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Mixing multiple mics on kick drum??

How to do this, that and the other. Share, learn, teach. How did X do that? How can I sound like Y?

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150 posts since 11 Feb, 2011, from Duluth

Postby sadkin; Sat May 31, 2014 4:57 pm Mixing multiple mics on kick drum??

Alright, here is my quandary - I am mixing a virtual drum kit (NI's Kontakt Studio Drummer) with level parameters which can independently adjust the kick drum level of the 3 mics placed:
1 - inside the kick
2 - outside the kick
3 - sub mic (yamaha speaker sub) also placed outside the kick

When the default kit is loaded, the levels of all three mics are set to a default of 0.0 d.B. with all three levels set equally loud.

I have recorded a few 'actual' kits in my time, not a ton, but never with a 'sub' mic. I have generally used the inside mic as the louder signal and then would augment with the outside mic. I'd guess that, the outside mic has most often been about 20% of where the inside mic is set, very roughly speaking, in my mixes in the past.

I know mixing and producing is about using your ears and there are no hard and fast rules buuuuut, I am curious, especially of those who do record and mix live kits with multiple mics on the kick - for rock, indie rock applications, as a rough estimate, how would you say those mics are most often blended?

Which do you tend to push louder as apposed to the one which is pulled back and if there is one in the middle, is it roughly half the level of the loudest, less than half the level or nearly as high as the loudest?

...or, do you find that, like the default settings when a 'virtual kit' is loaded, all three mics are comparably set to about the same level?

Are there situations where the sub mic isn't used at all in a track? If so, how often do you find that is the case? ...is that sub mic pretty much a staple in any live kit recording these days? (remember, i type this far away from anything resembling a live room - so thanks, Ocean Way plug-in;-)...if it has become a tracking standard, is it also a standard that the sub mic track is used in all the mixes? some mixes? or not too often?

...these virtual kits are getting pretty deep, I am starting to think there are too many options for my own good (ha). I have realized that with some new songs I am working with, I tend to leave those 3 mics set at 0.0 (default) values and then process those three equally blended mics as one mono track, not touching any of the 3 mics levels. That said, I have had some frustration getting my kick to sound how I want it to despite the elaborate sample, the realism, the high quality and so on. It got me thinking maybe I should be tinkering more with mic those levels, etc.

As for more of what I often aim for ~ I generally like a 'punchy', almost 'pointier' kick drum sound... one of my favorite drum mixes is Andy Wallace's mix of Jeff Buckley's 'Witches Rave', nothing fancy or crazy but to my ears, it is just a perfect, velvety yet punchy drum mix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GAq_oHPXto&feature=kp
same with:
Sunny Day Real Estate 'the rising tide' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zv3E4TJwbyo
850 posts since 17 Apr, 2005

Postby JCJR; Sun Jun 01, 2014 7:15 am Re: Mixing multiple mics on kick drum??

I'm ignorant, but curious-- Can you move and point the outside mike in that ni kit? And get results reasonable as expected with a realworld kick? Can the kick heads be tuned with reasonable sounding results? (Not merely crude pitch shifting of a kick sample?) Can you select the beater material?

There is no accounting for tastes, but in the real world my tastes tended toward rubber beaters for a good defined thump, and flat faced wood beaters for good click/slap, but with care in tuning and mic placement the wood click could also be accompanied by a full drum body sound.
150 posts since 11 Feb, 2011, from Duluth

Postby sadkin; Sun Jun 01, 2014 10:06 am Re: Mixing multiple mics on kick drum??

You can't adjust and point the outside mic, the placement for all three are static. There is a 'tuning' function. While I do believe it is using simple/crude pitch shifting it also uses a sort of 'warp' algo so the length of the sounding drum sample isn't shortened or lengthened as you pitch higher and lower. There are convincing results within about 4 semitones either way, higher or lower.

There is also an option for 'dampened' kick and 'open' kick articulation - 'open' sounds with more decay, kind of the 'roominess' decay you'd expect to hear more on the outside kick mic. I assume 'open' entails an entirely empty kick drum.

No option to switch beater but the Drum pack has three kits, they likely have different beaters along with the different modeled kits, as they are aimed to cover a variety of sounds associated with a number of different genre's of music.
850 posts since 17 Apr, 2005

Postby JCJR; Mon Jun 02, 2014 10:22 am Re: Mixing multiple mics on kick drum??

Thanks for the info, sadkin.

I'm not a drummer and claim no expertise. Just a random geezer. Would most likely try only one mic at a time for starters, to see if any of them alone could be manipulated to suit the song. Even if the mic locations and micro-details of the drums can't be adjusted, one would assume a "big outfit" like NI would have employed competent people to tune the drums and place the mics.

Have seen drummers use some mic positions that I wouldn't have expected to sound good, but sounded good nonetheless, which is why experimentation is good if one has the capability.

You had mentioned indie, if indie means what it used to. Your posted sound examples sound in the ballpark. A kick sound that seemed real good at the time, in a little indie studio, was bizarre-- They had one of those long, small diameter kick drums, no front head. Almost like a deep floor tom laid on its side. A pillow was inside the kick, adjusted to touch the head "just enough", and then a concrete block laid over the pillow to keep it in position. As best I recall the mic was on a boom stand aimed somewhere inside, but can't recall its position. Anyway, it was a very punchy, full, well-delineated kick sound for such a bizarre setup.
1696 posts since 12 Sep, 2004

Postby kbaccki; Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:35 pm Re: Mixing multiple mics on kick drum??

sadkin wrote:As for more of what I often aim for ~ I generally like a 'punchy', almost 'pointier' kick drum sound... one of my favorite drum mixes is Andy Wallace's mix of Jeff Buckley's 'Witches Rave', nothing fancy or crazy but to my ears, it is just a perfect, velvety yet punchy drum mix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GAq_oHPXto&feature=kp
same with:
Sunny Day Real Estate 'the rising tide' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zv3E4TJwbyo

The inside (or front) mic is where you'd want to mic from if you had only one mic and you wanted a good "general purpose" kick sound, cuz that's going to pick the most overall resonance from the drum. It'll be boomy, and will likely not be exactly the sound you were going for, but you can at least carve out what you need from all that freq info. The beater side mic is intended to provide more punch and slap, since it's basically positioned where the beater hits the head... you get a fast attack with not as many overtones and boominess as you would inside or in front of the drum... It all depends on a lot of factors, of course, like drum tuning, mic position, types of mics, etc. etc., but that's the general idea. The sub bass mic is a relatively new invention, like within the last 10-15 years or so... or at least the Yamaha SubKick, or whatever it's called, was the first product I remember seeing of it's type... maybe there are examples going further back, but generally it's been "large diaphragm dynamics" for kick drums... The sub bass mic is designed to give you the widest, deepest bass response possible -- after all, it's a "giant diaphragm dynamic mic"... As such, it should be totally optional, unless you're trying to capture the "perfect" kick sound. Many many fantastic kicks have been tracked over the decades without a sub bass mic. Too much sub bass is just going to muddy up your mix... start without sub bass, and if you really think the kick is missing some very low end depth and weight (like 20-40hz low end) then mix in a little sub bass.

Personally, I prefer a snappier kick for pop, rock, synth/pop, whatever... It's tempting to leave the very low end unfiltered entirely, since that's the natural domain of a kick, but it's not unusual for me to hi pass a kick to get it to punch at just the right spot somewhere in the 50-110hz range, depending on the mix... e.g., a peak at about 80 or 90hz gives a decent thud, and tailing off by -12dB or so down to 30hz to reduce low end rumble and overtones. If I'm looking for something boomier or roomier (like an open jazz/blues kick, or a big boomy Jon Bonham sound), then I'm more likely to first of all find a kick with that sound (duh!), and shape the sound less.. let the drum in it's natural environment speak for itself...

Based on what you describe I would start with just the beater side kick, see if you can get the specific sound you're looking for. If the drum just sound too flat, start mixing in bits of the resonant head/inside mic to give the kick more depth... but you should really be assessing the kick drum relative to your other low end sounds, particularly the bass guitar/synth, so don't mix a kick drum in a vacuum, unless you're just fine tuning the sound.
You need to limit that rez, bro.

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