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Author Topic: Help with room for better drum sounds  (Read 5203 times)

audiowonderland

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Help with room for better drum sounds
« on: April 15, 2010, 08:10:43 am »

Having tried some additional mics to find more crack in the snare sound without much success I am looking at my room to see if the solution is there.

The room is 9w x 11L x 7H. Concrete floor, 3 cinder block walls and one drywall with a hard tile ceiling. Will all of the hard reflective surfaces and small dimensions I have put a general amount of absorption in the room. R19 in the ceiling above the tile, with a few sheets of Aurelex on the room side of the ceiling. Mics are so close to the ceiling I needed something to tame reflections. There is also a lot 6" frames filled with R19 in the corners and on the walls to serve as bass traps and broadband absorption. There is also carpet on most of the floor to keep the drum kit in place.

I am thinking the carpet is the biggest factor impacting the sound. Would something more reflective under the snare even make a dent? Perhaps pulling some of the absorption out of the room? I have been hesitant to do that as the traditional wisdom has been that you can't have too much bass trapping in small rectangular rooms such as that one.

Looking for other ideas and suggestions.

Thomas Jouanjean

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2010, 06:26:47 am »

This is not the acoustic engineer speaking here, but the recording guy: have you tried placing a big wood board (6/4 maybe?) a bit angled right behind the drum set / drummer throne?

In such a small room, it's going to be hard to get it right indeed.
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DarinK

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2010, 07:05:34 pm »

Try putting something reflective under the snare and see if it helps.  It's worked for me before.  The other option is to go in the other direction and get something under the drums that absorbs more than carpet, like a very thick rug - that will change bad reflections off the carpet into practically no reflections at all.
Carpet (depending on what's underneath it) may be the worst possibility.
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Bill_Urick

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2010, 09:05:55 pm »

Just wondering, what mics are you using on the snare?
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audiowonderland

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2010, 10:40:05 pm »

Bill_Urick wrote on Sat, 17 April 2010 20:05

Just wondering, what mics are you using on the snare?



57/i5

Bill_Urick

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2010, 11:55:48 pm »

Can you get an AKG-451 or other good SDC to try?
I always use a 57 strapped to a 451 for the top snare mic.
It's also common to use an SDC alone for snare.

Mmmm, I just found this thread:

http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/mv/msg/30505/0/0/ 8119/

So my suggestion is redundant.

A 451 is a very useful mic and still not terribly expensive, perhaps you could get one to try?
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audiowonderland

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2010, 12:25:18 pm »

Bill_Urick wrote on Sat, 17 April 2010 22:55

Can you get an AKG-451 or other good SDC to try?
I always use a 57 strapped to a 451 for the top snare mic.
It's also common to use an SDC alone for snare.

Mmmm, I just found this thread:

 http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/mv/msg/30505/0/0/ 8119/

So my suggestion is redundant.

A 451 is a very useful mic and still not terribly expensive, perhaps you could get one to try?


I am looking at other things to try. The only SDC I have are Samson C02's. Not awful on snare but seemed a bit boxy and distant. May have been a function of the room (was in another studio) I think my Kel HM1's would be decent but I don't have pads for them yet. My room is funded by the day job so the budget is pretty tight.

Other than testing other mics I my try removing some of the trapping from the room to get a little more reflection off the wall. I think that might let the OH's get a little more of the snap from the snare. Hopefully not at the expense of something else. I have found that acoustic guitars are a bit dull on top as well. May be an indicator I was a little over zealous with the insulation... Smile

jimmyjazz

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2010, 01:09:52 am »

The idea that you can't have too much bass trapping is usually true from the perspective of evening out low frequency response, but it sounds like you're having other problems.  For one thing, your room is tiny.  I've usually tried (and suggested) heavy absorption in such a small room on the theory that at least you can kill most of the comb filtering and modal issues and add back synthetic reverb later.  It's sort of the "lesser of two evils" approach.  However, you're fighting an even uglier problem.

Have you tried PZM mics on the ceiling?  I think placing standard small diaphragm condensers or dynamic mics CLOSE to the ceiling is asking for trouble.  You'll get major comb filtering related to the spacing.  That's about the overheads.  The other issue is a 57 on the snare . . . and to my ears, that "tried and true solution" rarely is.  Can you find something like a cheap Oktava condenser for that mic?  Something with a bit more high end boost and a little less basketball bounce?
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Bill_Urick

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2010, 06:59:28 am »

Being a relative novice here, I'm somewhat reluctant to advise. But that is usually overbalanced by the irresistible impulsive to shoot my mouth off.

Here goes-to add to and reinforce what Jim said, if you have to record drums in a small space you should kill it, you'll get no usable ambiance from a small reflective room.

As an alternative, is there another room (presuming you're recording in your house) that you can use to record drums? Perhaps a large family room with a vaulted ceiling? I've had very good results doing that.

All this being said, the essentialness of a good, properly tuned drum and someone who knows how to hit it cannot be over emphasised.
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audiowonderland

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2010, 01:53:11 pm »

jimmyjazz wrote on Fri, 30 April 2010 00:09

The idea that you can't have too much bass trapping is usually true from the perspective of evening out low frequency response, but it sounds like you're having other problems.  For one thing, your room is tiny.  I've usually tried (and suggested) heavy absorption in such a small room on the theory that at least you can kill most of the comb filtering and modal issues and add back synthetic reverb later.  It's sort of the "lesser of two evils" approach.  However, you're fighting an even uglier problem.

Have you tried PZM mics on the ceiling?  I think placing standard small diaphragm condensers or dynamic mics CLOSE to the ceiling is asking for trouble.  You'll get major comb filtering related to the spacing.  That's about the overheads.  The other issue is a 57 on the snare . . . and to my ears, that "tried and true solution" rarely is.  Can you find something like a cheap Oktava condenser for that mic?  Something with a bit more high end boost and a little less basketball bounce?



In regard to the space, its a balancing act between a number of negative aspects working in a smaller room like that. There is 8" of insulation above the ceiling tile and 2" of Auralex mounted on the tile to make the ceiling as acoustically transparent/absorbent as I can.

Mic wise I do plan to try as many mics as I can. I have an i5/senne906/senn609 and a handful of condensers to test on the next drum session. I want to work on placement as well. I think a little more distance from the drum would improve the mix of batter head to overall snare sound that might be better.

I have talked to a few other drummers as well. I had spent a good amount of time getting and documenting my tom tuning to get accurate pitch intervals between to toms and then slot the snare in at a pitch that was as free of sympathetic snare rattle as possible. It sounded pretty good at the time but based on the results and some additional listening in the room I think part of the problem is the source. Since I prefer to fix issues at the source i am going to go back and tune the snare up to where it needs to be and then rework the toms. If it means a little snare rattle then so being it. A killer snare sound is the more important thing

Garrett H

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2010, 04:26:12 pm »

Realize that you're putting up a good fight.  9 x 11 x 7 is just tough.  You might want to consider replacing the snare with some of the aftermarket drum replacers if you 'need' a specific sound.  

Otherwise, continue experimenting to squeeze as much quality as you can given that space.   If you ever end up moving to a bigger studio/room, you'll be that much better of an engineer, and if you stay where you are you'll have the satisfaction knowing that you busted your tail doing all you could.

Specific thoughts I have are making sure the drums are set up in the direction that gives the best sound.  For example, it may make sense to set up the drums facing one way, but it could sound better if they are rotated 90 degrees, or even 45 degrees.  That, plus the wood and room ideas above could help you.

Finally, remember many many many "top" names started off with the same constraints you're fighting with.  Don't let it discourage you - but don't beat yourself up if you can't get Ocean Way's drum sounds where you are.

Best wishes,
GH
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audiowonderland

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2010, 10:44:22 pm »

Garrett H wrote on Thu, 06 May 2010 15:26

Realize that you're putting up a good fight.  9 x 11 x 7 is just tough.  You might want to consider replacing the snare with some of the aftermarket drum replacers if you 'need' a specific sound.  

Otherwise, continue experimenting to squeeze as much quality as you can given that space.   If you ever end up moving to a bigger studio/room, you'll be that much better of an engineer, and if you stay where you are you'll have the satisfaction knowing that you busted your tail doing all you could.

Specific thoughts I have are making sure the drums are set up in the direction that gives the best sound.  For example, it may make sense to set up the drums facing one way, but it could sound better if they are rotated 90 degrees, or even 45 degrees.  That, plus the wood and room ideas above could help you.

Finally, remember many many many "top" names started off with the same constraints you're fighting with.  Don't let it discourage you - but don't beat yourself up if you can't get Ocean Way's drum sounds where you are.

Best wishes,
GH



Thanks for the kind words. I don't need a specific sound but I do have sounds that I like from a kit. Honestly the drums are not terrible all things considered. As you suggest, learning how to deal with these things can only be a benefit over time. I am just trying to reach the next level with what I have. the further you progress, the more difficult the next level is to achieve.

It has been often suggested on other sites that I just sample replace and be done with it but I can't do that. You just don't get better at this doing that. Granted, Motown for example had the best in the biz working there but those tracks were still done in a basement. It can be made to sound good. I just need to keep getting better.

tom eaton

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2010, 09:30:36 pm »

I'm going to say something I've said before... that might come off as blasphemous... but... I would love to hear what people think are good drum "sounds" on a Motown track.  Appropriate, yes... functional, yes... but high fidelity?  Absolutely not.  Motown stuff was done in a small space, for sure, but I think the playing and performances are the magic... I've never really thought that anything from Motown had "great" sounds in the abstract.

Which maybe is the greater point...  it is possible that you can find something that really works for the given song within the limitations of what you can achieve in the space... in fact, very likely!  Find something unique that only your space can do...

tom

Bill_Urick

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2010, 10:36:43 pm »

tom eaton wrote on Sun, 09 May 2010 21:30

I'm going to say something I've said before... that might come off as blasphemous... but... I would love to hear what people think are good drum "sounds" on a Motown track.  Appropriate, yes... functional, yes... but high fidelity?  Absolutely not.  Motown stuff was done in a small space, for sure, but I think the playing and performances are the magic... I've never really thought that anything from Motown had "great" sounds in the abstract.

Which maybe is the greater point...  it is possible that you can find something that really works for the given song within the limitations of what you can achieve in the space... in fact, very likely!  Find something unique that only your space can do...

tom


Amen to that. Tom you make me immediately think of many sounds on Beatles records, even some of Jeff Becks guitar sounds that would never be something you would shoot for as an "ultimate" but somehow work wonderfully in the track.

Not to say that there is an error in those sounds but perhaps a conceptual error in what's "great" vs what works.

Or is it my error in thinking that any of that makes any sense?
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tom eaton

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Re: Help with room for better drum sounds
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2010, 11:50:25 pm »

Right on... a "great sound" is a completely abstract concept.  I think people spend a lot of time chasing individual sounds, out of context of the song and the record.  

Beatles stuff is hilarious in this regard... people talk about those records, but the Beatles themselves wanted to sound like the Band...the later records had amazing, interesting sounds... sounds that paid no particular attention to "purity" or "accuracy"...not even the "hyper-realism" that seems to be what so many people are after (massive bottom on kicks, massive air on top of cymbals and room mics, in your face vocals and snare)... but what works is the way each piece makes the SONG work and feel.  And holy crap... there is so much distortion on stuff everywhere (which most of us today would deem unacceptable and recut).  

Interesting!

tom
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