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Drum mic phase-alignment

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by xTomx, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. xTomx

    xTomx Member

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    I know there's quite a few people on this forum who have difficulty getting good recored drum sounds.

    I'm about so start some drum editing and I decided to do a quick before and after of just adjusting the phase relationship of the mics.

    This way you can hear how far it goes in giving you a fighting chance to get a good drum tone:

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/3809498/Before and after phase-alignment.mp3


    It's totally raw and the mic technique isn't ideal but I hope it helps.
     
  2. LBTM

    LBTM Proud Behringer User

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    Sorry bad that sounds bad.

    Nowadays I'm always applying the recorderman's technique for the overheads and that way I always get the kick and snare in phase. Also I'm using the phasebug (free) plugin to mess up with the phase until they're in phase as better as possible. In the end you can use only one omni microphone for overheads. It's not as bad as it sounds. It won't be very wide but it sounds good. Also try to put as less microphones as possible there and gate the toms. Also if you stereo mic the room be sure to get them on the same distance of kick/snare. It'll take some time to learn mic drums good but once you learn these basics you'll always get a great sound right away.
     
  3. Scottxx

    Scottxx Member

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    There is Voxengos PHA and MAutoAlign from Meldaproductions.
     
  4. Studdy

    Studdy Member

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    I've never understood all this confusion on drum miking. Put the mics where they sound "in phase" and good. I'd probably filp the polarity on bottom snare mic if it sounded better, and I can maybe see someone pulling the overheads back to line up with the close mics but even then I think the distance is what makes the kit sound big. Sorry to hi jack the thread but i dont know why we keep discussing phase all the time. When editing always keep everything grouped together. The old rule of what sounds good is good applies when setting up drum mics.
     
  5. egan.

    egan. daylightdies.com

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    ^^^^
    That. Also, there is no such thing as totally in phase. Every piece you shift changes the relationship with every other piece. The chances of a coincidental "perfect" are about as good as winning the lottery.
     
  6. xTomx

    xTomx Member

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    The point of the clip wasn't to sound 'good, it's completely unprocessed and even the volume faders are untouched.

    It's demonstrating a big difference in the fundamental frequencies of the shells and the change in stereo width.

    It's didn't require anything than moving the close mics in time with the OHs and checking they had the same polarity.
     
  7. LBTM

    LBTM Proud Behringer User

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    Tom could you please post the multi track for the above clip? I'd like to give it a try.
     
  8. El_Gato

    El_Gato I love this gain

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    This.

    I was reading some Butch Vig considerations on drums and I think he said he never aligns them as the drums would then lack the natural sense of space and "bigness". Shame I can't find it right now.
     
  9. jeid

    jeid Terribad

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    I always battle getting the room mics in phase. On my last recording, the kick was out, but I always cut a lot of the lows from the room mic anyway. It was in with the snare and toms. Sorted!
     
  10. Lasse Lammert

    Lasse Lammert HCAF Blitzkrieg

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    I've tried it a few times, it makes them sound a little more direct, punchy and clean.
    Much less big and natural though.
    I never do it (I still am trying phase flips on all the channels though)
     
  11. drew_drummer

    drew_drummer Dancefap

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    Throw 'em up... get 'em sounding good. The only ones I would phase align like this would be really-really-really distant room microphones. But OH's, close mics, and direct microphones... get it right at the source.
     
  12. bryan_kilco

    bryan_kilco Member

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    I've said it before and I'll say it again:

    I always, always, ALWAYS have trouble when setting OH mics. I'll set them, even take measurements from the center of the snare, use center line (kick/snare center line), etc. When listening back and flipping phase between OH L/R and snare, I just cannot hear a difference. Snare top and bottom is a different story though. Always have to flip one.
     
  13. drew_drummer

    drew_drummer Dancefap

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    What do you mean "trouble" ??

    AFAIK, you're less likely to hear phase problems when you hard pan the OH's. If you want to hear the phase inversion actually doing something, you need to have them in the middle with everything else, otherwise there is nothing for them to phase cancel against.
     
  14. bryan_kilco

    bryan_kilco Member

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    That's what I do. I let all faders in DAW at 0 as well as all panning.

    I turn up monitors pretty loud to try to pick out the phasing and flip phase while bringing snare volume up and/or mute/unmute the snare. I just can never hear any difference. *shrug*
     
  15. C_F_H_13

    C_F_H_13 Protools Guru

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    Not really entirely on topic, but here's a few tips with Drums and polarity and phase that I've learned.

    You need to check every single mic of your drumkit for proper phase, and the easiest way to start doing this is flipping the polarity. Look 9/10 half the mics are supposed to have an opposing polarity then what they do. Also, it's not usually so cut and dry as snare bottom always being flipped. In fact I find the opposite is usually true. Some studios have cables wired in reverse, or the output card on a channel strip in their console is in reverse or a number of other things. Blindly assuming the bottom mic is out of phase is a bad idea. It ALWAYS will to be the opposite polarity of the snare top, but maybe it's the snare top that's out of phase with the overheads. Or maybe it's already in phase cause the snare bottom mic cable is reversed. Just check every mic.

    With regards to the earlier mention of room mics/ not being able to hear a difference that much, here's a few tips.

    1- If you can't hear a difference, then it's likely your mics are in what I call the "grey middle ground". They don't really have a great phase relationship, but they aren't exactly terrible either. My suggestion would be to move some mics closer or further apart (usually with overheads and the snare it's as simple as narrowing or widening the overheads, or sometimes turning the mics in or out more towards the edges/center of the cymbals).

    2- Room mics are tough, because of the distance usually involved, the low frequencies are so different that it's hard to just the phase. Low end makes judging phase really easy, so if you have access to EQ, sometimes temporarily adding extra bottom to your rooms can actually make judging the overall relationship a bit better. Again though, sometimes they are in the dreaded middle ground and just need to be moved closer or further away.

    The final thing I'm going to share is a trick I learned from an engineer years ago about checking phase on drums, especially in a room you don't trust/has bad low end reproduction.

    Step 1. Have the drummer record a buzz roll, preferably as cleanly and as long as he can.

    Step 2. Loop the cleanest longest section of said buzz roll you can. Usually a solid 5 second or 10 second loop is perfect.

    Step 3. Mute all mics but the snare bottom and one overhead mic. Mono your speakers, or better yet, pan all your drums to one speaker. Balance the 2 mics so that the snare bottom sounds like it's part of the overhead sound...not overbearing or on top. Now flip the phase on the overhead mic. The change should be insanely drastic. All of a sudden you'll have tons of extra weight and low end, or it'll go super thin. Which ever way sounds best, don't touch the overhead mic phase button again. Mute snare bottom.

    Step 4. Now bring in the other overhead. Flip the new overhead channel. Compare, and decide which is best. Mute the newer overhead.

    Step 5. Now go through each mic individually and compare them to the original overhead track. Again making sure that they are blended pretty well with the overhead. Each and every track should be a clear thick or thin change. If you run into a mic that isn't a clear change, look at the steps above to see if the mics are misplaced.

    Step 6. After you've gone through all the mics, open up all the channels at once and just double check what you did. I do this by flipping all the kicks, then all the snares, and just making sure it gets worse if I flip them.

    At this point your kit should sound a shitload better then it did.
     
  16. BLUElightCory

    BLUElightCory Member

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    Excellent advice right here.
     
  17. bryan_kilco

    bryan_kilco Member

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    After reading this thread I went back into a session and played around a bit more.

    I now discovered that, indeed, if I flip the snare bottom polarity the signal gets beefier, but also with the snare bottom muted and snare top playing along with overheads, if I invert snare top polarity, the sound also gets beefier. But in turn, this defeats the purpose of inverting the bottom. I guess this is total beginner stuff right here but I don't have a whole lot of experience tracking raw live drums so I don't get to experiment much. But at least I learned something! - my phase was alllll fucked up! =/
     
  18. El_Gato

    El_Gato I love this gain

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    Golden tips :kickass: I used to do something similar but with single shots while looking at the meters to make sure there was a loss in the signal. I tried it with the buzz roll earlier today and it's faster and more obvious.
     
  19. C_F_H_13

    C_F_H_13 Protools Guru

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    Yeah it really is the easiest way to just IMO. Whenever I'm mixing a band i didn't track, I find going to a section of busy kick works too..just look the section and check low end. It's amazing how much you can fix with just flipping polarities.
     
  20. sbwakfk1

    sbwakfk1 Member

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    Not really sure what all the concern is about phase issues with drums. The phase relationship of the drums is a big deal but its not the only thing that leads to a good drum sound. You will NEVER get all the mics in a setup to we completely in phase. If the OH/Rooms/toms whatever are out of phase with each other (as in 180 degrees) then flip the phase of the appropriate tracks. The difference in phase relationship is what adds the "bigness" and "realness" (for lack of a better term). The best tip for getting things in phase is to listen for the lowend. For example, if you flip the phase on the overheads and there is more bottom end in the snare, then leave it like that. If there is less, then flip it back. Same goes for kick and tom relationships with the more ambient mics such as rooms, etc. A good kit and, most importantly, a GREAT drummer are the keys to a good drum sound.
     

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