30 Hi-hat questions about recording drums

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Brace yourself

30.  What has a brighter sounding attack, wooden sticks or nylon sticks?


29. What techniques are used for muffling and dampening drum tone?

dampening with duct tape, with facial tissue, cloth strip under the head, dampening with a wallet, head ring

28. What do you use to dampen the Kick Drum?

a duck down pillow with a brick or mike stand to keep it in place.  The pillow should not touch the head ( = greater the dampening)

27. What mounting hardware is preferred for toms?

any mounting system that lets the drum float with no screwed-in hardware prepares the drum to sing

26. Why should you avoid mounting anything on the kick drum?

the more freedom any drum has from contact with another solid object, the better it will sound

25. What is the most essential of the microphones to use for the drum?

Condensers are the mic of choice for percussion as they respond to transients more accurately (tambourine, shaker, cymbals).  Good to have a condenser mic for over the drums set and for cymbals

24. What microphone is preferred for close-miking toms, snare and kick?

moving coil mike (Shure SM57, Sennheiser 421, Electro-Voice RE20)

23. Why?

they can withstand intense amounts of volume before distorting

22. How do you find the drum tone?

to hear tone (head ringing) place mike near rim.  When the stick hits near the rim the sound has more tone

21. Where is the attack?

to hear attack place mic near the centre of the head.  When the stick hits near the centre the sound has more attack

20. When would you record at analog levels over 0VU?

a drum (usually kick and toms) recorded hot (+2 to +5VU) won’t usually produce a buzzing distortion

19. What is the point of oversaturation?

when the analog tape reaches the point where it can’t handle any more magnetism it will usually give the drum a compressed sound

18. What is the first thing you do to get a good sound from a snare drum?

make sure the heads are in good shape.  If the top snare head has been stretched and dented to the point that the centre is sagging when the rest of the head is tight – replace the head

17. Why use a Hi-hat mic?

a separate track for the hat adds definition and provides pan control in the mix

16. Why not mike the the Hi-hats at the edge of the cymbals?

Miking at the edge of the cymbals produces a thick “gong” sound.  Also, the air coming from the cymbals closing can cause a loud popping sound as it hits the mic diaghragm

15. Where is the best place to locate the mic on the Hi-hats?

at the bell of the top cymbal (clean sound with highs).  Microphone should be a min of 3 inches from cymbal to minimize change in phase interaction between the cymbal and the mic capsule

14. Where do you aim the mic?

mic is pointed at the bell of the top cymbal, and if you point the back at a cymbal close by,  you can (using the cardoid pick-up pattern) minimize the amount of crash that is recorded by the Hi-hat mic

13. What does a drummer need to monitor the rest of the band?

a good, well balanced headphones mix.  Be sure the bass player and the drummer can hear the attach of the kick, snare and hi-hat.  Don’t make them guess where the beat is

12. What are baffles?

small, freestanding partitions with either two soft sides or one soft side and one hard reflective side.  Usually four feet square and 4 to 8 inches thick

11. Whats the biggest problem with using click tracks?

leakage of the click from the headphones into the drum microphones

10. What are the effects of compression on drum tracks?

it evens out the volume of each hit (level control) and it keeps the level even so that a weak hit doesn’t detract from the groove

9. How do you pan the drums to create a live band sound?

kick and snare are almost always panned centre since they are the foundation of the mix.  Low frequency of the kick needs to be dispersed evenly between the left-right spectrum and the constant repetition of the snare is asking to be in the centre.  A snare, panned to one side or other pulls the listener to that side and does not feel balanced

overheads are often panned hard left and right, though toms sound unnatural this way

8. What are the most difficult frequencies to dial in?

the lows.  When the same low frequency is boosted on several instruments, energy accumulates and the mix level becomes artificially hot (meter says hot but the mix sounds cold)

7. What does a low-frequency boost achieve on a typical kick drum EQ?

a low frequency  boost between 75 amd 150Hz adds a low, powerful thump to the kick drum sound

6. What does a mid-frequency cut achieve on a typical kick drum EQ?

a mid-frequency cut between 250 and 500Hz helps clean up the thick, cloudy sound of a close-miked kick

5. What does a high frequency boost achieve on a typical kick drum EQ?

a high-frequency boost between 3 and 5 kHz adds definition, attach and impact to the kick drum sound

4. How do you distinguish the “jazz” sound?

the kick is not dampened

3. What is an overhead?

when the mic is placed over the drums and pointed down at the set

2. What are the two primary options if you are using two microphones?

1. use both mics together in a stereo configuration

2. use one mic for overall pickup and the other for a specific instrument

1. How do you get a punchy drum sound?

Close miking technique:  each drum will typically have its own mic…plus two overheads on separate tracks

Ta daaaa!

Great article from Drum Magazine...thanks Dave for the link: 

Hey,thanks for this link too AND FOR THE REMINDER


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