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Drum Miking Questions

Discussion in 'Drums' started by Rbakken, Jun 21, 2001.

  1. Rbakken

    Rbakken Guest

    I have a really basic question (even though I'm sure that the answers probably won't be!)...I've always heard that there are so many different ways to record a good set. Is there any particular technique that you should use over any other? The Shure Kit I have (with the SM57's) seems to be able to handle it...

    ANY ideas or suggestions would be great! Thanks!
  2. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    That's a pretty wide open question, but I would rather have a good player in a good room with all SM-57's and a mackie than a bad player with ELAMs and U67's and an API board. With a good player, really good gear is just icing on the cake.

    Nathan Eldred
    Atlas Pro Audio, Inc.
  3. Rbakken

    Rbakken Guest

    I agree...SM57's seem to be the way to go. Would it be better though to close mic or just go peripheral? I've heard pros and cons both ways...which would be better as far as, let's say, a jam band coming in to record and lay down some tracks for a demo?
  4. Tymish

    Tymish Guest

    How many mics/channels/tracks do you have for the drums? What's the room like and what other instruments/vocals are there?
  5. Rbakken

    Rbakken Guest

    We're in the process of setting up our new audio studio right now (a downtown studio closed down and we were able to acquire all of their equipment). We have a Sony MXP-3000 with 36 channels, and a Sonic Solutions editing system. The room is a Blackbox room, mostly concrete but enclosed completely. For mics...the Shure kit, AKG414's, BG4.1's, SM81's, 94's, a KSM44, etc. The band would have set, electric bass, two guitar, and three vocal (as is typical of the requests I've gotten).

  6. ken

    ken Guest

    Wow! What great gear you have to use! Try out all the pairs of condensors you have as drum overheads and see which you like. It depends on the way the band plays, but you may be able to get away with a pair of overheads in x-y stereo and the KSM44 in fron of the kick. Keep it simple if you can.
    Add other mics to capture essential parts, like a 57 on the snare or 81 on the high hat or ride for a particulaly intricate or essential part.
  7. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    There are camps for both ways...close micing and distant micing. If you have the tracks and mics available, go crazy and mic everything including the room and when mix time comes you can choose what you like to fit the song. Generally, for my work anyway, I close mic everything (inside kick, top/bottom snare, top/sometime bottom toms) with no ride or hh mic and a mono room mic. YMMV

    Best Regards,
    Nathan Eldred
  8. Starfields76

    Starfields76 Guest

    Here's something that I've been playing around with. Only 5 mics on the set...

    Use dynamic mics on the Kick and Snare (421, 57, whatever's clever), then put a 414 in front of the kit about two feet out pointed between the toms, then try another condenser (I have had success with the AT4033) behind and over the left shoulder of the drummer and then another behind and over the drummer's right shoulder.

    This setup has taught me very simply that 'less is more'. The drum sounds I'm getting this way are sometimes very wide and more colorfull than if I was close-micing every piece.

    Hopefully, your room sounds good and has some nice reflections. I would like to know if anyone else out there has been trying stuff like this and what the results of your labors have been. Thanks and good luck, 'Rbakken'!

    Kevin Bruchert
    Producer / Engineer
    Starfields Productions
  9. Rbakken

    Rbakken Guest

    I've heard as well that "less is more" seems to work for most people, but then I guess you're giving up your options, right? A friend of mine swears by just using some overheads and a kick, but I personally think there should be more than that. My only worry ever is not doing enough, and then the artist or group wanting more than what I've got down...

    Rich Bakken
    Wisconsin Lutheran College
    Milwaukee, WI
  10. Tymish

    Tymish Guest

    Well, if you have the recording tracks available use them. When mixdown time comes you can pick & choose what sounds best.
  11. Rbakken

    Rbakken Guest

    Ok...so maybe my next question would be are there any specific mics that I should be using? I'd love to get a nice cabinet started, and I think I'm on my way, but am I missing something that I really should have?
    My earlier post before:
    For mics...the Shure kit, AKG414's, BG4.1's, SM81's, 94's, a KSM44, etc.
  12. Howdy,
    I generally prefer the less is more approach: 421 ('M' setting) on kick, a pair of SM 81's (flat setting) for overheads, and an SM57 or SM 98 for snare. Gate the snare and kick, and there you have it.
    UNLESS the sound requires some "in your face" toms. Then you break out more 57's, 421's, EV308's, whatever you like, with more gates.
    The trap to watch for when micing everything, "just 'cause I have the tracks," is that, at least in my case, I would have the roll-off engaged on my overheads when I mic the toms separately. If I end up not using the tom tracks, then the overheads are too bright.
  13. Solar

    Solar Guest

    Originally posted by Rbakken:
    I'd love to get a nice cabinet started, and I think I'm on my way, but am I missing something that I really should have?

    You don't have a Coles 4038. They sound marvelous as OHs or room mics. It's a good thing to have around because you aren't always going to want that hyped-topend condenser sound on ALL your OH/Room sounds. When you want blunt and dark, or natural... they the man.

  14. ken

    ken Guest


    Mics you don't have and would be a proud owner of:

    Sennheiser 421s - get a ton, they sound great on amps, drums, vocals, and instruments

    Royer ribbon mic - sounds great on everything

    Neumann - save up and buy something really nice for vocals.

  15. Rbakken

    Rbakken Guest

    I also do quite a bit of Vocal group recordings (i.e. College choir, smaller 24 voice chamber group, several sextets, etc.) For recording the smaller groups I've always done a half circle with a set of four mics. Should I be using those, or a decent PZM to get the nice, close sound that people enjoy hearing out of vocal groups?
  16. drumsound

    drumsound Active Member

    You've got some good mics (and even better clients). Just try the mics on different sources. I'm constantly trying different mics on different sources. This will help you get to know the tools. If you have a great drummer with a great sounding set, try minimal micing. If you hate it, scrap it and move on. There are a million ways to make a record, try them all.

    And don't forget to have fun!!! :D
  17. Rbakken

    Rbakken Guest

    When you record drums, do you generally try to isolate them (separate iso room) or does it work to have them in the same room as the rest of the band (bass, guitar, etc.)?
  18. PlugHead

    PlugHead Active Member


    In response to drum isolation, it can work either way; drums bleeding into instrument mics can kill a great session as well. Using baffles can help eliminate bad bleed, but can also alienate players if set-up too constricting. I have had great sucess with using a quality DI on a bass (JDI - DI with a Jensen Tranny) as well as the guitars, and have them rock on phone mixes all in the same room. This eliminates any instrument bleed in the drum mics, and visa versa. If you have more than one room, disregard all, and make it happen creatively. Always check bleed by soloing up channels ,and see if it's a good thing. The Ramones recorded a lot of their stuff with PA's blaring, and bleed everywhere - experiment and you will be rewarded.
    PS - one of my new favourite techniques for tracking drums is a 5 mic set-up: XY overheads with AKG 451E's or 460's, CAD E-100 on kick (or Senn. 421) 57 on snare, and a good room mic - 414 will work OK, but a Soundelux U-99 or Neumann U87/67 what have you. It's to die for! take the room mic and spank it pretty hard with compression, and it rocks! I haven't used the snare mic in a mix for the last 3 projects, but having a consistent drummer is the key!

    Best of luck,

  19. Kevin F. Rose

    Kevin F. Rose Active Member

    Originally posted by ken:

    Mics you don't have and would be a proud owner of:

    Sennheiser 421s - get a ton, they sound great on amps, drums, vocals, and instruments

    These are great workhorses... just don't drop 'em.

    Royer ribbon mic - sounds great on everything

    Statements like this scare me.

    Neumann - save up and buy something really nice for vocals.


    Owning Neumann mics can get you business. I prefer Soundelux to most ratty old Neumann mics so shoot me. Royer 121's don't sound good on everything. Have you ever tried one on acoustic guitar? No mic sounds good on everything but some have a higher hit to miss ratio.
    It's funny I went back and tried to get a good sound with 2 4033s, a 57 and a D12 a few weeks ago and damn if it didn't come real close to what we're getting with our mics back from the shop. It's not the same but I'd rather have Bud O'brian record my band with those mics than most people with all the greatest $*^t on earth.
  20. jeronimo

    jeronimo Guest

    Hello, I'm kinda new on the recording area, but I just recorded my band last week (I'm the drummer) on a great room, with a SSL and a AD8000 going into PT LE... ok, sounds weird... SSL and PT LE... LOL but that's what I had avaliable... I used 2 421's on the tom/floor tom, 57 on the snare, RE 20 on the kick, 451 on the hi hat and U87's (spaced pair) on the overs... I couldn't pay much attention on the mic placement and on the levels to PT 'cause I was on the room sound checking the drums and a friend was on the board... but after listening to the recording... I can say that a great drummer is a must... that's why I'm not satisfied with my sounds :)
    With my small experience, I have something to say, let's see how many of you guys will agree with me:
    drummer 50%, mic placement 25%, gear 15% and room 10% for a good sound! :roll:

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