Cymbals too loud/overpowering

zwh

New member
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.
 

Greg_L

Banned
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.
 

Russtopher

New member
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.
 

DrewUberAlles

New member
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.
 

Supercreep

Lizard People
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.
 

Farview

www.farviewrecording.com
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.
 

loudsongs

New member
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.
 

Elton Bear

Unregistered Abuser
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. :o
 

Farview

www.farviewrecording.com
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. :o
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?
 

FunkDaddy

New member
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. :o

That's actually one of the most basic skills ANY musician should learn.
 

Elton Bear

Unregistered Abuser
Hey, I respect your opinions, and I know you're more experienced than me, but I found it really hard to condition myself to take it easy on the cymbals.

I don't think it is the equivalent of a guitarist beating the crap out of just the D string, it's more like playing everything at the same level and then LEARNING to play one string louder than another, which is effectively what drummers are asked to do...
 

Grungeon

New member
If you end up re-tracking, you can try micing the toms individually. That way you can compress the kick, snare, and toms separately, and mix them much louder than the overhead.
 

Farview

www.farviewrecording.com
Hey, I respect your opinions, and I know you're more experienced than me, but I found it really hard to condition myself to take it easy on the cymbals.
It really doesn't have anything to do with taking it easy on the cymbals, it's more about hitting the drums with as much force as you are applying to the cymbals.

I don't think it is the equivalent of a guitarist beating the crap out of just the D string, it's more like playing everything at the same level and then LEARNING to play one string louder than another, which is effectively what drummers are asked to do...
There are two things going on:
1. You need to pick the right cymbals for what you do. ie, if you are a jazz drummer that plays the drumm quietly, don't get 15 inch mastersound hi hats and play them half open. The zildjian 'Z' series probably won't be a good choice either
2. You need to listen to what you are playing: If you are riding an 18 inch crash while playing delicate ghost strokes, you won't be able to hear the ghost strokes.

The analogy is good, it is very common for people first starting to play guitar to hit the strings harder when they are playing the easy part of the song, but when they get to a line that is a little more complicated, they start playing lighter (or inconsistantly)

Just because a drummer touches a certain drum or cymbal on time doesn't make it a good performance. How hard you hit it and the way you hit it effects the sound and the feel. You can't just hit everything in the right order, you have to make sure that all the hits are the strength they need to be to make the drums speak the way they should and the pattern to sound as intended.

For example a quad pattern (kksskkttkktt, etc...) will sound really stupid if the toms and the kicks are not about the same volume.

The other thing to consider is the song. If you are in a metal band with two guitar players playing through Mesas on 11, playing with any dynamics is a waste of time. The rest of the musicians don't have any dynamics, so you need to not have any dynamics.
 

Kinslayer

New member
Farview's right when he says the analogy is good and Funkdaddy saying it's one of the most basic skills. It is hard to get used to it but it's something that music be done or you will sound like shit, no questions asked. I'm a drummer and have been for somewhere between 6-7 years. I play in my school's Jazz Band and symphonic band. Our conductor, a drummer who played in many well-known symphonies and ensembles, ALWAYS emphasizes the basics. He gets seriously pissed off (as much as he can towards high schoolers) when we mess up dynamics, accents and so forth. So we tend to...not do it anymore. It's just something that needs to be there to give the music it's vitality. If you mess around with dynamics the entire feeling of the song gets thrown off balance and it just gets either annoying or...just stupid to listen to.
 
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Minion

Blow Me !!!
I"ve been playing for 20 years and never used "dynamics" (accept for mics..lol) I hit everything as hard as I am able and never had problems with one Piece overpowering another piece...I am by no means what you would call a Finesse drummer but my music doesn"t call for any finesse, For me the harder you hit the better it sounds ,as long as you are consistantly hitting the same on every drum....

:D
 

Elton Bear

Unregistered Abuser
It really doesn't have anything to do with taking it easy on the cymbals, it's more about hitting the drums with as much force as you are applying to the cymbals.

Hmm, perhaps I'm doing something wrong then? Here's my latest recording, let me know what you think. Drums are just miked kick & stereo OHs (until the little interlude, but there's no need to listen that far).

http://www.lightningmp3.com/live/95513-BluesFunkRecording.mp3

Really sorry to the OP to hijack the thread, there IS great advice for your problem above :p
 

Farview

www.farviewrecording.com
Hmm, perhaps I'm doing something wrong then? Here's my latest recording, let me know what you think. Drums are just miked kick & stereo OHs (until the little interlude, but there's no need to listen that far).

http://www.lightningmp3.com/live/95513-BluesFunkRecording.mp3

Really sorry to the OP to hijack the thread, there IS great advice for your problem above :p
I've been mixing all day, so take this for what it's worth...

It almost sounds like you are hitting the snare too hard. The snare also seems a little late. It doesn't sound bad.
 

zwh

New member
How close to the wall were the drums?

Pretty close. The drums were in a fiberglass enclosure, as that was our only choice at the time (we were allowed to use the stage/building for the day to record)... I think that may be more of my problem than my actual drummer.

He's actually the most experienced and more dynamic drummer we've had. In person his drumming is quite smooth, but I think my limited mic choice (LDC) might have added to my problem on the recordings.
 

gross115

New member
alright, here's my opinion on a few things. When I had first gotten into recording, I didn't have the luxury of multitrack inputs, the best I could do was a stereo input through my computers soundcard. Which meant that drums were done fully mic'ed and mixed to stereo on a 12 input mixing board (though I was only using I think 7 mics) I had kick, snare, 2 toms, hi-hat, and stereo overheads all mic'ed. The mixes sounded good in headphones when I auditioned them before putting them to "tape" so to speak. Problem was, when we'd be all done recording all the parts and I'd get into the mixing phase, I'd always notice that the cymbals were so damn loud it made the drums sound pretty awful. It would take hours of careful eq'ing and figuring out how to use multiband compressors to help the problem, though it was never really solved. It wasn't until many frustrating recordings later that I realized I was using the overheads more as "cymbal mics" rather than "overheads" meaning, they were just too damn close to the drumset.

Now I record with the overheads about 8-10 feet in the air and about 5 feet apart and it captures a much better sound (BTW- my overheads are SDCs, Audix F-15s). Much more indicative of the actual sound of the set. Sometimes I've even thrown in a LDC in front of the set about 15 feet away, just to kinda get a weird kinda natural delay, sometimes makes everything sound bigger, sometimes makes everything sound terrible, but now that I've got that luxury of separate multitrack for everything, I can pretty much record whatever and just keep what works.

After listening to the recording, I'd say you're not doing to bad. I'm not gonna get into performance, but just based on recording, and I'm only talking about the drums here...you could probably use a little more of the cymbals on the recording. Maybe bring them down a little closer. And since you said you're using a seprate kick mic, turn that up a bit. You could definetly use a little more "kick" in the recording, get it? cause it's a kick drum mic? yeah that was bad....anyway. Not too bad of a sound. Though I think you should definetly look into picking up a few more mics for trying to close mic the whole set - if you have the budget and the means to get it to "tape" properly. Remeber, you don't have to go crazy with the mics, you can use the direct mics only as an enhancment if you already have a good sounding overhead/room mic setup...just to give the set a little more clarity, definition, and impact where you need it.
 
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