Jack of All Trades in the Audio Engineering world.
Sometimes I answer emails in a way that explains exactly what I want it to so easily, I want to share it. Here is a recent email to a new home recording artist about trying to solve hi hats being too loud in overheads.
"... here are a number of things you can try. (in order of what I would try based on what I hear…)
1. Try angling the microphones so they point a little bit more away from the hats.
2. Do you have a different set of hats to put on the kit? They might just pair with the cymbals in a way you don’t want.
3. If you think of the drums as sitting in a circle, and the the overhead mics as sitting ON the circle’s edge, try rotating the overheads to they are the farthest points away from the hats while still maintaining the image you want.
4. Keeping with the circle metaphor, try moving the overheads to different points on the circle than you currently have them, but in a different ratio of distance to each other AND to the hats.
5. Try a completely different overhead setup. Here’s a link to a great article with pictures and examples of 7 different overhead setups.
It’s very likely that one of these might naturally adjust the balance to your liking, but really hard to say which one. I’ve used all of these techniques to great success.
6. Fix it in the mix.
a. Simply EQing the right frequencies might help, or automating some EQ moves when the hats are there.
b. Automating volume changes when the hats are there vs not.
c. A little of both.
Both are very common tricks to make it work and happen all the time. Compression likely won’t help the issue. In fact, It would likely make things worse. The above should help though.
I hope you find something in there useful. :) There are so many possibilities, something is bound to work."
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A 20 year industry veteran, James specializes in producing alternative rock.