From the other side - how to prepare your kit (& yourself) for PA.

Taye-Dyed

Senior Member
I prefer to mic the bass drum from about 18" in front of the reso when doing a 3 mic capture, & I add a mic to the batter head when going for a full close mic vibe.
Thanks for sharing your bass micing methods. Experimenting with my Beta 52A for recording, I can't get a loud and full signal unless it is almost touching the reso. I will play with my gain settings a bit.

Most of my gigs are unmic'd, so if I am going to be mic'd, I tune down my bass batter quarter of a turn at each lug, tune my toms batters and resos to the same pitch. I also replace the Ambassador on my snare with an Aquarian Focus-X which provides a great "recorded" sound.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Thanks for sharing your bass micing methods. Experimenting with my Beta 52A for recording, I can't get a loud and full signal unless it is almost touching the reso. I will play with my gain settings a bit.
I think gain settings are the key there. In our Guru recordings (2 x overheads & bass drum), we're picking up the bass drum batter head quite well with the overheads, but those videos are not attempting to capture the optimum sound, they're attempting to capture a combination of the sound in the room, & from the driver's seat. The emphasis is on presenting a real world representation of the drum sound. The bass drum mic is just picking up the low end from the reso head that the overheads miss out on. If we were mic'ing for the most "impressive" sound, we'd certainly have the bass drum mic much closer.
 

Milt Hathaway

Senior Member
By the way, just a reminder that micing techniques that work wonders in the controlled environment of a studio often suck when used for live sound reinforcement.
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
I found it to be quite good, sensible advice, and it reflects my experience with interacting with sound engineers (as well as people who just happen to think they know how to use a PA).

Ian - I don't know what magical stands you have that don't slide around on wooden floors, but I am interested for you to share what they are with us :p. Also, bassdrums, slave pedals and hihat stands are also notorious for sliding around, regardless of how careful you are with them. So to suggest that people who have these problems 'play like a ogre' is just ignorant.

With regards to the carpet issue, I completely agree. Have your own piece marked to suit your kit with tape. Experiment with different types - if you can find someone who does carpet installations they can probably give you off-cuts for free. Thick, long piles are generally not the best choice, usually a short, rigid pile with a good thick backing gives the most penetration for spiked spurs and stands, and the most friction for rubber feet.

Wherever your drums go, the carpet should go with it. You can then lay it down and have a floor plan of exactly how much room you will take up. The only problem you might run into is if changeover times make it difficult to get your carpet off the ground between band changeovers. I have accidentally left my carpet at gigs about 2 - 3 times :(.

Oh, and don't be afraid to have things you want done, but don't be an arrogant, precious princess about it. Don't forget the sound guy has probably been there setting up for 8 hours before the first band has even taken to the stage, so he isn't going to want to be whinged at if things aren't perfect. Be polite and personable, make sure you introduce yourself. Ask in advance (if you get the chance) how many mics he has and if they are clip ons. Be prepared to make adjustments on the fly if you have to - and deal with it.
 

brady

Platinum Member
It all makes me glad I'm not playing loud gigs any more. The worst is bad monitoring. Why bother playing at all if the music sounds unbalanced and unpleasant? I guess some people thrive on the chaos of it all. I'd rather play somewhere small where what I'm hearing is closer to what's actually being played.

If I somehow found myself in a situation where I had to play out seriously I'd be on a technical learning curve trying to organise in-ear monitors with limiters, along with a "tactile" throne (giddyup horsie!). It seems like the most civilised approach.
Same here.

I really enjoy doing jazz gigs and blues gigs much more than the rock stuff I did a few years ago. No more sharing kits, "sound guys" threatening to cut my reso head, etc.

The only place I have to deal with micing issues and IEMs is at church. I actually recently gave in and installed a ported reso on that kick. We're hoping that will solve some of the "kick being to boomy" issues. I think part of that issue may be that stupid plexiglass shield reflecting sound.



KIS, have you ran into issues with a sound shield causing unwanted sound bouncing back to the kit mics? It may help the other mics but the kit sounds so loud behind that thing.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
You forgot to mention two things: take all your bottom heads off and the front reso AND bring your own gaffer tape to muffle. That'll make the process go alot quicker ;)
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Another thing about kick mics. In or out. Pick one. But don't go halfway. I discovered this by experimentation but I would have figured it out if I put my brain in gear.

One of the things live soundpeople (good ones) hate the most is singers who "cup" the mic. That is, wrap their hand around the windscreen. All the cool cats are doing it, so they want to also. What this does is completely defeat the design of the microphone and it's directional capabilities. Meaning, more feedback at lower settings.

How a directional mic works is that there are vents in the rear of the element that take sound from the sides and back and feed it out of phase to the front. Meaning that sound from right in front is normal. But sound from the sides is cut. Less sound from the sides (where the speakers are), less feedback. Wrap your hand around the mic and you cut off those vents and turn the mic into an omnidirectional one, picking up everything more or less equally.

Now back to our kick mic. Most popular kick mics are also cardioid or directional. The ones that have tailored sound, Audix D6, Shure Beta 52, and so on, have large windscreens or vents in the body that are part of that directional design. And the tailoring of the sound is meant to be used this way.

Now poke one of these mics partway into the port on a reso head and what have you done? You've essentially cut off the front of the mic from the back of it. With the same result as a singer cupping a mic. Or if you stick it in a bit further, you've put a large flat reflective surface that's radiating noise of it's own, right were the mic is trying to isolate the sound from the front.

I just came from a show where the backline had a nice 20" Gretsch Renown that someone had put a KickPort into. And the soundguy stuck a Beta 52 right in the throat of the KickPort. The result was boomy and undefined although with the PA off and the drummers setting up, the kick sounded great.

If you put the mic inside, try to get it closer to the batter head. The middle of the drum gets boomy as well. Same thing with the also common SM91 on a blanket inside the drum. Keep it out of the middle and move it towards one head or the other for some definition.

For smaller gigs where the overheads are more in the mix instead of close mic'ing everything, try dynamics for the overheads. The balance is much more like the natural ear's response. Ribbons are becoming popular in studios and some high end live gigs for that reason. An SM57 overhead will sound more like the kit does to the drummer than the small condensers typically used to pick up cymbal sizzle. You'll get a better balance of toms to cymbals and probably find that you only need to put in a touch of close snare mic. All of which will sound more like the drum set.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
You forgot to mention two things: take all your bottom heads off and the front reso AND bring your own gaffer tape to muffle. That'll make the process go a lot quicker ;)
Now I'm hearing something familiar! From the late 70s to the early 90s I only used the top heads (apart from snare, obviously). Gaffa tape and cloth strips for muffling. Not a single engineer ever suggested that I pull off the dampening and open up the drum sounds. I guess it would just add to their workload and they considered dead, "blank slate" drums adequate..

If a band plays loud rock and a young drummer's struggling to get their sound and tuning the way they want (issues with money, talent or patience) they can do worse than taking the cardboard box approach as a safe, if uninspired, fallback to cover until they can improve their gear and/or tuning.
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
If a band plays loud rock and a young drummer's struggling to get their sound and tuning the way they want (issues with money, talent or patience) they can do worse than taking the cardboard box approach as a safe, if uninspired, fallback to cover until they can improve their gear and/or tuning.

I guess a cardboard box could still be considered a MUSICAL instrument if used appropriately :p
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I guess a cardboard box could still be considered a MUSICAL instrument if used appropriately :p
I know. It's only rock n' roll. But I like it.

:)

In Elvis Presley's case, a suitcase would do. And did it well ;)

Name that tune!
I tried Googling but mostly results were about large cardboard Elvis cutouts ... as one would.

Then came across an interesting site talking about mundane objects used in recording: http://www.drummagazine.com/plugged-in/post/prepared-percussion-recording-tricks/P3/
 
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