Last week was video one of the start of the series about mastering the art of recording drums without samples. This week is about learning how to make all of these microphones that we place on the drums work together.
Knowing the issues of phasing and polarity is really the only chance you have to make sure all of this stuff is working together.
It is actually more simple than you would think, and once you are done and you have practiced this a few times you will be able to do it in under a minute.
I am going to be giving you the sound files from this episode and also a PDF download so it is grouped in a folder available for you right now if you would like to do that. Just jump over to the link in the description or on the screen and you can download that from the Download Bonus Library.
So here are the three steps that we are going to be covering today on phase and polarity.
Step one is to flip polarity to add strength to the sound.
Step two is move the microphones and not the tracks.
Step three is choose a priority and then work from there.
Drum Microphones and Getting Them to Mix Well Together
In the art of recording drums we have many microphones. Some of them point towards the ground and some of them point up at the ceiling. Some of them point towards each other. And you are going to have both issues of phasing and polarity. We are going to be focusing on flipping the polarity today to address both issues.
Flip Polarity to Add Strength to the Sound
So step one is to flip the polarity to add strength to your sound. You may think that flipping polarity is not shifting the timing of the wave, and it is not, but it can still help us in that the low frequencies of two different microphones might work together instead of fighting each other.
Move the Microphones, and Not the Tracks
And that leads me to step two. Move the mics and not the tracks. What I mean by moving the tracks, is that some people are actually taking and shifting the tracks around in the DAW so they are lining up the waves to be phase coherent. I would encourage you to not to do that.
You typically experience a real delay or reverb in a place like a concert hall. Having an indirect sound that is timed to be right on top of a direct sound is not natural. So with that said if you need to move a sound to arrive slightly earlier in your DAW because of phasing that you do not like, then move the microphone closer to the source.
Let us go on to step three, which is choose the priority and then work from there. This is really the bread and butter of getting this concept and playing it out in to action.
Choose a Priority in Your Mix and Work from There
I have some drum tracks pulled up. Let us do have a listen to what is going on. so let us take a look at both overhead microphones and pan them to the middle to make a mono signal. This way we can really here the phasing or any sort of cancellation that happens. If it is there we will here it.
In a stereo mix we may not hear it unless we really develop an ear for hearing it. When we make it mono we are really able to hear the cancellation.
Now I know that I am mentioning the overheads and that is really the foundation and the outline that will be filled in. But the priority here of what needs to stay right side up its polarity is the kick and if possible the snare drum.
The reason is because speakers are designed to push outward first and if our loudest sound in our drums is pulling our speakers inward then anywhere our mix is heard it will be putting stress on that system.
So take a look at this wave. You will see the wave goes up and then down. Listen to how the sound is changed just by flipping the polarity of the wave.
So believe it or not, if you are hearing a change in sound it is actually something that your speakers are doing because they are designed to push air outwards first and then go back in.
So we want the kick to work with our speakers and not fight its design. That is why I have placed a priority for the kick and snare to be right side up so that the waves are produced by the speakers pushing air outwards.