Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Three Quick Tips for Excessive Cymbal Noise

Drums are an important part of just about every song, like the guitar and bass, almost every song will have these components. As an audio engineer , one of the biggest problems you will face when recording drums, which you won't have when recording a bass or a guitar, is too much cymbal action and too much high frequency. Basically all this means is the sound of the cymbal hit is just too loud and last longer than what is wanted or needed for the action.

Since there is no volume knob for a cymbal and asking the drummer to take it easier on the cymbals is probably not going to be an option, here are three things as an engineer you can try to fix this problem.

Try a De-esser Plug-in. Yes, in most cases this is supposed to be used for a vocal, but I haven't seen that written in stone anywhere. This plug-in might just take away that high frequency and on-going ringing that you need to tame down the unwanted sound without affecting the initial sound too much.

Use a Compressor. Using a compressor plug-in might help keep some of those tones in check. A 10:1 ratio with a threshold of -10 might give you some amazing results. In fact, a slight compression after the De-esser program might really give you a sound that sounds great without using a whole lot of EQ.
Remove the Overhead Mics. If your drummer is hitting the cymbals so hard that the sound is too over powering, it might be time to rethink your microphone set-up. For most drum mic set-ups, you will have a left and right overhead mic. But if your drummer is hitting the cymbals hard enough to ditch the overhead mics, you should do just that. If this is the case, you can possibly just get away with using the individual mics that you are using to pic up the other components, or if you still need a good overall sound from your drum kit, you can try setting up a room mic to capture the drum kit at a whole.

I know as an engineer myself, it's easy to say I don't completely like the way those cymbals sound but I will fix the problem later during mix down. This is a big no-no. What happens if you record five or six songs with the set-up the way it is, later the band packs up and goes home and then when you get ready to mix these songs, you find out that the cymbals just are not fixable without re-recording the drum tracks again, how do you explain yourself? Remember, one of the most important rules in recoding is doing it right the first time.

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