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drum mic techniques, what are good

Discussion in 'Drums' started by hd99fatboy, Feb 26, 2002.

  1. hd99fatboy

    hd99fatboy Guest

    what are some good mic placements and usage for recording drums?

    kick , snare, hi hats, toms, over heads

    and how about some compression settings, if any?

    maybe point me at some cool articles or whatever...

    thanks heaps.
  2. B Callaway

    B Callaway Active Member

    Dec 30, 2001
    Check out Barry Rudolf's website, he has a lot of advice on drum miking, you just have to find it. Check the magazine articles.


  3. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    And while I'm making this list of good ways to mic drums, could you suggest some good foods to eat, or things to take pictures of? What's a good shade of red? Are these any less vague?

    (Dead Link Removed)
  4. Hi Buster,

    As you can perhaps tell from Angelo's post, there is no specific answer to your question. There are just so many variables and so many mic'ing options for coping with those variables.

    The best adivce I can give is for you to spend a few days with a drummer and play around with different mics in different positions. If you encounter specific issues, then post again and we'll see if we can give you a specific answer.

  5. hd99fatboy

    hd99fatboy Guest

    Sorry for not being clear and precise in my questions, or even close enough for people like angelo to maybe cut a guy a break, I'm no pro and clearly I'm not that gifted in articulation, or armed with much knowledge of the recording process...
    so that said, thank you for the advice and I'll try and be a little more focused in the future with my posts.

    and maybe Angelo and others like him can take a second to stop and think , hey maybe everyone else on the face of the earth isn't as bright , witty , intellegent , rich , handsom and talented as he obviously is...

    and ya know now I'm getting a little pissed off actually, I got the same type of response in another forum, what the hell are these places for?

    people who already know all there is to know about the subject at hand, or places for people who might not know all that goes into this particular type of art form or another to come for answers to dumb questions.

    ahh, whats the use...
    thanks anyway.
  6. hd99fatboy

    hd99fatboy Guest

    Oh and thanks for the Barry Rudolph link, thats one great source of information for a begginer like myself.
    and maybe not such begginers as well...
  7. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Chill out dude. Nobody's harping on you. No need to take offense.
    Just describe what it is you are trying to achieve and what tools you have at your disposal, and you will get answers. It's that easy.
  8. jscott

    jscott Guest

    Here's a few more links:

    SAE College Recording Drums

    Sound On Sound Publications Recording Drums Primer

    And all of these stress the importance of tuning so:

    Drum Tuning Bible
  9. hd99fatboy

    hd99fatboy Guest

    Angelo, I'm not really taking offence it was a knee jerk reaction on my part, just a little frustrated with all this, been breaking my back to get everything working correctly, and getting sounds to be at least semi pro.
    I think I'm getting close but its hard to know really.
    been listening to a lot of albums to replicate sounds and levels...

    have checked a lot of sources...
    just needed a little guidance.

    J Scott, have already read your entire Bible, very informative, thank you, and I'll be checking the other links as well.

    these forums are a great source and I would hate to be afraid to ask a question for the fear of being ridiculed.

    but try and resist the opportunity to crack a joke at someone whos just trying to get a leg up on some of this stuff.

    again, appreciate the info and I will be back.

    I'm using 2 Rode NT's as over heads
    an AKG D112 for Kick
    and Shure SM57 for snare & hats

    not exactly optimal I would imagine from reading a lot of posts here and elswhere but I should be able to get half way decent drum sounds.
    so far its not all that great.
    need to try some different placements and screw around with the compression settings and whatnot.
    or should I be using compression at all????
    when recording enitially...
  10. Hi Buster,

    One of the problems lies in the fact that a drum kit isn't a standard. Not only are there different makes and types of drums but also, virtually every top drummer has a different setup. In addition, the drum kit is used in a number of different musical styles.

    Let me give you some examples:

    Terry Bozzio is regarded by many as one of the finest drummers in the world. His kit often consists of a large number of toms, I've seen him with two octaves of toms tuned to two octaves of tuned cymbals. Peter Erskine is also one of the top drummers in the world and his kit often consists of just a Ride, Hi Hats, snare, bass drum and one or two toms and it's played very delicately in a jazz style. Vinnie Colaiuta has a big setup but very different from Terry's and he plays them usually in a very different style, basically as hard and fast as possible!

    I could go on and on, even drummers with a similar setup may be playing them in a completely different style; there maybe African, Latin, Middle Eastern, Japanese or even classical music influences. Stylistically the drummer might be playing anything from light jazz, to ethnic, all the way through to thrash.

    The mics, patterns and placement, effects, EQ, compression, mic pre's and other variables are all just tools for the sound engineer to get the type and style of kit sound required on a particular track.

    For Example: Should you be adding compression during tracking or mixing? It depends on who you are recording and what you want the finished drum mix to sound like.

    "or should I be using compression at all????" It depends on who you are recording and what you want the finished drum mix to sound like.

    In fact, just about any question you can think of along these lines should elicit the same response. If anyone gives you any specific answers based on the information you have provided so far I would be more than a little sceptical.

    I know this probably isn't the response you were hoping for but hopefully it will help you to understand why your questions are impossible to answer. If you could narrow it down there would still be a wide variation of advice but at least we would have a starting point. For instance, if you were to ask "I overhead mic'ed a large drum kit played in a heavy metal style and I can't get the snare to cut through". You would probably get a question or two to clarify some points and then you would get a number of different approaches, all, some or none of which might be the perfect solution for you in your particular situation.

    Hope this helps,

  11. jscott

    jscott Guest


    What Greg said - let me try an expand upon that just a little by way of example. Take the kick drum mic. A question was asked of the AKG D112. The user could not get a good sound out of it, it was clicky sounding. The response came flowing in to buy another mic, how to change placement, etc.

    But what was really required was a better understanding of mic's and how they perform. Because as Greg said, every drummer tunes and plays different. Plus, once you factor in the room, possibilities for sound problems and solutions become endless.

    The guy didn't have a large experience base, and was convinced he bought the wrong mic. But he really needed to be told that he lacked a universal education because there really isn't a problem getting a good kick sound from a D112. Certainly, depending upon taste, one could argue he had the wrong mic for the job, but if you lack the education, you may never know it. So heres how I responded.

    I think you need to better understand the mic and source and how to use the tools you have. So lets start at the basics.

    Bass drum: Frequency range is 50Hz to 5.5 kHz, for thump in chest boost a few dB between 60-85Hz, punch or slap 2.5 kHz to 5 kHz, hollow sound can be cut out around 250-500Hz by a few dB, based upon tuning. Note: Its suggested that you have more control over sound with a drum that’s a little “hollow” sounding rather than very dry and heavily muffled, or not muffled at all (see “tricks” below).

    Next we have the role of the patch. The patch while aiding in wear, also can dramatically alter the tone. The typical patch, supplied with heads, focuses the sound. It adds slpa, and a midranged dry tone to the head. All heads have more tone without the patch. Some patches add a “click” to the sound.

    Proximity Effect: This is essentially the ability to change the way a mic can produce various frequencies when place at varying distances from a source. Usually there is an increased bump in the low frequencies of a given mic when placed between .0625” (1/16th) and 4.0” of the source. See Shure SM57 is a good study of the proximity effect. But bass drum mics are notorious for dramatic alterations as you move the mic close (within proximity) of a source, or further away.

    Most so-called “kick drum mics”, purposefully, have a built in hype to their curves (to simulate popular post EQ settings). So as a result, you can usually just make all your EQ settings flat, and start with placement. All given examples are great kick mic’s that can really just about be all made to sound the same if you play with EQ. The idea is to get a sound as best you can without EQ because EQ places inherent phase shifts within the sound field (See Phase Shift below).

    Placement: As you move a mic closer to the center of the batter head, the resulting sound goes more muted or drier. As well it becomes more focused because the complex overtones produced by the drumhead near the edge are not picked up. This is the position almost everyone goes for immediately when starting out. However, more seasoned pro’s will move the mic more off center about 3-4” from the batter head mid way between the shell of the drum and the impact point. This creates more resonance and more interest in the mix, plus you can have more bandwidth in the mix to play with. As you move the mic towards the resonant head, you will gain depth but loose focus. This is why two mics are often used. One to capture attack, the other to grab the deep resonance of the resonant head. The only place you shouldn’t place the mic is just inside the hole on the resonant head because there is sort of a null response thing going on there where air is moving and phase changes are occurring. However, you can place the mic just outside the hole where the tip of the mic is inline with the outside face of the resonant head, yet aimed right at the beater impact point and get an exceptionally focused and deep tone. If the midrange or hollow sound is to predominant, this is where pillows and blankets come in to help offset that resonance. The drum should sound somewhat on the hollow side to gain most flexibility with post EQ and placement in the mix. It will help the drum carry and focus.

    The question always comes up, is the AKG D112 better than a Shure Beta 52? Is an Electro-Voice RE20 better than an AKG D112 or Beta 52? In a word, no. Which flavor of chocolate or vanilla do you prefer? It’s the same thing. Each will have its advantage.

    With the exception of the likes of an RE20, who’s advantage is the almost total lack of proximity effect; All dynamic kick drum mic’s exhibit dramatic changes in their bass response curve based upon the distance placed from the batter side head. Every 3dB in change is the equivalent of doubling or cutting in half perceived volume at a given frequency, and almost always the frequency affected is the boom sector between 50Hz and 100Hz. How flat the mic curve is to begin with coupled with it’s off-axis or “polar response” determines whether the placement will alter the inherent curve to more of a spike or more of a bell type curve and at what frequencies this occurs.

    Without doinf a driect comparison to every mic, one might choose a RE-20 because they do not want to deal with proximity effect. Whereas one might choose a D112 because they want the extended range it offers, and does extremely hype the curve in the low end. Some choose the ATM25 because it does offer a larger rounder boost in the thump range. So you need to study the mics, and realize that no single mic is the answer. You also need to know how to get the most out of the mic.

    For example a Shure BETA 52 has a +10dB boost at 50Hz through 120Hz when placed 2” from a source. However, when placed 1” from a source, it now exhibits an increase of another +3dB in the same region for a total of +13dB over the 24” response. Place it within 1/8th of an inch and you come close to a 20dB rise at 40Hz. But if you monitor the attack region of 2 kHz to 4 kHz, it remains unchanged even though the perception is that it diminished. The perception was a result of the increase of the respective bottom end created by the proximity effect. Take this same mic an twist it 90 degrees to the source, there will be an overall drop in the bass region of –7dB and at 45 degrees to the source there is about a –3dB drop. Now, if you go look at you mixer or software, imagine having an ability to boost or cut by 20dB? This would be a dramatic change. Not every kick drum mic exhibits the same characteristics. The D112, while it can exhibit the similar dramatic boosts in the low frequencies, its upper end is far smoother and extended to almost 13 kHz, way beyond the 4 kHz peak of the Beta52. Even at 45degrees, the D112 is going to pickup the 2K Hz slap.

    This leads us to stress the importance of off-axis response. Off-axis rejection of frequencies is important for 2 major reasons. First, even if you place the mic at a perfect 90 degrees to the source (drumhead), if it has the ability to pickup other sounds at 90 degrees to the mic face with authority (i.e. drum wall or resonant head), unwanted reflections of sound can create a phase shift problem. This occurs when a frequency arrives at the mic at the downward most dip in the cycle as opposed to the same frequency arriving at its upward peak of the cycle. The end result is the frequency gets cancelled. Often just the slightest movement of the mic (1/4”) will make the difference. Often, only those with well-trained ears even know it’s going on to begin with. Others just go and tweak the EQ to make the change. Reason 2 is the ability to use the mic outside the drum and still have it capture the sound and reject what’s going on around it, such as when used live to reject feedback. This is why most acceptable mic’s used on a drum are either cardioid (directional) or hyper/supercardioid (meaning a very narrow scope of pickup) because they will reject off-axis sounds very well. This often is the difference between the better mic and the less thought of mic. This is one reason why you should understand the polar response curve of a given mic.

    So you need to study the mics, and realize that no single mic or placement is the answer. One cannt tell what the mix is, or the overall effect required over the internet.

    So many times you can get a better and more specific recommendation by asking the question sort of this way:

    I'm looking for a really fat assed in your face big hair rock kick drum sound. How do I get it? I need mic, placement and tuning recommendations? And at that, your better to ask this in a recording or live sound forum.

    So where do you get the education? Several places. First, read everything you can like get MIX magazine, Modern Recording, Sound on Sound, etc., go to the Shure (and other manufacturers) website and look at the technical publications, read the "Recording and Live Sound forums" not the "Drummer" forums. Hell some of us know, but most drummers really don't. They spend their time playing, not behind the desk. Even with what I know, I'd trust those guys before I'd trust my own ears!

    Experiment. You really need another drummer to do this, you never get there doing it yourself. Go to http:// and consider any number of the books they have. Don't have money? Go to the music store and browse their books and read. But in the end, you'll only really get there with experimenting. Even if you go to school for it, they will teach you that it's more an art study of the science of the mic, which to use based upon that and where to place it.

    You should treat mic recommendations as a place to start, not really and answer. You have to provide that.

    And then finally, don't get me wrong, cause I know nothing about you, and I meant no-disrespect. But it sounded as though maybe you were pissed at the lack of direct information. But the honest answer is, you can't get very specific answers in many cases, just starting points.
  12. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    You rock j. :)
  13. hd99fatboy

    hd99fatboy Guest

    J. Scott, Greg and Ang,
    I really have to hand it to you, your pro's, no doubt about it.
    not only with the way you handled me and my problems, but with the amount and quality of your information.

    armed with this I'll do my damdest to really use it all.

    I am getting a better sound already, just from trial and error , placement and usage of the few mics I do have.

    I have done a lot of research on the subject and am slowly but shurely ( pun ) getting to the point where at least I am able to understand what your telling me and why, in respect to working in a studio with sound and frequency response, and in way of question and answers.

    I now see what you all mean by impossible questions to answer...

    I have placed the D112 akg inside the kick ( with the resonant head off and a pillow ) at a 45 degree angle to the batter head, about 4 " away and it seems to be working fairly well.
    with a little eqing I'm getting a decent sound now.

    the rest of the kit I'm using 2 NT1's for over heads
    the little AKG clip ons ( I don't know the serial num and whatnot ) for the toms
    and a SM57 for the snare.

    and I actually like the sound I'm getting now...


    thanks for all the input and I hope others get as much of an education from all of this as I did.

  14. ErikFlipside

    ErikFlipside Guest

    i'm having a huge problem with hi-hat bleeding into the snare mic (SM57). the drummer is super picky about where his drums are, so we can't move them a whole hell of a lot. we can't move the mic very much either b/c he doesn't really hit his snare with a vertical attack...it's more of a side-arm or diagonal hit. is there anything i can do to remedy this? i was thinking about making some kind of barrier to attach to the 57 to block the hi-hat sound. a friend suggested trying a paper towel roll, and cutting it so that sound doesn't get trapped inside and become boomy. i'm not really sure what to do here. thanks in advance for your help.
  15. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Doing a baffle will only make things worse because what makes a cardioid mic cardioid (directional) is out of phase information coming into the mic from the rear. So if you baffle the mic or put it into a tube as you described blocking the out of phase information, it will become more like an omni!

    I often use clip on mics on nightmare drum kits. It’s the only solution I have come across that works. I have had success with the Audio Technica Pro 35 clip ons.

    Drummers that are unwilling to adapt and change their set ups are a PITA! IMO this is unprofessional on their part. If you go into a major studio and look at the set ups there on a kit that belongs to a guy like Steve Gadd, you will see that they set their drums up to accommodate recording. Toms are reasonably flat and low so you can point a mic directly at the middle without it getting smacked, hat moved away from the snare so there is room to point the mic at the snare with the back of the mic pointing at the hat, cymbals up high so they don't bleed into the tom mics. I just tell the drummer it's up to them how the drums sound. They can help accommodate the recording, or it can sound like sh*t. It's their choice. Kurt
  16. ErikFlipside

    ErikFlipside Guest

    have any of you tried a pair of studio projects b1 mics as overheads? my friend is looking to getting a small person studio started up, and i was thinking a pair of b1 mics would be good for O/H, guitar, and vox. what did you think of them as O/H mics? thanks.
  17. eskimo

    eskimo Guest

    Kurt: I'm not a pro, but still a drummer and can also be a bit picky about the setup.
    And telling the drummer in the studio that he/she can't have the drums set to their likes is like going to Michael Schumacher on the starting line and change his seats a couple of clicks saying;
    "Sorry mr Schumacher, you can't sit like that and I'm sorry you can't reach the steering wheel but you're a pro, work it out"

    If there's not any room for the mics of course you've got to change the setup, and as a drummer that is ok as long as we get some time adapting to the new setup. cause if the drummer is uncomfortable it sure is going to sound like sh*t.

    I've learned my lessons and have got my tom totally flat about a couple of inches above the snare. In fact every piece of my kit is absolutely flat. A setup I decided to use after playing gig after gig trying to find the angles I was comfortable with. The conclusion was "f*ck it" I set it all flat and got used to it.
    Works for me, and it looks good to ;)
  18. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    In a way you actually helped make my point. I am not saying that a drummer should change their set up the day of the recording session, but rather that all the really good drummers I have worked with that get good tones to tape have adapted their set ups to accommodate recording. I agree that asking someone to change the day of recording is a recipe for disaster. In these situations, I use clip ons and accept that it is the best I can do. Then if the drummer complains about the sound (they almost never do, the clip ons actually sound pretty good) I tell them they should start practicing with a set up that facilitates recording. Kurt
  19. TheSoundman

    TheSoundman Active Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Home Page:
    On a similar topic, I've often had to close mic drums for live sound reinforcement. Some kits are not easy to get mics around where they will pick up the instrument you are trying to mic and not be in the way of the musician. But we got creative and got the job done. Of course live sound can be a lot more forgiving than recording. In most cases, even without mics, you can still hear the drums.
  20. denial

    denial Guest

    Here's a method I use all the time with minimal mics and sounds great almost all the time. If it worked for the kinks, zeppelin and the stones it should be good enough for all of us. As far as I know it's Glyn Johns technique.

    You need two large diapham cardioid condensor mics and two dynamics:

    Place both condensors equal distance from the snare. One condensor 2-3' (feet) above the rack toms and snare looking down at them. The other condensor approximately 5" (inches) above and off the floor tom pointing across to the snare/hats. These are your overhead mics and will be panned hard left and right respectively.

    Using your dynamic mics, close mic the kick drum and if necessary the snare.

    Compress the overheads with something like a pair of Urei 1176's to bring out the cymbals and glue the sound. Mix the kick and snare to taste. I rarely use the snare mic as I get enough in the overheads.

    This mic technique although a bit weird at first glance captures a very natural, airy sounding kit and is rarely beaten with many more mics.

    A couple of Neumann U87's work well as will lesser expensive Rode mics. For a little tighter, punchier kick than with a D112 you can try a Sennheiser 421 or Beyer M88.

    For mic pre's on drums you can't beat Neve 1073's or API 512's.

    Hope it helps.

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