How reliable are cymbal sound files/ video files?

swayed1

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I’d like to say that I’m not calling out any one business in particular. These are just some observations I have made and I have some existential/ethical questions.

Should cymbal retailers that provide sound files be using any EQ/ Compression/plug ins or other forms of sound manipulation? I can hear the compression (and I get it) but how honest of a representation of the cymbal am I getting? At what point is it a disservice to the consumer? How true to life are the sounds we are getting? Yes, there are a lot of other factors at play for that last one but you get my point.

At what point does production value and content creation supersede what this service was originally intended for? Should there be a disclaimer if the sound was edited/manipulated?

If I use Photoshop to edit a a picture of the sparkle wrap on my Gretsch so there is more saturation of color for a sale on Reverb that wouldn’t go over very well. Right?

I’ve ordered a few new cymbals online since Covid and they are not even close to the sound files. Now, by no means are They bad sounding cymbals, but for me to attempt to recreate the soundfile from in the video there would (without a doubt) have to be certain frequencies boosted and others eliminated in post.

I am genuinely curious what you think. Should retailers pull the curtain back a bit on their audio editing process? Maybe offer up the unedited dry file too? Do any retailers state on their websites that they don’t edit their files? Heck, a lot of sound files listed here on DFO will even state that no compression or eq was used.

Am I way off base here with my $0.02?
 

IBitePrettyHard

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Drum and cymbal demos should have NO compression or EQ of any kind, period.

The purpose of a drum or cymbal demo is *NOT* to sound as good as possible using $10,000 worth of recording equipment. The purpose of these demos is to get the most accurate sound, so you can be comfortable purchasing gear online without being in the store to play it first.

I don't think any of these channels are deliberately trying to mislead, but that can be the end result. The temptation is always there to have the best production value and be better than all the other competition on Youtube, regardless of how accurate it is.

Drum Center of Porstmouth switches between Overheads, Room and "Full Mix", which is helpful. But honestly, the "full mix" is not helpful for determining how drums will actually sound when you get them home in your living room. You're in for a big surprise if you expect them to sound like the Full Mix.

DCP also uses at least some EQ and Compression. Again, I don't think they're trying to be sneaky. They just want to make high-quality videos.

But that's the problem. High production quality (using compression, EQ, close-miking and a "full mix") can lead to unrealistic expectations.

One of the few channels that is completely open about their methods is Drumcenter cz.

This is from their Youtube page...I think everyone should do it like this. They are one of the most accurate-sounding channels on Youtube because of it. Just my 2 cents.

 
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WaggoRecords

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At this point, when buying any given cymbal online, I guess I’m mostly concerned with diameter, weight and price. Just as recordings can be deceiving, you’ll get recommendations to bring your own cymbals along to a physical store, along with your own sticks, and you have to consider the acoustics of the room you’re in, etc etc.

There seems to be a caveat for just about any situation when playing/listening to a cymbal.

At my most cynical points, I even question what it means to like a cymbal. Just seems like familiarity is what it amounts to. But it’s all part of the fun for me.
 

Matched Gripper

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I’d like to say that I’m not calling out any one business in particular. These are just some observations I have made and I have some existential/ethical questions.

Should cymbal retailers that provide sound files be using any EQ/ Compression/plug ins or other forms of sound manipulation? I can hear the compression (and I get it) but how honest of a representation of the cymbal am I getting? At what point is it a disservice to the consumer? How true to life are the sounds we are getting? Yes, there are a lot of other factors at play for that last one but you get my point.

At what point does production value and content creation supersede what this service was originally intended for? Should there be a disclaimer if the sound was edited/manipulated?

If I use Photoshop to edit a a picture of the sparkle wrap on my Gretsch so there is more saturation of color for a sale on Reverb that wouldn’t go over very well. Right?

I’ve ordered a few new cymbals online since Covid and they are not even close to the sound files. Now, by no means are They bad sounding cymbals, but for me to attempt to recreate the soundfile from in the video there would (without a doubt) have to be certain frequencies boosted and others eliminated in post.

I am genuinely curious what you think. Should retailers pull the curtain back a bit on their audio editing process? Maybe offer up the unedited dry file too? Do any retailers state on their websites that they don’t edit their files? Heck, a lot of sound files listed here on DFO will even state that no compression or eq was used.

Am I way off base here with my $0.02?
I think you answered your own question. I’d say about as reliable as drum sound files.
 

Matched Gripper

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At this point, when buying any given cymbal online, I guess I’m mostly concerned with diameter, weight and price. Just as recordings can be deceiving, you’ll get recommendations to bring your own cymbals along to a physical store, along with your own sticks, and you have to consider the acoustics of the room you’re in, etc etc.

There seems to be a caveat for just about any situation when playing/listening to a cymbal.

At my most cynical points, I even question what it means to like a cymbal. Just seems like familiarity is what it amounts to. But it’s all part of the fun for me.
You make an important point. Even when buying a cymbal in person, it helps to bring a cymbal that you know, and like, with you for reference when checking out a cymbal that you are thinking about buying.
 

marc3k

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Interesting discussion! I have the same issue and I'm usually comparing recordings from different sources - but since the cymbals vary as well it's hard to compare them.
I was impressed about how much Steve Maxwell Vintage Drums tweak their recordings as they showed in this recent video:
I always thought they provide only a quite basic recording of their listings.

I think mycymbal.com- videos are the worst representation - they do sound great - but not like in reality (to me at least).
 

Cliff DeArment

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Recording a cymbal (or any other instruments) use manipulations in various ways. Wall types, room sizes, floors, responses, types of microphones and their angles, cymbal sticks, etc… There's only one way to get a true recording with no manipulations. 1: Outdoors, no walls, dirt floor, a 20hz to 20k flat line microphone 20 feet away or more (closest would be stereo Earthworks), and every stick made. 2: You, the best speakers ever, standing in an anechoic chamber. Otherwise, stand outside, place the cymbal on your stand, start playing and hear what you've really got.

I have a nice studio with great mics and I can STILL make your cymbals sound like crap. :)
 
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osw000

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You must judge the output through the same media (incl. all mentioned variables) in order to compare sound qualities.

But unless your ultimate purpose is playing drums solo, final test for cymbals is how they project and blend with the rest of instruments you play with and this cannot be done before purchase. So whatever method you use to try and pick cymbals it will necessarily have a lot of guesswork, more or less based on experience or trial-error.

I'm still mad at the huge difference it makes using Bolero sticks compared to 7A or AJ4
 

JimmySticks

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I bought a bunch of Agop's after listening to Carter McLean play them. Big mistake. They weren't even close and admittedly neither was my playing! But yeah, be careful when listening to sound files. They should be naked of any sound help.
 

Sprice

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Without a big shop near me I've had to order online a lot. All I can say is every single cymbal I've bought based on a cellphone video I've kept and almost every one I've bought based on pro audio has been returned. I've actually had better luck buying blind (or deaf I guess it'd be).
 
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LRod1707

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If I realize it's processed (which you usually know), I probably wouldn't buy it based solely on that sound file. Same goes for a drum! On a side note, a reputable place will refund you if you don't like what you bought. A reasonable return policy for a purchase is important as well!
 

IBitePrettyHard

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Without a big shop near me I've had to order online a lot. All I can say is every single cymbal I've bought based on a cellphone video I've kept and almost every one I've bought based on pro audio has been returned.
It's very ironic, but I've concluded the same thing. Cellphone recordings are usually far more accurate and true-to-life than close-miked drums. (As long as the room acoustics are good, that is.)
 

hsosdrum

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Over the past five years I've purchased four cymbals from MyCymbal.com, three rides and a crash. The crash and two of the three rides sounded virtually identical in person to the way they sounded on the website, and I still have (and use) them. The one ride that sounded different from the recording still sounded good, but it felt so stiff under my stick that it wasn't comfortable to play, so I traded it in at Pro Drum for (what else) more cymbals!
 

funkypoodle

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Recording a cymbal (or any other instruments) use manipulations in various ways. Wall types, room sizes, floors, responses, types of microphones and their angles, cymbal sticks, etc… There's only one way to get a true recording with no manipulations. 1: Outdoors, no walls, dirt floor, a 20hz to 20k flat line microphone 20 feet away or more (closest would be stereo Earthworks), and every stick made. 2: You, the best speakers ever, standing in an anechoic chamber. Otherwise, stand outside, place the cymbal on your stand, start playing and hear what you've really got.

I have a nice studio with great mics and I can STILL make your cymbals sound like crap. :)
This pretty well sums it up!
 

Tama CW

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I recently had an old K New Stamp 18 in. ride medium heavy that I just couldn't "tame" no matter what stick I used....no matter the muffling. Just too many highs and not enough lows. It couldn't really crash either. Sort of harsh. So moved it along.

Imagine my surprise when I heard the new owner's sound video on line when he was playing it with his kit. It sounded miraculous. It had lows and mids....not many highs at all. It crashed like a dream....fast too. What an eye opener that was. So that
cymbal could do great in a recording or through the mics. But at home to my ears.....it wasn't pleasant at all.
 
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Masecar

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I make demo videos for 2112 Percussion:


My whole approach is to attempt to capture the way the drum feels in the room when I'm playing it, but in my case, since it's my studio I already have everything miked up to sound the way I want it. There's some limiting on the master bus, a high shelf boost on the room mics (more on that in a moment)and a bit of 500Hz cut from the tom mics, but that's pretty much it.

A microphone will never capture sound exactly like your actual ears. Your hearing is probably different from mine anyway.

The sound also changes pretty drastically depending on where the mic is placed. My 414s can sound super glassy directly straight over a cymbal, in the middle (think Blink 182) or rather dark right over the player's head. Most mics also exhibit proximity effect, so the bottom end is not always accurate.

I give DCP a lot of credit for soloing the overheads and the room mics. That takes a not-insignificant amount of time.

I just try to get a consistent sound across all the videos I make. In total it's about fifteen mics, but they're chosen and blended with the idea that the thing being demonstrated sounds accurate, and include close mics, overheads, and room mics out front. Because the sound of a kit includes the room, and those reflections are important, but the bottom end is very different from when you're sitting at the kit. And my room mics are ribbons, which are super smooth and realistic, but veeery dark and need a substantial top shelf boost to sound the way the kit does at their position. So the bottom end comes from the close mics, but also from the room mics, and the overheads and room mics are doing most of the heavy lifting.

So, in the end, no, don't trust them blindly, it'll always be pretty different in your room. But usually if it sounds good, it's probably pretty good in your room, and if it sounds bad, it'll either sound bad in your room, or the recording was bad.
 
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drums1225

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Years ago, I actually asked MyCymbal which overhead mics they used, because I was in the market for not only a new ride cymbal, but new overheads. They politely said it was a "trade secret". I get it on some level, but thought it was a bit paranoid.
 

bpaluzzi

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Years ago, I actually asked MyCymbal which overhead mics they used, because I was in the market for not only a new ride cymbal, but new overheads. They politely said it was a "trade secret". I get it on some level, but thought it was a bit paranoid.
Yeah, that's beyond paranoid, it's asinine. The entire reason they take all of the time + effort to record individual cymbals is so you can get an idea of how THAT cymbal sounds. The mic has a ton to do with that, and not knowing which mic + signal chain they're using makes anything suspect. Bah.
 


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