Panji Dazzles Members of AEPAGH (Audio Engineers And Producers Association Of Ghana)

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In the early hours of today 27th February 2018, a member Kweku Osei asked this question, “Please can someone help with the difference between ambiance mic and a room mic”?

Now this is a platform where most producers, sound engineers and beat makers exchange ideas. All manner of music or sound related issues are discussed on this platform. Sometimes it get so heated those who cant stay exist the page but soon they send request to be Waxi the administrator to add them back. Once a while we all stray into religion and drugs related issues which becomes so controversial and very uncomfortable with a lot of the members. Members do share very creative ideas all the time however, Panji’s response to Kweku Osei question this morning left everybody wondering if Panji has been waiting for all this while for this particular question to be asked. Below is his response to the simple question Osei asked, “Please can someone help with the difference between ambiance mic and a room mic”?

            As far as i know, the technique of recording drums mostly with a mono microphone from a distance is drum room mic, and the process of adding a little space to close mic drums (often stereo) would be ambient. For me, the greatest advantage of digital recording is being able to time align percussive recordings. On analogy, the secret was to make sure every microphone was a similar distance from source. This compromises sound but, with digital, you can actually time align a drum kit and the sound becomes so much tighter…. ESP overhead (s) or room microphones which will have a delay of 1/30 of a second in a 10m drum room (Much smaller than TV3).

The room reverb is often recorded by sticking a mic in a corner of the room facing away from room. Put your head in the corner of any rectangular room whilst you play music and you will hear a huge change in sound. It is even more dramatic if you cover the ear facing the room, that is why removing corners from rooms is the first step towards good acoustics, so even our ancestors who lived in round houses knew that. It is just kpelems (Shine)… ambience and room i am sure the difference is time delay and stereo p3h as somebody much more concerned with harmony and rhythm than sound, if i am going to use a lot of overhead mic, I prefer a single mono overhead (large diaphragm, omni mode) to small diaphragm stereo overheads..the drums have more focus and bite… try and see… if you use very little overheads (with plenty hipass) in mix doesn’t make such big difference.

Stereo is an obsession with long continuous sounds (organ, strings) not short heavy percussive sounds, where mono is ALWAYS better. So only crashes and cymbals benefit from a stereo overhead, but all the other drums lose. Also, the overhead microphone needs to be the same distance from the kik drum AND the snare to work best, so there is only one position that it can be.. and its not that far from the drummer’s ear. The reason why single microphone recordings… Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Nat King Cole are mono single microphone recordings… and they sound great because the focus of the recording is perfect… the more microphones you use, the harder it is to create that focus in the mix… time aligning can help, but you can only time align every other microphone to one main or central mic… for African dance music, the kik or snare works…  you can gate Kik and toms hard, but you can’t gate a hi hat or even snare hard enough to remove cross talk and phasing, so avoiding it is better than to time aligning.

If your overhead is same distance from kik and snare, hihat too is almost 100% p3p33p3 (exact). If your Kik mic is ALSO same distance from kik drum beater, murder sound already… that is why a mic from the foot side of kik does not mix with back unless it is far away… also the double extended kik drum works similarly… the kik drum mic is now almost same distance or further from beater as overhead, as opposed to opposite. where normally overhead is much further from kik than kik mic…

same problem if you record fontomfrom from top and bottom simultaneously… one mic is much further from beater than the other… digital time align solves this and suddenly your drums seem much bigger… almost like you can see them in front of you… the difference a few clicks makes can be incredible… but all can be easily avoided by always keeping microphone distances equal as possible… a few inches is a big difference in drums, but less so with a saxophone because the attack is much softer… phasing matters less..

So European engineers have never really been concerned by this, because it does not affect a chamber recording, or a symphony orchestra or choir recording. Because no sounds with sharp attacks… but try and record a drum circle and its very different… so we must find solutions to our unique problems and needs.