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Equipment standard (Microphones – triggering)

September 23, 2011

Lydrommet were also kind enough to lend me some microphones.

AKG C 518

Crown PZM 30 D

AKG C 547 BL

I tested them with the same intent as I tested the preamps, I wanted to see if there was any reason for me to invest in other microphones.

I already have this one in all my drums:

UKKO by b-band

Also I have three of these which I use for percussion (I apologize for the bad quality of the picture):

10-6

Beyerdynamic TGX 5

One of my main concerns regarding microphones when it comes to my setup is leakage, the amount of surrounding sounds that are picked up by the microphone (Brice, 2001). The reason for this concern is that one of the techniques I use is based on amplitude-triggering: When the amplitude (volume) (Knopp, 1996) of a signal reaches a certain level, it generates a MIDI-signal.

I made a Max for Live patch for this:

audiotrigg

If any one is interested in the .amxd-file or a standalone, please comment and I’ll post it.

The most suitable microphones for this concept are the built-in contact microphones. Since they are inside the drums they have a physical shield from their surroundings, and since they are contact microphones, sound waves in the air does not directly affect them. A contact microphone is “A microphone designed to pick up mechanical vibrations directly and convert them into corresponding electric currents or voltages” (McGraw-Hill Dictionary). Yet, I’ve experienced that surrounding sound has made the drums resonate, and at high enough gain levels I’ve experienced feedback. Still, compared to the other microphones I tried, they act very well when it comes to leakage, hear for your self:

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Crown PZM 30 D (kick):

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AKG C 547 BL (kick):

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UKKO by b-band (snare):

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AKG C 518 (snare):

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Beyerdynamic TG-X 5 (snare):

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Unfortunately, the UKKO inside my kick isn’t working, they tend to not handle a lot of traveling, and I usually pack other drums inside the kick drum, so it might have been damaged for that reason.

Since the kick microphones in question both are mounted inside the kick (many kicks have a hole in the rear drum head, so they are easy to mount), they don’t present the same amount of leakage as snare and tom microphones usually do.

Even tough the UKKO’s present less leakage than the other microphones, they require you to always bring around drums with them mounted, or you’ll have to use some extra time mounting them in the drums where ever you go. Since there’s already so much equipment I have to bring around, and I’m looking for ways to minimize my setup, I don’t consider them as an option. There’s also the aspect of how they sound, we’ll look into that in the next post.

I’ve been looking into how to use other parameters as a input for the triggering, for example frequency or texture. If this method is thoroughly developed, I could in theory use just one overhead microphone and map the sound of each drum/cymbal to a midi-note using for example this program: Wekinator. Then again, I would have to be alone on stage because other musicians could interfere with the triggering-system and it could present many challenges when I start looping or when it comes to feedback.

Yet, this could be an interesting concept, multiple musicians interacting with one triggering system. For this, you would of course require a microphone with a lot of “leakage”.

Next, we’ll look into the microphone setup.

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Brice, Richard (2001), Music Engineering, Oxford: Newnes, ISBN 0750650400

Knopp, Konrad; Bagemihl, Frederick (1996). Theory of Functions Parts I and II. Dover Publications. p. 3. ISBN 0-486-69219-1

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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2 Comments
  1. Very interested in that .amxd of your amplitude-to-midi patch! 🙂

  2. Since this is one of the first patches I made in Max, it’s extremely bad written, so I took my time and wrote a new one.

    I have used some external objects and I’ve “frozen” the device which according to m4l manual/tutorials is supposed to automatically include the necessary Max external object(s), but please let me know if it doesn’t work for you.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5427650/audio-trigg%20v3.amxd

    (right-click -> download file)

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