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EQing to a non-ported vs ported kick

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by shughey, Sep 13, 2018.


  1. shughey

    shughey

    Nov 21, 2006
    Dover, NH
    This is my first post in a while. Lately, I've been having some mix issues with a couple classic rock cover groups I play with. In these particular groups, the drummers use ported bass drums that are typically miked (AKG D112 usually). In a small venue my bass usually isn't run to the board, but for outdoor venues it's DI'd. The issue is I don't really like the way my bass sits with these ported kicks.

    When I listen to recordings the kick seems right up in my frequency range and the attack of the kick masks my bass sound. With these groups I'm using a '62 style J-bass w/ DR Sunbeams atm and typically have both volumes up at 85% and tone almost all the way up through a TH500 X2 DB112 combo set pretty flat. Specifically, I'm wondering if I should be EQing differently around the kick (and how) or if it's a function of volume (to me the kick SEEMS consistently higher in the PA). I know there are a lot of variables at play here, some of which can't be seen in this thread, but looking for y'alls general approach I guess.

    I think not liking the sound of ported kicks in the first place makes it harder for me to imagine a good bass drum/bass syndicate. Sometimes, imo, they sound like a basket ball on a gym floor, whereas I aim for rounder, warmer tone which leaves me wondering whether I need to adjust my tone to be more aggressive to sit better. I'm used to a bass drum that sits sonically lower than my bass tone, not right up with it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    all things being equal and FWIW: that "basketball tone" helps to keep the kick out of your way, generally. if you go for a "rounder/warmer" EQ on the kick = you'll be working against your goal.

    but i'd be the first to admit: no telling exactly because we're seeing each other's posts while not being able to hear what needs to be 'diagnosed'.

    good luck with your kick/bass EQ issue! :thumbsup:
     
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  3. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    California
    Take a chunk of the upper mids out of the kick. Somewhere in the 500-800kH range. It’ll be more “thump” sounding than ”thack”.
     
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  4. shughey

    shughey

    Nov 21, 2006
    Dover, NH
    Thanks, JRA! For me, it tends to be the other way around. I'm not trying to sit under the kick, so the kick being lower in pitch and resonance actually works well for me. And a lot of the records I like tend to be that way as well. I'm not trying to compete for subs or low bass, just trying to sit nicely in the low mids which I personally can achieve easier when the kick sits lower (I hear this sound more from non-ported, although I understand tuning affects this as well).
     
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  5. shughey

    shughey

    Nov 21, 2006
    Dover, NH
    Something I may try to bring up to the BL(s) and see how it goes. They own/run the PAs on gigs where there's no FOH man.
     
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  6. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    I totally agree.

    Mics designed for bass drum tend to have a built in EQ with exactly the shape you describe, but you can cut more with the mixing console as needed. Take a look at the baked-in EQ of the D6 (spec sheet attached). This is one of the more hyped bass drum mics. It's very good for getting quick results in live sound environments, but it tends to make all bass drums sound more alike than not.

    Consider carving a bit more between 200 and 500Hz. Enlarging the hole in the lower mids leaves more room for the bass, so the bass can be boosted a bit in this range. Too much energy in this range makes a mix sound muddy and tends to cover up the vocals, so be careful adding energy here.

    Applying a variable HPF to vocals, guitars, keyboards, drums, overheads, etc can really clear up the lows and low mids. I usually run the HPF on vocals up somewhere between 200-300Hz.

    Rather than using a broadband boost on the low end of the bass drum, try peaking with a narrow filter at the resonance of the drum. Usually the resonance is in the 70 to 80Hz range, but the frequency may be lower with a ported drum. Peaking only the resonant frequency of the drum leaves more room in the low end for a fat bass guitar sound.

    Next use a narrow dip on the bass channel aligned with the resonance of the drum. In essence your carving out a really narrow chunk of the bass sound so the drum will pop out of the mix better.

    Basically the strategy I have described is called frequency slotting. You can find videos on YouTube if you are interested.
     

    Attached Files:

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  7. shughey

    shughey

    Nov 21, 2006
    Dover, NH
    Thanks for the tips, Wasnex. I'll have to check out the freq charts for the D112 he is using as well! And as I think about it more, this may not even be a ported vs non-ported issue. Today I listened back to some recordings of past drummers I've played w who played ported bass drums, and some of the recordings sounded nice and fat, not as 'attacky'. There may be something else at play here that makes this particular drummer's kick sound the way it does (tuning, head diameter, brand, muting, pedal, velocity of the foot stroke, etc.).
     
  8. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011

    To clarify, by "port" do you mean a hole cut in the head, or the addition of a device such as a Kickport? upload_2018-9-13_15-44-42.

    The Kickport is what I meant as far as lowering the tuning of the drum. I am not certain, but I think simply cutting a hole in the head may actually tend to raise the tuning of the drum, but the hole is generally preferred so you can position a mic inside the drum.

    The other question, is the problem related to the acoustic sound of the drum, or what you are hearing coming through the PA? Most of my comments in the previous post related to a strategy the audio tech can use to get the bass and bass drum to sit well in the mix. But getting a good mix starts with how the drummer tunes his/her kit. If the bass drum sounds horrible acoustically, the audio tech can only do so much. Much better if the drummer does a good job tuning the kit...IMHO tuning or a crappy drum is the most likely culprit.

    The D112 has a typical bass drum EQ contour, but is not as hyped as the Audix D6. The D112 also has a looser polar pattern so it will likely pickup more of the shell sound than a D6. In my experience, mic placement is pretty critical with the D112.
     
  9. shughey

    shughey

    Nov 21, 2006
    Dover, NH
    Wasnex, I briefly read on this kickport device; I've never heard of it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that looks like an add-on device to 'enhance' the sound. I'm simply referring to the whole, or port, that came stock in bass drum head. Also, I am referencing how his kick sounds when through a PA, and specifically when the guitarist/vocalist has to man it. I'll have to listen back to determine the natural, acoustic character of his kick because I haven't taken note of that. However, from what I recall, the acoustic sound was in the ballpark of what I'm hearing through the PA, not a night and day situation.

    I may try to get a reference file up bc that would speak for itself. As silly and simple as it sounds, I often wonder if his kick is simply just too loud in the PA (plus it sound 'attacky'). I've noticed some BLs I play with tend to either not want to run bass through the PA when everything else is, or they seem to just add a touch... I think the latter may be the case here.
     
  10. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011

    Yes the Kickport is an add on device that tunes the drum lower.

    I am getting the impression that maybe the tuning of the bass drum is a bit high and also you don't have an expert audio tech that really knows how to position the bass drum mic and compensate with EQ. Running the bass drum too hot in the mix definitely exacerbates the problem.

    IMHO, the D112 can be very unforgiving if you don't know how to position and EQ it. This can vary significantly by drum. The D6 is a lot more automatic and forgiving but you get a somewhat generic D6 sound all the time, regardless of what the drum sounds like.
     
  11. shughey

    shughey

    Nov 21, 2006
    Dover, NH
    Thanks again for the tips! I'm going to look into this stuff next gig. I'm starting to think combination of the tuning and volume of the kick in the PA as well. I can hear what I'm playing when I listen back to recordings with headphones, but that kick really steps on everything in a way that I'm not used to.
     
    Wasnex likes this.
  12. wmhill

    wmhill

    Aug 20, 2012
    upstate NY
    MTD basses endorsed artist Bartolini pickups emerging artist TECAMP bass players gear endorsed
    Try tightening up the tuning on the front head. I recently had an issue with our drummers kick burying everything in the lower spectrum of the mix. A half turn of increased tension tightened & focused the sound immensely, without changing the drums natural acoustic character to any great extent. We had tried moon-gels, tape and other remedies to no avail. this really helped separate the kick and my bass. (plus it's easy & cost free)
     
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  13. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    alpha-music.com
    it's likely mostly the latter, the kick is just mixed louder than you are.

    how loud is your rig and how are these recordings being made? if the answers are "decently loud" and "board tape", then you're hearing the result of your bass not really being in the PA that much.
     
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  14. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    IMHO if the kick sounds like a cardboard box in the PA, then mic placement and EQ is likely the problem.

    Try placing the D112 approximately midway into the drum against the shell angled back towards the beater at about 45 degrees. The idea here is to aim the mic to pick up less of the shell. Also try scooping out more of the low mids.

    Course if the drum sounds awful acoustically, maybe you need to have a diplomatic conversation. Good luck with that!
     
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  15. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    During my FOH days, THIS more of than not, has been the limiter.. the number of badly tuned kits FAR outnumbers those tuned correctly!
    Even basics such as tuning the resonator head.. I see many drummers who tune the top head and never touch the lower and put all kinds of things (gel, tape, ...) on the top head to try and remove the BOING from the drum, and get upset when FOH can't notch it out.
     
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  16. honeyiscool

    honeyiscool Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    To me, the D112 isn't not a set it and forget it mic. If anything, I find it to be an extremely unforgiving mic. Anyone using it for live better know what they're doing it because it's such a flat mic. It's not as unforgiving as using an RE20, or even an SM7B, but it's not that far off. There's no hype to it. The whole point of porting a mic is to make it easier to mic, yet I'm not sure it really helps a D112 get a good, usable sound quickly, and then when it's live, mics move around, too. That is perhaps why I don't actually see a D112 live all that often. I've never actually seen a live engineer throw that on a stage. To me, the D112 is a studio mic, where it gives you a very honest idea of what it is like to have your ears up against whatever it is in front of, and I do think if I had a drummer whose bass drum sounded very full and rich and probably not ported and I'm recording it, I'd definitely want to try the D112, and then I'd work a little bit with the placement and EQ.

    Contrast that with the D6. There's a reason why live engineers love the Audix D6. It just frickin' works in a live setting. It provides you with a punch in the chest and a click that everyone can hear in the mix, and it leaves out a huge chunk of space where the bass guitar can sit nicely. The way it's usually used live, with it right up against the front head or a little bit inside the port, it only has one sound, but man, if that sound doesn't work. It doesn't matter if your bass drum is small, big, ported, unported, tuned, not tuned, hell, if you don't even have a resonant head, if you use a felt beater or a wood beater, it gets a usable sound.

    It's a little metal sounding for me, honestly. And I like my live mics to have some use in the studio, too, and I don't record metal drummers. That's why I like bass drum mics that sound like finished products without much work, but doesn't hype too much, either. I want a mic that's in between a D6 and a D112. And that's where the Shure Beta 52A fits right in. That mic is like the Ampeg B15 of bass drum mics. It makes every drum sound good without much work, but you can put in the work to make it sound even better, too. I'm always happy when I see that mic on stage. I know that I'll be happy with the live sound, yet if someone pulls the soundboard and records it, I know I'll like it there, too.

    My personal favorite is the Sennheiser e602-II, but Beta 52A is probably the more well known choice. Like on a completely arbitrary scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is hyped and 1 is completely natural, using something like a RE20 probably is 1, the D112 is not far off, maybe like a 2. Using a nice, fat sounding condenser like a 47-type is probably about a 4 and is wonderful in a studio. The B52 is probably more like a 5. The D6 is a straight up 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. To me, e602-II is somewhere in that really comfortable 7 range where it is perfect and done and I don't have to do any work, but it hasn't made every drum sound the same, either. Where I described the B52 like an Ampeg B15, the e602-II is more like an Ampeg SVT. A little bit more modern sounding, but still very classic, good sound, and you haven't had to work too hard, either.

    Most of these mics aren't that expensive, they're all about $150. A lot of "nicer" bass drum mics aren't as good for live work because most nicer mics are less hyped, and hype is good for live. Like the Sennheiser e902 is a "nicer" and more expensive mic than an e602, but I'd use the e602 live.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018 at 11:58 PM
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  17. shughey

    shughey

    Nov 21, 2006
    Dover, NH
    Thanks for all the info, everyone! He brought his non-ported bass drum to the last gig, and everyone sounded OK. I have to wait till he brings his other bass drum so I can bring some of this stuff up!
     
  18. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    I have the D112, D6 and Beta52 for kick, oh and an MD421 for studio use. :)
    I'll use the D6 for rock bands, and the D112 for others, and I only bought the 52 to have one.. I've used it twice (IIRC)
    i tried the MD421 live, but it's overly sensitive even with the roll-off (awesome mic BTW) and a properly tuned kick with appropriate porting is a must for it.

    I also prefer the Audix i5 on snare over the std 57, or the Audix D2/D4/F2 or Shure equivalents. To be honest, even the cheap CAD set is "usable". :)

    As with all ..YMMV
     
  19. honeyiscool

    honeyiscool Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    The MD421 is in that RE20/SM7B category, definitely, and it's a great mic, but I don't really understand how some engineers love it on bass drums so much. I mean, I get it, but it's like, gosh, you're working so hard to get every bit of that drum when so much of it doesn't need to be in the final mix. It's kind of the industry on floor toms, isn't it? I've love to use it more, but I haven't much.

    You should try the 52 more, even for the sake of just using it. I think you'll find that it splits the difference nicely between a D6 and a D112. You could use it on all kicks, and it works pretty well for anything.

    I love the Audix i5, by the way. It's a workhorse that sounds usable to great on everything. I never cared for the 57 sound on instruments, but I still have it because it sounds weirdly good on backup vocals for some voices (including my own) where I sometimes prefer it to an SM7 and certainly prefer it to the 58 for recording use. The i5 sounds great for bass cabs, too, especially on a sealed cabinet like an SVT, and it gets a really classy bass cab sound without giving you too much unwanted stuff. I used the i5 on snare for years. However, I recently got a bunch of miniature Sennheiser e904 mics on discount and I've been micing snare drums and toms with them because they're so small that they stay out of the way. While I have never AB'd them with the i5, I find them to be stellar. My drummer has a pretty tight kit where all the drums are close together, and he likes to strike the rims of his drums, so minimizing the physical size of the microphones leads to more comfort, which leads to better playing, and that honestly matters so much more than which mic you use, and still, they sound good to me.

    Some CAD stuff is straight up great. Not for the price, but just great. I have a trio of CAD M179 multi-pattern condensers, and while I almost never use them as my #1 choice, they're the glue that holds my mic collection together. Whenever I need a certain mic that I don't have, the M179 can do the job and be good enough at it. It's my room mic, the weird off angle bass drum mic, the far away mic, etc. Whenever I have the channel counts for it, every drum track I record has a little M179 in there. Not a lot, but some. The CAD TSM411 hyper-cardiod drum mic is pretty good, too. I would almost never reach for it over the e904, and I only have one, but some of the nicer CAD sets include this TSM411, and I would recommend such a set to most drummers. I mean, in a vacuum, you'd rather have four Audix i5s instead of four TSM411s, but if you can't get a good sound with a set of cheap mics, you don't deserve slightly less cheap mics.
     
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  20. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    it wouldn't be my first choice for a kick most of the time (with other options available --- per your posts :thumbsup: ) but it's a perfectly reliable, all-purpose piece. when engineers are asked that question: "if you could only have one mic....." it's presumed that they would say "give me 57's!" but most would really rather have a supply of 421's! ;)
     
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