November 2, 2006

Recording thoughts...

by Chris Randall

From the title, one might assume that I have a new method for brainwave-to-MIDI conversion, but nothing could be further from the truth. What I'm curious about is this:

I'm using a lot of non-traditional percussion and such on my current project. Everyone knows the various ways for micing a drum kit and normal percussion, but I'm finding that I'm having a hard time getting the sounds I want using the normal methods when I'm trying to record, say, a piece of sheet metal being hit with a piece of rebar. (I'm just throwing it out there as an example, of course.)

My problem is that I'm having a hard time getting the "body" of the sound; it's always so much attack that I end up having to use a really aggressive compressor setting, and I end up with a lot of room noise that has to be gated, and basically it's just a rolling clusterfuck. Is there a trick I don't know about to recording this sort of thing?



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Nov.02.2006 @ 5:11 PM
When I was in a band that had metal percussion I potted some guitar pickups in a small plastic box from Rat Shack along w/ a volume pot and a 1/4" jack. We used heavy duty velcro to attach them to heating ducts and gas tanks. Total distance between metal and pickup was under 1/2".

The sound guys shows generally hated it even tho I told them to turn their mixers the heck down for the soundcheck. Every last one dived at the faders when our percussionist would start wailing away.

As long as the metal can induce a change in the magnetic field it should work for you. You'll still want a compressor.

Another alternative is some kind of contact mic. Piezo discs might work. Small speakers (about 2" - 8" or so) mounted on the metal would pick up something, both from the sound moving the speaker and the vibration transmitted to the speaker frame.


Nov.02.2006 @ 6:37 PM
I've had reasonably good luck recording tin foil and odd bits of junk with a contact mic. I have these excellent (and cheap) ones that Korg makes that are clip on and covered in rubber. Reasonably good sound quality, somewhat tidier than home made ones I've tried.

Mind you the noise I make is going for a different thing than I suspect you're after. You could try mixing regular mics and contact mics to see if you build the sound you're after. Or try recording in a really resonant room like a bathroom. I used to do that with a little toy hand drum I had, it was the only way for the thing to make an appreciable sound.

Fishman makes some pretty good quality contact/pickup things for acoustic instruments, should you go looking.

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Nov.02.2006 @ 7:17 PM
Back up and try a small condenser mic? Try an MXL 604, they're dirt cheap and sound nice.

Nov.02.2006 @ 9:18 PM
if you're going for "body" I don't think contact mics are the way to go. They're handy for live stuff, but if you're going for a nice recording, they're pretty tinny sounding.

I would close mic it with a kick drum mic (d112) or do one of those NS-10 speaker as a mic rigs, and mix it with a condenser mic a few feet back.


Nov.02.2006 @ 9:34 PM
Chris Randall
I've tried that second course of action (D112 w/ LDC a couple feet off for the room) and that's produced the best result so far; I should probably just play with placement until I get the right combo. I was kind of hoping for a "magic bullet" solution, but I guess it's just the old fashioned ways, as always.

FWIW, contact mics simply aren't the sound I'm looking for. In a live situation, they're fine, but they don't sound organic at all in the studio. They sound like you have your face pressed up against whatever it is you're hitting.



Nov.03.2006 @ 12:31 AM
Try hitting with something softer than a piece of rebar. Maybe a leg of lamb?

Nov.03.2006 @ 12:43 AM
or your hog?

Nov.03.2006 @ 12:55 AM
D' MacKinnon
Have you looked at the Audio Technica AE2500 mics? I bought it to record kick drums, it's a dynamic and condenser capsule in one mic housing that feeds to two xlr outs so you can mix the sounds of the two until you get the tone you want. I've had good results with it whenever I needs to get anything with lots of bottom.

Nov.03.2006 @ 1:32 AM
the kick mic/ldc combo has taht advantage of allowing you to comress and eq them separately. My personal reflex in this situation, which might or might not work, would be to find a room it sounds good in and then mic it with one or two omnis several feet away.

Nov.03.2006 @ 1:39 AM
Chris Randall
I _knew_ there was a reason I needed to buy a pair of M150s. That's not a half-bad idea, right there.



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