Single Overhead for live playing

fess

Senior Member
Sorry, I know this has been beaten to death, but it'd still not clear to me.

What would be a good suggestion for live gigging in small to medium venues for a single overhead mic. I would be using it in conjunction with a kick mic.
I'm looking to get away as cheaply as possible but with decent sound.
It will plug directly into the bands PA.
Thanks
 

DrumDoug

Senior Member
I've been struggling with this for a while. The problem I have is that on a small stage, the single overhead picks up as much of the guitars and vocals as it does the drums. It makes it impossible to mix out front. Ive given up and only mic the kick in small to medium rooms. On larger stages sound is usually provided and I just let the sound guys do what they want. I know some guys mic the kick and snare, but that makes the fills sound funny when the toms disappear as the drummer goes around the kit.
 

Vintage Old School

Gold Member
I know this isn't the answer you likely want to hear but the Audio-Technica AT5045 does a really nice job as a single overhead mic.

My perspective on its cost is to take into consideration how many microphones you don't have to buy--including cables--and how
many channels you're leaving open on the board.

To give you an idea of the AT5045 here's a video of Mike Johnson: AT5045 overhead at 00:00--00:36 (unprocessed) and
03:32--03:44 (processed). He's using two AT5045's in these segments, one on kick and one as an overhead, but you get
the gist. Remainder of the video covers other Audio-Technica options.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUx5Toi2VyU
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
When you drop to a 1 or 2 mic setup placement is HUGE. In a small venue I find Cymbals are usually more than enough without an overhead so you can get away putting it more above and behind you to pick up more of the toms/snare. with a kick. On a real small stage you are going to have issues with guitar,bass, and mixing that stuff out.

The fills may sound a bit quieter on the toms, but most of the playing is using the kick and snare... You could try a 3 mic set up and have 1 over head with that.

Mike gets some amazing sounds using 1 or 2 mics, but his placement is perfect, and his drums are tuned very well. When you have 1 overhead you have to be very conscious of your playing too. You can't smash your snare drum with rim shots and baby your floor tom or it won't sound balanced, IEM's would help for this but YOU control the volumes of each drum when you have this setup.
 

denisri

Silver Member
I have used a Shure KSM27 as overhead, with kick and snare mic's. 3 mic's. For meduim size rooms and PA systems with limited channels available for my drums.
Denis
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Rode M3 or NT3 makes an excellent all-round overhead. Much better 'distant' sound than a 57, which sounds best at 2-4 inches.

M3 and NT3 can run on a 9V battery or Phantom Power as low as 12V, so they can be used with Yamaha emx bricks that only supply 15V, or when there's no phantom power available at all.

Lately we've been placing a single NT3 behind the drummer with the mic up above my right shoulder, pointing down at the snare. This prevents us picking up too much cymbal.
 

hawksmoor

Senior Member
I listened to a couple of promo videos of a festival gig and a club venue gig our band played recently. The bass drum is prominent but I can barely hear the snare at all. One song is played entirely cross stick, and it sounds like I'm not even playing. Shame as they sounded good on stage, too, and were supposedly properly miked up by sound engineers.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Here's another option - Rode NGT 2 shotgun mic. Vary the height to mix in more or less cymbals to blend with the snare and toms.

Its a bit hard to see, its in front of the window, above my floor tom.
 

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Morrisman

Platinum Member
Here's another example with a Rode NT3. (Not my kit though.)

This position with a hypercardioid mic reduces pickup of amps and foldback wedges too.
 

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alparrott

Platinum Member
Here's a counterintuitive idea - a boundary microphone. I have an older Shure boundary mic that resembles a Beta 91A. Instead of putting it inside my kick, I park it just in front of the front hoop of the kick, pointed back at the front head. From there, I get a lot of kick in the mix, but it also easily picks up the snare and toms which lie well within its field (imagine an open grand piano lid's dimensions laterally and vertically). The cymbals are just audible and don't overpower the mix as is possible when using a single overhead.

I've used this trick in all sorts of settings, most recently in a large outdoor venue where two drumkits were in use, but we only had one set of mics. Since we were the openers, I didn't get the mics, but I just threw my secret weapon out front. Reports from our guys in the audience were that my drums were easily heard through that one boundary mic.

EDIT: The model of my microphone is Shure 819. Discontinued model.
 

fess

Senior Member
Thanks for the input.
I've been thinking of an AT2020 as a single overhead, but I'm concerned it will pick up too much of the other instruments.
The Audix F15 is priced very reasonably priced , but it seems most people use the pencil type mics in pairs. I just want to run one.
If I'm going to run a single overhead, am I better off with a large diaphragm like a AT2020 to get the whole kit or a small like an F15 or Sennheiser E614 to eliminate the other instruments?
Trying to stay under $200
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Thanks for the input.
I've been thinking of an AT2020 as a single overhead, but I'm concerned it will pick up too much of the other instruments.
The Audix F15 is priced very reasonably priced , but it seems most people use the pencil type mics in pairs. I just want to run one.
If I'm going to run a single overhead, am I better off with a large diaphragm like a AT2020 to get the whole kit or a small like an F15 or Sennheiser E614 to eliminate the other instruments?
Trying to stay under $200

Pencil mic is more directional, LDM captures better. If your isolated a single LDM sounds amazing. Issue with a pencil mic is you have to be very careful with placement. Point that at your ride and you'll have PING PING PING, its very hard to get it perfectly centered in a rush on stage setting up gear. Soundwaves from guitars will get in that too if the amps are facing the kit also.

I've been fighting with this my whole life, most gigs I just mic kick,snare,toms.. You could get 4 mics and a dirt cheap mixer. (if you have 2 toms) and if you don't gate the heck out of em you get a nice blend that will pick up the cymbals.. If you do gate it the cymbals will usually be audible anyways as most smaller venues don't use overheads anyways.
 

fess

Senior Member
Pencil mic is more directional, LDM captures better. If your isolated a single LDM sounds amazing. Issue with a pencil mic is you have to be very careful with placement. Point that at your ride and you'll have PING PING PING, its very hard to get it perfectly centered in a rush on stage setting up gear. Soundwaves from guitars will get in that too if the amps are facing the kit also.

I've been fighting with this my whole life, most gigs I just mic kick,snare,toms.. You could get 4 mics and a dirt cheap mixer. (if you have 2 toms) and if you don't gate the heck out of em you get a nice blend that will pick up the cymbals.. If you do gate it the cymbals will usually be audible anyways as most smaller venues don't use overheads anyways.
Thanks, I hear what you're saying. My problem is that I'm a pretty light player and I'm often pretty low in the mix. I added a kick mic and that helped. I don't really want to worry about micing everything so I was hoping to just raise my overall volume with a single overhead. I guess anything I do short of full close micing will be a compromise.
I'm tempted to buy an Audix f15, point it at the center of the kit from above and hope for the best.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I definitely recommend hypercardioid or even a shotgun mic to reduce bleed from the rest of the stage, as per the pictures I posted. The NT3 is 'medium' diaphragm 3/4" and the NGT2 is small diaphragm.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Last weekend the sound guy placed a ribbon mic over the kit - warm sound, not too much harsh cymbals. But might be too expensive.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Thanks, I hear what you're saying. My problem is that I'm a pretty light player and I'm often pretty low in the mix. I added a kick mic and that helped. I don't really want to worry about micing everything so I was hoping to just raise my overall volume with a single overhead. I guess anything I do short of full close micing will be a compromise.
I'm tempted to buy an Audix f15, point it at the center of the kit from above and hope for the best.
As long as your a CONSISTENT player you should be fine with an overhead. Nothing wrong with playing light and with some touch.

One thing you can do is ease up on the cymbals even MORE SO if they are coming threw too much and put your mic further behind you etc.

I have recorded some excellent sounds with one mic, but I was in my house, not at a gig with guitars. As long as the guitar players don't CRANK their amps you should be fine.. 2 things you can try with this setup. ONE, have them point their amps forward or away from you if they are using the amps loud or "live"... TWO. If they amps are mic'd in the PA system there is no reason they need to be loud. Let the PA do the heavy lifting and keep the sound lower on the stage.

lastly you could get one of those glass isolation things or make a few Roxul insulation sound baffles to put beside you but adding more mics would be easier.
 

ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
I picked up an Audix DP Quad kit for $300 new at GC a few years ago to carry around when I wasn't sure about the quality of mics at venues. It's normally around $600, but it was a clearance item. It came with a D6, i5, and 2 Adx51 overheads. When I go with a small mic set up I just use the D6 and one of the Adx51 under the ride pointed towards the snare, between the rack and floor.
They aren't the best, warm sounding overheads, but if you can find a pack at that price jump on it.
 
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TomR

Junior Member
Thanks, I hear what you're saying. My problem is that I'm a pretty light player and I'm often pretty low in the mix. I added a kick mic and that helped. I don't really want to worry about micing everything so I was hoping to just raise my overall volume with a single overhead. I guess anything I do short of full close micing will be a compromise.
I'm tempted to buy an Audix f15, point it at the center of the kit from above and hope for the best.
I bought a pair of the Audix F15 mics for half price (Stupid Deal of the Day). Even at the price I paid, I'm not impressed with them. Rather harsh sounding. Marginally acceptable for cymbals, but not for toms since the low frequency roll-off is too high.

Using an overhead mic or two in small to medium venues brings many challenges from a sound perspective. Cymbals usually carry on their own, and vox mics usually reinforce cymbal volume anyway. The usual recommended practice is to go with tom mics and no overheads for a better balance. Being a light player certainly makes using an overhead easier, but mic placement is still critical.

If you're certain this is the way you want to go, I recommend spending a little more for something better. Some suggestions from my sound pro peers for budget overheads: Audio Technica Pro37, AKG P170, Shure SM81, and Rode M5.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
It's a process, getting a band to sound balanced in a small room. Adding another mic is rarely the best course of action.

That said, condensers generally reproduce sound better at a distance, so probably you don't want a dynamic mic for an overhead. Small diaphragm condensers tend to be more accurate at a distance, but large diaphragm condensers tend to have more detail in the high end. For this application, sound quality may not matter too much.

A cardioid pickup pattern is fairly wide, and will pick up other sources easily. If placed close to your kit, this could work. A supercardioid or hypercardioid pickup pattern will reject off-axis sounds to a greater extent.

You say your playing is light. This is fine, of course, since drums and cymbals tend to be loud. But it begs some questions: can your bandmates (gasp!) turn down? Or can you play louder? Take some cell phone video at a gig -- who is loudest?
 
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