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MidnightEffect 12-11-2006 10:05 AM

Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
Hey everyone,

I've been frequenting these forums often as you can tell I'm a newbie. SPK has referred me to his two mic method for drums. The sound of the drums in the video is actually pretty decent! I'm wondering though, if I have access to a full set of drum mics and a sub mixer...

would I be better off going that route? Or would the 2 mic setup be better?

My main concern is getting a good kick drum and snare sound...

My band plays hardcore music (alexisonfire, as i lay dying, etc)

Then when I use the sends on the submix should i go mono into the mbox 2 inputs? or have it as one track and go stereo on the track?

Thanks for the help guys.

PS I'm amazed how fast I get responses from this forum. Thanks so much.

therecordinghouse 12-11-2006 10:43 AM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
i would say keep it simple. the fewer mics you have on the kit, the less phasing issues you will have. i have gotten great sounds doing just a kick mic and one overhead. get the best mic you can afford for an overhead. then apply some compression with say, the BF76. use slow attack, fast release. enjoy.

Naagzh 12-11-2006 11:43 AM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
Depends on the sound you want. If you want that modern, hardcore close mic sound, then go for it.

But it also depends on how much time you have to fool around with getting a good drum sound from the mixer. Have you ever recorded drums this way? If not, try it out and see what happens.

But I would definitely use more than two mics, because hardcore music isn't typically suited for a roomy, boomy drum sound. Get a mic on the kick, snare, toms, hi-hat/crash and ride/2nd crash and you'll be alright. Check the phase between the overheads and kick, between the overheads and snare, between kick and snare. Check phase of toms against kick and snare, too. (And just because so many people ask later, what you're listening for when you check phase is a general weirdness, along with a noticeable loss of low end and stereo spread.)

Use the EQ section on the mixer to get rid of some mud on all the tracks (small dip around 315 Hz, usually varies). You might even get rid of all the lows and low mids on the overheads. Small, broad boost somewhere around 2 to 6 kHz on kick and snare. Pan the hi-hat right, ride left, and toms to the sides pretty hard (but not all the way, or whatever sounds best). Make sure you're not clipping ANYWHERE. Apply a touch of reverb to the snare if necessary. If you do go with reverb, I think you'll find the 'verb with the shortest decay will sound best.

Do you have a hardware compressor? If so, you could use it as an insert on your snare channel (or maybe the kick, depending on the drummer) to make the hits more consistent. But you'd only want the compressor doing its thing a little bit. As a starting point, if you can hear the compressor "working", it's too much. But if it just tames the drum a bit and brings out some character, then you're good.

Since you won't be able to gate the toms or get rid of any bleed from the tom tracks after your done tracking, don't mix them in very much, and keep the mics close to the heads so bleed is minimized.

Send the left and right channels from the mixer into inputs 1 and 2 on your Mbox. Create a single stereo audio track and select as its input channels 1 and 2. You can also create a stereo aux track, send the drums to it, insert the BF76 (or other compressor), get it pumping, and sneak it back in underneath the raw drums. A little EQ can help here, too.

If you have enough channels and mics, you could also add one or two room mics to your mixer setup, but these channels will most likely need some compression and EQ in order to "gel" with the rest of your tracks, and won't need to be mixed in very much at all.

Record a bit, and listen back, and have fun! Good luck.

Mike Tg 12-11-2006 06:15 PM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
I would try both techniques since doing it is the only way your going to hear what you really want.
Music is shades. Supposedly the x-y pattern is what I'm asumming you trying to do, makes a natural sound. I know that in all the books I've read some of ten always give you disriptions of micing pieces of the drum sets specifically. When I'm at the bar atleast for live you record almost every piece of the drum set up close. The best thing about this tech. is that you can bring up or down levels.

Also you probably got to know how to use comp. You can't have to phat of a drum sound, unless it sounds wierd in a bad way.
Hopefully this helps.

JFreak 12-13-2006 01:13 AM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
Let's see; if you only have a 2-channel mBox, then you naturally have a dramatic limitation to be dealt with. You can have either:

1) good stereo image that lacks punch
..or..
2) good punch without stereo image.

Given the music style you mentioned, perhaps the punch is more important than stereo image? If so, then use one channel for kick and put another mic near snare. I don't mean the usual close miking of snare, but place the overhead a lot closer than usually, and point it towards snare. That way you should get "everything" you need. After recording, give kick the usual treatment and then spend a lot of time EQing the oversnare track.

Naagzh 12-13-2006 08:13 AM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
Quote:

Let's see; if you only have a 2-channel mBox, then you naturally have a dramatic limitation to be dealt with. You can have either:

1) good stereo image that lacks punch
..or..
2) good punch without stereo image.

Given the music style you mentioned, perhaps the punch is more important than stereo image? If so, then use one channel for kick and put another mic near snare. I don't mean the usual close miking of snare, but place the overhead a lot closer than usually, and point it towards snare. That way you should get "everything" you need. After recording, give kick the usual treatment and then spend a lot of time EQing the oversnare track.

I think the OP can have BOTH punch and stereo imaging, if he plugs all his mics into the mixer, and records the left and right mixer outputs into channels 1 & 2 on the Mbox (onto a stereo audio track within PT). Of course, the overheads would have to be panned to the sides (and yet ensure the snare remains in the center; having each overhead equidistant from the snare is a good idea here). Also, the toms would need to be panned accordingly, and their faders mixed in subtly. The real limitation is getting the mix right BEFORE it hits the Mbox, which is determined by ears, experience, and time. If you want, you could probably pay someone with experience to help you out. Have the drummer lay down a simple groove, then a tom pattern, and really listen. Adjust the mix, and do it again.

The real beast is the phase, which, left unchecked, will negate a significant amount of the stereo spread and low end. Though it's not always the case, the kick mic will likely be out of phase with the overheads, but snare could be as well. Flip the phase on the kick while recording the drummer laying down a simple groove, and listen for that "thump".

The punch can be accomplished with the NY compression, which he can try out on the Mbox while he's getting drum sounds (strongly recommended!). And it's still feasible to use sampled kicks and snares to beef up the sound, but that's another thread.

Lastly, this is a great way to get experience micing a drumset. The minimal mic thing is great for alot of reasons and in alot of music, just not here.

Naagzh 12-13-2006 09:50 AM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
Do you or your band/client have a PA system?

If so, you could send the already-recorded drums out of your Mbox and into the PA system and back into the room, where you'd place a pair of room mics (start about 4 feet high and move them around till they sound good) and record them. Then, after some EQ and compression, you can sneak these two tracks back in with the rest of the drum tracks for added ambience. Could sound much better than D-verb (although you should try that, too). Depends on the room quite a bit.

MidnightEffect 12-13-2006 10:04 AM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
Yea we do have a PA system. Thats a good idea.

To the person above who said something about replacing the drums with samples...Would the easiest thing be to match it up with the pencil tool on a midi grid?

This was my original plan but I have a feeling it will be SOO much work.

Thanks for all the advice so far!

Naagzh 12-13-2006 10:31 AM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
What you can do is take the drum mix and EQ it such that the snare, for example, sticks out the most (you could also pan the send narrower, further isolating the center-positioned kick and snare from the left-and-right cymbals and toms. This shouldn't be that hard, since your drum mix will probably feature more kick and snare than anything else. You can use this EQ'd track to open a gate, triggering whatever program(s) you want to play the samples. It won't be perfect, but it will get you off to a good start.

Or, have your drummer play a keyboard, and use the recorded MIDI data to trigger the kicks and snares.

Yes, it will take alot of time. You'll probably have to zoom in a make sure each snare is perfect. If you want to record more than a handful of songs, it's probably worth it to book a real studio for a day, track drums, and do overdubs and mixing at home.

MidnightEffect 12-13-2006 10:57 AM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
I think what I'll try is direct mic on the kick into port one and a submix for the rest of the drums.

From there I will see what I can do... lol

If all else fails I'll try to program the midi as close as I can to the real track. I've got BFD lite and a full version of reason. Which do you guys recommend for the best sounding *hardcore drums*

Also, any additional tips for the midi programming?

Naagzh 12-14-2006 09:19 AM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
Quote:

I think what I'll try is direct mic on the kick into port one and a submix for the rest of the drums.

From there I will see what I can do... lol

If all else fails I'll try to program the midi as close as I can to the real track. I've got BFD lite and a full version of reason. Which do you guys recommend for the best sounding *hardcore drums*

Also, any additional tips for the midi programming?

Just so you realize, the "rest of the drums" will be mono, just like the kick, and there will be no good way to get it stereo afterward. IMHO, the approach you mention is the least effective of your options. You would be better off using two carefully-placed room mics panned left and right and nothing else, and then beefing up your sound with kick and snare samples. Put on some well-engineered hardcore records (Mastodon, for example) with closed-ear headphones on, and listen to how the toms a panned from left to right, or how a china or crash is off to the side. Hi-hats are usually not center, but slightly off to one side.

You're probably thinking to yourself "I really need a good kick sound, so I'm going to mic it and record it directly to ensure the quality of the bass drum when it comes time to mix." But you haven't considered what will happen in the context of the entire mix.

The dead-end into which you'll eventually run is that too many elements of your mix are panned dead center. The kick, snare, lead vocals, hi-hat, ride, toms, crashes, and bass guitar will all be forced to live in the same place, and your mix will quickly seem "crowded" and you'll wonder why you can't hear the individual instruments as much as you want to. By recording the drums in stereo, you'll create some sonic "real estate" for other center-panned instruments to inhabit, because the toms and cymbals will be more to the sides, and the whole mix will sound wider, bigger, and the other elements (vocals, bass, guitar leads, etc.) wll sound fuller and more present.

Take a stereo approach to recording the stereo instrument that is the drumset.

Naagzh 12-15-2006 07:51 AM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
As for the samples, recording MIDI from a keyboard isn't a necessity; only a suggestion.

Read up on using Beat Detective.

I'm not sure how the samples in BFD Lite and Reason stack up, but I'd bet BFD is better suited to the task because it's designed to emulate real drums. Best way to find out is to listen to the samples yourself.

If the samples don't cut it, you can try creating your own samples, which is excessive, I know, but some of the real pros are doing it this way, just to have samples that blend well with the drums.

510man 12-29-2006 08:01 PM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
I'm a drummer using PT on an M-box. There are several good suggestions above.

I would add using two overheads and then putting a trigger on your kick and snare to record the MIDI data. You can then use a sample to "blend" the samples with the acoustic kick and snare you recorded. This method works well.

The suggestion to playback through a PA works great if the you have a smokin' PA with some big subs. It takes some big speakers to make a kick drum sound right. If you have the eighteens it works well. This is one trick used to make Tommy Lee sound so big on the Motley CDs.

Also, I would suggest recording your room channels one at a time. Play your left track through the PA and record it and then play your right track through the same speakers with the same mic in the same place and you'll greatly reduce any phasing or tuning problems. Move the mic around to find the sweet spot. A cheap condensor like the Octava MK-012 works well if you don't have nice mics and are on a budget. If you go for Octava's watch out for the counterfeit versions. Info is on the Octava website.

Hope it helps.

Naagzh 12-30-2006 11:24 AM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
Quote:

I'm a drummer using PT on an M-box. There are several good suggestions above.

I would add using two overheads and then putting a trigger on your kick and snare to record the MIDI data. You can then use a sample to "blend" the samples with the acoustic kick and snare you recorded. This method works well.

The suggestion to playback through a PA works great if the you have a smokin' PA with some big subs. It takes some big speakers to make a kick drum sound right. If you have the eighteens it works well. This is one trick used to make Tommy Lee sound so big on the Motley CDs.

Also, I would suggest recording your room channels one at a time. Play your left track through the PA and record it and then play your right track through the same speakers with the same mic in the same place and you'll greatly reduce any phasing or tuning problems. Move the mic around to find the sweet spot. A cheap condensor like the Octava MK-012 works well if you don't have nice mics and are on a budget. If you go for Octava's watch out for the counterfeit versions. Info is on the Octava website.

Hope it helps.

That's a great idea for the MIDI! I'll keep that one on file!

I didn't know that Tommy Lee's drums were treated that way, either. I did hear once that Phil Rudd's drums had this technique applied to them, though I don't know which record(s).

As for the one-at-a-time room mic thing, how would this be different than panning the right channel right and the left channel left (coming out of the PA), and recording with an XY pair of condensers, to be panned right and left? Specifically, how would phasing be reduced (assuming what's coming from the PA is in phase, of course)?

Going one-at-a-time as you suggest, you'll end up with two very similar tracks (as far as room ambience is concerned). With an XY approach, you'll create slight differences in the two tracks, which to you I think means "phasing". To me, though, these slight differences translate into stereo spread and realism. What do you think?

510man 12-31-2006 01:46 PM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
Hmmm.............thinking through it, the way you suggest may work better in terms of giving you the true stereo image the room mics would record if you were able to multitrack on many channels running room mics on an acoustic kit. I'll have to try it.

I do them one at a time to maintain the stereo image created by the overheads. There's no stereo image cross bleed into the room mic played back one at a time. And since the mic is equal distance from the PA speaker when both sides are recorded I believe phasing is consistent. Maybe not an issue. However, now that I think about it, I'm creating an unnatural recording since two open room mics would naturally have some bleed which is why I think your appraoch may be better. I'm a novice on the recording end. Basically a drummer that does some recording vs. an engineer who plays drums!!!

Try it both ways and compare. Would be interesting to hear what you think. I plan to do it later so I'll report back as well.

alexbutterfield 01-07-2007 01:20 PM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
Well, I was planning on starting a thread just like this one so I'm glad I found this first. Lots of helpful info.

I have an Mbox 2 (into iMac G5).

Does anyone have suggestions on affordable mixers to use if I'm going the route of more than 2 mics? (Affordable but not garbage. And by affordable, I guess I mean $150-$250 range. If there is nothing worthwhile in that range, I'm probably out of luck at this point.)

The two mics I have so far are a Shure SM 57 & an MXL 990. At present, I use the Mbox 2 as a preamp and for phantom power. If I get a mixer, will I then need mic preamps AND a phantom power box for the mics to go into before the mixer? And, if so, recommendations there?

I'm a newbie so all help is appreciated.

Thanks.

Naagzh 01-10-2007 10:15 AM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
Quote:

Well, I was planning on starting a thread just like this one so I'm glad I found this first. Lots of helpful info.

I have an Mbox 2 (into iMac G5).

Does anyone have suggestions on affordable mixers to use if I'm going the route of more than 2 mics? (Affordable but not garbage. And by affordable, I guess I mean $150-$250 range. If there is nothing worthwhile in that range, I'm probably out of luck at this point.)

The two mics I have so far are a Shure SM 57 & an MXL 990. At present, I use the Mbox 2 as a preamp and for phantom power. If I get a mixer, will I then need mic preamps AND a phantom power box for the mics to go into before the mixer? And, if so, recommendations there?

I'm a newbie so all help is appreciated.

Thanks.

Something like this is about all you're going to get for $200. It has 4 mic preamps built into it, and 2 line inputs, making it a 6-channel mixer.

There's some terminology to learn here. First, a mic puts out a very weak electrical signal (mic level), which must be amplified by the microphone preamplifier. The mic preamp raises the signal's strength to "line-level" which corresponds to the line inputs on a mixer, recorder, etc.

Most mic pres have phantom power available. Most mixers provide phantom power for some, if not all, of the built-in mic preamps.

I'm not sure buying a mixer is the right thing to do. It makes more sense to me to save and buy an 8-input interface (Mbox 2 Pro, 002R) and an Octopre. Or, buy a hard disk recorder with 8 inputs and transfer the files digitally once recorded. Yes, it's more money, but you can multitrack.

GTBannah 01-11-2007 05:54 PM

Re: Drums - SUB MIX or TWO MIC METHOD
 
Quote:

I think what I'll try is direct mic on the kick into port one and a submix for the rest of the drums.

From there I will see what I can do... lol

If all else fails I'll try to program the midi as close as I can to the real track. I've got BFD lite and a full version of reason. Which do you guys recommend for the best sounding *hardcore drums*

Also, any additional tips for the midi programming?

I don't know if these are still around but, I've seen a type of "transformer" which converts an XLR male into a 1/4 inch male. If you can get two of those you would be able to take two SM57s or 58s, convert them to 1/4 inch (they don't need fantom power) and along with your two fantom powered XLR Mics, have four channels to record the drums. Kik, snare and two overheads ....

I hope this helps ....


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