Drum miking question

Nathan May

Junior Member
I have a 7 piece Pearl Export set, all mounted on a Gibraltar 3 sided "V" rack. I mic all the toms, snare, and of course the Bass drum. I only mic the snare on top at this time. I run the rack and hanging floor toms through a sub-mixer, which I run into the main board.
Here's my problem:
I tune my toms pretty low, especially the "floor" toms which are actually hanging toms. When we turn up the main board, main channel, to near "0" db something about the microphone set-up makes the skins on the 2 largest toms vibrate horribly. It sounds like low frequency feedback, but it is the heads vibrating causing it. You can move the mic head away from the drum head and the vibrating stops. Could this have to do with the phasing of the mics? I've tried different tunings and everything, and don't know what to do further. Could it be monitor placement? (Monitor too close to drum and or mic?) I hope someone can shed some light on this, as I'm all out of ideas and this is a bummer that we can't push the system a little just because of the drum set miking.
Any help greatly appreciated!
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
It sounds as if you should move the mics away from the drums, then. Make sure to do it on all of the toms to achieve a consistent sound. Is there a specific sound you're going for?
 

ermghoti

Silver Member
It's feedback. You're running the sound loud enough to cause the loose heads to vibrate enough for the mic to pick, and send signal to the PA to get amplified into the room etc forever. Turn down the input gain on the floor tom channels. You only need enough gain to get the meter to flash to "0."
 

Nathan May

Junior Member
Thanks for the replies guys!

One thing I left out of the original post: All mics are of decent quality. I mic with all Audix mics. I use the D6 in the Bass drum, and their F series (F10, F12) on all the toms. For overheads I have the F15's

I am absolutely positive that the issue is not low frequency feedback. I CAN put enough dampening on the toms to stop the vibrating of the heads, but I like my toms to ring and prefer no muffling at all. To my ear, any muffling ruins the sound of my kit.

I've already toyed with every possible setting of the input gains and slider positions to try to alleviate the problem, but with no success. I cannot get the meter NEAR "0" without this happening. I am forced to run the board at around -10 to keep the vibration from being unbearable.
This vibration is horrible, and will just keep getting louder and louder until I reach over and touch the drumhead, which will then make the vibrating and subsequent noise abruptly stop. Then as soon as I take my finger off the drumhead it will start vibrating again. You can visibly SEE the head begin to vibrate, so it's not just something you can hear. This will happen even when there is dead silence in the room with no possibility of sympathetic vibrations. If I take the mics away from the drums, the heads will not vibrate, and my sound system will be nearly silent, with no feedback whatsoever. Put the mic back over the drumhead and viola, here comes the vibration and the noise it produces.

I should also note that I tune all my drums with a drum dial tuner, and tune the bottom heads just a touch lower than the top heads or near even.

Thanks guys! Hope this helps shed more light on the problem!
 

That Guy

Platinum Member
This might not be the way you wanna go, but since your micing and mixing.. you might wanna try some type of minimal muffling on the reso head of the toms your having a problem with. I know that probably isn't the way you wanna go, but you might just give is a shot for giggles.
 

dwsabianguy

Senior Member
Honestly, I wouldn't even put your drums through your monitors. They're right there, and if you can't hear them, the monitors are too loud.

Other than that, move the mics away from the drums. It sounds like your mics are stupidly close the drums, and I've found that I get a more natural sound with the mic about four inches from the head, directly above the hoop, look halfway between the middle and edge of the top head. I use SM57s on my toms, and it's a very full sound.

And if there's a sound that doesn't stop, and gets louder, that's feedback. That's pretty much the definition of feedback. Something is making the drum vibrate, the microphone is picking it up and putting it through the system, amplifying the signal and making the drum vibrate worse. And since the mic is so close (just an inference), it's only picking up sound from the drum, and that's the only place where the feedback can get back into the system. Your drum could also be tuned at the natural frequency of the room or space, and you're getting sympathetic vibrations from the room. Try tuning it higher and see if that stops the feedback.
 
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caddywumpus

Platinum Member
I didn't even know it was possible to milk a drum.
Have you seen the DW cow wrap? It's discontinued, but for a while I saw a few kits with cow finish running around. I milked one, and the milk was very resonant and tasted like C#.

I'm going to the Serengeti next week for a safari. Maybe I'll see that elusive giraffe kit...
 

Vipercussionist

Silver Member
Have you seen the DW cow wrap? It's discontinued, but for a while I saw a few kits with cow finish running around. I milked one, and the milk was very resonant and tasted like C#.

I'm going to the Serengeti next week for a safari. Maybe I'll see that elusive giraffe kit...
UGGGGHHH!!! I HATE giraffe kits! The power toms are so long I can't set up correctly.
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__________________
Most respect the badge, but all fear the drum.
 

Vipercussionist

Silver Member
. . . Back to reality . . . .

If you're getting that rumbling feedback from your monitors, just turn down the low end on the monitor EQ.

You really don't NEED to have a drum monitor DO YOU?? The drums are usually loud enough all by themselves.
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__________________
Most respect the badge, but all fear the drum.
 

timmdrum

Silver Member
I am absolutely positive that the issue is not low frequency feedback. I CAN put enough dampening on the toms to stop the vibrating of the heads, but I like my toms to ring and prefer no muffling at all. To my ear, any muffling ruins the sound of my kit.

I've already toyed with every possible setting of the input gains and slider positions to try to alleviate the problem, but with no success. I cannot get the meter NEAR "0" without this happening. I am forced to run the board at around -10 to keep the vibration from being unbearable.
This vibration is horrible, and will just keep getting louder and louder until I reach over and touch the drumhead, which will then make the vibrating and subsequent noise abruptly stop. Then as soon as I take my finger off the drumhead it will start vibrating again. You can visibly SEE the head begin to vibrate, so it's not just something you can hear. This will happen even when there is dead silence in the room with no possibility of sympathetic vibrations. If I take the mics away from the drums, the heads will not vibrate, and my sound system will be nearly silent, with no feedback whatsoever. Put the mic back over the drumhead and viola, here comes the vibration and the noise it produces.
I'm a drummer who also does a good bit of soundtech work. Neither the mere presence of a microphone, nor its proximity to the drumhead, will make it vibrate, nor increase/decrease an existing amount of vibration. Microphones only hear sound from a source, they do not initiate it. The only way a mic will make a drumhead vibrate is if you use the mic to strike the drum! Either something else is making your drumheads constantly vibrate, or you're getting feedback, or both. If you see the drumhead begin to vibrate without striking it, there's some other outside cause- it's sympathetic vibration from some other sound, or physical, like from up through the floor due to footsteps, etc, or even just moving air (well, sound IS moving air, but you know what I mean), in the room. If the volume of the rumble steadily gets louder when the drums themselves don't, then it's low frequency feedback, which of course stops when you either eliminate the initial source of the signal (the vibration) or reduce the gain in the signal path. Likewise, increasing the mics' distance from the drums won't stop the head vibration, but it will lessen the likelihood that feedback will start because it's less sensitive to the sound source. The reason dampening the drums stops the rumble is because they simply aren't vibrating as much, which decreases the likelihood of the rumble turning into feedback.

When I first started micing my kit, I thought either my bass drum or the (admittedly cheap) mic just sounded like crap because i got a terrible low-to-midrange after-ring from every bass drum note, but it turned out it was because I had the gain on the tom mics too high. I lowered those, and the obnoxious noise stopped and everything sounded normal. From your description, it's the same problem I had except that it's from the drumheads vibrating from some other initiation than the bass drum, but I assure you the microphones are not causing your drums to vibrate. They simply don't expel any energy.

Plus, if your drumheads are THAT wobbly, you're probably tuning them too low for their size anyway- either tune them up just a bit so that the heads are a little more taught, but then if the note is too high for your taste, then get bigger drums so that the proper amt. of tension still gives you the note you want.

Lastly, it may be that the size of the room you're in when you have the problem dictates that you don't need such an output level. Feedback is caused by a sound from a speaker re-entering the source of the electronic signal, i.e. the mics, so the sound of the toms from the mains and/or monitors is making its way back to the mic. Small and/or reflective room = feedback issues when the volume is too high.

edit: oh yeah, having certain frequencies too high on the PA's EQ will increase the likelihood of feedback too, but it doesn't sound like that's your problem. Just in case, make sure the EQ is flat during the line check. Don't boost anything until everything is ok.
 
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