Overheads is another eccentric Airwindows plugin that’s almost impossible to comprehend without decent instructions.
SO, here we go!
Overheads tries to smooth out a track or set of tracks, so that bumpy drums are removed and only the cymbals remain. That’s what the ‘node’ is for (the controls are Node Compress and Node Position).
It’s designed to work with Node Position somewhere in the middle. If stuff like kick and toms are sticking out, it’s set wrong. Crank up Node Compress and explore, until you find a spot where the drums aren’t.
Once you’ve got that, turn Node Compress back down—then bring it back up, to the point where the drums start to go away, but haven’t had their tones horribly altered. You can probably bring up cymbals this way, leaving more sonic room for close mics.
Or, there’s another possibility. Tweak the Node Position until the way it’s affecting the drum sounds is good. I find that over to the left, the sound is more bloated and fat and works with four-on-the-floor thumping but not snares, whereas it kicks more over to the right. I like around 0.6 to 0.8 for an aggressive sound. There’s not a lot of gain on tap so the level going into the plugin has to be pretty high, and it’s going to really accentuate all the cymbals as that’s more or less the point of the plugin, so if you don’t really lay into the kick and snare it’ll be hopeless.
It’s a quirky plugin, make no mistake. It can sound horrible, but if you get the hang of how the kick/snare rolls and where their power sit in the middle of that node there, you can do neat things with it, and get a interestingly sculpted ‘old school’ tone out of the thing, which really shows exactly where the beat sits.