In today’s episode, I’m going to show you how to alter the sound of cymbals just by a simple microphone adjustment.

You would be surprised that with subtle adjustments of where you put the overhead mic and how it can shape the sound of your cymbals.

Not only can it change the attack of the cymbal, it also is a great trick for sculpting the high end of cymbals especially when working with budget cymbals or when tone crafting your mixes ahead of time so you don’t have to use EQ when you mix.

Now I really would like to present to you a new idea today and it’s about the idea of tuning the sound of your cymbals.

Can You Really Change the Sound of Cymbals?

Cymbals are actually pretty expensive. Most drummers really don’t have any extra money to buy tons of extra cymbals so really when you are recording a band sometimes your just stuck with whatever the drummer brought in that day. You typically don’t have any options to swipe out various cymbals for a better set, if whatever you have is not working for you.

And so I would like to suggest that by using a method I’m going to show you today, you can actually tune and kind of scoop out certain frequencies that may be harsh on the ears.

Now this obviously was just with one mic and if you add a second mic it’s kind of a bonus idea is that you have now two positions. You have two different angles of attack on these cymbals. So one microphone may be getting a little bit more character of one cymbal and as that cymbal is swaying the other mic is getting a slightly different character of that cymbal at a different time. As the cymbal rocks it kind of makes a little bit of a swirling sound.

Overhead Microphone Position and Recording Cymbals

Now we had talked in a previous issue about the Glyn Johns Method about how there is actually a null at the edge of that cymbal and if you go to the extreme where a mic is so far down so far low there is actually this void of sound and it creates this cancellation where the cymbal actually jumps. This is not that. This is more of a subtle effect. If you are hard panning a spaced pair of overheads, just by having two different angles of attack on the cymbals there actually is a slight swirling sound that you get that’s actually pretty cool. I actually find it pretty pleasing when it comes to mix the tracks.

Sam Sharples

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