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drum micing solutions

Discussion in 'Drums' started by bear, Feb 12, 2003.

  1. bear

    bear Member

    hey everybody i'm trying to figure out the best solution for micing a standard set for an upcoming session...

    I'm on an extremely tight budget (poor college student) so i can't buy a ton of mics. Currently, i'm using an SM57 for snare, nady mics for the two upper toms (DM70's) and bass (DM80), the floor tom has an EV ND468. For overheads i'm using two octava MK 319 condensers. In the past, i've wanted a little more defition from the high hat, this could have been due to poor acoustics. i've seen SM57's used for this purpose during some live stuff, and since it's such a versatile mic, i thought it might be worth getting another one. Eventually, i'd like to replace the nady's with something more fitting for a "studio" such as mine...(i know, it's a bit of a stretch). Anyway, suggestions on core packages for under 400 and also a good all around mic that could help out with the hi hat would be wonderful. Thanks.

  2. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Amos...its tough to say, as you don't describe preamp choices, room size, etc...but here's some things I've tried with mixed success:

    you might actually try a different micing technique...we use typically 4 transducers on drum sets: an overhead pair (your Octavas would work nicely), a gated 4041 or 57 (try your EV here)on the snare/hat, and a 10" speaker mounted in front of the kick...careful placement can give you startling results (Led Zepplin, et al have used this technique forever...)

    You might also look into bafflings and such for isolation if needed...also look at modifying the environment, such as changing the flooring (carpet vs. hardwoods), wall treatments, and so forth...also spend a little time finding the sweet spots and frequencies of your drum kits...these things usually don't cost anything but time.

    Seems that it would be a lot cheaper to experiment with what you have than buy more stuff...couple sheets of plywood and some heavy tapestries should run around $100 total.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Are you the drummer? This is something I would expect from a drummer. I have never had a problem with getting enough hat in a mix. Even when it's not miced at all. In fact I am usually fighting to get it out of the mix. Snare mic usually picks up plenty of hat. Listen to CD's of your favorite bands. Hats aren't usually mixed that loud.

    Small diaphragm condensers are usually placed on hi hats. AKG 451 or 460's, Neumann KM 84 or 184's. These are a bit pricey however. I have seen 57's used in this application with good results. It's hard to get too many 57's in your mic arsenal IMO. Check the Audio Technica or Studio Projects lines for budget small diaphragm condensers.
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  4. bear

    bear Member

    thanks for the ideas, i'm definitely going to modify the room a bit. I'm pretty sure a heavy sleeping bag hung between the set and the corner of the room will do the trick along with playing with the overhead positions a bit. The space i'm in is as odd as it is small, it's 15.4' x 11.5' with a 7.4' to 7' ceiling. The floor is carpeted. About 3/4 of the ceiling is suspended, which is 7.4' and the other part is a stucco type finish. The bottom, right, and left walls are also finished in stucco. The thing in the top right is a big TV, which is too much of a pain to move, i have a TV output on the computer, so it's nice to show guys what's going on with the mix anyway. There is a brick fireplace in the middle of the top wall, which is brick on the bottom half, and stuco on the top. I haven't really had any major problems with acoustics (i'm sure others would), there is a couch in the bottom left corner which i'm sure helps. I've moved my computer to the adjacent room so there is no fan noise (i have 6 case fans).

    I use a berhinger MX2004A Eurorack, which i've been told has pretty good preamps in it. I've been very happy with the recordings of everything, i'd just like to improve the drum sounds a little.

    just by reading your other posts all over the site, i think i've learned more from you than just about anybody so far that i've talked to about this stuff. Believe it or not, i'm not the drummer... When i said i wanted more definition from the hat, i meant that i would like a more detailed sound for the soft passages (i listen to a lot of dave matthews). Because of the way the drum sets have been setup, i've been forced to put the 57 under the snare, so i guess that's why it doesn't really pick up to much of the hat. So far, i've had more mics than cables, so i haven't been able to use both overheads. I think that this would most likely fix the problem. Thanks for the suggestions for small condensors, any preferences for something to replace the POS nady's?

    thanks again,

  5. sapplegate

    sapplegate Active Member


    Check out this thread on overhead phase. Pay particular attention to RecorderMan's posts. It's a long read, but a good one. Might be worth trying in your situation. (No, I haven't actually tried it myself, but...)
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Thanks for the compliment. So no room to place mics on the snare eh? Sometimes drummers can really be morons. Just tell him or her that if they want the kit to sound right in the recording they have to learn to make accommodation for mic placement. Drummers that cram everything together haven't got a clue as to what is needed for recording. First, the hat should be moved away from the snare as far as possible. This is so it doesn’t spill all over the snare track and vice versa. Toms should be set a flat as possible , not angled back so far you can’t get a mic on them without a gooseneck! Last cymbals should be up as high as possible. Nothing worse than a ride cymbal set one inch above the floor tom. Can you say too much ride cymbal spilling into the floor tom track? Tell your drummer to look at sets of famous recording drummers like Steve Gad and Max Weinberg… They are all set up as I described. If they whine and snivel that they can’t play them like that, tell them they better learn. If they refuse, look for a new drummer for recording. Drum sets tuned and set up incorrectly are worthless when it comes to recording.

    In regards to mic recomendations, I go for the old standards. 57's for snare and toms, or Sennheiser 421's for toms, AKG D112 for kick and floor toms,AKG 451's for hat and overheads. These mostly are out of your stated budget range so stick with 57's. cheap and versitile. When you finished with drums they will work on almost anything else too. Good all around mic, studio and stage standard, always worth something in terms of resale value and available cheap in the used market. Fats
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  7. k.w.blackwell

    k.w.blackwell Member

    Just a thought, since I don't think anyone else mentioned it: too many early reflections from the walls (and possibly the floor and ceiling, depending on the material) might be creating a phase nightmare for the cymbals and robbing you of definition in the hi hat. Although it won't completely eliminate the problem, you might try putting up some spot absorption (like a 12x12 piece of thick packing foam or whatever you have handy) on the walls where the mics (esp overheads and snare mic) would "see" (ok, hear) the reflections from the hi hat. Again, if you've got something handy, it can be a quick and relatively easy thing to try, and it might end up getting you 60% of the way to a well-defined hi hat. Have a friend move a mirror around on the wall while your eye is where the mic is in order to get an accurate location for where you need to put the absorption, or just wing it and use a bigger piece of absorptive material.

    It's just one more idea to add to what you're trying. And I would also try moving the kit away from the corner more, though not all the way to the center of the room. Oh, do that before putting up the foam. ;-)

    But what do I know?
  8. droog

    droog Active Member

    imho, you've got plenty good mics to record a great drum kit, but you do have to make sure the kit sounds good in the room

    first up get the drummer to walk around the room with the floor tom , hitting it consistently, and place it where he/you think it sounds best, then build the kit around it

    use the oktavas for overheads, as per the recorderman's method, with the right shoulder one facing the floor tom, and the above snare one facing the hi-hat

    use the 57 on the snare (above, not below), angled and facing away from the hat

    use what you like out of the others for the kick, and make sure all the mics are in phase

    don't worry about the other mics, they'll just create phase problems, and this setup will give you plenty of hat/snare/tom/kick

    ps save your dosh for better preamps

    hope it helps
  9. bear

    bear Member

    hey everybody, thanks a lot for all the suggestions and new ideas. I found a link to foambymail.com somewhere else on the site. Their prices are pretty amazing, so i think i might look into putting some treatments on the walls of the room. I'll check out the acoustics forum before investing in that...Anybody know a good place to pick up used mics online? oh, fats, i was looking into those mics that you mentioned before, i might get them if i start recording a lot more during the summer, but if not, there's no reason (at least not in my budget)

    thanks again for everything guys

  10. Twist Turner

    Twist Turner Guest

    You have the drums in a corner which is not good your going to have to make the walls pretty dead to avoid nasty reflections and possible phase cancelations. If you can get the walls dead enough, you'll fairly safe.

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