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Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

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Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Fri May 31, 2019 2:15 pm

We're told how important it is to make sure our multi-mic recordings are in phase, lining each track up nicely in the DAW etc. But what did engineers do before they could see the waveforms? If you were just recording onto 24 track tape, did you just not worry about this stuff, (other than flipping the console phase buttons to see if it sounded better or worse)?
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri May 31, 2019 2:34 pm

I think people listened when they rigged the mics and kept tweaking mic positions until the mix sounded as they wanted.

Using ears and monitors rather than eyes and... er... monitors (of a different kind!) :lol:

Mostly, as long as you get the overheads the same distance from the snare the time alignment is usually good enough...

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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby CS70 » Fri May 31, 2019 2:39 pm

Yep, I guess the same way you do know - you use an XLR to make sure that the overheads are the same distance from the snare center, move them around a little in circle till the hi-hat and the cymabals sound good, and move around the snare top and bottom while listening.

Don't forget the towel for the hi-hat! :D
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby The Korff » Fri May 31, 2019 4:25 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:We're told how important it is to make sure our multi-mic recordings are in phase, lining each track up nicely in the DAW etc. But what did engineers do before they could see the waveforms? If you were just recording onto 24 track tape, did you just not worry about this stuff, (other than flipping the console phase buttons to see if it sounded better or worse)?

If you were recording onto a 24-track tape machine, chances are you had a separate control room and live room (and a machine room too, perhaps). It's much easier to listen out for changes in mic position that way than if you've got a laptop and interface crammed into your living room!
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Fri May 31, 2019 5:32 pm

I watched a video of Glyn Johns doing his drum mic technique and someone asked him if he worried about getting the distance from his two overheads to the snare the same and his comment, if I remember, was 'nah, that's bullshit!'
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Fri May 31, 2019 5:44 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fyy55ALu18Y

Here is Glyn Johns as mentioned above.
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri May 31, 2019 6:34 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:I watched a video of Glyn Johns doing his drum mic technique and someone asked him if he worried about getting the distance from his two overheads to the snare the same and his comment, if I remember, was 'nah, that's bullshit!'

I think he was actually referring to the idea of getting things millimeter-perfect with tape measures etc.

However, he did say more than once in that video that the idea was to get the two main mics equidistant from the snare -- so that the snare sounds in the centre of the stereo image. Therefore the distance of each mic to the snare needs to be the same-ish... but judged by eye is normally good enough... and Glyn has a good eye! :D
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby blinddrew » Fri May 31, 2019 7:59 pm

That old 'experience' chestnut again hey? Surely there's a youtube video where I can get that? ;)
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby Janneman » Fri May 31, 2019 10:38 pm

Recording drums Led Zeppelin

Glyn Johns is a british musician, engineer, and producer who most notably worked with Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Eric Clapton, and even started his career assisting for The Beatles. He really made a name for himself in the annuls of recording legend with his monstrous John Bonham drum sounds on all those Zeppelin records. And the kicker…he only used 4 microphones to do it!
Specifically all you need for this method are 2 overhead mics (ideally large diaphragm condensers), one kick mic (dynamic or condenser), and one snare mic (usually a dynamic). The big picture is that the sound comes from the overheads while the kick and snare mics act as “spot” mics to fatten up those two huge elements of the kit and give you a bit more to mix with.
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby Watchmaker » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:18 am

You also need a monstrously kick ass drummer, a mic in the loo and a big bag(s) of drugs.
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby awjoe » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:22 am

Watchmaker wrote:You also need a monstrously kick ass drummer, a mic in the loo and a big bag(s) of drugs.

See, that right there is one of the reasons I like this site. Although, truth be told, the big bag of drugs was probably superfluous to needs. Fun, though.
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby paul tha other » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:20 pm

ive heard Glyn Johns been described as the designated driver for the 70's...i think it was by himself in the eagles rockumentary
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:23 pm

Yep, he didn't indulge himself and banned drugs wherever possible from his sessions. Totally no bullshit approach which clearly paid dividends. I'm not sure there's ever been a more gifted British producer. Personally, I'd put him above George Martin even, possibly.
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby The Red Bladder » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:40 pm

I recorded the guy who replaced Bonham and you could have put a telephone in the room and got a good sound - when he was sober!

Right at the beginning of my recording career, I recorded some NY band called Boris and the Blast. Boris was a bit of a PITA but the Blast were a blast. I used two mics on his kit (8-track machine!) and that was all we needed!

It ain't the engineer!

I use the Bruce Swedien method of recording drums. i.e. a few mics well placed and take all the rubbish out of the kick (pillows, blankets, nighties, dead cats, whatever) and remove the resonance skin and cover the kick with a duvet. One mic inside slightly to the side. For a BIG sound, room mics high up and far away are your friends.
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Re: Before DAWs what did engineers do about phase between multi mics, eg on drums?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:49 pm

Specifically all you need for this method are 2 overhead mics (ideally large diaphragm condensers), one kick mic (dynamic or condenser), and one snare mic (usually a dynamic). The big picture is that the sound comes from the overheads while the kick and snare mics act as “spot” mics to fatten up those two huge elements of the kit and give you a bit more to mix with.

No, this is just a standard 4 mic setup. The whole point of the GJ method is that he uses just three microphones, one ldc low down looking over the rim of the floor tom towards the snare, one ldc sort of high above the snare and a dynamic on the kick. See the video I linked to!
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