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Thread: Cymbals too loud/overpowering

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    Cymbals too loud/overpowering

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    Mixing my band's demo and I'm happy overall, except the drums have been tough for me.

    My mic selection was less than ideal, but I had to make due with what I had.

    I used the Glyn Johns mic set up, had a 58 on the snare, 58 on the kick, Audio Technica AT2020 large diaph. condenser as center overhead, and some unknown but surprisingly good sounding small diaphragm condenser for the side mic.


    My trouble is that the cymbals often feel too loud compared to the rest of the set.

    I instructed my drummer to go easy on the cymbals but apparently it wasn't enough.

    They're generally just too loud and sometimes have ear-shattering highs that muddy up the whole mix. They're certainly not clipping/distorting, but don't sound so hot.


    Is there anything I can do in post to help with this problem? I've tried some EQing of the overhead mics, but unfortunately a whole lot of the rest of the kit goes through the OH mics as well, making it sound quite dull.

    Thanks for any tips.

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    Is there any chance of re-tracking? If not, play with some compression, but go slow and easy. There's a fine line between successfully compressing overheads and making it sound like shit. You could also try rolling off just the ear-shattering highs in the overheads. Maybe like 7-8k and up. There's not much snare and tom up there in the overheads, so it may help. You just need to play with things and see what you can get away with.

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    One other thing you can do in a situation like this is make copies of the OH tracks, and then either manually get rid of everything but the tom hits, or just roll off the highs to get rid of some of the harsh cymbal high end. Then, on the "cymbal" tracks, roll off a lot of the lows, and bring the volume of those tracks down to even things out.

    In the long run, re-tracking if possible really would be the best option, and telling the drummer to REALLY lay off the cymbals. Greg's definitely right - you want to be very easy on the compression on the OH mics, too much and the cymbals will get brittle and nasty VERY quickly.

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    Fastest way is just put some electical tape on them. It makes them a little more dull but takes out the ring. Works especially well for ride cymbals that just refuse to stop ringing. Its a cheap way for a quick fix.

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    Next time, make sure that the drummer is actually taking it easy, and not just nodding his head.

    Especially if you're looking to compress.

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    Try telling him to hit the toms harder.

    This really is the drummers fault. He needs to 'mix' himself as he is playing.
    If the cymbals are louder than the drums, it's because he played them that way. Tell him to stop it.
    Jay Walsh
    Farview Recording. I am also the forum spokesmodel for Terasyne Amplification

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    Usually there will be obnoxious freqencies you can notch with very sharp eq's. That will help.

    Try a few multiband compressors to find ones that sound good (less bad?) on the highs. Then, after you tweak to find the correct mid to high corner freq you can stack two or three instances of the same plug on top of one another. With very gentle high band compression on each.

    Comp'ing 3dB three times will sound much better than comp'ing 9dB once.


    $0.02


    Now go pay for a drum lesson for your drummer. Dynamics are Drumming 101.

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    Quote Originally Posted by loudsongs View Post
    Now go pay for a drum lesson for your drummer. Dynamics are Drumming 101.
    I'd say that's unfair, it's very difficult to play one part much louder than another; it takes a lot of practice. If you're looking to record it's a necessary skill, but it's an advanced skill none the less.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elton Bear View Post
    I'd say that's unfair, it's very difficult to play one part much louder than another; it takes a lot of practice. If you're looking to record it's a necessary skill, but it's an advanced skill none the less.
    It's not an advanced skill. The drumset is one instrument and it's up to the drummer to put the emphasis where it is supposed to be.

    It would be the same as a guitar player beating the crap out of the D string while gently brushing the A and E strings. That doesn't make a lot of sense, does it?
    Jay Walsh
    Farview Recording. I am also the forum spokesmodel for Terasyne Amplification

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elton Bear View Post
    I'd say that's unfair, it's very difficult to play one part much louder than another; it takes a lot of practice. If you're looking to record it's a necessary skill, but it's an advanced skill none the less.
    That's actually one of the most basic skills ANY musician should learn.

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