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Recording a two-headed drum

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Recording a two-headed drum

Postby awjoe » Wed Mar 18, 2020 3:25 am

Esteemed sirs (and ma'ams), I crave your advice. How does one record a two-headed drum? Dholak, mridingam, whatever. Mid-side?
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby The Elf » Wed Mar 18, 2020 9:25 am

As with any recording: 'It depends!'

For an intimate sound with an emphasis on the sound of the strike, then mic the top skin. For more resonance, mic the bottom skin. For more room, mic further away and for less room, mic closer in. To capture a sense of space then add stereo mic's.

A dynamic mic may be preferable for the usual reason that it will naturally 'compress' the extreme dynamic nature of the source. A capacitor mic will more faithfully handle the dynamics.

Any combination of the above!

Is this a drum played solo, or part of a kit/ensemble?
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby awjoe » Wed Mar 18, 2020 3:43 pm

The Elf wrote:
Is this a drum played solo, or part of a kit/ensemble?

Ensemble. The drum's one part of a total of only four sources, all of them miked. It's a hand drum played horizontally, one hand for each head, so it's not a top skin/bottom skin thing, but rather left skin/right skin maybe 18" apart. I'll experiment, but I'll probably wind up using more than one mic on it for a sense of space. I was wondering if I should put a mic on each head or use a stereo arrangement midway between the two heads.

Thanks for the ideas - useful.
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby blinddrew » Wed Mar 18, 2020 6:10 pm

I assume all four instruments are being played simultaneously? Or are you overdubbing?
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby awjoe » Wed Mar 18, 2020 7:51 pm

Sorry, my oversight. I'll be overdubbing. So, zero bleed.
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby blinddrew » Wed Mar 18, 2020 8:33 pm

In that case, what I'd do* is have a matching dynamic at each end and then put a stereo array further back in the room so that the drum was the right 'width' in the mix. I'd use the array as my starting point and then just add in the (time-aligned) spot mics if required.
But I'm still assuming you're going for a fairly natural sound? Taking the same approach with other instruments will then help them all feel like they were being played in the same space.
Naturally discard that if that's not the objective! :)


* Obviously what I'd really do is wait until someone smarter than me turns up but... ;)
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby The Elf » Wed Mar 18, 2020 9:02 pm

A couple of close capacitor mic's for some subtle definition, and a spaced pair in front - distance to taste. Pan the close mic's to match the stereo pair - shave off the lows.
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby awjoe » Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:57 am

blinddrew wrote:In that case, what I'd do* is have a matching dynamic at each end and then put a stereo array further back in the room so that the drum was the right 'width' in the mix. I'd use the array as my starting point and then just add in the (time-aligned) spot mics if required.

As you would do with a drum kit, basically, yes? You and The Elf seem to be echoing each other on this one, so I think I'll start with that approach. Thanks very much, the both of you.

What does 'time-aligned' mean? Attention to phase issues?
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby The Elf » Thu Mar 19, 2020 9:25 am

awjoe wrote:What does 'time-aligned' mean?
It means aligning the attack of the close mic's with the attack of the distant mic's by shifting either mic in time. Polarity may need flipping too.
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby blinddrew » Thu Mar 19, 2020 10:29 am

This ^^ :)

Worth bearing in mind The Elf's comments* about using capacitor mics instead of dynamics. I suggested dynamics for a bit of natural compression, but if things are sounding a bit lifeless then a capacitor will give you back that initial attack. It depends what you find lacking from your main stereo pair.


*It's always worth bearing in mind The Elf's comments! ;)
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby awjoe » Thu Mar 19, 2020 3:10 pm

Understood. I seem to be responding to the both of you each time - thanks to you, I proceed with redoubled confidence into the adventure of capturing and fixing audio events in a phonorecord.
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Mar 19, 2020 9:38 pm

The Elf wrote:
awjoe wrote:What does 'time-aligned' mean?
It means aligning the attack of the close mic's with the attack of the distant mic's by shifting either mic in time. Polarity may need flipping too.

In the context of an orchestral recording, which often involves a similar technique of combining a stereo pair with close 'accent' mics, the matched panning approach is exactly the same but, rather than seeking precise time alignment between the accent and stereo mics, the usual aim would be to delay the close accent mics by a few milliseconds so they lag slightly behind the stereo pair (ie. fractionally later in time).

This is generally considered to make the accent mics much less obvious and allows them to blend more naturally into the mix, providing the required emphasis without standing out.

Just an idea you might like to experiment with if you try the stereo pair/close mic approach.

H
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby The Elf » Fri Mar 20, 2020 9:32 am

Interesting. I've never considered having close mic's later than distant! :ugeek:
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Mar 20, 2020 12:17 pm

It really depends on what you are using as the 'main' sound source.

For orchestral recordings, the stereo pair is usually the main sound source, and you want any accent mics to provide subtle focus rather than dominate the sound. Because the main pair is inherently further away than the close accent mics the latter need to be time-aligned... but actually pushing them back further to be a few miliseconds late (typically around 5ms -- the exact value is not critical) means that the ear latches on to the main pair's sound as the important thing, and the close mics then no longer distract or dominate, but still add the sought-after clartity.

On the other hand, if you want the close accent mics to provide the dominate sound, with the stereo pair as a room mic to add space, you generally want the stereo pair to be a little later than the close mics -- which it would be naturally anyway because of its distant position.

This is all based on the fact that are sense of hearing is very sensitive to wavefront arrival times. We tend to latch on to whatever comes first and use that to assess spatial positions etc, unless the later thing is a lot louder, in which case we latch on to that instead!
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Re: Recording a two-headed drum

Postby ManFromGlass » Fri Mar 20, 2020 1:42 pm

Brilliant. Never even considered this but it makes total sense. Sometimes the sound of my small spaces works well with a single instrument.
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