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Author Topic: Strategy for setting / managing tom gates  (Read 10780 times)

Mark McFarlane

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Strategy for setting / managing tom gates
« on: July 27, 2013, 05:02:13 am »

One area I continue to struggle with is finding good 'average' gate settings for toms, particularly for festival type situations.

The problems are somewhat obvious, different dynamics between songs with the same drummer (threshold), different desired impact of the toms for different songs (decay, attack, hold), different drummers in festivals: a gorilla using telephone poles followed by a guy playing with pencils,,...

I rarely work with the same band, so preprogramming a show, or scene changes per song, isn't an option.  Sound check time is typically 20-30 minutes for a 1 band gig, which means 10 minutes for drums.  For festivals its more of a line check and go, 5 minutes between bands is typical.

In the heat of things, I often end up disabling the gates, or using a really small range so I am only getting a few db of attenuation rather than a full on gate.  Part of the problem is certainly my skill, if I could readjust the gates in 3 seconds it wouldn't be an issue, then again, not knowing the bands or songs I don't know when the toms are going to be hit, so readjusting them 'in the first song' presents additional challenges, and with 4 toms they might not be used for several songs,...

I'm curious what others strategies are for setting up tom gates in an 'unfamiliar band' situation.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2013, 06:33:13 am by Mark McFarlane »
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Bob Leonard

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Re: Strategy for setting / managing tom gates
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2013, 05:27:08 am »

My technique is probably contrary to what most will do in this situation Mark, but I seldom apply a gate unless the offending drum tends to ring like a bell. I don't use the gate for a volume control which can have just the opposite effect that you're looking for. I run separate channels, adjust the volumes so the kit is well balanced, apply slight compression if needed, and route the kit as a group. If needed I gate the group, but I tend to think individual gates on each drum of the kit leads to unwanted and mostly not needed complexity.
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Mark McFarlane

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Re: Strategy for setting / managing tom gates
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2013, 06:31:50 am »

My technique is probably contrary to what most will do in this situation Mark, but I seldom apply a gate unless the offending drum tends to ring like a bell. I don't use the gate for a volume control which can have just the opposite effect that you're looking for. I run separate channels, adjust the volumes so the kit is well balanced, apply slight compression if needed, and route the kit as a group. If needed I gate the group, but I tend to think individual gates on each drum of the kit leads to unwanted and mostly not needed complexity.

Gating the group is an interesting proposition, thanks Bob.  It would, in effect, open all 4 tom mics bringing in a little more than I want, but I occasionally have a problem with false triggers from adjacent toms anyway (which can be partially helped by mic placement, but sometimes mic placement is constrained).

Gating the tom group would certainly be quicker to adjust per-band, or per-song.

FWIW, my particular setup is Audix D2s and D4s run through an 01V96.  My standard setup does have toms on their own bus so its easy enough to try.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: Strategy for setting / managing tom gates
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2013, 06:43:44 am »

... but I tend to think individual gates on each drum of the kit leads to unwanted and mostly not needed complexity.
I'm with Bob on this one.
Unless the drum is really bad, I leave the gates off. A well sorted kit shouldn't need gates.
As you pointed out, the difference in players can be dramatic. and I find that I have other things to dedicate my time to, when in festival mode, than gates!
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Jay Barracato

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Re: Strategy for setting / managing tom gates
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2013, 07:39:40 am »

Here is another "it seems backwards" technique but I will often go with the jazz mic setup of kick/ overhead or kick snare/overhead and just roll off the upper end of the overhead to lessen the crash and bring up the ride and toms in the mix.

Another thing to point out is you really don't need 40+ db of gain reduction to clean up the mix. Often getting 9 db is enough. And if you can set your triggers to be frequency specific, the spectrograph in SMAART makes find those frequencies easy.
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Douglas R. Allen

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Re: Strategy for setting / managing tom gates
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2013, 08:09:00 am »

Mark;

I have an 01v96 as well and do a lot of different bands too. Something I do in the heat of battle if you will is not mess with the gate settings as such but use the gains instead. If you think about it if you set your gain threshold at -18dfs ( as an example ) it won't open until you crank the gain up enough for the signal to reach that level.
I'll put in the standard gate settings for a tom. Have the gain turned all the way down. When the band is playing turn the gain up , without the tom being played , until the gate opens then turn it down a little until the gate closes. The tom is then hit and it opens.  ;) Of course this increases the cross talk somewhat when another tom is hit but if the gate stays closed for kick, snare,overheads, back line bleed then this will get you by in the heat of the battle.
Using the gain until the gate just opens then backing it down just a little will account for stage volume and drummer dynamics as well. Keeps you right on the edge of it opening.
Using this I've had my threshold set at -10 for years and have never had to touch it. Think of the gain needed to open the threshold instead of setting the threshold to the gain setting.
Again this works for those 8 band shows when you don't have a lot of time.

Douglas R. Allen
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Re: Strategy for setting / managing tom gates
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2013, 08:15:33 am »

Here is another "it seems backwards" technique but I will often go with the jazz mic setup of kick/ overhead or kick snare/overhead and just roll off the upper end of the overhead to lessen the crash and bring up the ride and toms in the mix.

Another thing to point out is you really don't need 40+ db of gain reduction to clean up the mix. Often getting 9 db is enough. And if you can set your triggers to be frequency specific, the spectrograph in SMAART makes find those frequencies easy.

This.

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Mark McFarlane

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Re: Strategy for setting / managing tom gates
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2013, 08:22:08 am »

...
Using the gain until the gate just opens then backing it down just a little will account for stage volume and drummer dynamics as well...

To clarify, you set the preamp gain so the gate is 'almost, but not quite open' when the toms aren't being played but everything else is going full blast?

Since the preamp gains are always handily available,...

Nice idea, thanks Douglas.
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Mark McFarlane
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Mark McFarlane

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Re: Strategy for setting / managing tom gates
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2013, 08:24:05 am »

Here is another "it seems backwards" technique but I will often go with the jazz mic setup of kick/ overhead or kick snare/overhead and just roll off the upper end of the overhead to lessen the crash and bring up the ride and toms in the mix...

So only 3 drum mics for a festival situation?
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Mark McFarlane
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Douglas R. Allen

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Re: Strategy for setting / managing tom gates
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2013, 08:39:30 am »

To clarify, you set the preamp gain so the gate is 'almost, but not quite open' when the toms aren't being played but everything else is going full blast?

Since the preamp gains are always handily available,...

Nice idea, thanks Douglas.

Mark;

Yes with the band playing full on I turn up the preamp until it just opens the gate then back it down until the gate closes. I select the post dynamics and fader meter view on the home page. This makes it easy to monitor the drum channels.
Of course keep an eye out on the clip light when the tom is hit. Back it down a click or so if needed.
A fast way to get things going.

Douglas R. Allen
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Re: Strategy for setting / managing tom gates
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2013, 08:39:30 am »


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