Room micing tips for drums

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Fletcher
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Post by Fletcher » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:22 am

If someone wants to take the time to measure where their "room mics" go, bless them -- the reality is that where those mics are placed is pretty much a "random phase" event... meaning that there are so many reflections being captured that ALL arrive at different times that where the mics are in relation to the drums is generally irrelevant.

If you are concerned, check the room mics in relation to the drum kit in "one speaker mono" and listen to what happens with information below 250Hz. If it gets "thinner" you might want to move the room mics around until it doesn't. Depending on the room, and especially in smaller rooms with ceilings lower than like 12 ft. [4 meters] you will get a bump in the midrange that may be a bit "boxy" sounding... but that is more due to the nature of the room than the placement of the microphones.

Putting the mics on the floor works... right up until somebody steps on them or trips over them. I know a guy that had "reinforced chicken wire" cages built [and painted bright orange] because he had one too many mics trod upon by a guitar player.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:28 am

mwerden wrote:Having either the kick or snare out of phase is usually the problem I get with the ol' equilateral triangle.

I've never tried your setup, but theoretically it works 6' out as long as the mics are about 2' away from each other. I've been doing the wide thing, but I'll try that out next time I'm recording drums. You ever stick a baffle between them?
never put a baffle between them, but one time i did put a 2'x4' piece of 703 between the mics and the kit. it was cool, made the room mics more diffuse and reverberant..

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Post by drumsound » Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:39 pm

Mane1234 wrote:
Use a mic cable and measure so that the two mics are equidistant from the BD. They should then be phase coherent to each other. Then check the coherency of the room mics to the other mics
I have a question about where exactly on the BD are we measuring from? Where the beater hits? Wouldn't you want the distance to be from the BD mic?
I have someone hold the cable on the top of the outside BD rim. My thinking on this is that I was the mics equidistant from the resonant head of the BD.

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Post by drumsound » Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:44 pm

Fletcher wrote:If someone wants to take the time to measure where their "room mics" go, bless them -- the reality is that where those mics are placed is pretty much a "random phase" event... meaning that there are so many reflections being captured that ALL arrive at different times that where the mics are in relation to the drums is generally irrelevant.

If you are concerned, check the room mics in relation to the drum kit in "one speaker mono" and listen to what happens with information below 250Hz. If it gets "thinner" you might want to move the room mics around until it doesn't. Depending on the room, and especially in smaller rooms with ceilings lower than like 12 ft. [4 meters] you will get a bump in the midrange that may be a bit "boxy" sounding... but that is more due to the nature of the room than the placement of the microphones.

Putting the mics on the floor works... right up until somebody steps on them or trips over them. I know a guy that had "reinforced chicken wire" cages built [and painted bright orange] because he had one too many mics trod upon by a guitar player.

Peace.
You mentioned the one speaker mono thing years ago at Gearslutz. I tried it shortly after and have used it every time I've tracked drums since. It's a hugely useful and simple thing to do when getting drum sounds. Thanks again!

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Post by chris harris » Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:40 pm

Ahhhh, the "3 to 1 Rule"... My favorite rule to ignore.

When you multi mic a drumset, you wanna check for phase problems that are glaring and obvious. You want to ignore and not worry about the numerous phase issues that DEFINITELY ALWAYS EXIST, but aren't having a negative affect on the sound you're hearing.

I've honestly forgotten most of the "rules" I've learned about this stuff because they're just so useless in the real world. If you want to know if your mic placement is "proper" or "correct", then turn up the volume and listen to the sound coming from the monitors. I think that a lot of the "rules" to deal with phase issues arise from people not knowing what to listen for and wanting to avoid something that they can't even hear. If you know what phase issues sound like, all of the measurements and stuff aren't really necessary. Walk around the room. If it sounds good in a certain spot, put a mic there. Then, when you start pulling up the drum channels, listen for any two mics that when combined actually sound worse than they sound on their own. Try flipping the polarity of one. Does it sound better? If yes, then continue. If not, the move one of the mics. Repeat.

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Post by mwerden » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:52 pm

subatomic pieces wrote:I think that a lot of the "rules" to deal with phase issues arise from people not knowing what to listen for and wanting to avoid something that they can't even hear. If you know what phase issues sound like, all of the measurements and stuff aren't really necessary.
I totally agree with this. The reason I bring it up is because in my experience the 3:1 rule works almost always, whereas breaking the 3:1 rule often doesn't work. That kind of info can be helpful for someone who may not be used to listening for phase issues on studio monitors. But definitely the goal is to be able to hear the stuff and know when the result is working, because that's all that ultimately matters.
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Post by slowcentury » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:57 pm

So this idea of putting mics on the floor seems to be fairly popular. I'm not sure if a PZM mic is going to work all that well in my situation, the floor is carpeted concrete. Would you recommend lower mic placement in the room over all? I find the hi hat really cuts through too much with the mic up higher? Next time i record im going to try my omni in mono fairly close to the floor. Thanks for all the great tips everyone!

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Post by cgarges » Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:11 pm

mwerden wrote:The reason I bring it up is because in my experience the 3:1 rule works almost always, whereas breaking the 3:1 rule often doesn't work.
I find that a drumkit is the most difficult place to make the 3:1 rule effective. Nine times out of ten, there's some other factor involved in miking something as complicated and physically large as a drumkit that outweighs the distance stuff in terms of one particular element. The 3:1 rule is pretty far down on the list of things I pay attention to when miking a drumkit and I'm pretty phase-conscious when doing so.

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Post by Nick Sevilla » Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:08 pm

I like to place one Omni mic exactly in the center of the room, if it is a large room. because it is the "room" mic, not the"drumkit" mic. I am recording the room, and it happens to have a drumkit playing in it. Oh my.

Usually the drumkit will be about midway between the middle of the room and the edge of one wall, but not always. It will depend if there are other band members, or if the drums are overdubs.

I've used some rooms where the best drum sound is having the kit in one corner. Then I place the mono room mic somewhere near the middle of the room, according to it's geometry. I do measure the room dimensions to get a somewhat accurate estimate of where the room center point is, and start there. Sometimes the mic can go a foot or so near or around that point, instead of right on it. It takes some listening.

This in no way is a "phase coherent" or "phase correct" or whatever, but usually gets a usable sound. I like getting a bit more of the direct kit VS the room reflections, but I do like the room reflections to get at the mic in a proper fashion, so that when you close your eyes and listen, you can hear the room itself, with the kit inside of it. Sometimes compression is needed, sometimes not.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:25 pm

slowcentury wrote:So this idea of putting mics on the floor seems to be fairly popular. I'm not sure if a PZM mic is going to work all that well in my situation, the floor is carpeted concrete. Would you recommend lower mic placement in the room over all? I find the hi hat really cuts through too much with the mic up higher? Next time i record im going to try my omni in mono fairly close to the floor. Thanks for all the great tips everyone!
carpet definitely takes a lot of the fun away, imho. but i think the floor is still the way to go because as you say, the hats/cymbals can easily get overbearing with the mics up higher. they can certainly get overbearing with the mics on the floor too, which is why the drummer's technique is paramount, but at least you're getting a more favorable drums/cymbals ratio.

try that omni right on the floor, don't worry about "close to it".

another thing i learnt on teh internets: put a cardiod mic (or a pair) an inch from the floor pointing straight down. it'll be all reflections and no direct. it's an interesting sound. i'm old and stuck in my ways so i go with the omnis in pretty much the same spot all the time, but y'all might like the cardioid thing.

i never think about the 3:1 rule ever. of course, my records sound terrible, but i don't think that's why.

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Post by rwc » Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:58 pm

I like mono overhead with stereo room or stereo overhead with mono room. I don't like it when it's all mono, or both stereo.
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Post by mwerden » Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:07 am

cgarges wrote:The 3:1 rule is pretty far down on the list of things I pay attention to when miking a drumkit and I'm pretty phase-conscious when doing so.
Maybe I should've clarified. I was specifically talking about room mics. If it's front of kit mics or overheads that's too close to even think about 3:1 as far as I'm concerned. Also: I was just thinking more from the "I'm somewhat new to room mics" perspective rather than the "you should be able to hear phase issues and just do what sounds good" perspective.
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Post by drumsound » Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:06 am

rwc wrote:I like mono overhead with stereo room or stereo overhead with mono room. I don't like it when it's all mono, or both stereo.
I actually like both in stereo, but if it's one mono and the other stereo, I much prefer mono OH and stereo room.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:36 am

me too. punchy snare right in the middle and the sustain/reverb spreads out to the sides. delicious!

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Post by AlexHerd » Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:01 pm

Since everyone was talking about Albini and the floor mics, here are some pictures from a Don Cab session he engineered: http://graneroperro.com/doncab/pictures/adon_pics.html

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