Wierd Way to Aim the 421's

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t...@lapush.com

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Nov 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/3/98
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So my friends rock band recorded at a fancy pants studio the other weekend.
The drum micing setup was very conventional. SM57s on snare top and bottom.
Some little AKG guys overhead in a near-coincident stereo pair. U67 on kick.
KM84 on the hats. And, of course, a 421 on each tom.

As I understand it, the 421 is a side entry microphone. The engineer on this
session set up each 421 a couple of inches from the top head of each tom. The
mics were positioned so that the diaphragm was 90 degrees off axis from the
surface of the head.

Pardon my diagram here:

*
* *
* * <- the 421
* *
***
* *
***

********** <- the tom's top head
* *

Why not position the 421 so that the diaphragm is parallel to the head? Is the
above positioning typical practice? Is it to avoid damaging the microphone?

By the way, the recording sounded fine. I am just wondering if I have stumbled
across some engineering standard that I hadn't heard of before.

Thanks,

Tom Harpel, La Push Records, Washington State
http://www.lapush.com - Come see our page of recording links

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ROMCHA

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Nov 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/3/98
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a 421's pick up pattern is the same as an sm57 (picks up from the end)

Scott Dorsey

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Nov 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/3/98
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In article <71nivu$sdq$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com> t...@lapush.com writes:
>So my friends rock band recorded at a fancy pants studio the other weekend.
>The drum micing setup was very conventional. SM57s on snare top and bottom.
>Some little AKG guys overhead in a near-coincident stereo pair. U67 on kick.
>KM84 on the hats. And, of course, a 421 on each tom.
>
>As I understand it, the 421 is a side entry microphone. The engineer on this
>session set up each 421 a couple of inches from the top head of each tom. The
>mics were positioned so that the diaphragm was 90 degrees off axis from the
>surface of the head.

No, it's not. It's a front-address, just a goofy-looking one.
--scott

--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

Chris Richmond

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Nov 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/3/98
to

t...@lapush.com wrote in message <71nivu$sdq$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>...

>...Why not position the 421 so that the diaphragm is parallel to the head?


Is the
>above positioning typical practice? Is it to avoid damaging the microphone?


That and to avoid unnecessary noise. When a mic is "on axis," the diaphragm
is directly parallel to the sound source. This is bad because a majority of
sound can strike the center of the diaphragm perpendicularly, so none is
deflected -- causing the diaphragm to absorb all of the sound pressure.
This can cause "bottoming out," where the diaphragm is slammed back as far
as it can go. Not only can this cause damage to the mic, but it will
generate a loud "boom" which you really wouldn't want to hear on a
recording. Which is why it is common practice to position a mic "off axis,"
so that the diaphragm is not directly pointing at or is parallel to the
sound source. You really don't lose anything by positioning it that way,
and you can avoid bottoming out the mic. HTH.


Monte P McGuire

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Nov 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/3/98
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In article <71nivu$sdq$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>, <t...@lapush.com> wrote:
>As I understand it, the 421 is a side entry microphone.

No, it's a conventional axial mike... the windscreen might make you
think it's a side entry mike, but it's not!

>The engineer on this session set up each 421 a couple of inches from
>the top head of each tom. The mics were positioned so that the
>diaphragm was 90 degrees off axis from the surface of the head.

I usually position them differently. I try to aim the mike at the
center of the head to get the most "stick" and place the mike an inch
or two above the head, but safely out of stick reach, generally within
an inch of the rim.

Taking all that into account, and avoiding the cymbals, which are
always too close to the toms, the angle generally works out to 30
degrees or so, but never right angles!! If it were 90 degrees, the
drummer couldn't hit the drum 'cuz the mike's completely covering the
drum, and if it's parallel to the drum head, but not pointed to the
center of the head, you're getting a lot of other HF that you don't
want (snare and hat?) and not the real HF from the tom.

It's not rocket science... point it at what you hear but keep it
pointed away from stuff you don't want to hear. And also, keep it out
of the way of flying sticks and flapping cymbals. A good trick is to
look at the wear pattern on the drum head. If it's really tight, you
know you're safe even if you're a bit closer in, but if it's all over
the place, maybe back off a bit to save the mike (and the take).


Regards,

Monte McGuire
mcg...@world.std.com

Harvey Gerst

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Nov 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/3/98
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"Chris Richmond" <cric...@uiuc.edu> wrote:

Bottom out a 421? Surely you jest!!! There ain't a drum or a singer
made that can bottom out a 421. Yeah, it does kinda look like a side
address mic, but it ain't. Just sing into the nameplate.

Harvey Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio
http://ITRstudio.com/

David Morgan (MAMS)

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Nov 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/3/98
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Ditto's to bottoming out a 421 !! I wonder how that's done (aside from with a
hammer) ?

I generally prefer the sound of a 421 (hopefully on a well tuned set of drums) at
about 20 - 30 degrees off that 'right angle' approach, about 3 to 4 inches above the
rim, splitting the difference between the rim and center of the drum for an 'eye'.
Closer only if a powerhouse drummer's crosstalk becomes a problem. (Or if
the drummer has ten thousand cymbals surrounding his kit, all about three inches
above the rims of the toms. If he won't work with me - or I don't choose to impose
on his 'style' - then he get's smaller mics in a compromised positioning. It's only
a real drag when the session is over and he/she only used the ride, hats, and the
two outermost crashes. Then it becomes difficult to bottle the frustration).

Transients aside, micing across the surface of the drum is like having a singer
sing past a mic facing their cheek.... something's gonna be missing. (Not that
I haven't tried this technique on some singers).

I have followed up with mixing many times in situations where 421's were used
by the recordist as if they *were* side pick up mics. The amount of snare and hat
present on the resulting tracks can be disastrous to the tom sounds. Let alone
the fact that if it can't be effectively removed, rather than a fatter snare from the
delay time in the tom mic VS the snare mic, it can actually cause a softening or
mushiness to the sound of the snare. If you're close micing, then it seems like
the object should be to reject all other sounds (without gating - yeeeech, IMHO).

Postscript : I get some *great* horn sounds from 421's.

David Morgan (MAMS)
Morgan Audio Media Service
Dallas, TX (972) 622-1972
________________________________________________
Harvey Gerst wrote in message <389CE5BBD7EC2618.2F323B2C...@library-proxy.airnews.net>...

Lyle Caldwell

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Nov 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/3/98
to
No, no, no, & no. 421s aren't side-address mics to begin with, and I don't
think anything short of the space shuttle could "bottom out" a 421.

--
Lyle

The RAP CD in Blue web site is at:
http://www.hoohahrecords.com/rap/index.htm

Chris Richmond wrote in message <71nll7$cua$1...@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu>...

ScotFraser

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Nov 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/4/98
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<<As I understand it, the 421 is a side entry microphone. >>

You must have attended recording school at that place in Tennesee (I forget
which college) where I dropped by the studio while I was on tour & saw a vocal
session with singers arrayed around a pair or 421's which were pointed at the
floor. I decided the students would be better off discovering for themselves
exactly why the sound sucked, so I didn't say anything.
Scott Fraser

Lorin David Schultz

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Nov 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/4/98
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Chris Richmond wrote:
>
> ... it is common practice to position a mic "off axis," ...

Not where I come from. Maybe for effect, but I wouldn't call it "common
practice".

> You really don't lose anything by positioning it that way, ...

?!? Really? Damn. I've been wasting a lot of time considering polar
patterns when apparently they just don't matter.

Sorry about the sarcasm. I couldn't resist. I don't have even one mic
in my collection that sounds the same off axis as on, especially the
421. You may not _lose_ anything, but what you get will definitely be
_different_.

BTW, to the original poster: the 421 is not a side address mic.

Lorin

Gendelta

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Nov 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/4/98
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>From: "Lyle Caldwell" <cald...@bellsouth.net>

>I don't
>think anything short of the space shuttle could "bottom out" a 421.

And only with a direct hit, at that. -g

Fletcher

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Nov 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/4/98
to lor...@home.com
Lorin David Schultz wrote:

> I don't have even one mic
> in my collection that sounds the same off axis as on,
>

> Lorin


Then may I suggest the addition of an Omni or two?
--
Fletcher
Mercenary Audio
TEL: 508-543-0069
FAX: 508-543-9670
http://www.mercenary.com

Ty Ford

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Nov 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/4/98
to
In Article <71nll7$cua$1...@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu>, "Chris Richmond"

<cric...@uiuc.edu> wrote:
>
>t...@lapush.com wrote in message <71nivu$sdq$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>...
>
>>...Why not position the 421 so that the diaphragm is parallel to the head?
>Is the
>>above positioning typical practice? Is it to avoid damaging the microphone?
>
>
>That and to avoid unnecessary noise. When a mic is "on axis," the diaphragm
>is directly parallel to the sound source. This is bad because a majority of
>sound can strike the center of the diaphragm perpendicularly, so none is
>deflected -- causing the diaphragm to absorb all of the sound pressure.
>This can cause "bottoming out," where the diaphragm is slammed back as far
>as it can go. Not only can this cause damage to the mic, but it will
>generate a loud "boom" which you really wouldn't want to hear on a
>recording. Which is why it is common practice to position a mic "off axis,"

>so that the diaphragm is not directly pointing at or is parallel to the
>sound source. You really don't lose anything by positioning it that way,
>and you can avoid bottoming out the mic. HTH.
>

Hmm, another decaf nasal lavage.......


Regards,

Ty

Ty's commercial and narration demos are available at
http://www.jaguNET.com/~tford. He has also just uploaded an upgraded list of
copyrighted mic/mic preamp reviews and a new list of production music and SFX
libraries.

Joe DeVico

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Nov 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/4/98
to
>So my friends rock band recorded at a fancy pants studio the other weekend.
>The drum micing setup was very conventional. SM57s on snare top and bottom.
>Some little AKG guys overhead in a near-coincident stereo pair. U67 on kick.
>KM84 on the hats. And, of course, a 421 on each tom.
>
>As I understand it, the 421 is a side entry microphone. The engineer on this

>session set up each 421 a couple of inches from the top head of each tom. The
>mics were positioned so that the diaphragm was 90 degrees off axis from the
>surface of the head.
>
snip

>
>Why not position the 421 so that the diaphragm is parallel to the head? Is
>the
>above positioning typical practice? Is it to avoid damaging the microphone?
>
>By the way, the recording sounded fine. I am just wondering if I have
>stumbled
>across some engineering standard that I hadn't heard of before.
>
>Thanks,
>
>Tom Harpel, La Push Records, Washington State

Tom,

I'm by no means an expert, but their are two myths about the 421 that I come
across frequently.

First, it's NOT a side address microphone, so in fact the engineer did have the
diaphragm parallel with the drum head. As for sonic improvements or
degradations, that's another issue.

Secondly, (and somewhat related) I've had more than one engineer come through
my facility and tell me that the M-S rotating switch at the base of the
microphone stands for MID-SIDE, which it does not. It does stand for
Music-Speech and is simply a 5 position bass rolloff.

Hope that clears up a few things...


Joe DeVico
Homebase Recording
http://members.aol.com/hbrecord/


David Morgan (MAMS)

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Nov 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/4/98
to
I had an engineer from Germany tell me once that the initials on the roll-off
switch stood for S = Sharp and M = Mellow. Since that related inversely well to
bass roll-off, I didn't argue.

David M.
_______________________
Joe DeVico wrote in message <19981104095224...@ng73.aol.com>...

Lorin David Schultz

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Nov 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/4/98
to
I wrote:

>> I don't have even one mic in my collection that sounds the same off
>> axis as on


Fletcher replied:


>
> Then may I suggest the addition of an Omni or two?


Very observant! You're right - no omnis, just cards. For the kind of
work I do in the settings I do it I just haven't had occasion to use
omnis much. If/when I need 'em I can rent. Unless someone wants to
give me a pair of omni capsules for my 451's. Please make one of them
black to match the EB.

Lorin
pulling my tongue out of my cheek now

Scott Dorsey

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Nov 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/4/98
to
In article <3640BE...@home.com> lor...@home.com writes:
>
>Very observant! You're right - no omnis, just cards. For the kind of
>work I do in the settings I do it I just haven't had occasion to use
>omnis much. If/when I need 'em I can rent. Unless someone wants to
>give me a pair of omni capsules for my 451's. Please make one of them
>black to match the EB.

You should be ashamed of yourself for not owning any EV 635As. They
cost less than SM57s and are just as versatile. This is like having
a studio without a coffee machine.

hank alrich

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Nov 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/5/98
to
Ty Ford <tf...@jagunet.com> wrote:

> In Article <71nll7$cua$1...@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu>, "Chris Richmond"
> <cric...@uiuc.edu> wrote:
> >
> >t...@lapush.com wrote in message <71nivu$sdq$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>...
> >

> >>...Why not position the 421 so that the diaphragm is parallel to the head?


> >Is the
> >>above positioning typical practice? Is it to avoid damaging the microphone?
> >
> >

> >That and to avoid unnecessary noise. When a mic is "on axis," the diaphragm
> >is directly parallel to the sound source. This is bad because a majority of
> >sound can strike the center of the diaphragm perpendicularly, so none is
> >deflected -- causing the diaphragm to absorb all of the sound pressure.
> >This can cause "bottoming out," where the diaphragm is slammed back as far
> >as it can go. Not only can this cause damage to the mic, but it will
> >generate a loud "boom" which you really wouldn't want to hear on a
> >recording. Which is why it is common practice to position a mic "off axis,"
> >so that the diaphragm is not directly pointing at or is parallel to the
> >sound source. You really don't lose anything by positioning it that way,
> >and you can avoid bottoming out the mic. HTH.
> >
>
> Hmm, another decaf nasal lavage.......

Here's hopin' ya had saran wrap over the keyboard. Lern sumpin everday,
hunh? Better go lookit ma mics agin. Wunners never seize.

--
hank alrich
secret__mountain
audio recording * music production * sound reinforcement
"If laughter is the best medicine let's take a double dose"

SteveHigdn

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Nov 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/5/98
to
Monte McGuire wrote:
>
>It's not rocket science... point it at what you hear but keep it
>pointed away from stuff you don't want to hear. And also, keep it out
>of the way of flying sticks and flapping cymbals. A good trick is to
>look at the wear pattern on the drum head. If it's really tight, you
>know you're safe even if you're a bit closer in, but if it's all over
>the place, maybe back off a bit to save the mike (and the take).
>

But of course, if they've prepared properly for the session, there
should be very little, if any, wear to look at!

New drum heads, top AND bottom, will make the biggest difference
in your recorded drum sound...

now, if they could only TUNE the damn things....

Steve Higdon

Bob

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Nov 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/5/98
to
The solid metal bar across the front of the diaphragm grill that makes it
look like a side entry is a pop sheild.

Joe DeVico wrote in message <19981104095224...@ng73.aol.com>...
>>So my friends rock band recorded at a fancy pants studio the other
weekend.
>>The drum micing setup was very conventional. SM57s on snare top and
bottom.
>>Some little AKG guys overhead in a near-coincident stereo pair. U67 on
kick.
>>KM84 on the hats. And, of course, a 421 on each tom.
>>
>>As I understand it, the 421 is a side entry microphone. The engineer on
this
>>session set up each 421 a couple of inches from the top head of each tom.
The
>>mics were positioned so that the diaphragm was 90 degrees off axis from
the
>>surface of the head.
>>
>snip
>>
>>Why not position the 421 so that the diaphragm is parallel to the head? Is
>>the
>>above positioning typical practice? Is it to avoid damaging the
microphone?
>>
>>By the way, the recording sounded fine. I am just wondering if I have
>>stumbled
>>across some engineering standard that I hadn't heard of before.
>>
>>Thanks,
>>
>>Tom Harpel, La Push Records, Washington State
>

Lyle Caldwell

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Nov 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/5/98
to
That and getting them to set the cymbals up away from the toms, and not
pounding on the hi hat for dear life.

--
Lyle

The RAP CD in Blue web site is at:
http://www.hoohahrecords.com/rap/index.htm

SteveHigdn wrote in message <19981104222337...@ng36.aol.com>...

Arkadelphi

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Nov 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/5/98
to
>>The
mics were positioned so that the diaphragm was 90 degrees off axis from the
surface of the head.<<


I first saw that used on a Stevie Ray Vaughan record. It doesn't make much
sense, but a 421 about 2 inches above the skin aiming across the drum head,
with a bit of 8k boost, gives you a very nice full tom that sounds kind of
compressed without using a compressor. add light gating( NO TOO DEEP!!!, opens
on every snare hit) and you are done. I do it often and nobody has punched me
out yet.........


Stuart (bobbin' and weavin')

Monte P McGuire

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Nov 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/5/98
to
In article <19981104222337...@ng36.aol.com>,

SteveHigdn <steve...@aol.com> wrote:
>But of course, if they've prepared properly for the session, there
>should be very little, if any, wear to look at!
>
>New drum heads, top AND bottom, will make the biggest difference
>in your recorded drum sound...

As long as the drummer has some control and there isn't that much wear
or any huge dents, week old heads aren't so bad IMHO. If the tone is
gonna change, let that happen before I press the red button so I can
cut easier! But, frankly, I really never noticed so much of a
difference unless the heads are pretty seriously worn, in the months
and months range. Coated heads are probably more sensitive to wear
too, but I'm just guessing.

FWIW, I read that Charlie Watts never changes his heads, or at least
he hasn't since some time in the early 70s or so. He also supposedly
doesn't hit very hard either...

>now, if they could only TUNE the damn things....

Amen! I worked with a guy recently who could actually tune his drums
well (both of the heads too!!) and it was a pleasure. Miking that kit
was purely textbook... However, I think that this issue is a good
reason not to use brand spankin' new heads. If you've played them a
teeny bit, they'll settle in and then once they're tuned, they'll stay
that way perhaps a little longer. Maybe that's just on drums with
cheap hardware though... I'm really just guessing. All I know is that
when the drummers I've seen change their heads for a recording
session, they're always futzing with them and it tends to distract
them from more important things!


Regards,

Monte McGuire
mcg...@world.std.com

ROMCHA

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Nov 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/5/98
to
try aiming a 421 at the north star while there's a full moon in the sky....I
heard that's how number one records are made.......

art

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Nov 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/5/98
to
Chris Richmond wrote:

> That and to avoid unnecessary noise. When a mic is "on axis," the diaphragm
> is directly parallel to the sound source. This is bad because a majority of
> sound can strike the center of the diaphragm perpendicularly, so none is
> deflected -- causing the diaphragm to absorb all of the sound pressure.
> This can cause "bottoming out," where the diaphragm is slammed back as far
> as it can go. Not only can this cause damage to the mic, but it will
> generate a loud "boom" which you really wouldn't want to hear on a
> recording. Which is why it is common practice to position a mic "off axis,"
> so that the diaphragm is not directly pointing at or is parallel to the
> sound source. You really don't lose anything by positioning it that way,
> and you can avoid bottoming out the mic. HTH.

Hate to be rude here, but SAY WHAT????

Art Yeap

Lorin David Schultz

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Nov 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/6/98
to
Scott Dorsey wrote:
>
> You should be ashamed of yourself for not owning any EV 635As. They
> cost less than SM57s and are just as versatile. This is like having
> a studio without a coffee machine.
> --scott

It's a childhood trauma thing. When I was about six some TV host jammed
a 635 under my nose unexpectedly and it freaked me out. Haven't been
able to go near them since.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it...

Lorin

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