple cymbals.

J

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Phil Reynolds



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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: Jack Ruston]
      #1048676 - 17/05/13 11:50 AM
Quote Jack Ruston:

...If you can, try to minimise the number of toms you record with...Incidentally the same goes for multiple cymbals.




Too, too true!

...but try convincing yer average thumper of that...

--------------------
"We knocked on the doors of Hell's darker chambers..." But no-one answered, so we went to the pub instead.


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Jack Ruston



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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048701 - 17/05/13 01:13 PM
Well I find most drummers come to the same conclusion as they record more and more.

J

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The Elf
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: Jack Ruston]
      #1048702 - 17/05/13 01:14 PM
I can sort of see where you're going with this, but I can't really agree. Although I referenced Neil Peart in jest, I really do like to hear those kind of busy roll-heavy drum recordings. A two tom kit? Yaaaaawwwwnnnnnn....

Where the heck would 'Tom Sawyer' be without those 12-tom rolls!?

Obviously these kinds of kit are an engineer's nightmare in some ways, but they're worth the effort.

--------------------
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Jack Ruston



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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048725 - 17/05/13 02:15 PM
Well that kind of reinforces the point...the big tom rolls in that track are basically a drum solo...the band stops for the rolls. All the 'in track' fills lack distinction between the toms. And the guitar/synth stuff isn't nearly as dense as the guitars would be in modern metal. Elf likes big kits, and I don't and so we often disagree on this but it's not just an engineering issue. It's a production issue. But anyway. I think we digress.

J

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Phil Reynolds



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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048738 - 17/05/13 03:13 PM
If it was good enough for Ringo, it's good enough for me...

--------------------
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Phil Reynolds



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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048739 - 17/05/13 03:14 PM
...apols for straying quite a bit OT...

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iceman
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048800 - 18/05/13 12:12 AM
hi guys, some interesting points being raised here, while i defo rate Neil Peart and i like classic rock etc my main influences are extreme death metal and some black metal my all time fav band are malevolent creation also morbid angel, both guys use lots of toms and are masters of the genre as is Derek Roddy, obviously i realise these guys have access to some of the best studios in the world working with people like Andy Sneap etc etc and i know for a fact the drummer from Malevolent Creation doesn't use drum replacement ive spoken to him a few times and in fact he wasn't actually aware of superior drummer until i linked him to a demo of some, he goes oldskool with mic's etc, im going to be recording again tomorrow and will be mixing the drums all mics and then also using drum tracker and superior drummer with the metal foundry add on to see how that sounds, it just feels a bit fraudulent and a waste of money on all the mics to use drum replacement i dont know what are your thoughts on that?

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The Elf
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048820 - 18/05/13 08:38 AM
There's no such thing as cheating. You do what it takes to get a sound you like - it's as simple as that.

Or all recorded music is cheating, if you like - even a jazz combo that plays the same song 5 times and picks the best take!

I wouldn't read too much into what individual drummers say. There are drummers who will tell you they've never used drum replacement who either don't want to know or don't care what I did to turn their dodgy performance into something wonderful! As long as it sounds good they are happy.

The machine-like feel of ultra-perfect drum tracks is a part of modern metal. Fans of the genre like it that way - and it sells.

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Scramble
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: The Elf]
      #1048824 - 18/05/13 09:05 AM
As a keyboard player I find it hard to take worries about the 'morality' of drum replacement seriously. I change sounds all the time. I might record an organ part, then decide that the sound isn't aggressive enough, and change it to a bigger organ sound. Am I cheating because I don't really own that particular organ? I don't think so. I think of using drum replacement software like that -- a way to get a better-sounding kit and recording without having to pay tons of money. That doesn't make you Milli Vanilli. You're not passing yourself off as something you're not.

Drum replacement with samples is common in your genre. Even drummers who think their sounds aren't being replaced often are having their sounds replaced. Anyway, many of those drummers just worry about playing the drums, and leave the recording and mixing to the experts, who do what it takes to get a good sound, and who aren't concerned with it having to be done in some purist way (unless that gets the best sound). You should think the same way. With your drummer hat on you think about what you play. With your engineer/producer/mixer hat on you think about how to get the best sound.

Edit: just to emphasise, people who are concerned with recording things in some purist or traditional way usually do so because they think that gets a better sound, not becuase they think it's cheating otherwise.

Edited by Scramble (18/05/13 09:18 AM)


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4TrackMadman
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Re: SM57 for toms? new [Re: iceman]
      #1048943 - 19/05/13 08:51 AM
I usually don't care if using mismatched mics on toms as long as they sound good or if I don't have enough.

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