Going for it

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jmann
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Going for it

Post by jmann » Fri Nov 13, 2020 11:36 am

Ok - apologies for a seriously newb post:

I have mostly recorded myself for years. Now, I'm going to help my friends record an EP. We're all dads going nuts in a pandemic, and we have no budget, but it feels right to try it.

They are a three-piece (drums, guitar, and bass-vocals), with a sound somewhat like Unwound, Fugazi, etc. Loud and fast. We all feel like it makes sense to try to capture as much as we can live, as that's how they're most comfortable playing.

Locating a space we can safely share is hard. But we will probably have access to a decent sized auditorium or, in a pinch a large, cathedral-ceilinged room that was once a restaurant in our town.

Gear-wise, I have my trusty Fireface 800, which gets me 10 inputs. For mic pres, I have a Hamptone JFET, an old ART 2 channel thing, and two DIRYE CP5s I just built. For other preamps, I'd be using an old Mackie 1402, then sending direct outs to the Fireface.

I'm most concerned with micing the drums, because that's what I've done the least. How does this plan sound?
  • Drum OHs - Oktava 012s in an XY pattern
  • Kick - Sennheiser 421?
  • Snare top - 57
  • Snare bottom - Sanken CS-M1 (this is a hypercardioid I use for field recording)
  • Room mic - TapeOp ribbon into a RNC
  • Scratch vocal - Rode NT-1 maybe? (He is really loud, so maybe this should be the 421? Or another dynamic?)
  • Guitar cab - either the other TO ribbon or a LDC
  • Bass - DI
Should I mic the toms? If so, I imagine the 421 might make the most sense there. Or should I try to capture them in the overheads and use a speaker mic as a subkick.

I know I'm going to have a lot of bleed here, but I think we can make it work (and be prepared to do a bunch of takes rather than try to comp it later.) I'm also planning to get my hands on a bunch of OC 703 and build some gobos to put around the amps and the vocalist.

Are there any screamingly obvious mistakes in this plan? What would you change?

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digitaldrummer
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Re: Going for it

Post by digitaldrummer » Fri Nov 13, 2020 1:07 pm

I would not plan to use subkick mic as the only kick mic. it's better when supplementing another mic, but for the most part I use it rarely...

I wouldn't also put too much priority on the bottom snare mic. If you need that input somewhere else, use it. if the bass player is using an amp, put it on the amp as you may like it, or a mix with the DI.

or maybe you want to capture stereo room mics instead of just mono?

Ribbons can be great on room or on guitar cabs, although for loud and fast, a 57 or other dynamic will work fine (and have potentially less bleed)
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losthighway
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Re: Going for it

Post by losthighway » Fri Nov 13, 2020 1:54 pm

I'd say things to prioritize last : bottom of the snare, and firmly last scratch vocals. Use the one mic that you needed least for those vocal cues.

In most rock and roll situations with big guitars, swishing cymbals, fast tempos and possibly less than ideal rooms a mic on each tom can help problem solve later. If you're out of mics, anyone could lend you any random dynamic mic and it could fill in on the toms, or under the snare. That 421 looks like the most 'kick' of the mics you have so it probably needs to stay there.

I'd also say plan time with the drummer where you're not getting ready to roll takes on everything and just try out your setup. Move things around. Compare/contrast, see what they think.

Your x/y oktavas seem like a safe bet for capturing the general feel of the kit without giving yourself headaches.

Try both of those possible guitar mics. If the LDC has a pad on it, it just might hang in there as a tom mic.

In general it seems a pretty solid plan in terms of how you're using what gear resources you have. Don't be afraid to move that RNC over to another drum if it helps (lower ratio of course), or run stuff through it in the mix process.

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Re: Going for it

Post by jmann » Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:23 pm

Thanks to both of you. I hear you about bottom of the snare. Seems like one a lot of people skip. And I definitely wouldn't do just a sub kick mic, it's just something I would try if I had the inputs.

(I think I'm going to run out of free inputs before I run out of mics. I had debated buying a used 828 or something to make use of the ADAT inputs on the Fireface... but this is already more complex than my usual setup.)

Re: compression while tracking, I am wary of doing too much that can't be fixed later, but I also don't want to leave too many decisions to the mix. (In my other life, I make documentaries, and leaving decisions for the edit room is basically the root cause of 99% of my problems.)

I do have access to an ART Pro VLA, so more compression during tracking is an option. Other than the room mics, what elements would you think about compressing on the way in? Overheads? Kick and snare?

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Re: Going for it

Post by standup » Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:32 pm

For compression on tracking, take it easy. High threshold, low gain reduction.

Primary candidates for me would be kick and snare if you have time to dial in the sound, bass for sure (overcompression hurts bass less than other things). The room mic can be crushed with the most obnoxious compressor you have--perhaps, or do basic compression on the way in and more later, which would probably be smarter.

I did a room mic thing today, ran it through compression on the way in, but then it needed some more tweaking. So it had 4 compressor/limiters on it in the end, 2 hardware and 2 software.

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Re: Going for it

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:07 pm

What's your room like? I have done a lot of loud, live off the floor stuff in less than ideal rooms and there are many good approaches depending on the space available.
If inputs and/or mics are limited and the space/bleed is questionable you may get farther with tom mics and a mono overhead. The OH is often the worst offender for terrible bleed. Two overheads equals twice the terrible bleed. If the ceiling isn't an issue you can get reasonably clean OHs using a ribbon.
Sometimes setting the band up in a line (as if you are on stage) can be a great approach. If the space doesn't allow for that then point the amps away from the drums and baffle the back of any open back cabs. Guitar amps are very directional. Pointing them away from the kit will do wonders. Bass goes everywhere but bass amps sound better than DIs 90% of the time (for me at least). Point the bass amp away from the kit. Baffle it off. Cover it with shipping blankets and coats or whatever else you've got. Build a bass house out of couch cushions. Or turn it down and have the bassist sit on it so they can feel it through their ass without it being so loud that it gets everywhere.
Don't worry about the snare bottom. Set up the room mic but be prepared to dump it if it's useless (it often is). I'd second using a dynamic as the scratch vocal mic. If you get any keeper vocals the vocal will double as the room mic. Make sure it sounds good doing both jobs. Lots of times when I track stuff with a guide vocal and then mute the vocal it feels like the energy and excitement of the tracks drops. Awful bleed into the guide vocal mic can be a magical thing. There are times that I've set up a dummy guide vocal mic just to be able to keep that sound if I dump the vocal.

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Re: Going for it

Post by chrisinthewest » Fri Nov 13, 2020 5:09 pm

I’ll offer a little diff perspective.. When I think fugazi I think bleed/room sounds. Think of your mics as parallel busses, the more bleed the denser other sources will be. A defined kick is important in today’s recordings, and many players don’t kick hard enough to get that trebly stuff to cut into the overheads. If they do, then overhead mics may be enough. I might try 1 LDC (or ribbon) overhead and a mic on the beater head(under snare), dynamic mic on snare top. Then use the octavas as stereo spread room /distance mics. Guitar amp and bass amp would be affected by that spread so consider their placement in the stereo image. Be sure not to let the amp speakers accidentally point directly at any of the other mics (don’t forget fig 8 is same both directions). If you have enough inputs a mic for toms can be nice. But you can always record some Tom samples and paste them as needed.

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Re: Going for it

Post by kslight » Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:08 pm

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nBhfrC ... p=drivesdk

This is not Fugazi but this is an example of a 4 piece I recorded to Tascam 388 (squeezed it all down to 8 inputs). I don’t think 10 inputs is limiting on a 3 piece.

Depending on the setup, everything sort of becomes a drum mic. If I thought I might want to do anything resembling sound replacing, then you might want to close mic the Tom (s). You do want solid kick and snare, cymbals will probably be in everything... If you had to prioritize, I don’t think a bottom snare is necessary, and could cut down to just one overhead and no room if needed, stereo overheads might sound odd. I would definitely try to get bass cab and direct. Guitar amps usually aren’t a problem just try to minimize the ugly drum bleed. “Live” vocals IMHO are often the weakest point of a real live recording, especially if technique is not great...i would probably just use a handheld over a rode..I don’t expect the rode to sound usable in a live context.

I probably wouldn’t compress when recording unless I needed something to catch the kick and snare/etc from clipping, or worry too much about preamp choices.

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Re: Going for it

Post by winky dinglehoffer » Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:51 pm

Not necessarily useful but.....there's a documentary on DC punk called Salad Days. It's on Amazon, but I think I had to get the Red Bull TV app in order to watch it for free. They do talk to Don Zientara about his early work recording bands from that scene, so it might be worth checking out.

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Re: Going for it

Post by jmann » Sat Nov 14, 2020 6:33 am

These replies are very helpful. Thanks, all of you.

David, the room I want to use is a 100-seat auditorium in our community center. I'd likely set up on the stage, where ceilings are pretty high and there's a lot of space. I could probably get the band set up in a line that way, as you suggest. As soon as the pandemic allows, I'm going to go in there and see how it sounds. I saw a video once in which Larry Crane wandered around a live room hitting a floor tom to find the best spot to set up the drum kit. I figured I would try that.

The other space is a large room, probably 20x40 with a high cathedral ceiling. It is unheated, though, so unless we have more unseasonably warm weather here in coastal Maine, it could be hard to make it work.

As a number of you have noted, the live vocal is tricky. I can't do a handheld mic because the singer is also the bass player. I think the band has a few dynamic mics so I may just stick with one of those and try to position some gobos (goboes?) to keep drums out of the mic and vice versa. Now off to google plans for DIY gobo designs...

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Re: Going for it

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Sat Nov 14, 2020 8:40 am

Wow! The auditorium sounds great.
If you can get some time to experiment with your set-up you'll be golden.
My only other advice would be to be careful about how far apart you space the instruments. Bleed will act as ambience so the farther apart you space things the more roomy and distant the bleed will be.
If you set up in a row try to gobo on either side of the drums (between drums and amps). When I've done this set up I line the amps up with the front hoop of the kick. Have the singer face the drums/amps so you get rejection from the back of the mic. If there's lots of space behind the singer that my be enough for isolation. Otherwise try a gobo behind the singer to catch any sound bouncing off the back wall spilling into the mic.

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Re: Going for it

Post by drumsound » Sat Nov 14, 2020 2:05 pm

Lots of really good info here already. I'm going to basically pile on, and maybe add something useful...

For sure a dynamic for live/scratch vocal. Use something not to bright in the top or pushed in the midrange. There are a couple of reasons for that. Including, being to actually hear what the drum mics are doing, being able to mute the vocal and not have the drums go to shit, and possibly being able to use the live vocal if desired. If the mic model starts with SM and has 2 numbers after it, DO NOT consider it a scratch vocal mic (or useful, but I digress).

On drums, consider this: If you mic the snare and not the toms, there will (not might, WILL) be a timbral difference that often becomes really obvious in any fill or groove that involves snare and toms (and BD for that matter). So if it's me, I'm micing toms and snare or not micing either. I find the overhead, BD and room can be pretty cool, but also pretty specific. Close mics on everything allows for tailoring the sound more, and even making different songs in the project sound unique unto themselves.

Mic pattern and amp pattern do become really important with all are in the same room. The in-line thing works a lot better than our minds tell us it will. Remember, amps are figure 8 (well, speakers are...)

If the singer is on a hypercardioid mic, do have them face the in-line setup of amps and drums, but the mic on an angle so the null is pointed at the drums. BTW Beyer M88s are really great for the vocal in the space with drums. The rejection, if placed correctly, and the frequency response tend to work well together.

Gobos are sometimes better at keeping things out of the mics they are near than they are keeping that source out of other mics.

I like compressing BD, SD, bass, and vocals on record, in general.

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Re: Going for it

Post by vvv » Sat Nov 14, 2020 2:37 pm

jmann wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 6:33 am
The other space is a large room, probably 20x40 with a high cathedral ceiling. It is unheated, though, so unless we have more unseasonably warm weather here in coastal Maine, it could be hard to make it work.

Bullet heater might help, and add a element of danger to get the band psyched. :twisted:
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Re: Going for it

Post by digitaldrummer » Sun Nov 15, 2020 7:18 am

A.David.MacKinnon wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:07 pm
There are times that I've set up a dummy guide vocal mic just to be able to keep that sound if I dump the vocal.
good idea. I may setup 2 scratch vocal mics in the future -- one for vocals and one for "bleed". I've had times where the live vocal was good, but the singer wanted to punch in a single line or a couple words. As soon as you do that you lose the tone - there is just no way to match the bleed when you punch in an overdub -- unless you have the "bleed" mic setup. definitely will try that next time if I have an open channel.
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Re: Going for it

Post by jmann » Sun Nov 15, 2020 10:16 am

vvv wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 2:37 pm

Bullet heater might help, and add a element of danger to get the band psyched. :twisted:
NOW YOU'RE TALKING

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