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Drum overheads, how high?
Old 20th November 2007
  #1
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china jam's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Drum overheads, how high?

I am questioning, as the title suggests, how high you place your drum overhead mics and your reasoning behind it.

It seems everyone does it different due to the many variables but I generally find myself putting them up in the same place and wondering...why do I see others put them up so high or way close to the cymbals.
Old 20th November 2007
  #2
Here for the gear
 
J.D. Short's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by china jam ➡️
It seems everyone does it different due to the many variables but I generally find myself putting them up in the same place and wondering...why do I see others put them up so high or way close to the cymbals.
It's all about the end result, man--it's the same reason some people stereo-XY their OHs and some people just offset them.

In my opinion, it comes down to (in order of importance): how the drummer plays, how loud the cymbals are, how loud the rest of the kit is compared to the cymbals, what kind of sound is needed (brightness, etc.), and then finally actual mic placement.

For example, a cocktail kit or full kit with a jazz drummer would probably sound better with a stereo-XY setup within about 2' or 3' of the kit, whereas a rock kit with really heavy cymbals and a Mike Portnoy wannabe would work better with a good matched pair of SDCs away from the kit and each other respectively.

Also, if you're using room mic(s) too, and for some reason you can't get a good sound from the OHs, don't forget the room mic(s) could work some freqs you're missing into the mix.

But hey, sometimes I record the OHs so well I don't even need the rest of the kit's mics...maybe the kick and snare just for the attack or gating purposes. It's all in the SOUND, man!
Old 20th November 2007 | Show parent
  #3
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
90% of the time I really like to be about 18" above the drummer's head, using a variation of ORTF (in other words I may play with the angles to balance the kit and keep the snare more centered if it matters) facing INTO the kit. This generally gives me a great balance of drums and cymbals. I just do NOT like spaced pairs stuck over the cymbals...just never sounds right to me but then again I am a drummer.

So I enjoy overheads pretty close in but hearing essentially what the drummer hears.

War
Old 20th November 2007 | Show parent
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I'm still learning a bit, but my experience is as close as possible without favoring a single cymbal, and without hearing the crash tilt as it decays. I HATE THAT SOUND!

if you go to far you lose stereo image.
Old 20th November 2007 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Guru
 
NathanEldred's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I thought there were no generalizations for me for a long time, but I've measured the last 10 or so sessions I've done (not paying attention to specifics in past years, just moving mics until things sounded right) and they come in right around 22" from the highest cymbal. Much higher and things sound far too distant, much closer and the cymbals get that weird mid heavy clanky sound. It makes for a nice balance between all the cymbals together and room vs close sound. Also, I prefer spaced paired, panned 9-3 in the mix. There are sometimes deviations, but this is the general path I follow to get the results I desire.
Old 20th November 2007 | Show parent
  #6
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Benmrx's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Like anything else, it varies, but usually around 35" - 45" from the snare for a good starting point.
Old 20th November 2007 | Show parent
  #7
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Podgorny's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benmrx ➡️
Like anything else, it varies, but usually around 35" - 45" from the snare for a good starting point.

Same here.

It's almost always a spaced pair, between 38" and 44" from the top of the snare drum, depending upon cymbal placement. There's also the microphone-value/drummer-skill ratio to keep in mind.
Old 20th November 2007 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Can anybody comment on how they place the OHs (XY or spaced) so that they keep the snare in the center?? ... thx
Old 20th November 2007 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
I think using the same mics for cymbals and OH's is a very strange concept. Most of the time we record drums one of two ways: with everything miked or with 2 mics up top and a kick mic. When we mic everything separately why aren't we miking the cymbals the same way? The way I mic a drum kit is to put separate mics on kick, snare, hh, each tom, and mic the cymbals using 2 mics about 15"-18" above the cymbals. I try to position the cymbal mics so that they are used to pick up cymbals only, with lots of presence, not an overall drum sound (of course there's leakage, but there's leakage in every other mic on the kit as well). I then place a mono OVERHEAD mic centered over the kit, positioned so that it is picking up a well balanced drum kit. I place this OH as low as I can get it without upsetting the drummer. A ribbon mic works great for this. If I want a room sound I'll mic the room with a nice pair of condensors. This method seems to work really well. The mono overhead adds glue and believe it or not presence to the kit. The tight mics determine the imaging ( which we now have total control of). I always pan drums the way I see them in the room. I've been using this technique for about 15 years now. If you're curious about the way it sounds check out some of my recordings. I hope this is helpful. By the way, try reversing the phase on the kick drum, I always do this.

Have fun guys,

Joe
Old 20th November 2007 | Show parent
  #10
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Benmrx's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by obscure object ➡️
Can anybody comment on how they place the OHs (XY or spaced) so that they keep the snare in the center?? ... thx
I'll usually measure, and keep 'em both the same. I.E. both overheads are 40" from the center of the snare. I use a spaced pair way more often than X/Y. Where exactly those OH mics get placed greatly depends on the kit, the drummers style/ability and the sound I'm after. Half the time I'm just using a single OH mic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Podgorny
There's also the microphone-value/drummer-skill ratio to keep in mind.
+1
Old 20th November 2007 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Measure them from the center of the snare with drum sticks and check the angles of the capsules so they're angled the same in relation to the snare. To reduce phase try to keep them from picking up too much of the same direct signal.
How high depends on the size of the room, the size of the cymbals, types of mics and the sound you're going for.
Old 20th November 2007 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Musiclab's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Ferla ➡️
I think using the same mics for cymbals and OH's is a very strange concept. Most of the time we record drums one of two ways: with everything miked or with 2 mics up top and a kick mic. When we mic everything separately why aren't we miking the cymbals the same way? The way I mic a drum kit is to put separate mics on kick, snare, hh, each tom, and mic the cymbals using 2 mics about 15"-18" above the cymbals. I try to position the cymbal mics so that they are used to pick up cymbals only, with lots of presence, not an overall drum sound (of course there's leakage, but there's leakage in every other mic on the kit as well). I then place a mono OVERHEAD mic centered over the kit, positioned so that it is picking up a well balanced drum kit. I place this OH as low as I can get it without upsetting the drummer. A ribbon mic works great for this. If I want a room sound I'll mic the room with a nice pair of condensors. This method seems to work really well. The mono overhead adds glue and believe it or not presence to the kit. The tight mics determine the imaging ( which we now have total control of). I always pan drums the way I see them in the room. I've been using this technique for about 15 years now. If you're curious about the way it sounds check out some of my recordings. I hope this is helpful. By the way, try reversing the phase on the kick drum, I always do this.

Have fun guys,

Joe
So Joe what you're basically saying is, that it works amazing then. Cause I've heard your recordings and thats what the drums sound like to me. As a matter of fact that's
what just about everything you do sounds like . I will absolutely try this on my next drum tracking session. BTW have you seen Joe Bell?
Old 20th November 2007 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Usually 42" from center of snare with the phase flipped with a pair of 121s. If I go much lower then usually it stays +180. If I'm doing room mics then I might drop the ohs for more spot micing of the cymbals using the rooms for the kit sound.
Old 20th November 2007 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
i read somewhere (harvey gerst, maybe?) that halfway between the cymbals and the ceiling is always a good idea...that's usually what i do.
Old 13th August 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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Igotsoul4u's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Ferla ➡️
I think using the same mics for cymbals and OH's is a very strange concept. Most of the time we record drums one of two ways: with everything miked or with 2 mics up top and a kick mic. When we mic everything separately why aren't we miking the cymbals the same way? The way I mic a drum kit is to put separate mics on kick, snare, hh, each tom, and mic the cymbals using 2 mics about 15"-18" above the cymbals. I try to position the cymbal mics so that they are used to pick up cymbals only, with lots of presence, not an overall drum sound (of course there's leakage, but there's leakage in every other mic on the kit as well). I then place a mono OVERHEAD mic centered over the kit, positioned so that it is picking up a well balanced drum kit. I place this OH as low as I can get it without upsetting the drummer. A ribbon mic works great for this. If I want a room sound I'll mic the room with a nice pair of condensors. This method seems to work really well. The mono overhead adds glue and believe it or not presence to the kit. The tight mics determine the imaging ( which we now have total control of). I always pan drums the way I see them in the room. I've been using this technique for about 15 years now. If you're curious about the way it sounds check out some of my recordings. I hope this is helpful. By the way, try reversing the phase on the kick drum, I always do this.

Have fun guys,

Joe
just in case you missed it. really good stuff above by a genius of an engineer/producer/nice guy.
Old 20th July 2017 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghetto3jon ➡️
i read somewhere (harvey gerst, maybe?) that halfway between the cymbals and the ceiling is always a good idea...that's usually what i do.
Sorry to resurrect an old thread, I'm not sure I'd follow this advice... So if I recorded in a live room with super tall ceilings (like maybe 15 feet) you would really put the the OH 5 feet/1.5 meters off of the cymbals? I can't say I've tried it so I guess I can't say I know how that sounds, but I'd imagine it would not be appropriate for many cases.


I personally love overheads that are just a tiny bit higher than they "should" be to capture a totally well balanced kit. You get a little more room tone this way in your OH mics (you may or may not want this, but i dig it for rock/metal/punk stuff in a decent live room). I imagine it depends on the room a lot (and also what config you're using like xy, spaced pair, whatever), because if i'm going for that kinda sound, I always have to do it by ear anyways. It never worked very well with spaced pair for me.
Old 20th July 2017 | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by obscure object ➡️
Can anybody comment on how they place the OHs (XY or spaced) so that they keep the snare in the center?? ... thx
Finding it hard to explain but it's actually pretty simple... if you draw a line through the center of the snare and center of the kick (so say it's 120 degrees if your standing in front of the kit) use that as the middle of the kit and position your overheads from there.
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