cutting down mic bleeding and leakage.

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by spectorbass83, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    My band is currently using the following mics to record drums:

    One Apex125 large diaphragm dynamic microphone
    One Apex126 dynamic microphone
    One Apex-DC drum rim clips for mounting Apex126
    Three Apex165 miniature gooseneck microphones
    Three windsocks for Apex165
    One Apex190 stubby pencil condenser microphone (used for Hi-hat)
    We use two other Apex pencil condensers for the Overheads.

    The mics came in the Drum pack seen here

    We are using an M-Audio Delta 1010 PCI Interface, and a Behringer EURORACK UB2442FX-PRO (

    Do you guys have any recommendations on cutting down mic bleeding and leakage? Has anyone tried Gating? Your responses will be appreciated.
  2. I try to think of it as maximizing the signal from the target drum, not so much eliminating leakage. Trying to keep a mic from picking up a drum that is 20 inches away is pretty pointless. But making sure that the mic you are using is covering the target drum properly is going to help a lot. If you can monitor with something like extreme isoaltion headphones then you can fine tune the mic placement in real time. You can also try to do it by watching the level meters. Have the drummer play while you monitor just one mic. Dial in the position until you hear the target drum well, and the other drums the least.

    Once you have that set up you can use gating in a subtle way to knock down some leakage. What you want to avoid is having to use a really high threshold where the drums sound really fake. But that might be OK since you don't say what kind of kit or what kind of music.
  3. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I am NOT going to make a joke about the title of this thread. I really shouldn't.

    You may want to check the response patterns for those mics, and see if you can place the mics so the drum's vibrating surface is within the main pickup area. With cardioid mics, this is generally in front of the mic, with some low end pickup from the back. Generally the sides are not a problem. You can also check for some low freq leakage from the back end of the mic, and cut it a bit with some specific EQing, or just pointing the tail end of the mic away from the other drums as much as you can. One problem with micing drums is that the places that get the best sound are often in the way of the drummer.
  4. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Always appreciate the responses..
    The kit being used is a Sonor Force 6-piece.
    The music is mostly Hard Rock - similar to Chevelle, Taproot and Disturbed. Let me know if there is any info you need. Thanks again!
  5. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.

    Ah, then heavy gating, followed by heavy compression and radical EQ are probably all good things.

    As mentioned previously, be concious of mic placement. In particular, check the mic's polar patterns and make sure that the snare mic is pointed so as to put the "dead" spot behind the mic directly in front of the hi-hat, and make sure the hi-hat mic is placed so it's not facing the snare at all. This helps immensely when mixing down the two. Bringing up the beef in a snare drum track with lots of hat bleed tends to make the hat sound clunky.

    Also, use the DAW's editing functions in your favor. Completely erase any part of a track that doesn't include that track's drum being hit (overheads excluded.) Just don't chop them so short that it cuts off any parts of the drum's sustain and release. Yes, that's what a gate is for, but if you do this it's easier to dial in a gate and not worry about stray transients triggering it and wreeking havoc with your mix.

    Make sure the overheads aren't so close to the cymbals that they pick up cymbal wash, i.e. the ride below the crash reflects off the bottom of the crash and into the mic. Not only does this sound wierd, it can cause phase problems. As well, the crash can move in such a way as to alternately expose the bottom and top to the mic, causing an unpleasant "chorus-ey" effect. Best way to avoid this is to eyeball how high the tallest cymbal moves when struck, and stick the mic a couple of inches above it. Good luck, playing with drum sounds is one of my favorite parts in a project!
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Eliminate leakage? Boy, do I have a story about that!

    I once played in a band in the mid-80's that got this "hotshot" LA studio guitarist-turned-producer Steve Sipe or Sykes or Stikes or something like that, can't remember. He did an album that we thought sounded great so we thought he'd be great for us. Turned out he was a great guitarist but a complete arrogant jerk in the studio. He forced our drummer to play with just a bass drum and snare, had him overdub toms, and did all his cymbals with cymbal sounds from a Prophet V keyboard. It was the absolute worst sounding demo I have ever cut. The guys in charge of the band totally let this guy dominate him because he made all these great big claims to how wonderful he was and how we were lucky to be working with him. He went on to a great career doing nothing anyone has ever heard of. As did I, but at least I didn't get all uppity about it.

    The point of this story (yes, there is one) is to not worry in the least about leakage. The biggest mistake people make when recording drums is treating each drum as a separate entity. You have to mic and record the drums thinking of them as a whole. If an overhead mic makes the snare drum sound bad, then you need to make both mics sound good on the snare while still keeping the overhead sounding good for cymbals.

    Also, using the right mic is more important than you'll ever know. 57's on the snare and toms, an AKG 414 or that Audix mic I can't remember the name of (D6?) on the bass drum, and AKG 1000's on the overheads (hi-hat mic is optional but I prefer not to use it and I'll just move the overheads around till they balance) is a good way to go.

    And don't be afraid to completely eliminate mics during the mixdown. I've gotten some great drum mixes using only a bass drum and snare mic. If you're recording the drums in a small room, micing every drum and cymbal is often overkill. The bigger the room you have for recording drums, the better.
  7. chips

    chips Guest

    there is a very simple recipe to help you.
    -you favourite flavour of gaffa tape
    -some felt
    -hot glue gun
    1-Go to a shop and buy a whole heap of spoons. yes, thats right SPOONS dagnammit.
    2-Go home
    3-Take your hacksaw and cut about 3/4 length off the handles of the spoons.
    4- cover the spoon in felt, or some other material like foam will work fine
    5-Take your piece of spoon and gaffa tape it to your mic so the the curvey part is hanging over the top cover the side od your mic.

    BAM, the spoon will act like a mini gobo and help reduce spill,bleeding or whatever you want to call it.
  8. chips

    chips Guest

    also, another little trick can be to get a match box, fill it with sugar or sand. make sure its as full as you can get it. The completely cover it in gaffa tape. use plenty of it. Place it on the edge of the snare. When the drummer hits the snare it will make the box jump up a little, then when it lands it will stop the ringing out. Woo, a natural gate that DOESNT take any natural resonance away from the sound at all.
  9. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Miking drums well can be challenging.

    Two things I'll point out:

    1. Assuming that the drummer can play in a balanced way, i.e., hitting his various instruments with the proper velocity, fewer microphones often works better than more microphones. Start with an overhead pair and a bass-drum mic, and only add spot mics as needed.

    2. Just as, if not more, important than reducing bleed, is how good your microphones are in their off-axis response. Off-axis response is often what separates the expensive mics from the cheaper ones. Bleed is not so bad if it sounds good.
  10. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    I've always achieved my best drum sounds when I used less mics in a good sounding room. This assumes two very important things... 1) The drumset sounds good 2) The drummer knows how to balance his own sound. I would rather not be solely responsible for the drum balance and tone if possible.

    I always go for the less is more approach. Presumably the drummer (or any player for that matter) has spent time getting the sound they want out of their respective instrument. Our goal as studio engineers is to capture that sound.

    I have a good sounding drum booth. That is important. I usually use a beta-52 on the bass, sm-57 on the snare, AKG C-1000s overheads. That's it. I then add if I need to.
  11. The most important things to make a great drum recording. Notice the microphones are last.

    1.the drummer
    2.the drum tuning and heads
    3.the drum set
    4.the room
    5.the microphones

    Try to get the best overhead sound first. Nothing should be too loud or to soft. if so move you mics to get the best most natural overall drum picture you can. Next add the kick mic making sure you do not loose anything in the process, phase problems can kill your sound. Repeat with the snare and then the toms. Do not think of the drums and individual instruments but as one big instrument that resonates together and use the leakage to your advantage. Would you like the engineer to mic everyone of your strings separately?
  12. babyjo

    babyjo Guest

    Mar 21, 2008
    My favorite recording microphone is a Cloud. They are hand made in Tucson, AZ and I have had tremendous luck recording with them. I had the luxury of using some of these mics in my personal studio in Tucson as well as on many sessions here in NY. I am one of the first people to own these mics, as I ordered them during their pre-release. Being a Tucson native, I was able to visit their facility. Check them out here:
  13. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay Guest

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    Leakage is part of the wonderful sound of acoustic drums. You want control, but trying to kill all the bleed would make the most phenomenal tracks sound like sterile, robotic e-drums.

    The importance of a good room, good kit, and good drummer cannot be overstated. A pair of decent condensers and a kick mic on a good kit in a good room with a good player behind it will sound better than any 16-channel engineering fest performed on a trash kit in a concrete basement.

    That being said, there's a couple of tricks for getting a thick, natural sound whilst maintaining control over the tracks.

    0) GOOD ROOM, GOOD KIT, GOOD DRUMMER. I told you, this can't be overstated. At least treat the tracking room and throw up some broadband panels and bass traps behind the kit. If you go DIY, you can make broadband panels and bass traps for something like 15 bucks a piece. Throw some damping material in the bass drum if you want a tight sound. Fresh heads, tuned to perfection, and every bolt or fly screw must be TIGHT.

    1) Don't point tom mics towards the centre of the head. This leaves half of the mic to pick up on everything else in the kit. Get it as close to the centre of the head as you can without the drummer hitting it, and point it straight down.

    2) Get used to the polar patterns on your mics. If you're using standard cardioids on the toms and snare, position them so they're pointed away from the rest of the kit! Tom mics clipped to the drummer's side of the rim will have much less bleed than the standard positioning. The kit becomes more difficult to play on, though, especially if you're like me and dig MD421s on toms (see: MD421s are goddamn HUGE.)

    3) Gate the snare BOTTOM. Leave the top natural. You'll get plenty of the snare rattle with the overhead/room mics, but you still want some of the natural resonance of that snare drum. Keep the crack, get rid of the ass.

    4) Hi-pass everything if you can swing it. I even throw an HPF on the bass drum and floor toms - though they're usually at around 40Hz and 80Hz, respectively.

    5) Put on those headphones and shift mics half inch by half inch, degree by degree. It helps if you have a top-notch engineer in the control room listening, too. In a particularly difficult room, I can spend six hours trying to get mic placement right. Every minute is worth it's weight in gold when the drums sound fantastic in the final mix, though. Pay extra-special attention to the room/overhead mics, since those usually get the least processing but have the most complex sound.

    Good luck, and welcome to the messy world of engineering drums. It's the second most difficult skillset in the engineer's toolbox. Next challenge? Vocals. Vocals SUCK.