Ambient and Character Mic Channels

I need to re-think how I use these channels. Specifically, what drums and how much signal you send to them. I was near the end of a mix and spotted that some drums aren’t sending to some of these channels and I thought they were.

Beyond the standard 3 ambient mics, the character mics (Side kit, FX and Trash) for Horsepower need a re-examination as well. I took a moment to actually see what those extra mics are doing (found that info only on the FXpansion site btw). Now I’m in the process of going over the whole kit and making sure I know what drums I want going to these channels and how much. Hopefully I won’t completely destroy my mix. I’ve already mixed and added automation in my DAW.

TL;DR: Don’t underestimate the power of the the ambient mic channels and how much of the kit you send to them.

If anyone would like to share their tips and mindset in this regard, I’d love to hear from you.

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Generally speaking, I find that BFD’s preset are… big. (It’s in the name after all!)

When I’m starting from scratch, especially if I’m about to track brass or other instruments at manageable levels, after listening closely to a preset and deciding it suits me more or less, I start dialing down or even muting amb3. I keep the overs, or I keep the direct mics, it all depends on what sound I’m looking for.

As my idea progresses, and things start taking shape and space within the sound spectrum, I’ll start pouring amb3 little by little and see where it gets me. Sometimes it works like a charm, other times I need to maybe apply some parallel proccessing from the DAW manually, with a reverb, or a delay and leave amb3 muted.

It all depends on what sound we’re looking for, but it’s as you say: never underestimate all those mics, or take them for granted!


Right now, I’m working on using Macros to adjust parameters such as tightness and size. It’s an incredibly powerful tool. Specifically, using it to adjust the new attack size, ambient mics, both volume and distance, and tom bleed, simultaneously. So, with a turn of a Macro, you can vastly change the character of the kit.

One thing I haven’t explored yet is how to use them with the character mics, and how maybe also how to control effects, such as drive, with them. You could easily set them up to go between, for instance, a tight, sharp kit, and a harsh, nasty kit.


I think the main reason BFD is so full throttle out of the box, is because all of the kit pieces are sending to the Ambient mics 100%, or nearly all the way cranked. Then, top that off with the ambient faders at unity gain. The way I mix in Amb3, is I listen for where the kick blooms optimally, in relation to the direct signal. But I’m starting to see that with too much of the cymbals sending to Amb3, they poke out too much in the mix.

Yeah, I get that it all depends what sound you’re going for, that dictates how you mess with these parameters. For now, I’m not trying anything fancy… I tend to go for a balanced sound, between natural and punchy and with clarity. No lo-fi stuff as of yet.

I remember someone talking about macros in a post months ago, not sure if it was you or not. I don’t see anything in the BFD manual about macros though. Sounds interesting. BFD does have a pretty steep learning curve. It reminds me of Pro Tools, in that you tend to learn something new about it every day, even after a decade.

Yeah, it was me. There’s nothing in the manual about it at all. Drew did this demo on Youtube. It explains Macros really well.


Excellent brother, thank you. That is some cool shit right there. I might not get super deep with it with the built-in FX, as I favor my DAW more for that, but even just setting some channel faders up with a macro might be useful.

They really should update the manual with features that were added after the initial release, so users have a reference. I also wish the installer would add a .pdf for the manual for being able to reference offline.

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I played around with macros just for a tiny while and immediately appreciated the depth they can offer. In 90% of the cases I go for static drum sounds so I haven’t got around to doing much yet, but oh boy, the possibilities!