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Microphone Month 2

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Miking drums

byeager

We're running a Yamaha EMX5016CF powered board in my 5 piece rock band. Normally, I only mike the kick drum for the smaller venues. Usually, when we play a larger or outdoor venue a sound system and sound man are provided. However, we played a college team football peprally for a bowl game at large arena (hockey rink) yesterday with 2 Yamaha C115V's and a couple of small 15" subs. We were unable to negotiate a larger PA, and the client was convinced our small system would fill the bill. The audio guy at the arena patched a line from my board to his board, which he sent to the house speakers way up in the roof of the arena. I was expecting a nightmare, but it wasn't bad at all. My problem was that when I miked all the drums, the toms were peaking out on the board, even with minimal gain. I was able to end up with an undistorted sound out front, but the clip lights on the input strips remained. Most of the channel strips on my board that I used for the toms didn't have 26db pad switches, so I couldn't try that. In the future, should I just do like I did, and set it up so that no distortion is present out the mains, or do I need to think about getting some external pads. I already know that another board with more channels is in the future!
December 28, 2009 @12:59pm
byeager

Any suggestions.....anyone???
January 23, 2010 @01:55am
DaveMcg

What type of mics were you using on the toms? Audix D4's or a similar dynamic mic about 4 inches off the head should do the job without using a pad on the mixer. If you were using SM57's, which I've seen many do, you'll get a hi mid peak which emphasizes the attack and could be the root cause of your input clipping. The mic pre is the first gain stage. If you're clipping you cannot really fix it anywhere but at the mic.
January 23, 2010 @06:20am
Viper

I agree with Dave you cannot fix this problem anywhere but at the mic's. SM 57's are great for micing a guitar amp not good micing a drum kit. There are mic's specially designed for drum micing. I'd try some of them.
January 24, 2010 @04:22pm
michaelhoddy

SM 57's are great for micing a guitar amp not good micing a drum kit.

Really now? Can you tell me why you would say something like this, and better yet, give some evidence for why you think this? I might agree with the statement that there are BETTER mics for drum miking, but a 57 can be an adequate, usable mic just about anywhere on the kit. They are certainly better is just about every application than the cheap drum mic packages many people working on this level use for this sort of thing.
You also had better tell just about every professional engineer who uses 57's on the snare drum- most of us have at some point or do.
Back to the original poster- your issue is certainly the mic preamps on the Yamaha EMX mixer- any mixer designed without pad switches or a REALLY robust amount of headroom is not really cut out for serious drum miking, so that's your problem. Specifically, whatever you're using on the toms is probably outputting a hotter-than-normal signal, and the Yamaha can't handle it. Given the relatively low power and headroom specs on the Yamaha's amplifier section, I'd say that the designers really didn't have heavy drum miking intended as one of the applications for this mixer.
Most mixer clip lights will light at least 3 dB before the onset of actual clipping, so if you're getting clean sound out front, it's fine. You have a little more headroom than the lights would allow you to believe.
Your solutions are, of course, buying a bunch of inline pads for the mics, or trying something on the toms which is a little less hot in terms of output. Or just riding things out and trying to keep the sound clean until you can get a more suitable mixer.
As someone else already said, pulling the mics back an inch or two will cool the output gain off them down, assuming you can still get enough signal that way.
January 25, 2010 @12:49am
DAS

To add to what Michael correctly stated, it's often not the end of the world if your drum mics clip the channel on the board a little bit. Aside from the fact that many times those lights come on just before actual clipping occurs, what I am saying is that some clipping of drum mics can be good. (Emphasize "CAN" be...) When you clip the channel the distortion causes increased upper harmonics that can sound good on toms. Additionally it allows the channel to also act as a sort of limiter, which can help even things out a bit. Let your ears be the final judge.
Having noted that, when taken to extremes it isn't going to sound good so you may want to be prepared with pads next time.
January 25, 2010 @01:19pm
byeager

Thanks for all the replies! I'm not sure what mics the drummer was using on his drums, but I know they were a Samson drum micing kit, so I'm pretty sure that was most, if not all of the problem. I ended up getting a good sound out of them by adjusting the gain nearly all the way down. Next time I will try working with mic distance. We don't have to mic them often...usually, only the kick.
I would like to purchase a decent set of mics for drums. Any recommendations on a set...or should I go with individual mics? I know it depends a lot on personal taste...
January 30, 2010 @03:58pm
michaelhoddy

Everyone definitely has an opinion on drum mics, most of those opinions are different, but many work just fine as well.
The one mic I think does a great job for not a lot of money on toms is the Sennheiser E604. It's inexpensive, durable, sounds great, and I would pick it for live use over quite a few more expensive mics.
Kick, I like the Sennheiser E901, but the Shure Beta 52, Audix D6, AKG D112, and others can do a fine job depending on what you're after.
Snare, if you can't get it done with a Shure SM57, you probably aren't going to get it done, so that's a good option. I prefer the Audix i5 for live work at the same price point though.
January 30, 2010 @04:41pm
dpd

Clipping the channel strips may cause noise problems in other channels due to a phenomenon called crosstalk. This can reveal itself as very audible non-musical distortion in channels not bring driven as hard. This is typically present in poorly designed electronics where the power supply cannot adequately isolate one channel from another. I have seen and heard this first hand and it's not fun to deal with. The more channels simultaneously driven near peak levels makes it worse.
The best course of action when this happens is to keep plenty of headroom in each channel and bus so that they don't clip and manage your levels carefully throughout.
January 30, 2010 @09:37pm
Tomm Williams

Dont know your budget but this is what I use on a kit
Kick--beta52
Toms--beta98's
Floor tom--senn421
O.H.--sm81's
Snare--sm57
Hi hat--sm81
I can't claim the experience of most of the folks on here, but I have yet to find an application of a 57 that didn't work at least reasonably well. Maybe kick drum or something like that. I keep a bunch of them as "just in case" mics.
February 1, 2010 @11:34pm
scottmo

ive worked some very large venues and im a pretty big fan of one maybe two earthworks cardioid overheads for a medium venues and then for huge venues still two overheads and then any good dynamic mic on the toms snare and kick with a good eq on the board. as per cymbals usually the overheads take care of that but for some songs especially ballads i will run some super cardioid condensers on them and add some effect razzle dazzle stuff to them just all depends on the size and acoustics of the venue and the player and the songs
February 22, 2010 @03:23am
Landon

ive worked some very large venues and im a pretty big fan of one maybe two earthworks cardioid overheads for a medium venues and then for huge venues still two overheads and then any good dynamic mic on the toms snare and kick with a good eq on the board. as per cymbals usually the overheads take care of that but for some songs especially ballads i will run some super cardioid condensers on them and add some effect razzle dazzle stuff to them just all depends on the size and acoustics of the venue and the player and the songs

This^ :) Overheads are always good in addition to a good kick drum mic. Other than that, a good set of drum mics is game.
March 19, 2010 @08:46pm
shawn123

hi dear,...
its very nice and great ideas are discussed here in this posting,.,..
thanks,..
December 7, 2010 @10:57am
Krynos

kick drum
beta 52 outside (not in the hole)
best 91 on the inside.
mix lows into the 52 and highs into the 91.
December 15, 2010 @02:31am
eRoland

if you got balanced cable or damaged cables this can happen. make sure you are shielded.
January 22, 2011 @03:13am