Surely I am missing something (The Audiophile's Guide:The Loudspeaker)

Does anyone who’s listened to this hear “The Drums” track as you hear drums live? For me, and I’ve got a modest mid-fi system, the drums sound as if they’re mic’d from the wrong side of the plexiglass shield or from the other side of the studio. Maybe the high-end systems with proper setup make a big enough difference, but the drums on the solo drum track, which should be snap skin-tight and close, sound veiled and distant to me. Both with my speaker setup and on headphones.

I compare this to other digital sources such as Rudy Royston, on the title track of Bill Frisell’s Valentine, where the drums are forward in the mix of the trio and are skin-tight present and resonant.
Or on the drummer Scott Amendola & eight-string guitarist Charlie Hunter’s recording Pucker, “Deep Eyes” and “Tiny Queen,” where the well-tuned drum kit of Amendola sounds as live as any recording I own.
Or on the 96/24 files from ECM, e.g., the Tord Gustavsen Quartet’s The Well, “Playing,” where the snare and cymbal strikes are clear and musically accurate.
And Thomas Strønen’s, Time Is A Blind Guide, where “Everything Disappears II” and the title track are closely mic’d and sound clear and deep–great for subwoofers. ECM has really gotten good at drum miking and mixing.

My points with these examples is that drums on good recordings sound really good on my budget gear. The drums on The Loudspeaker sound different, less live, less “in the room” to my ears. Why? Do you hear track 08 differently? Behind the speakers and three dimensional is one thing that the book and SACD are trying to help us set up speakers to achieve, but I am not getting the drums dialed in at all. Are you?

How about on “Caravan”? “Caravan” is a good mix, but the drums don’t have the snap I am used to. They’re in a dead space that flattens out the resonances.

(The drums and percussion on Carmen Sandim’s Mini Brazilian Beasts sound* much better, though still a bit veiled (distant) when compared to my examples above. However, the mix for Sandim’s album is nicely balanced and the piano sounds superb at live volume levels.)

I’d like to hear what others hear. If I’m missing out on some spectacular snap and resonance of Octave Records drum recordings due to my equipment, then at least I know my limits and compromises.
Enjoy the music!
*edited: from sounds

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Is it just that it’s not a multi-mic, close to the drum heads, electronic trigger on the kick drum set up, but a “drums in a room with a stereo microphone at the listening position” situation?
The former is great for providing power and snap, the latter for a realistic acoustic rendering.

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I agree that the drum track is subpar compared to the other cuts on the recording.

Whatever the reason, that track is subjectively poor to my ears, in my system.


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That’s a good point, Michael. But I’ve been fortunate to hear Amendola play live often (unmic’d), and his drum kit sounds tonally alive and resonant. It is amazing.

And here I think of Chesky records and the single mic technique where the drums sound less forward in the mix. But even there (“What is This Thing Called Love” on McCoy Tyner’s New York Reunion) the drums have the sparkle of a live kit.

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Sharp Tooth

This is a good drum recording.