Recently switched from digital drumset to acoustic. How do we keep them from being picked up by the vocal mics?
January 22, 2012 10:21 PM   Subscribe

We played for years with V-Drums and just recently switched to acoustic drums. We've found that the cymbals get picked up by the vocal mics and distort or drown out the rest of the mix. How do we prevent that?

Our setup: we've a PA, a mixing board, and in-ear monitors for every band member. We've a vocalist and the guitarist and bassist do backup vocals. The guitarist and bassist are both amped as well as going into the PA. We're in a 10x20ish room and the 3 mics are about 5 feet away from the drums, facing them (along with the PA).

We already tried moving the mics further away from the drums but it didn't seem to help much.
posted by Alien Parachute Man to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Assuming you're talking about live (because in studio you'd just lay down the vocals after the drums or use isolation booths), that's what multi-track recording is for.

How sensitive are the mics? How tight is their pattern? If it's a good cardiod or supercardiod, then place the drums 90 degrees off the mic. If the mics have settings, try them out.

Worse case, throw up a curtain on a movable stand between the drumkit and the singers.
posted by Mad_Carew at 10:58 PM on January 22, 2012

There are a couple things you can try. One is to EQ the mic channels so the cymbal bleed is reduced. Another is to turn down the gain from the mics and sing closer to them. A third (assuming you're using something like an SM58) is to mount mics so the diaphragm is not pointed directly at the cymbals.

Also, do the cymbals seem unusually loud to you without the PA? It's possible that your drummer just got used to hitting the Vdrum cymbals way harder than is necessary on real ones.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:02 PM on January 22, 2012

This is in your practice space? Get some heavy acoustical stage curtains and some eggcrate foam. You need to get that room treated.
posted by j03 at 11:28 PM on January 22, 2012

This is what isolation booths are for, so reduce that to whatever you have room for or can afford. You could probably make panels that interchange between isolation pieces and bass traps, for instance.
posted by rhizome at 11:40 PM on January 22, 2012

You can't prevent it. You can reduce it.

1) Your drummer needs to learn to play softer and more dynamically.

2) See #1

3) The singers need to sing louder & closer to the microphones.

4) See #3

5) See #'s 1,2,3 & 4

6) Hang some curtains or rugs or acoustic foam (NOT "egg-crate foam" - that shit is highly flammable & produces deadly gases when it burns) on the walls & ceiling. It will absorb/diffuse the high frequencies of the cymbals, making it less obvious that the bleed is happening.

7) Get the mics as far away from the drums as possible. Every little bit helps.

8) If anyone suggests a plexiglass drum shield you should not listen to them. In a room that small it's a waste of money.

9) You say, "the 3 mics are about 5 feet away from the drums, facing them." If you mean that the singers are looking at the drummer's face as they sing, then you're probably already getting maximum rejection of "extra" sound at the mic.

10) In the drummer's defense, he may be hitting as hard as he is because he's just trying to keep up with the guitar & bass. They may need to turn down.

11) If everyone's on in-ears you're all kind of isolated from each other and may be missing the forest for the trees. Try a few practices without the ears to work on everyone's volume. Then start over on the in-ears, re-setting volumes & EQ's on the mixer to accommodate your new situation with the acoustic drums & maybe new guitar & bass volumes.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:25 AM on January 23, 2012

Thanks for the suggestions. It was not clear in the original post, but I'm referring specifically to rehearsal, not recording.
posted by Alien Parachute Man at 9:00 AM on January 23, 2012

What's your budget? It may be easiest to rehearse in a circle facing each other. The mics won't face the drums in that configuration, and once you're playing live it'll be the sound guy's problem.
posted by rhizome at 1:16 PM on January 23, 2012

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