My plan is to update this page and add links as things
progress. Considering the interest in 5.1, every issue is a potential
topic. Feel free to e-mail
As for follow-up to thursday's 5.1 drum class (9
nov'04), I think the students should sit down with the tracks and attempt
to mix and burn them to DVD-A. The software link is below. We should at
least get a few copies of Minnetonka's
Bronze for student use as the MAC version is now available. Unlike
dolby AC-3, DVD-A does not compromise the signal AND, when data compression
is required, MLP (Meridien Lossless Packing) is used.
Paul is so right to suggest that students find their
voice, their sound, and I believe that while my approach is not intended
to be an "absolute method," the geek slant will certainly assist in accomplishing
So much of what we did on Thursday leaves so many
questions unanswered - questions that would be defined by the material,
the arrangement and preference. For example, while all the students seemed
impressed with the sound, one question concerned how other stuff might
be made to fit on top of the drums. I can't emphasize the importance of
arrangement over technology, my example being how to make a big fat acoustic
guitar not get in the way of the bass track by having the guitarist play
a chord inversion that made sonic real estate for the bass region. That's
so much better than rolling bottom of the acoustic.
Of course, one of the answers is to make the drums
smaller, but we should try to take advantage of 5.1's potential so that
we, as "creators" set the standards rather than be forced to fit a poorly
designed mold. I'd love to hear the student's sonic interpretation of the
tracks -- or anyone else interested in playing with them -- as well as
commercial 5.1 releases that would be a of interest.
management issue is huge - we could spend a whole class in perception
alone, hence my emphasis on the Loudness curve and the use of tools (such
as the spectrum analyzer) so that we can all have a better idea of how
things work (or why they're not working). That said, we shouldn't be afraid
of bass, but we could all be better educated as to what is generating low
frequency information and how to reproduce it.
Clearly, the spectrum analyzer proved that the kick
had plenty of low frequency information - we didn't get to compare its
sound on different speakers or systems - but if left as-is - rather than
boost because it "seemed" thin by itself on the genelecs (without sub).
This is both a LOUDNESS
issue as well as the fact that the kick mic generated low frequency information
that is not easily reproduced by a single 8-inch woofer located behind
the console, rather than on the meter bridge.
NOTE: Generally, you can expect a low frequency
boost of at about 3dB for each "boundary," a wall or a shelf, for example.
Placing an audio monitor on the floor and in a corner will produce the
most bottom. A free standing monitor will product the least bottom.
Here's Genelec's explanation
and guide to monitor placement.
I think believe the kick mic would certainly have
worked in both 5.1 and stereo because all of the other mics did such a
good job of capturing a completely different "kick textures," some enhanced
by room ambience (more about that in a moment) but
you can see the pix now if your like. Thanks to Colt
Leeb for providing the spectrum analyzer screen shots of the kick drum,
as captured not only by the kick mic but the other mics as well.
The images very clearly proved every point I've made
about the perception of bottom (or more precisely, the lack of same) and
the loudspeaker's inability to reproduce really low frequencies. In this
case, the kick's low frequency "bump" started at around 20Hz and extended
up about to 200Hz - a range that extends from subwoofer to the main monitors.
Below 63 Hz is not such a good range for a 30IPS, 24-track analog multitrack
In addition, the kick was helped by the room mics
- the decay of the room elongates the attack and the resonance - I suspect
spectrum analysis would also show a harmonic shift toward a more reproducible
frequency range, and THAT would explain why the C24 (in the booth) made
the kick feel so natural. The kick mic just provided a little extra support
or reinforcement to what the other mics brought to the mix.
Below is a link to a basement recording I made with
a neighborhood teenage trio. The drums were recorded with two mics - an
omni overhead and another omni about 20 feet away, the distant mic is the
source of all the low bottom.
Another way to look at recording and mixing kick
(or any low frequency instrument) is to mix a bit of "house philosophy"
with "scientific data." I understand that adding a little 80-Hz to kick
is very common. The spectral analysis shows far less 80-Hz than 40-Hz,
so this indeed would be ONE way to get it up. HOWEVER, what if we took
the data and tuned the kick up instead? That would be worth trying in any
The kick, as is, leaves a nice big whole for the
bass - this is a good thing. Even though open E on the bass is 41.2-Hz,
it is generally the second harmonic that is more easily reproduced on small
monitors - what a ampeg B-15 does for bass and what we normally perceive
as the beginning of the bass region.
A little education about "low frequency awareness"
will make it possible to more predictably get the bottom you want.
that's all for now,