Overhead mic question

RollTheBones

Junior Member
So I rearranged my kit the other day to accommodate some extra cymbals, and predictably, some things just aren't coming through in the mix; specifically, two china cymbals I have to my right. I asked a friend, and he suggested a four overhead setup, which seems unreal to me, considering I barely have the space for the two overhead stands I currently have. Right now, I have two Sennheiser E914s as a stereo pair, and I'm considering getting another mic to get a better "picture" of the kit, possibly either centered OR a room mic... but I know so very little about this. Should I try to use four frickin' overheads, or go with a third overhead that can get more of the overall kit and not just the cymbals?
 

OSDrums

Active member
It‘s unusual that chinas don‘t come through as they tend to be the loudest cymbals at all. What stereo array do you use? You could raise the chinas to a higher position or bring the mic nearer to the cymbals.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I use 3 overheads, 1 pencil condenser coming over each shoulder and the third LDC centered in front and above me.

I cannot imagine a china not cutting through, that just doesn't sound right to me. A splash I could see, but a china...I'm having a hard time imagining that, but OK. As for a room mic, if you have a nice sounding room, then yea. I don't. A room mic detracts in my space, it has a really low ceiling. I tried to make it work but I couldn't get it to sound good, so I ditched it. That's when I went to a 3rd centered overhead mic, which I like a lot now. A room mic may not detract in your space, you have to experiment.

FWIW, I learned that in my room anyway, OH mics don't sound their best when they are almost touching the ceiling. Even with my low ceiling, I had to lower my overheads 2 feet below my 6 foot 10 inch ceiling to get an acceptable sound.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Dude how big is your setup? A pic might be a bit more helpful.

You're gonna hate me, I only do a 4 piece setup with minimal cymbal set up. The Glyn Johns technique really works well for me I use x2 AKG C1000S and a D6. It really lets the drums breathe. Not sure if it would work for a big setup though
 

lsits

Gold Member
dI would check your mic placement. Google "overhead mic placement" and try different setups and see which one works best for you. Lots of different options available: X-Y, ORTF, Spaced Pair, Glyn Johns, and Recorderman to name just a few.
 

jdavis

Member
dI would check your mic placement. Google "overhead mic placement" and try different setups and see which one works best for you. Lots of different options available: X-Y, ORTF, Spaced Pair, Glyn Johns, and Recorderman to name just a few.
Ah, ORTF - probably one of my favs for drums! (y)
 

Quai34

Junior Member
I've never used 4 OH, it's really weird as a proposal.... A good OH placement is to pick up all the drum kit as an ensemble, not necessary as Mics for cymbals only, so, put the Mics closer to the cymbals, more to the front, then you will have more cymbals than toms, get the same distance from the middle Center of your kit (a line between the middle of the snare and the top middle of the drum, then find the middle of it and measure it form this point...) to positioning your two OH which means that the left Mic should be higher than the right one because the right one is a little bit further from this Center.... Adjust it so you pick up everything almost equal and balanced.... Then add any mic to emphase the toms, snare etc... And pan the different Mics with the same stereo image that the one you get in your OH... Then you migh have less phase cancelation that might be the issue with your China .... Bleeding in all the other Mics and being cancelled...
I would spend time in that before adding any extra mic for Just one cymbal...
Also, I learnt a lot on Gearsltz, there is really pro engineers on that Forum so, they really know what they are talking about...
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Is this for recording or is this in a live situation?

If for recording only, then go ahead and stick a mic on the cymbals you can't hear or you think aren't cutting through and see if that makes a difference.

But I've read about an interesting theory a couple of weeks ago that created a bit of heated discussion: in a live situation - try going without overheads. The theory is that cymbals really fall into the vocal range of frequencies, and therefore, in a live situation, the soundman (if he's good) will either not use them at all, or have them very low in the mix because they're already bleeding into the other microphones on stage. What actually happens is because you have overheads, you're just raising the noise floor and everybody else is turning up to compensate for all this extra ambient noise created by the drum overheads.

20 years ago when I became a pro sound guy at the happiest place on earth, I was actually mixing small bands with no overheads on the drums, and as an overall band sound, it sounded good. The musicians weren't playing louder than they had to and there was a nice controlled sound in the house. When I suggest not using overheads, it starts a heated discussion because the drummers always think they should be the ones who can control their own sound. But from a sound guy perspective, the drummer is in no position to control their own sound because they're not in the house to hear what's going on. Makes sense to me.
 

OSDrums

Active member
Cymbal bleed into the vocal mics can be a big issue especially on smaller stages. Whoever tried to mix a multitrack live recording probably knows about the problem that the bleed - while being quite loud - does sound very crappy and also has a delay from the speed of sound. It even gets worse with dynamics and room fx. On the other hand it annoys me if I hear bands playing from bigger stages and you simply hear nothing from the HiHat, even though it has a separate mic. Only kick and snare... Always makes me thinking about how the missing Hihat changes the perception of my grooves when gigging!?

Back to the not heard China: one thing I realised on my China is that they tend to form a beam of sound due to the shape and the upside down mounting. This can lead to too high levels in overheads depending on the positioning. You could also use this to adjust the level in the overheads - tilt the cymbal in a way the „beam“ hits the mic and you’re done.
 

RollTheBones

Junior Member
Dude how big is your setup? A pic might be a bit more helpful.
I couldn't find a decent overhead pic, so I just used a screengrab of a cover I did. My issue is, if I move my right overhead to be closer to the chinas, I won't get much of the two crashes to the right. drums.JPG


I use 3 overheads, 1 pencil condenser coming over each shoulder and the third LDC centered in front and above me.

Could you possibly share a picture of this? Why the one in the center?
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Could you possibly share a picture of this? Why the one in the center?
While I'd consider a room mic as a center, the only reasons that I can think of for local centers would be...

A really (really, really) big/wide kit and/or a really low ceiling.
When you need to deliver a multichannel or positional audio recording (5.1/7.1/Atmos/etc).
 

OSDrums

Active member
I couldn't find a decent overhead pic, so I just used a screengrab of a cover I did. My issue is, if I move my right overhead to be closer to the chinas, I won't get much of the two crashes to the right. View attachment 87235
I'd suggest to lower the distance between your mics to about 50-60 cm. Then you move the whole array to the right but angle it in from the baseline of your kit. Try to align them on the line between your China on the right and the left crash above the toms. Then move the array to the right until you get enough china. If you go right you have to angle the array from the horizontal plane to one where the left mic is higher than the right. No matter how you place your mics, the snare has to be equidistant all the time.
The one crash on the far left needs to find a new place, it will always be off where it is now. If your setup is for recording purposes you could also think about the cymbal setup as a whole: do you need every voice you got there? Are the two chinas that different that one is not enough? When recording less cymbals are sometimes more. It's not about the look, it's about the sounds on tape.
Just from the look to your pic I can think of other problems with the overall balance: does the ride come through? The splash?
Don't take this as an offense - it's just that these really big cymbal setups are not ideal for recording and often also not needed for the musical purposes. Hihat, Ride, two crashes, one China, one Splash would do the job for the recording and might give a much cleaner "picture"of your setup. Live you can bring up all you have for show purposes.
While the following video is more about cymbal selection there's also a part where he talks about cymbal count for recording sessions:
 
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cbphoto

Gold Member
Two mics, equidistant from the snare, above the center of your kit, facing the left & right perimeter of your kit.

Start at about 1:23:40 (but the entire vid is great).

 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
I know nothing about this and am trying to learn.
In the picture, isn't the left mic pointing at the right side of the kit? Wouldn't a small angle change on the left mic be a possible solution?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I couldn't find a decent overhead pic, so I just used a screengrab of a cover I did. My issue is, if I move my right overhead to be closer to the chinas, I won't get much of the two crashes to the right. View attachment 87235





Why the one in the center?
I tried to get 2 pairs of OH to work, but didn't like what I was hearing. I had them coming in from the sides, like you do. I just didn't like the sound. I tried closer, farther, angled differently, one pair instead of 2...no matter how I placed them, just didn't work for me from the side. So after a bunch of experimenting, I found that the 2 pencils slightly behind me and pointing at the kit from over my shoulders sounded exactly like my drum kit. But my cymbals weren't present enough by comparison to everything else, as the pencils were kind of far from them. So I added a 3rd OH in the form of a LDC condenser centered over my rack toms, right in front of me and 2 feet above the cymbals. Just so my cymbals were as present as everything else in the mix. I have every piece miced, (9 total drum mics, plus 3 overheads) so really the overheads are so my bronze gets represented in the mix. But of course the overheads hear everything well except the bass drum.

If you haven't experimented with different mic positioning, try them behind your shoulders. Like where your ears would be, only farther apart and slightly behind and above

My opinion is if your china is lacking in the mix, it's mic positioning. Chinas are so loud and rude. If you couldn't hear them playing....I'm guessing you can hear your china just fine while playing. If your mic isn't hearing it the way your ears do, it needs a more optimal position.

My suggestion is to experiment with different mic positions. Not from the side. TBH and with all due respect, what you are showing here...was probably the worst position I tried for OH mic placements.
 
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