Catching less Cymbal Bleed in overheads for compression and overall mix

vice2.0

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Hey guys! First post here but am definitely willing to learn!

I'm a guitarist by trade but love recording and drum sounds. They're such an integral part of the mix. I want to get a good set of overheads as I know they're the key to a tight and big drum sound. I have a few sets in mind and have mid priced budget (800- 1.5k)

My question is are there certain techniques or mics that will pick up less cymbal and more of the kit? I watch vids a lot and hear LOTS of variance in results on overheads.
When it comes to recording & compressing the overheads, should the drummer lay into the cymbals less if we know overheads will be a big part of the sound?
Are there certain mics or techniques to pick up less of the cymbals?
What's the first step? Do I get warmer overheads, them pointed in certain patterns or a drummer who understands how to play to the mics?

I hear great mixes sometimes with just overheads and 2 other mics. Other times I hear overheads and ALL I hear us cymbal wash.

Where do I start?
 

Tornado

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In my home recording experience (I assume you're recording at home) , it's mostly playing with the right touch on the cymbals. If you play the drums loud and go easy on the cymbals, you're mostly there. Mic placement can be a big deal too. Spend the time to get placement right. Other factors are cymbal choices and room treatment. The drummer really needs to play for the room and the mics above all else, especially in a home environment with sub-optimal acoustics.

Expensive mics are nice, but great drummers and great engineers will get great results without them.
 

Pat A Flafla

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I've had good results from placing two LDCs over the shoulder instead of overhead. The cymbal decay is a little less even as the plates sway more on axis with the mics, but it moves the drums more up front and gives a gutsier overall sound.
 

Seb77

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I like x/y placement for punchy drum sounds in the overheads. Recently I placed the mics right above the snare, looking straight down. I did use additional tom mics though, as those were a bit underrepresented in the OH.
There are videos on youtube that show setups that focus more on toms, placing x/y pairs at an angle or going vor varinats of "Glyn Johns" or "Recorderman" pairs.
Cymbals shouldn't be too loud; chocie and touch both play a role. A good tip for compressing drums was to muffle them a bit more.
 

Whitten

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The number one roll of the overheads is to capture the cymbals. A nice overall drum sound is a pleasant by product of the main roll.
The best way to balance drums over cymbal harshness is to have the right cymbals for the situation and have the drummer play them more lightly than the rest of the kit. Ribbon mics are popular because they tend to be softer attack and darker (less harsh). Similarly tube mics.
So the drum recordings that have a great overall drum sound with fewer mics tend to have a great drummer playing the right cymbals, using more ribbon and tube mics.
 

vice2.0

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Thanks so much guys! I have a set of Paiste 2002s which aren't as harsh as many other cymbal companies. I was thinking about going x/y and messing with Glyn John's as well!

I'll have to look into the Recorderman pairs. I took a music industry course and his name came up a lot, but hadn't heard about his drum techniques.
 

jakeo

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Maybe use lighter sticks too and work on your monitor mix.
 
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I use the Shure 81's with the low end roll off. If I need less cymbals I point them downward more at the drums, if I'm in a bigger room I point them more outward at the cymbals. Sometimes the difference is only a two or three inch move of the head of the mic's, but it makes a BIG difference. I initially got this advice from one of the most influential-popular drummers of our time. I have done this both on record and live.

Mic placement is an important facet of drum sound, but so is touch, and mixing yourself from the drums, or as I like to call it "the inner-dynamics of the drum set." Between all of that (good mic placement, touch, inner dynamics, and good sounding drums and cymbals,) I can get a really good live or recorded drum sound (for jazz or rock) with mics on BD, SD, and two overheads. And you don't have any phasing issues.

Start with great sounding drums, a lot of experimentation with mic placement, and controlling your own sound from the drums.

I have been surprised more than a few times to walk into the control room at a session to find different engineers having muted all the individual drum channels and only using the bd, sd, and overheads. And them saying something like, "I love working with you, you make my job really easy, I don't have to do anything, it's like you are mixing yourself!"

MSG
 

drums1225

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There are many approaches to recording a drum set, and we are all subject to the acoustic environments in which we record and the limitations of our gear. When it comes to overheads, some use the overheads as the main sound, filling in only as needed with close mics, and some do it the other way around.

Personally, I use (and love) Earthworks SR25 cardioid condensers arranged in "spaced pair" for overheads, placed about 14-18" higher than the cymbals. I aim for my overheads to mainly capture the cymbals, "tie the kit together", and give me a wide stereo image. As for the drums themselves, I lean more on the close mics (Earthworks DM20) because I like plenty of definition/attack, punch, and a full tone. My room's sound isn't particularly great (low ceilings), so I do what I can to limit its influence on my drum recordings, but if you're recording in a great sounding room, obviously, you'd want to use that to your advantage.

As with most things music, recording drums is a perpetual work in progress; constantly upgrading gear, learning new techniques, enhancing mixing skills, etc. It's a fun, challenging, and potentially very expensive journey!
 


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