How would YOU process these OH mics?

How would YOU process these OH mics?
0

#1

I’ve been working on a mix with tracks kindly provided by David Glenn over at The Mix academy.

This snippet is from the Drum OH track. As I was working on it, I kept wondering how some of you guys would approach “fixing” this, and rather than simply ask, I thought maybe a thread with examples (and tips!) might be really worthwhile - IF you are willing to participate that is.

Here is a 40 second snippet of the unprocessed track. It is a stereo track of the drum overheads. It is 90 BPM.

(Sorry, the forum won’t let me upload a .WAV file. PM me if you want it and I’ll send it along t you…)

My quick “unprofessional” observations: the stereo image is the “audience” perspective, i.e. HH on right. It’s easy enough to just flip it. But, for me, I think the real problem is that the snare is off to the right side and not centered in the stereo field. Otherwise, it sounds pretty darn good to me.

So…

  1. What are the problems you hear?
  2. What steps would you take to “fix” this track?
  3. What plugins/processes did you use?
  4. How do you use OH drum tracks? Do you use OH as your main drum sound, then fill it out with the close miked drums? Or vice versa?

I’ll post mine when I’m done.


Drum Tracks For Practice
#2

I’d love to take a look at that track. Its sounds like it was recorded in a pretty decent environment.

There’s no cut and dry answer for this because you always mix overheads in the context of the rest of the kit. So the first question is what is going on with the kick and the snare, and are there room mics? Those 3 questions change everything.

If I took that drum beat and placed a retro funk Stevie Wonder-ish clav over it, you’re gonna process them more raw and gritty. If you combine it with heavy layers of radio pop electronic samples and make it sound like Panic At The Disco, you’re gonna do completely the opposite to it it.

Now just for my own amusement, if I wanted to make that thing sound interesting as a lone wolf pair of overheads, I’d probably toss a UAD helios on it and distort the hell out of the midrange. I would possibly reach for the Waves RS56 EQ and push mids just to see what it did (because I just bought the plugin and I want to experiment with it). I’ve been really liking the Massive Passive too on overheads lately. I’d probably screw with it for a little while just to see what it does.


#3

Thanks for the reply Jonathan!

Kick and snare both have 2 mics. I guess I was really looking for is advice on general OH mic mixing, just to keep things “simple”.

So - generally - do you mix the OH to get your main drum sound first THEN add the close mics to beef things up? I’ve been using them for cymbals and ambience, like for the snare pop.

Would you try to center the kick/snare in the stereo field here?


#4

Here’s my go at it. First I used MAutoAlign to tighten things up, then Studio One’s Binaural Pan to move the snare to the center, followed by Boz’s Big Clipper to shave some peaks, then Mongoose to monoize everything under about 400 Hz and spread the upper frequencies to 154%, checked image with Ozone’s Imager and finally just flipped the L/R channels. No fancy EQing or anything…

< removed audio 'cause it blows - will try again! >


#5

Just talking generally, I don’t really do much to the overheads to begin with unless there’s something obvious I want to fix. I usually thin them out a little around 4-500hz, but that’s because the mics I use most often for overheads are quite strong there so that’s not some automatic rule.

Once I’ve spent a bit of time on the room, kick and snare close mics, grouped the drum tracks and done some bus processing like compression, tape saturation etc and the rest of the mix is falling into place, I find it easier to work out what to do with the OH tracks because they’ve got context.


#6

There’s that word again - “context”. Point taken, they are a part of the larger picture and to be handled WITH the rest of the kit.

I usually work on the kick and snare and put them in the middle. When I got to this OH track, I noticed the panning was not the same. Should I try to match the OH panning or attempt to make the OH similar to what I’ve got – OR – just minimize the differences? (i.e. attempt to fix the panning as was my first inclination or EQ out the kick and snare’s main frequencies…)


#7

Drums are really all about context, and its pretty impossible to know what you would do without the musical context.

That said, I created some context by triggering some fairly raw samples from the OH tracks and mixing the OH to them. Here’s what my OH sounded like:

…& here’s the processing chain: a little nudging of the left vs right channels in time, some reductive eq followed by some boosting and a tad of compression. I narrowed the overheads as well and left them panned audience perspective (because we all know that is the correct way to pan them :wink:):

It was also running through these processors on the whole drum buss:

…& here is how it sounded with my “artificially added” “context”: Pretty sure there are grace notes on the snare, but this’ll do for demonstration purposes:


#8

I see what you’re asking. So…I usually tune the kick and snare into a usable ‘ballpark’ by soloing them (sort of like you see CLA doing when he’s just poking around to see what’s there). And he’ll say things like ‘too dark’, ‘boring’, ‘already a lot of compression’ etc… And then I skip over the toms and immediately see what they gave me for rooms and overheads. If the rooms are all ambience verbs, then I know I have to fall back heavily on the overheads. If the overheads aren’t usable (which yours ARE usable), then I figure something else out.

But if I’m stuck with overheads because I didn’t get any room mics, then the first thing I like to do is get one working in mono. If the second overhead is necessary, then I rebalance them.

When I was in a session with Craig Bauer, the drummer was too heavy handed on his hi-hat an it buried a lot of the crashes. He didn’t have to to coach the drummer into balancing his kit dynamics better, he tried and the guy ended up sliding back to what he was doing. I asked if he’d be opposed to clip gaining every crash hit up…that’s what he ended up doing.

The point I’m making is that the decision of how to deal with the image problems is about prioritizing problems and weighing consequences. Again, real hard to determine without the mix. In general, I like to solve this by choosing one overhead and making it mono.


#9

@miked, note on that last diagram that Andrew went right-of-zero on the bombers drive control. This means that he’s elongating decay time (which means adding sustain) to the tails of snare drum tails and cymbal crashes. I like how it sounds.


#10

This fix is a lot easier than you are making it. The main issue is not timing, it’s just volume. Pan it to the left a bit and it will solve 80% of the problem. The kick will be panned slightly when you do that, but just stick mongoose on it and the problem pretty much goes away.

I added a very slight delay to the right channel as well. It’s not perfectly aligned, but it’s aligned enough to use just fine as overheads with other mics.


#11

Another trick you can do when you have stereo overheads whose alignment is so bad there’s no salvaging it is you can just convert it to mid/side instead of left/Right. You will lose your panning, but you will still get a wide stereo image, and your kick and snare won’t be panned off to one side.


#12

This is an AWESOME case study! You guys rock :beerbanger:

I’d love to see you guys come up with more of these. I’d be happy to come up with a way to group these kinds of threads as a resource for people visiting, beginners, etc.


#13

Wow. :heart_eyes: Who needs drum tracks??? Beyond impressed.

It looks like that is pretty much the consensus here. Thanks for all the info Andrew.


#14

Thanks Jonathan - great info as always.


#15

I think this is the most centered one yet. I’m a little confused though. Would the right panned snare show up in the sides? Can you do all your panning stuff first, then switch it to mid/side, or is that what you did?


#16

Haha! Look what just showed up in my in-box!


#17

Here’s another try. Basically I tried Boz’s approach: panned the snare to center, used Mongoose to mono the kick, used the Scheps 73 EQ in Mid/Side, and then did some p-comp with the API 2500. At least the kick/snare is centered which was the primary objective. Thanks for the tips everyone!


#18

I always mix overheads first, then blend in the "rooms’ to the overhead pair and subsequently fill in with the spot mics.

The overheads generally sound something like this (I let it fade back to the dull unprocessed sound a couple of times for reference).

Note the balance control is set to 45% Left on the corrected track!

Edit: The Elysia is actually a Tilt EQ not a semi parametric, before somebody asks why Im ‘adding 600 Hz’ with it. :sunglasses:


#19

Something I’ve arrived at recently is not really boosting the highs on the overheads - the overall drum buss gets a couple of dB high shelf lift, and the mix bus gets another dB or 2, but I like how smooth the cymbals can sound if instead of boosting the highs, I just cut out the stuff I want less of - the low and mid mids, maybe a little dip where the hi-hats are a bit shrill…

I’m not one of these “cutting is better than boosting” people, I have no compunction about adding insane amounts of boost if it sounds good, just something I was thinking about this morning.


#20

Thanks guys. @Cirrus - I have used a Dynamic EQ / DeEsser to tame overly raucous cymbals too. I definitely like the “bigger picture” approach to this. As has been said many times, it’ll all about context.

I think this is going to be the “rule of thumb” I start taking! Usually I try to get the close mics going and sounding “good”, then “fill in” with the OHs.

After reading through all these responses, it strikes me that the OH mics are generally where your drum “sound” comes from, and maybe those tracks should dictate the direction you mix the drum kit? After all, there are plenty of minimal mic setups that record the kit as a whole. In fact, "close mic-ing (sp?) is actually not the natural way we hear drums…