Virgin/undrilled drums vs drums with mount hole/extra holes

dcrigger

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Hey David ..

Coles vs large diaphragm condensers ?

off topic but what the heck ...
I have no big stake one way or the other... At one point a friend of mine bought a 4038 ribbon to record his trumpet (stunning mic for this) - at that time at home, I had a pair of 414's and a pair of 451's (so large and small condensers), which I kept going back and forth between. While I had access to his 4038, I put it up on drums - actually trying not as a overhead, but as an "old skool" record the drums with one mic thing. And it actually sounded really good- the music I had ever had access to that could actually do that. So from there I tried it as an overhead - along with full micing - and still thought it sounded really great.

But it is different - 1st off, it's figure-8, so I have to keep the overheads close or they just turn into room mics. 2nd - they are very un-hyped in the high end. Now I'm not a big "roll-off all of the drums out of the overheads" kind of guy. There are two schools of approaching this and thinking of the overheads as "cymbal mics" is not the approach I follow. Not that I don't roll lows out of my overheads - I do. But I like that I don't have to - because everything down to the kick coming through the 4038's sounds pretty good.

What they aren't is "sparkly" - not flat, they aren't. But... if someone wants them brighter, then I find that when boosting the high end they still remain very smooth. So the high's are there - you just have to reach for them - more than a condenser.

So if I was really going for a ECM type jazz thing - they may not be my first choice - I have a pair of Earthworks that I would turn to for that. But I have to say - short of doing an entire project in that specific direction - my work demands serving a wide variety of styles - always sending unprocessed tracks, captured right off the mic pre (no eq, no comp, no nothing) to outside engineers to mix... and so far I've gotten nothing but compliments.

If you're shopping - I can't stress how helpful it is to make use of the Amazon no questions asked return policy offered on most products - buy a pair of something, put them up against what you are currently using, and if you love them, great. But if not, just box them back up and return them to Amazon - you are usually only out the cost of shipping them back... or as someone just pointed out to me the other day... return them to any Kohl's department store that excepts Amazon returns.

Oh and regarding condensers, there are certainly better condensers than the 414 and 451 - and for that matter, probably better ribbons than the 4038 (in a recent flute mic shootout for my ex, the AEA R84 wiped the floor with the 4038 - but that was with flute, not drums).

And then there are mic pres....

At the end of the day, this stuff is just a money black hole - with it sounding better and better the more money you spend. The trick I believe is spending what will serve your needs - and getting full value by making sure your system is balanced - no 6,000 mics into cheap mic pres, etc.
 

ARGuy

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I have no interest in belittle anyone or questioning anyone's abilities or integrity. But your anecdote does bring many questions to mind as it flies in the face of a lot of conventional wisdom. First question of course would be whether the reso was in any way ported. As obviously that would greatly the effect the mounts open hole's impact on the ratio that the drum is closed vs. open. As letting air out of the drum does effect the sound and feel of the drum. So question two would be how big was the hole? 2"-ish?

And sorry, but I can't just go with "he's got good ears and he heard something". Because I've got decent ears and you can't believe the number of times in the studio where I have fiddled with the sound of something - twisting and turning the knobs on some EQ - making great progress in fixing the sound of something.... only to then realize that EQ I'm adjusting is bypassed or not patched in... this inverted prevision of the placebo effect is a pyschoacoustic fact and a constant danger to be wary of.

"i don't like the way a mic sounds... I go to the drums and reposition it... and then go back and listen, finding that I like the sound of the new position a lot better." Is it really better? Well I think it is - but if I didn't record the earlier version to compare to the new version, I can never really be sure.

So questioning whether your guy had one of those moments isn't insulting or an attempt to belittle - it's just trying to check that what he thought he heard reflects what really happened. Because way too often it's not - we've all done it (many times).

So port or no port? And how big of a hole? :)
I'm about 99% sure the reso head was ported. This was 13 years ago for a month long run of a musical at a union house theater, and for those kind of gigs it just makes it quicker and easier and therefore cheaper to use a ported head. Probably 5" off to the side. The hole in the bass drum shell was of the size necessary to allow the use of the standard Gretsch bass drum bracket from the 80's, so 1.5 to 2"? Presumably factory drilled because it was a nice neat job, although I can't swear to it because I bought the drum used.
This was for a live theater gig, so the drums were not in a booth. We did a soundcheck and a rehearsal. I came in the next night for rehearsal and noticed that the hole had been covered up with gaffers tape. I wasn't mad, just curious, and that's when he told me that hadn't been happy with the kick sound, and putting the tape over the hole had made a difference to his ears.
That's what happened, as I remember it. You can choose to believe what you want to believe - if you feel better believing that he was the victim of a psychoacoustic illusion, knock yourselves out. It's not going to change the fact that he tried something unorthodox that involved about 50 cents worth of gaffers tape that worked for him, which meant it worked for me and more importantly, for the show.
 

dcrigger

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I'm about 99% sure the reso head was ported. This was 13 years ago for a month long run of a musical at a union house theater, and for those kind of gigs it just makes it quicker and easier and therefore cheaper to use a ported head. Probably 5" off to the side. The hole in the bass drum shell was of the size necessary to allow the use of the standard Gretsch bass drum bracket from the 80's, so 1.5 to 2"? Presumably factory drilled because it was a nice neat job, although I can't swear to it because I bought the drum used.
This was for a live theater gig, so the drums were not in a booth. We did a soundcheck and a rehearsal. I came in the next night for rehearsal and noticed that the hole had been covered up with gaffers tape. I wasn't mad, just curious, and that's when he told me that hadn't been happy with the kick sound, and putting the tape over the hole had made a difference to his ears.
That's what happened, as I remember it. You can choose to believe what you want to believe - if you feel better believing that he was the victim of a psychoacoustic illusion, knock yourselves out. It's not going to change the fact that he tried something unorthodox that involved about 50 cents worth of gaffers tape that worked for him, which meant it worked for me and more importantly, for the show.
Cool - thanks for the info.

I'm not set up right now - fixing some odds and ends in the studio. But as I primarily use a Gretsch 22" with 4-5" offset ported reso with a center tom mount that sits open with no holder in it, I might be curious to check whether blocking that opening has any discernible effect on the sound and if so, what that change is. My suspicion is that the hole just adds to the total mount of venting. Anecdotes from other players suggest that venting has very much the same effect on the sound, regardless of where the vent is placed. The reso, the batter or even the shell... Though, of course, where it's placed on a head can effect how the head functions as well - ie: the difference between a "center" port and an "offset" port.

In any case, simple test... press record... boom, boom, boom.... cover hole.... boom, boom, boom.

That is - if I can remember to do it... :)
 

jaymandude

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I have no big stake one way or the other... At one point a friend of mine bought a 4038 ribbon to record his trumpet (stunning mic for this) - at that time at home, I had a pair of 414's and a pair of 451's (so large and small condensers), which I kept going back and forth between. While I had access to his 4038, I put it up on drums - actually trying not as a overhead, but as an "old skool" record the drums with one mic thing. And it actually sounded really good- the music I had ever had access to that could actually do that. So from there I tried it as an overhead - along with full micing - and still thought it sounded really great.

But it is different - 1st off, it's figure-8, so I have to keep the overheads close or they just turn into room mics. 2nd - they are very un-hyped in the high end. Now I'm not a big "roll-off all of the drums out of the overheads" kind of guy. There are two schools of approaching this and thinking of the overheads as "cymbal mics" is not the approach I follow. Not that I don't roll lows out of my overheads - I do. But I like that I don't have to - because everything down to the kick coming through the 4038's sounds pretty good.

What they aren't is "sparkly" - not flat, they aren't. But... if someone wants them brighter, then I find that when boosting the high end they still remain very smooth. So the high's are there - you just have to reach for them - more than a condenser.

So if I was really going for a ECM type jazz thing - they may not be my first choice - I have a pair of Earthworks that I would turn to for that. But I have to say - short of doing an entire project in that specific direction - my work demands serving a wide variety of styles - always sending unprocessed tracks, captured right off the mic pre (no eq, no comp, no nothing) to outside engineers to mix... and so far I've gotten nothing but compliments.

If you're shopping - I can't stress how helpful it is to make use of the Amazon no questions asked return policy offered on most products - buy a pair of something, put them up against what you are currently using, and if you love them, great. But if not, just box them back up and return them to Amazon - you are usually only out the cost of shipping them back... or as someone just pointed out to me the other day... return them to any Kohl's department store that excepts Amazon returns.

Oh and regarding condensers, there are certainly better condensers than the 414 and 451 - and for that matter, probably better ribbons than the 4038 (in a recent flute mic shootout for my ex, the AEA R84 wiped the floor with the 4038 - but that was with flute, not drums).

And then there are mic pres....

At the end of the day, this stuff is just a money black hole - with it sounding better and better the more money you spend. The trick I believe is spending what will serve your needs - and getting full value by making sure your system is balanced - no 6,000 mics into cheap mic pres, etc.
Thank you. I never wanted to set up shop in a rental property but all the live playing is shut down obviously. I'm not thinking about tracks for people, just getting my toes wet with Studio One. I've all about money. A/T 4047's maybe, or AKG C214's if I want to spend less. There's small diaphram Beyer's as an option. Thanks much
 


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