Distorted Floor Tom Sound When Recording

Galadrm

Senior Member
Hi everyone,

I do some home recording stuff for myself and my band and have been doing it for some time now. My set up is drum mics --> saffire pro 40 interface --> macbook pro with logic.

There is one problem I am having at the moment that never used to be a problem but has popped up recently. When I record, the floor tom has this extremely distorted sound, so much that I have used apptrigga to completely replace the floor tom sound, which is no biggie, I'm only doing non-proffessional recordings. But I would like to know what the cause of the problem is and eventually stop it from happening. I am nearly 100% positive that it is not the mics, cables or interface. I have switched channel inputs, used different mics and cables, and it only occurs with my floor tom.

Is it possible that the floor tom is the source of this problem and that it creates low frequencies, causing the sound to be distorted? The tom sound fine to my ear, and although I'm not a tuning virtuoso, I'm not a complete noob either. Has anyone had problems like this one before and do they know the cause?

Thanks!
 

TNA

Senior Member
Definitely a gear problem, not a drum problem. Even if your drums sound awful it wouldn't distort the sound. My first guess might be clipping, but I would assume you would check your levels before recording. How are you 100% sure its not the mics cables or interface? Things don't distort for no reason, if you've tried different mics and cables that you know are good, then maybe it's the channel on your interface? Have you tried moving it to a different channel?
 

Galadrm

Senior Member
Thanks for the reply mate,

Yeah I have tried different channels, mics, cables, settings, mic adjustment.
I will have a play with it once again next time I get the chance, but I'm still quite sure that it is not the equipment. Yeah I make sure it doesnt clip too, but even if there was some slight clipping, the amount of distortion in the sound would easily be detected by the clip meter/level.

I am still bewildered. Any other thoughts?
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
So you said this "just" started? You've recorded it before with no issues with the exact same setup? What mic are you using on the FT?
 

mrmike

Silver Member
I would try moving the mic back a bit. I have notice the same thing happens if you put a mic to close to the beater when recording a bass drum.
 

TNA

Senior Member
Thanks for the reply mate,

Yeah I have tried different channels, mics, cables, settings, mic adjustment.
I will have a play with it once again next time I get the chance, but I'm still quite sure that it is not the equipment. Yeah I make sure it doesnt clip too, but even if there was some slight clipping, the amount of distortion in the sound would easily be detected by the clip meter/level.

I am still bewildered. Any other thoughts?
Well it has to be something. Double check all your gear first. What type of mic are you using and how are you mounting it? The mic can get overloaded and distort even if it doesn't show that it is clipping. Do you have a sample of the floor tom I can hear and maybe I can help diagnose your problem better.
 

Galadrm

Senior Member
I think I might have to agree with mrmike's suggestion. I am using a rather crappy mic, and so it may not have the greatest sound tolerance levels. I think moving the mic away might help with my problem. Its good to see that someone else has experienced a similar problem, because I was quite certain it wasnt my gear.

I will be upgrading to some sennheiser e604's in the near future, I will be looking forward to see the difference in recording quality and see if the same problem occurs with them on my floor tom.

Thanks for the help guys!
 

Galadrm

Senior Member
I have found a bit from one of my recordings. The floor tom is unprocessed.

Let us know what you think, cheers.
 

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konaboy

Pioneer Member
I think I might have to agree with mrmike's suggestion. I am using a rather crappy mic, and so it may not have the greatest sound tolerance levels. I think moving the mic away might help with my problem. Its good to see that someone else has experienced a similar problem, because I was quite certain it wasnt my gear.

I will be upgrading to some sennheiser e604's in the near future, I will be looking forward to see the difference in recording quality and see if the same problem occurs with them on my floor tom.

Thanks for the help guys!
If it's your mic isn't that part of "your gear"?

I'd be looking at a different mic than the 604 for your FT, something that's designed more for the low end like the Sennheiser 602 the Audix D4 or one from other manufacturers that are escaping my mind right now. The 604 would be good for your rack toms.
 

TNA

Senior Member
I have found a bit from one of my recordings. The floor tom is unprocessed.

Let us know what you think, cheers.
I don't hear any distortion. That's just the natural sound your shells make. Maybe tune your drum up a bit and see if that gives you more of the sound you want. How are you at mixing? That doesn't sound like anything a little eq can't fix.
 

Galadrm

Senior Member
thanks for the info konaboy!

i guess it is my equipment, but its more about mic placement. I'm sure if I had a better quality mic, this problem would not occur at all, but I dont think it is a faulty mic, just a low quality mic, which cant handle the low end of the floor tom.

I will try out a couple of things next time I have the chance and post back with my solution.Thanks everyone for your contribution!
 

Galadrm

Senior Member
I don't hear any distortion.
It may not be distortion exactly, but it is something in the low end of the drum that the mic cant handle. I have tried to eq it out without success. Are you sure you cant hear the rumble? It doesn't sound natural at all to my ears and personally i dont like the sound at all and will not tolerate it in my mix. I might give the tuning a go, if I tune it up, the low frequencies that are affecting the mic might be removed/lowered.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
Why isn't the level on that microphone mixed down to where it belongs? In my humble opinion, it sticks out like a sore thumb. You're just on the edge of serious clipping.

Dennis
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Think of a microphone as a little drum head...with the same resonant issues as your set...just a different range of frequencies that it is sensitive to.

Can get some amazing recordings out of the cheapest mics...if you bow to their limitations...or better yet...embrace them.
 

TNA

Senior Member
thanks for the info konaboy!

i guess it is my equipment, but its more about mic placement. I'm sure if I had a better quality mic, this problem would not occur at all, but I dont think it is a faulty mic, just a low quality mic, which cant handle the low end of the floor tom.

I will try out a couple of things next time I have the chance and post back with my solution.Thanks everyone for your contribution!
It's not the mics fault. More expensive mics don't handle higher SPL any better than cheap mics. How is it mounted? Is it on a stand or just clamped to the rim? It could very well be the drum vibrating when you hit it and that is getting picked up on the mic. Like I said I didn't hear much distortion. And low frequencies wouldn't cause a mic to distort, especially not a drum mic. I use an sm57 on my floor tom and it handles just fine. Tune your drum, work on mic placement, and work on eq would be my advice. Honestly I didn't think it sounded too bad at all. Unless you are looking for some professional quality, I hate to say it but that's probably about ad good as it's gonna get at this point. If you'd like I can mix your song for you and see if you are as put off by the sound after it is mixed in with everything else. I'm not too experienced, but I can do a decent mix and I have been getting compliments on the songs I recorded recently.
 

Galadrm

Senior Member
Thanks for the reply TNA,

I will definitely play around with mic placement and tuning. I have the mic attached to the drum rim, and it is possible that it is a drum shell vibration that the mic is picking up. The mic right now is placed about two inches or so above the head pointed at the middle. I will try placing it a bit higher and maybe towards the edge so it picks up less attack.

Thanks for the offer of mixing the track, but I know it can take a while to make a mix and I wouldnt want to waste your time. I am more interested in fixing the source of the sound rather than post recording effects and mixing. I am looking forward to having a play with it the next chance I get and am eager to try some of the suggestions people have submitted. Thanks all!
 

NerfLad

Silver Member
I am more interested in fixing the source of the sound rather than post recording effects and mixing.
And THAT is what we call good engineering folks!

Galadrm, I don't think it's an outboard gear issue. Usually when this kind of question comes up I expect to hear a very poorly gain-staged recording, but that isn't it (you know what you're doing... good).

It sounded like you were getting a little bit of warble because of an undesirable relationship between the tuning of the batter and reso heads. They can be in tune with themselves and still not be entirely in phase with each other Close mic'ing makes this all the more apparent. Whether you tune to the same note or different notes, there needs to be a musical interval between the heads (I usually go for a unison or a fourth).

Just my two cents. I might be completely wrong. Hopefully this helps
 
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Galadrm

Senior Member
It sounded like you were getting a little bit of warble because of an undesirable relationship between the tuning of the batter and reso heads. They can be in tune with themselves and still not be entirely in phase with each other Close mic'ing makes this all the more apparent. Whether you tune to the same note or different notes, there needs to be a musical interval between the heads (I usually go for a unison or a fourth).
Yeah that makes a fair bit of sense actually, cheers nerflad.
I will have a go at some different tuning methods and maybe even buy a new bottom head for my tom, it has a pinstripe on the top and equivalent of a diplomat on the bottom (stock head) so I'm sure changing that to an ambassador would change things. Thankyou for your valuable info. I wasnt sure that a problem like this could actually originate from the drum/tuning methods, but it is good to know someone is backing up my first thoughts. Cheers!
 

Galadrm

Senior Member
Well after a fair bit of messing around and taking up all your suggestions (thankyou for all your contribution) I finally found the source of the problem. I believe TNA had the closest idea, which was the vibration of the floor tom and the the sound of the skins which were interfering with each other when I had the mic placed on the drum hoop via a little mount. I picked up a short length mic stand and placed the mic on that, and there was no problem at all!

I am very happy and have got quite a nice sound from my drums. I never realised that the vibrations of the drum shell and the actual sound produced could interfere to create such an annoying problem. Anyway I hope this thread is useful to anyone who has the same problem: Mount your mic on a stand!

Check out my little recording! I would like to know what you guys think :)
 

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