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Tech Tip Of The Day: Controlling Overhead Microphones

Getting the sound you want while avoiding the sound you don't...

By PSW Staff March 31, 2014

Provided by Sweetwater.

Q: I’ve tried using overhead mics to add depth to my drum recordings, but all they do is make the recording sound washy. Any advice?

A: A well-placed room mic can certainly add depth and space to a recording, especially on drums. But sometimes a room mic ends up picking up too much of a particular instrument and drowning out the source you were hoping would benefit from the room mic.

A gate can be an effective tool for sculpting the room mic sound to emphasize a particular instrument. For example, a room mic can add snap to a snare drum that sometimes isn’t captured by a close mic, but the room mic also picks up the kick, toms, and cymbals.

To isolate the snare sound in the room mic recording, insert a gate on the room mic track and key the input to the snare track. The gate will only open when the snare is hit, effectively eliminating most of the room sound except the snap of the snare. Of course, you will lose any ambient sounds from the other parts of the kit, but if the end result is a huge snare sound, the trade-off may be worth it.

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