Close micing is cheating

MadJazz

Silver Member
Close micing is cheating and sounds artificial.

I'd like to hear your opinion on this statement and what you think of three mic setups. You know, two overheads and a kick mic.

I'm talking about 4 pc drum sets, not necessarily jazz. One overhead picking up the snare, rack tom, hats and the main crash, the other the snare, floor tom, ride and aux crash or whatever you have hanging there.
 

Muckster

Platinum Member
Close micing is cheating and sounds artificial.

I'd like to hear your opinion on this statement and what you think of three mic setups. You know, two overheads and a kick mic.

I'm talking about 4 pc drum sets, not necessarily jazz. One overhead picking up the snare, rack tom, hats and the main crash, the other the snare, floor tom, ride and aux crash or whatever you have hanging there.

Well according to that attitude, using any microphone is cheating.
 

eddiehimself

Platinum Member
Personally i think to say it's cheating is silly. I can tell you that it certainly does NOT make a bad drummer sound better. If it's a bad performance it doesn't matter how many microphones you use it's not going to sound good. Some people might think they sound artificial but the way i see it yeah sure you might only hear your drums from one place but your ears pick up sound differently to a microphone. The way it works i think makes the drums sound louder in real life than when you stick a couple of microphones overhead and just stick it in the recording without any compression whatsoever. You simply don't hear the things you would otherwise hear if you're just using a small number of mics. It also gives you a lot more control over the mix.

There is also the simple fact that if you're playing metal and competing with 2 loud guitars the only way you're going to hear all the drums is to mic up almost everything seperately, including hihats and ride. When i make recordings with 3 mics, you can't hear the snare and the toms. You turn the overheads up, the cymbals become too loud. It's just a pretty requesite thing.

So really it depends on application. Quieter styles of music will benifit from a smaller number of microphones so that the drums sit in the right place in the mix and don't sound overbearing. But Heavier, louder stuff? Close micing is the best option.
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
Any mic will change the sound. All human ears will pick up sound differently due to the different sizes of people's heads. I know where the OP is coming from, but there's no such thing as cheating...it's not a competion, as far as I know. Is it?

Actually, come to think of it, there's a school of thought that would regard your three-mic setup as cheating, because it's not a true stereo recording. Two mics is the limit.

How do you feel about compression, EQ...or moon gel, even? Every single step in the sound generation/recording process influences it in some way. And while it might make it easier to play certain things and have them heard, remember of course that at many gigs, the kit will be mic'd in a similar way as for a recording, so you'll hear the same sort of sound as on a record.

Well according to that attitude, using any microphone is cheating.
Heh, this reminds me of the sleeve notes for the Spinal Tap album 'Break Like The Wind'...there's something in there about the band being so loud that 'no microphones were needed'.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
There is also the simple fact that if you're playing metal and competing with 2 loud guitars the only way you're going to hear all the drums is to mic up almost everything seperately, including hihats and ride. When i make recordings with 3 mics, you can't hear the snare and the toms. You turn the overheads up, the cymbals become too loud. It's just a pretty requesite thing.
i agree with you %100. i've played shows where the noise from everything else is so loud if my toms were not closed miced you would not be able to hear them *at all*.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Cheating means you're breaking or side-stepping some kind of rule. Which rule does this statement think is being broken?

As for the triangular miking, the bass drum mic is close-miked, so THAT's cheating, I guess. A drummer SHOULD be able to balance the various components of their kits (so that the bass drum isn't too quiet, the snare isn't overly loud, etc...) so that it sounds like one cohesive instrument. In the modern fad of "bashing the carp out of the drums", close-miking IS cheating in this respect, because the soundman or studio engineer can make up for the lack of dynamic control and balance lacked by a drummer just bashing away...
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
But only up to a point. If it's that bad, you're into sample-replacement territory, which is a different thing altogether (and one I'm not too keen on).
 

Chonson

Senior Member
Close micing is cheating and sounds artificial.

I'd like to hear your opinion on this statement and what you think of three mic setups. You know, two overheads and a kick mic.

I'm talking about 4 pc drum sets, not necessarily jazz. One overhead picking up the snare, rack tom, hats and the main crash, the other the snare, floor tom, ride and aux crash or whatever you have hanging there.
"cheating" is a kind of silly notion when applied to music, as the ultimate goal is a good sound. What's "cheating" if the end result is sonically pleasing? The whole "cheating" thing just seems to be a construct to arbitrarily draw a line in the sand to make one feel better about oneself or one's resources/abilities, when the entire goal is subjective.

It happens at all stages of the game. Playing technique, special hardware, gear for your instrument, preamps, plugins, converters, recording methodology in general, etc, and in pretty much any context it's ridiculous. Why not say that "boom stands are cheating" or "saddle seats or backrests are cheating"?

You can dislike the sound of close mikes for an application, and that's fine. It may be completely wrong for a particular use. But it's also been used to great effect on great recordings. What matters is the end result.

I like using 2-4 mics in general just because it's easier to deal with and that's sonically what I've been working on with my current projects. It's not because of an artificially purist standpoint. Remember that a lot of this stuff was done that way in the old days not because of some he-man work ethic, but because of simple technical limitations on numbers of channels available on a desk.

Judge techniques and methods of working based on the merit of their end results and costs in the process of using them, not based on some non-artistic notion of "cheating".
 

justjim

Senior Member
I'm pretty sure it's cheating in BRMAA (Binaural Room Micing Association of America) sanctioned events and in the IAAIL (International All-Acoustic Instrument League)

but otherwise, as long as you aren't running in formula-J ( jazz) drumming events you should be OK - but you can probably get away with it there too as usually they just check kick drum head area limits during tech inspection
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Im not a fan of putting mic's on all of my drums when playing live. I try to only mic my kick when playing clubs. For bigger outdoor gigs I like to use a Kick mic, snare mic, and an overhead. I like it when my band plays at volume levels that let the drums be acoustic.
Recording is another story, I like to record with a full set of close mic's for panning and mix down.
 

Cottontop

Senior Member
I'm pretty sure it's cheating in BRMAA (Binaural Room Micing Association of America) sanctioned events and in the IAAIL (International All-Acoustic Instrument League)

but otherwise, as long as you aren't running in formula-J ( jazz) drumming events you should be OK - but you can probably get away with it there too as usually they just check kick drum head area limits during tech inspection
i had to laugh at this

anyway, no i dont think its cheating, i dont see how it could be considered cheating.

last time i checked trying to make your drums sound better is not a sin
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
Last I heard, it's not even cheating to use a drum machine. Someone should do something about that.
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Last I heard, it's not even cheating to use a drum machine. Someone should do something about that.
Well it's just not but that's a far deeper debate than this one will reach.
 

MadJazz

Silver Member
Cheating means you're breaking or side-stepping some kind of rule. Which rule does this statement think is being broken?

As for the triangular miking, the bass drum mic is close-miked, so THAT's cheating, I guess. A drummer SHOULD be able to balance the various components of their kits (so that the bass drum isn't too quiet, the snare isn't overly loud, etc...) so that it sounds like one cohesive instrument. In the modern fad of "bashing the carp out of the drums", close-miking IS cheating in this respect, because the soundman or studio engineer can make up for the lack of dynamic control and balance lacked by a drummer just bashing away...
The bold part is what I mean by cheating. Close miking makes up for the lack of dynamic control. I consciously hit toms and kick harder and play crashes softer, with the snare, hats and ride going both sides depending on accents.

Someone mentioned guitar amps overshadowing the drums. If that happens I ask the band to lower their volume.

"cheating" is a kind of silly notion when applied to music, as the ultimate goal is a good sound. What's "cheating" if the end result is sonically pleasing? The whole "cheating" thing just seems to be a construct to arbitrarily draw a line in the sand to make one feel better about oneself or one's resources/abilities, when the entire goal is subjective.
Then you can just play with a CD and be happy with it.

No, the whole point of playing music is creating the sound and controlling the instrument entirely yourself. Dynamic control, understanding how different heads, room acoustics, drum / cymbal specs interfere and knowing how to tune, is a personal and rewarding accomplishment.


Another statement I made is that close miking sounds artificial.

Close miking drums radically changes the sound and I feel cheated after switching back to unmiked drums. That's what I meant by cheating. Going back to how drums sound naturally after close miking, is a disappointment. Triangular miking keeps that natural sound intact.

You don't have to close mic the kick but if you don't provide a separate kick mic, overheads will pick up very little of it. If I have to amplify only one instrument, it's the kick because the low freqs are lost sooner than a snare or cymbal.
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
"cheating" is a kind of silly notion when applied to music, as the ultimate goal is a good sound. What's "cheating" if the end result is sonically pleasing?
+1. Whatever it takes - be it mics, machines, triggers, whatever - to make good music is fine by me. If it works, great.

The advantage of having highly developed physical skills is you need less help from technology and can perform in impromptu situations more, so it's cheaper and more flexible. However, if technology is readily available and can help make the music sound better, then why not?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
There's enough real hurdles to overcome playing drums, why create unnecessary ones?

I also think it's silly to say close micing is cheating. But if that's how you feel, that's how you feel. Either don't do it, or accept it for what it is, a great technique for getting certain drum sounds. You're overcomplicating things IMO.
 

thtst

Senior Member
While i personally am a minimal 2-mic guy for the moment, i can also see the use of as many mics and effects as one desires to CREATE the music one seeks to express. This even includes 100% acoustic, 100% electronic or anything inbetween and no limit to all, none or some effects including backward tracking or split or.....

IMHO: Music is the expression of emotion via creation™.
 
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PQleyR

Platinum Member
The bold part is what I mean by cheating. Close miking makes up for the lack of dynamic control. I consciously hit toms and kick harder and play crashes softer, with the snare, hats and ride going both sides depending on accents.
But this does make a difference on recordings with close mics too, unless you're micing every cymbal separately in its own little baffled area. Playing cymbals too loud will mean you get too much of the cymbals in the overhead mics, which will still impact on the sound of the recording.

Ideally, close mics should be there to reinforce the sound of the overheads, not replace them. However, if you're recording in a bad room, you've really got no choice but to use more close mics and less distant ones.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
"cheating" is a kind of silly notion when applied to music, as the ultimate goal is a good sound. What's "cheating" if the end result is sonically pleasing? The whole "cheating" thing just seems to be a construct to arbitrarily draw a line in the sand to make one feel better about oneself or one's resources/abilities, when the entire goal is subjective.
.
Well said.

Besides, it's only cheating if you win something.
 
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