We’re back with another episode of FAQ Friday!
As always we have a ton of marvellous questions!
Our featured question this week: “When I record my drums I get a lot of cymbal bleed. What am I doing wrong?”
There are two possible answers to this and in fact, it could be both. From a technical perspective, you obviously have to make sure that cymbals and drums are fairly evenly spaced away from each other. If you have a ride cymbal positioned and a floor tom an inch or two below it whatever you do with that floor tom mic the cymbal is going to bleed dramatically into it.
When you work with drummers who have done a ton of recording with some of the best engineers in the world, they come in and their cymbals are positioned way above the toms. Vinnie Colaiuta, Blair Sinta, Victor Indrizzo, Matt Chamberlain. All of them have fairly high cymbals above their toms.
The younger guys and girls come in and have their cymbals super low. Whatever you do those cymbals are going to bleed into your drum mics. The guys and girls that have done tons of recordings have slowly eeked up their cymbals away from it. Technically speaking that’s one thing you can do as a producer-engineer person. Is make sure there is a good separation between the cymbals and the toms.
Obviously great placement of the mic with good rejection is going to be useful as well. The null point on the back of a cardio mic is pretty useful to have so if you can get your tom to be in front of the mic and place your cymbals behind then, of course, you will get a better rejection.
All of these things are good however nothing beats a great performance of a drummer. If a drummer is smashing the cymbals like crazy and then playing the kick snare and toms calmly. Nothing you can do will stop the cymbals bleeding into everything.
One of the biggest problems I have is not necessarily the cymbals bleeding into the toms, maybe we can move the Mics around and get better placements, maybe you can get in there with a Daw and draw out all that stuff, you can gage, volume ride, you can EQ it out, you can do all kinds of fun things to the tom mics – That’s actually the minor issue.
The bigger issue is that your room mics are going to become totally useless. You could be in a beautiful drum room, massive wide reverberation but if your drummer is literally smashing the schnizzle out of the cymbals and all you hear is cymbals. Well, guess what… all you’ll hear is cymbals.
The second point is probably the most important, a drummer who knows how to perform knows they need to articulations the kick, not every drummer does it, but drummers that let the beater come off of the kick drum will get a better kick drum sound compared to ones that lay into it and get “flap flap”.
I know big drummers that don’t do that but it is how it is. Drummers playing rock maybe playing the center of the snare, but if they really want that crack. Guys like Kenny Aronoff know how to lay their stick across the rim, that isn’t the only way to play drums and not necessarily the best way but it is a style.
A guy or girl who knows how to lay across the rim and also hit in the center will give you the biggest snare sound you ever had. Trust me Joey Kramer, Kenny Aronoff, those guys know how to make a snare drum rock in a room. It’s not for every song however, you’re getting the idea it’s about the drummer who knows how to get the best out of their drums.
Work with your drummer, be complementary but encourage them to articulate their performance. The best thing ever is getting them to come in and listen to what you’re hearing, that will change everything. They will come into the room, sit down between your pair of speakers and they’ll hear what their toms sound like and trust me no drummer wants to have little tiny toms. There is something great about a massive tom fill, we all love that, the panning of the drum kit hearing those toms go around.
So just encourage them to come in and listen to their own performance and you don’t necessarily have to be critical you can just point out that you would like to hear more articulation in those toms more articulations in the kick and the snare and then they will go in there and give you their best.
So cymbals as far away from the drums as possible, micing the drums so that the null point (dead point) is where the cymbal is sitting, and encourage your drummer to perform better.
We cover the following questions during this episode of FAQ Friday!
• Where would be the best position to place a microphone for recording a solo Violin or a solo Cello when using an SM57? I’m Interested in knowing what the better microphones are to record them as well. (1:09)
• What would you do differently when micing an amp with the player sitting in the room and the player sitting outside of the room? (5:19)
• Have you ever done multi-velocity samples of your own studio drum kit? If so, are they available to purchase? (7:04)
• Looking forward to demoing your upcoming drum kit, Warren. Will this sample be a sample pack or a plugin itself? (8:01)
• When I record my drums I get a lot of cymbal bleed. What am I doing wrong? (8:29)
• If one is using just a VST drum kit based on samples, is there a way to bus it to a track and have that track imitate the overheads some way? (14:02)
Related Article: What’s An Acceptable Amount of Drumbleed?