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How do I improve this?

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How do I improve this?

Postby jtcoops » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:48 pm

Hello all.

For ages now I've been trying to improve the overall drum sound I can achieve. Alas I always end up blending in Drumagog despite some advances, but before I spend any more money on mics, signal chains or even the rooms I have access to I thought I'd seek some opinions.

I recently received a project that needed the drums redoing. The original drum tracks sound really natural, and exactly what I have been trying to achieve. My main gripes with my own sounds are the snare always sounds thin and lacks thump, the kick always sounds a bit hollow and the overheads always sound too roomey.

I've uploaded some A/B comparisons here
Drum Samples

Drums A were the files I received - of which I know the following info about: Kick was mic'd with an Audix D6, the snare is unknown, and the overheads were a pair of Calrec Ribbons. The interface was a Tascam Firewire1804 with just the built in preamps.

I've put a sample of the overall drum mix, solo'd kick, solo'd snare and solo'd overheads.

Drums B were the files I recorded. Kick was an AKG D112, Snare was a SM57, and overheads were a matched pair of Rode NT5s. Preamps were DAV BG1s and interface was Motu 24i/o.

I take on board the fact its a different drum kit, and different room, but the difference in the overhead sound and the snare sound is what interests me most, as all my recordings regardless of whether its a cheap Pearl kit or a top end DW kit always has similar traits in the thin sounding snare and the overheads sounding more like room mics (they are usually directly over the cymbals, equidistant to the snare - 1.5-2ft above the cymbals.

None of these files have been treated - no eq on the inbound or compression. The difference between A and B sets are light and shade to me so what should I be doing to get somewhere closer to A?

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Re: How do I improve this?

Postby The Elf » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:34 pm

Kit, tuning, room and player are paramount (and are a huge part of the problem here IMO), but putting these considerations aside at your suggestion... there are still things you can consider.

The kick drum lacks weight. Assuming it sounded good in the room, then you may have the D112 too far into the shell, making it lack sustain and resonance. Don't forget that the D6 is a very tailored mic (and a favourite of mine these days, depending on the style of music I'm recording) and the D112 can sound a bit lack-lustre by comparison. I find that the D112 responds better when it is set to pick up more resonance and less click. If you need click then you may need to add further support. An SM91 inside the kick, on a blanket/pillow below the beater point is one of my favourite tricks.

Snare A sounds like a composite of two mic's over and under the snare. I think there's too much clarity in the wires for it to be a single over-mic. Snare B is only getting the 'thunk' with no snares and is also getting a lot of bleed, maybe suggesting it was not ideally placed.

You're getting very 'roomy' overheads. Are you perhaps dealing with a low ceiling? One of the studios I work in has a low ceiling and I set much lower overheads (effectively making them cymbal mic's) and use more close-in support with hat, ride, tom and under-snare mic's. Equidistant to snare is not the only way - A/B in order to better support the cymbals might get a more satisfactory result.

Hope something here helps.
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Re: How do I improve this?

Postby Jack Ruston » Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:23 pm

Yep...Its the room, the positioning within the room of the kit, the positioning of the mics and the tuning of the kit. I promise you that it;s nothing to do with mics or pres or any of that stuff.

I'm going to disagree with Elf...I dont think it is a combined top bottom mic on that snare and I don't think you should get caught up in trying to achieve that. Even if I'm wrong and it is, it's not important and it will introduce a complication that you don't need right now. The issue here is that the drums sound weak in that position and the mics are placed in a position that lacks focus. The kit is tuned in a more resonant way on the other recording.

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Re: How do I improve this?

Postby jtcoops » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:09 pm

Thanks Elf/Jack.

I am assured that the A snare is a single mic - and I've heard other snare recordings with single mics that have a similar amount of thud to them.

The ceiling is a bit low in the rooms I have available, so I do try and get the overheads closer to the cymbals. I end up using the PAD on the DAV BG1s as a result and wondered if that is affecting the sound too?

Good point Elf on the D112 - I have heard others say it is a tricky mic to get positioned right. I have 2 of them so may sell one and get an Audix D6 as an alternative.

The actual kit from recording B I actually think sounds quite nice in terms of tuning - in the room anyway it sounds nice and resonant and its a kit I inherited so I give the heads a tune regularly. However I concede the room is probably the issue. There's not a lot I can do about the ceiling height so would dampening the ceiling above the kit help - i.e attaching Auralex pads or similar?

Will experiment a bit on mic placement for the snare. Usually when recording I have top and bottom mics on the snare, and spot mic all the toms (MD421s or E604s) - but if I can just get the body of the kit sound good from the kick snare and overheads then I'll be happy.
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Re: How do I improve this?

Postby Jack Ruston » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:10 pm

The tuning is quite different...In A the snare has slightly more ring and it's lower. It sounds like it might be a deeper snare...not sure.

So...Definitely try 'removing' the cieling acoustically if it's low.

When you hit a drum in a room, the sound travels from the drum and it hits the mic. Very quickly it also bounces from the myriad reflective surfaces in the room and again comes back to combine with its own decay. Now at different points in the room, this combination of the direct and reflected sound can be strong and resonant, or weak and thin. So the first thing you need to do is to position your drums at a point in the room where the reflections are combining nicely with the direct sound.

Secondly you need to worry about the relationship between the different mic positions....are they playing nicely in terms of phase. Now the thin sound on your recording is clear in single mic files so that needs to be addressed first of all, but then as you add overheads and close mics together, you need to ensure that that combination is a pleasing one, and that it doesn't thin the sound out.

Don't worry about using the pad on the DAV if things are hot. It think the minimum gain without it is 26dB so it's perfectly possible that it might be a little hot with that on drums.

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Re: How do I improve this?

Postby leemo » Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:40 pm

are all your tracks in phase correctly?
(cant listen to the tracks at the mo, but just thought id ask)

also, to help with the overheads, if you have a spare foam panel around, cut it in half and cut some holes in the centre and place over your mics (presuming theyre pencil mics) - a bit like how a reflection filter looks. usually works quite well, and is super cheap
(this will only shield the overheads though and wont help with the close mics much)
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