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drum mic technique...why does this work?

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#1
kip

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Here is a drum micing question.

Although I play drum kit , I also play bodhran (irish frame drum) in many different performing and recording projects

Live, I’ve rarely been happy w the sound. I’ve used a clip on AKG c419, but now just use a SM57.
I normally always had the mics in the back of the drum (its a single skin frame drum), but recently started mic from the batter side as , live, the lowend is always overbearing and most sound guys don’t really get what I’m after, even if I asked for a specific EQ curve. It’s always too boomy and it needs to be articulate.

Modern bodhran playing has a lot of tonal range and dynamics. Old school playing was essentially one sound all the time, but that is not the case any longer.

I needs to have the subtlety of a set of tablas, tonal range of a talking drum, dynamics of a timpani and articulation of a snare drum.....not really.... But it isn’t supposed to sound like a marching bass drum.

SO in my home studio (re: Mac g5, Garageband, Presonuse Firestudio Project, and a couple 57’s and some cheap condensers ), I have been doing some recording and messing about w mic positions.

Hands down, the mic on the batter side is always a better recorded sound. I throw a little EQ on to reduce the mids a good deal, and can get a decent sound.

I’ve done dead center , about an elbows length away, or off axis aimed at the center of the drum.
mic positions 1, 2 and/or 3 oclock

I’ve also been playing around w mic techniques for my kit, like recorderman and Glyn Johns.

I decided to apply 1/2 of the Glyn johns technique to the bodhran for a radical mic’ing approach that I’ve never seen anyone use on this traditional instrument, and I like it best of everything I’ve tried so far.

I’m in a sitting position on an armless chair
The drum is 14”x5” and is sitting on my left leg perpendicular to the floor
I put a SM57 on boom stand and aim the mic straight down to the floor.
The mic is about 6” above the top of the drum shell
It is also about 1” over the head
The mic is totally of axis...its not dead center on top of the drum rim
Its aimed directly down and is point across the drum head towards my lap/the floor
If this was a snare drum , the mic would essentially be parallel to the ground/ snare batter head and 6” away from the rim of the drum and 2” above the drum head
Since its a bodhran, the drum is played and supported on the players leg perpendicular to the floor

The Glyn Johns connection for KIT mic vs this bodhran mic’ing
1 mic pointing straight down over snare drum , aimed dead center
2nd mic pointing over the floor tom aimed at the snare


It certainly reduces the over present boom other mic positions have, but it gets all the attack and articulate of the tipper(stick) on the skin

The most noticeable thing is EQ and COMPRESSION

If I had the mic in front of the drum in a dead center or off axis location, I had to pull the mids down, and add a bit of compression to get a rounder sound.
For this alternate approach (mic is aimed OVER / ACROSS the skin point straight to the floor), the sound doesn’t need any compression as it has a nice big round sound.
I still need to roll off some mids, but over all this technique seems to require far less effects then other

I used this technique for a gig a few weeks ago, and though it sounded very good thru the PA.

I think I also like this technique as it presents me with the closest replication of the sound I hear from the drum when I am playing it, as my ear is about 6” above and 2” away from the skin.

So.... On one hand I have the obvious.... I LIKE IT BEST
On the other hand, I’ve never heard or seen anyone else try it, but since I’m borrowing an approach and modifying there must be a good scientific reason why it works.

My question is.... Why does it work at all? Yes the mic is closer to the drum then other techniques.... But its not aimed at the drum. Its aimed across the skin of the drum.
The most interesting aspect of it, is that it has the same sound with out effects other then a mid reduction in EQ, as a different technique w EQ and compression

IF you want to check out some various modern players, hit youtube and search on "bodhran" along w any of the following names;
john joe kelly
eamon murray
martin o'neil
damian or damien quinn
guido
robbie harris
steafan hannigan
abe doran


Thoughts?

-Kip
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#2
jrfrond

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If you look at the polar response curve of an SM57, usually included with it or you can find it online in a spec sheet, you will see that low frequencies drop off rapidly as you move the mic from tangent to the sound source. Mids and highs drop off at a slower angular rate. The reason for this is that a cardioid mic is rear-ported, and any frequencies fed to the front and rear of the capsule at the same time are cancelled due to phase cancellation. Since low frequencies tend to be more omnidirectional and "wrap around" objects, turning the mic slightly off-axis to the head will reduce the low frequency response as you feed more and more low frequncies to the rear port. Mids and highs are more directional, so they are not affected AS much, but by the time you get to the rear off the mic, all frequencies are rejected, hence the unipolar response. Without rear ports, the mic becomes omnidirectional. Add to this that the 57 is a DYNAMIC (as opposed to condenser or ribbon) mic, which is prone to "proximity effect", a phenomenon that emphasizes bass response as you move closer to the sound source. Move it AWAY, and it decreases. So, your off-axis mike technique essentially rolled-off some of the overwhelming bass response of the bodrhan.

And THAT'S the way it works my friend! :-D

As long as it SOUNDS good, it IS good. :occasion5:
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#3
kip

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If you look at the polar response curve of an SM57, usually included with it or you can find it online in a spec sheet, you will see that low frequencies drop off rapidly as you move the mic from tangent to the sound source. Mids and highs drop off at a slower angular rate. The reason for this is that a cardioid mic is rear-ported, and any frequencies fed to the front and rear of the capsule at the same time are cancelled due to phase cancellation. Since low frequencies tend to be more omnidirectional and "wrap around" objects, turning the mic slightly off-axis to the head will reduce the low frequency response as you feed more and more low frequncies to the rear port. Mids and highs are more directional, so they are not affected AS much, but by the time you get to the rear off the mic, all frequencies are rejected, hence the unipolar response. Without rear ports, the mic becomes omnidirectional. Add to this that the 57 is a DYNAMIC (as opposed to condenser or ribbon) mic, which is prone to "proximity effect", a phenomenon that emphasizes bass response as you move closer to the sound source. Move it AWAY, and it decreases. So, your off-axis mike technique essentially rolled-off some of the overwhelming bass response of the bodrhan.

And THAT'S the way it works my friend! :-D

As long as it SOUNDS good, it IS good. :occasion5:


thanks JR.

So I wouldn't expect a similar experience if i used a condenser.

The last studio I did, the guy had a Neumann and thru it in from of the drum, just a hair off axis...and it sounded FANTASTIC... i mean... WAY FANTASTIC....

but a used 57 is more my style! :-)
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#4
jrfrond

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Any cardioid mic will exhibit off-axis low-frequency rejection, but a condenser, especially a good one like Neumann, will show a lot more detail as compared to a 57. You might even want to try an old kick drum trick of using a dynamic AND a condenser, bringing them up to separate tracks and blending them, using the dynamic to pick up the lows (on-axis) and the condenser to get the detail.

Condenser mics do not have proximity effect.
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#5
biggator

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Condenser mics do not have proximity effect.


Say what? Tell that to a U47fet! Unless I'm insane, the only thing without any noticeable proximity effect is an omni (or the aforementioned condenser..but only in omni mode).
"-)
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#6
Vipercussionist

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If you look at the polar response curve of an SM57, usually included with it or you can find it online in a spec sheet, you will see that low frequencies drop off rapidly as you move the mic from tangent to the sound source. Mids and highs drop off at a slower angular rate. The reason for this is that a cardioid mic is rear-ported, and any frequencies fed to the front and rear of the capsule at the same time are cancelled due to phase cancellation. Since low frequencies tend to be more omnidirectional and "wrap around" objects, turning the mic slightly off-axis to the head will reduce the low frequency response as you feed more and more low frequncies to the rear port. Mids and highs are more directional, so they are not affected AS much, but by the time you get to the rear off the mic, all frequencies are rejected, hence the unipolar response. Without rear ports, the mic becomes omnidirectional. Add to this that the 57 is a DYNAMIC (as opposed to condenser or ribbon) mic, which is prone to "proximity effect", a phenomenon that emphasizes bass response as you move closer to the sound source. Move it AWAY, and it decreases. So, your off-axis mike technique essentially rolled-off some of the overwhelming bass response of the bodrhan.

And THAT'S the way it works my friend! :-D

As long as it SOUNDS good, it IS good. :occasion5:


Geez JR, it's just AMAZING the knowledge you've got!! MOST impressive!! :notworthy:
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#7
jrfrond

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Condenser mics do not have proximity effect.


Say what? Tell that to a U47fet! Unless I'm insane, the only thing without any noticeable proximity effect is an omni (or the aforementioned condenser..but only in omni mode).
"-)


OK, let me rephrase that: MOST condenser mics display little to no proximity effect as compared to a dynamic.

Most people will not get their hands on a U47 FET or tube in their lifetimes, or even a Neumann. I was trying to be a little more contemporary and realistic.

However, if you are LOOKING for proximity effect, a dynamic is the still the best way to go, and the larger the diaphragm, the better. This is one of the reasons a large-diaphragm dynamic works so well on bass instruments.
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#8
stevesmithfan

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I like a dynamic mic on top of snare, and a condenser (polarity reveresed) on the bottom. The condender bottom mic, picks up the snare wire very nicely.
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#9
jrfrond

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If you look at the polar response curve of an SM57, usually included with it or you can find it online in a spec sheet, you will see that low frequencies drop off rapidly as you move the mic from tangent to the sound source. Mids and highs drop off at a slower angular rate. The reason for this is that a cardioid mic is rear-ported, and any frequencies fed to the front and rear of the capsule at the same time are cancelled due to phase cancellation. Since low frequencies tend to be more omnidirectional and "wrap around" objects, turning the mic slightly off-axis to the head will reduce the low frequency response as you feed more and more low frequncies to the rear port. Mids and highs are more directional, so they are not affected AS much, but by the time you get to the rear off the mic, all frequencies are rejected, hence the unipolar response. Without rear ports, the mic becomes omnidirectional. Add to this that the 57 is a DYNAMIC (as opposed to condenser or ribbon) mic, which is prone to "proximity effect", a phenomenon that emphasizes bass response as you move closer to the sound source. Move it AWAY, and it decreases. So, your off-axis mike technique essentially rolled-off some of the overwhelming bass response of the bodrhan.

And THAT'S the way it works my friend! :-D

As long as it SOUNDS good, it IS good. :occasion5:


Geez JR, it's just AMAZING the knowledge you've got!! MOST impressive!! :notworthy:


Thank you. Besides working in pro audio as my day gig, I also have an older brother who is a bona fide recording engineer and producer who trained under people like Eddie Kramer and Al Schmitt, as well as many other fine ol'school engineers, and one of his specialties is drum sounds. In that realm, it is ALL about choosing the right mic and placing it in the right spot. If you do that and maximize your sonic quality up-front, it makes the mix process easier and creates a better end product. So yes, I actually listen to my big brother! :lol:
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#10
kip

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the thing that most surprised me on the total off axis approach, was how thick the sound was....

it was essentially the same sound i could almost get if i put the mic more on axis, but added more FX, EQ and Compression...


so this was quite an eye opener for me regarding mic placement.....

guess that is what real estate and audio engineering have in common... location, location, location

-k
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#11
SteveB

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I would use a condenser to capture the sound of that drum. With a condenser you will gain body if you move the mic closer but not proximity (out of proportion low end). From what you're saying you want clarity and not low end boost. A 57 is a great mic but I wouldn't personally use one for your application. There are some very good inexpensive large diaphragm condensers out there that rival the Neuman, which has been the benchmark for decades. Even all Neumans don't sound the same.

I agree that eq is everything and some compression might help. Not every drum has to have gobs of low end; in fact it's refreshing if some don't have any at all. The mids are where our ears hear the best so I wouldn't reduce those frequencies. You may want to take some out around 4OO to 500, which will make things less boxy and add clarity, and then maybe add some 4 to 6K for more attack...nothing radical. If the mic is good then you won't need much eq.

Also, I would keep the mic back from the drum, again to add clarity.
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#12
stevesmithfan

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I would use a condenser to capture the sound of that drum. With a condenser you will gain body if you move the mic closer but not proximity (out of proportion low end). From what you're saying you want clarity and not low end boost. A 57 is a great mic but I wouldn't personally use one for your application. There are some very good inexpensive large diaphragm condensers out there that rival the Neuman, which has been the benchmark for decades. Even all Neumans don't sound the same.

I agree that eq is everything and some compression might help. Not every drum has to have gobs of low end; in fact it's refreshing if some don't have any at all. The mids are where our ears hear the best so I wouldn't reduce those frequencies. You may want to take some out around 4OO to 500, which will make things less boxy and add clarity, and then maybe add some 4 to 6K for more attack...nothing radical. If the mic is good then you won't need much eq.

Also, I would keep the mic back from the drum, again to add clarity.

Well said. IMO 350-500 Hz range should be notched out, because of the boxy element those frequencies produce. That range isn't "drum friendly".
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#13
kip

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I would use a condenser to capture the sound of that drum. With a condenser you will gain body if you move the mic closer but not proximity (out of proportion low end). From what you're saying you want clarity and not low end boost. A 57 is a great mic but I wouldn't personally use one for your application. There are some very good inexpensive large diaphragm condensers out there that rival the Neuman, which has been the benchmark for decades. Even all Neumans don't sound the same.

I agree that eq is everything and some compression might help. Not every drum has to have gobs of low end; in fact it's refreshing if some don't have any at all. The mids are where our ears hear the best so I wouldn't reduce those frequencies. You may want to take some out around 4OO to 500, which will make things less boxy and add clarity, and then maybe add some 4 to 6K for more attack...nothing radical. If the mic is good then you won't need much eq.

Also, I would keep the mic back from the drum, again to add clarity.


Thansk Steve,

Recording...i'd definitely opt for a condenser, but live .... not sure how much its going to matter ...also the 57's show up everywhere...so my goal was to come up w the best possible use and placement of a dynamic mic in a live situation.

although i did this test and based my conclusions on recording to my DAW....

I did a Mic comparison at my friends studio some time ago a a D112, C1000, c419 and 57.
The c1000 in front sounded best, and the 57 in front came in 2nd.

I normaly notch almost all the mids out, and leave the low flat, and ask for a push between 4-6 khz as well.

I also noticed on most riders for touring celtic bands, a 57 is almost always the specified for mic for the bodhran... but then again, the touring bands have their own sound guy often.


I also checked out what other percussion instruments were using... like Tabla... and i found alot of rides for Indian touring bands that asked for a single 57 for the tablas.... i figured, heck if a 57 is good enough for tabla they should work well on the bodhran as well
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#14
kip

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Here is the other thing about mic’ing bodhran.

Its interesting to see in the international bodhran community ( yes...we have online forums as well!) that similar patterns arise that have already come and gone for drum kit.

For instance.... Bodhran playing Styles changed.... They are more technical these days, and show the influence of world music and many music styles from many cultures across the world. Less a solid backing rhythem, and more of a real accompaniment instrument.

Drum making.... Shells are being made from all different types of wood and all different finishes.... No longer just a piece of bent wood w a skin tacked to it fancy veneers...different types and thickness of skins...double skins...skins w a overtone ring adhered to it...

Tape..... It cracks me up that professional quality bodhrans come w BLACK ELECTRICAL TAPE around the perimeter.... To obviously control the overtones.... People expect a bodhran they buy, to sound like the bodhran on their favorite CD.....

But the biggest thing at least for me.... Just like your kit sounds totally differerent to your ears when you are playing it, the bodhran sounds totally different to the player as well..... So I’m realizing I’m going thru all those “growing pains” again.... “how come my drum or bodhran doesn’t sound like it normally does”. ....

Just an interesting observation

There are still many die hard trad players and makers out there.... But there are far more players and makers applying modern techniques....

A lot of the stuff seems “brand new” to the bodhran folks but if you are coming from a drumset background, you can see the parallels of how the drum industry has evolved over the last 40 years as well.

Its kind of neat that such an “ancient instrument” is getting such a new modern take.

still , its the problem of the player having a sound in mind, and having a sound engineer either not familiar at all w the instrument or having a preconceived idea of what the instrument is supposed to sound like

i did a gig a few months ago, and was talking w the soundguy ( i'll always try to get a few minutes w the sound guy and get a feel for how they will approach the drum in sound and overall mix) , and he said "i'm from ireland, so I know all about these drums" .... and...well.... he really didn't cause the sound he got was absolutely horrid

-Kip

Edited by kip, 16 April 2010 - 10:41 AM.

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#15
kip

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So I spent my lunch hour talking to Steafan Hannigan on the phone.

He’s a fairly well known musician and engineer in the Celtic scene and non Celtic scene and has worked w

Lorraine Jordan, Il Divo, Julian Lloyd Weber, Pete Lockett, Bjork, Depeche Mode, Gary Barlow, Uriah Heep, Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, John Kirkpatrick, Broderick, Luke Daniels, Sin É, Linn Tilla, Anne Lister, Eileen McGann, Band of Hope, Lammas, Tim Garland, Brian Willoghby from the Strawbs, Lorenna McKennett , Jeff Martin, James Keelaghan, Art Turner, The Afro-celts , John O'Connor (Startrekkin!) and yes Michael Flately.

http://steafan.com/
http://www.whistlean...teafan-hannigan


Steafan lives and works in Toronto, and is the guy whose Bodhran VHS and DVD’s I have and had learned from over the last 10 years

I had started emailing him a few years ago and emailed him a question about mic this week, so he said, call ....

Nice guy.

He said that the idea of having the diaphragm of the mic at a 45 degree angle to the sound source isn’t new...it’s used quite often in spoken word and narration recording as it reduces the POP that people get when the speak, and also acts as a natural eq/compressor...simply be location...

http://www.audiocour.../article93.html
http://www.shure.com...icstudio_ea.pdf

Which is exactly what I discovered a/b ing recordings in my basement

His personal preference for bodhran micing is a e604 attached to the frame of the drum in the back or a c414 condenser, and a 57 in front. Funny cause that is the opposite of what alot of other players will gravitate towards... dynamic in back/condenser on top VS condenser in back/dynamic in front


-Kip
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#16
Donn

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One budget microphone that I would recommend is the AT2020. I've been using one in my home studio for a few months and it sounds better than any $100.00 condenser mic has any right to. No, it's not a Neumann or even a 414 but I've squeezed some amazing sounds out of this thing in spite of the price or maybe because of the price.

I miked my four piece kit in my dinky studio with a Beta 57 on the snare, a Sennheiser e602 on the batter side of the bass drum and the AT2020 sitting a foot or so behind my right shoulder at my ear level. A touch of compression and boom, a really nice, organic drum sound.

Edited by Donn, 16 April 2010 - 01:51 PM.

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#17
kip

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One budget microphone that I would recommend is the AT2020. I've been using one in my home studio for a few months and it sounds better than any $100.00 condenser mic has any right to. No, it's not a Neumann or even a 414 but I've squeezed some amazing sounds out of this thing in spite of the price or maybe because of the price.

I miked my four piece kit in my dinky studio with a Beta 57 on the snare, a Sennheiser e602 on the batter side of the bass drum and the AT2020 sitting a foot or so behind my right shoulder at my ear level. A touch of compression and boom, a really nice, organic drum sound.



thats interesting... steafan had mentioned putting up a mic behind the drummers ear as well and sending that to the drummers can's so it has more natural sound the player would be used to.

AT2020 looks to go for $76 or so new online, less on CL
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