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Drum recording help?

Discussion in 'Drums' started by jordan_nalley, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    I'm starting a recording business: http://www.myspace.com/shapestudios
    In the past I've mainly just recorded myself (I did record this one metal-ish band, but they weren't very legit), but this weekend I'm going to be recording this other metal band (Btw, no, I don't have a thing for metal. I would much rather record prettier simpler music, but so would the other recording studios apparently...). Anyways, with the gear I have, drums might be complicated.

    RODE NT1-A
    Shure SM57
    Audio Technica DR VX1

    ART Tube MP Project Series

    Tascam US-144 Audio/MIDI Interface

    Roland TD-6V Electric Drum Kit
    Logic Studio 8

    My problem with drums is that I only have one preamp, so I can only really use one mic at a time.

    Basically my idea for recording drums is to:
    Do the kick, snare, and toms with MIDI using the Roland TD-6V Electric Drum Kit, but put the drummer's cymbals by the electric drums and mic them, then go back and have the drummer play each cymbal by itself doing them one at a time too.

    Soo... I have hilariously simple questions after such a long explanation:

    Should I use the nt1-a as the "overhead" and the 57 for the individual cymbals? Or just use the nt1-a for both?
    (Oh, and the room is a big, open, finished basement, with a nice firm carpet and a big couch at one end, my house has soundproof windows, and it sounds fantastic to me, if that's an important thing to know.)

    And, would the mono cymbal overhead get in the way of the vocals, bass, and kick in the mix?

    I'm only asking in advance because I don't know how much time I'll have with these guys so I want to be prepared, and I don't own cymbals so I can't just try it myself. :/

    And if you have any better suggestions, feel free to tell me.
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Jordan, chances are the reason you have not received any other suggestions is that most of us who have started a " recording business" generally started with more than a single microphone preamp. While you can record anything with a single microphone it's not what we would call professional. Less than $500 will get you a 8 input computer audio interface. My next question to you would be why do you have so many microphones with only a single preamp? A simple mixer with 4 inputs that could record a single mono track would be more advantageous. Inexpensive mixers can be had for less than the cost of your good microphone. Sure, an overhead. That's your only real choice currently. Use your good microphone. And not necessarily overhead as in front of me be a better choice.

    Try that on for size
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    Oh, verbal fail. I'm embarrassed.
    I'm sorry, by "recording business", I mean a way of making money in highschool. I don't mean to sound arrogant.
  4. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Unless you're really unhappy with the cymbal sound on the Roland, I might forgo the mic altogether. A lot of drummers have TERRIBLE cymbals that make me cringe everytime I hear them.

    This would of course, be a situation-specific suggestion.
    Also, if you're looking for the practice, then by all means go for the real-live overhead mic. And like Remy suggested, placement should be dictated by what the cymbals sound like at that position, and nothing more.
    Finally, don't close mic the cymbals.
    I played bass for a session done by a local guy who's got gold records to his name. He miced EVERYTHING close, sometimes twice (I think there were easily 16+ drum channels). I wasn't thrilled w/ the results, personally. *Usually* micing drums is a matter of less is more.
    Then again, if I had a closet full of Neumanns to play with, I might try the same!
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Close micing drums can be a real can of worms....dpending mostly on the quality of the drums themselves.

    You dont need the greatest and most expensive set out there....it helps, but isnt needed....you do need really good heads and a set that doesnt rattle,squeak, and hum when you hit it. Things you cant hear when you're in a room with a drummer the mics pick up.

    So the best approach is to make the drum set sound as good as possible before you ever put a mic on it.

    Working with the room/environment around the drumset is another place to improve your chances of making a decent drumsound. Small hard spaces that reflect even the quietest sound arent going to help a recording. Control the major reflections, get rid of the corners, keep some life to it but get it somewhat dead at the same time. In this you allow a better chance of good sound with a minimum of mics. A high ceiling ALWAYS helps with drums.

    Soap mentioned poor cymbals. THIS will kill any chance of a good drum sound. A drummer that stays away from the cymbals will always record better than one who doesnt. I should qualify that and say that its the newer less experienced drummers in this case. If you play like Neil Peart then by all means hit whatever you want!!! But having a set of trashcan lids stuck in stands isnt going to translate well.

    Over the years, I have found that for most songs, a basic drum setup is all that is necessary to get the point across. There are exceptions and styles of music will dictate this. One of the problems in recording a large drumset is sympathetic ring. Tuning the drums properly will eliminate most of this and give you better separation of the individual pieces of the kit. Theres no real set formula for this as it depends as much on the room as it does the kit, but if you hit a rack tom and it excites two floor toms at a high db level then this a sound that will be present everytime that drum is used. So tuning for this as well as eliminating all the pieces you're not going to use on a particular song goes a long way to cleaning up the drum sound.

    These are just basics and dont really involve a monetary outlay. Its the physics of the room and the kit that come into play FIRST before you ever put mics up. Do this part well and you'll be surprised at the good sound you can get from three mics properly placed.
  6. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    "But having a set of trashcan lids stuck in stands isnt going to translate well."

    Unless you are Animal from The Muppets.
  7. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    Main problems with the Roland's cymbals:
    A) I only have two cymbals and a high hat. Metal bands like this tend to have like 300+ cymbals...
    B) I don't use the Roland's sounds, I use Logic's MIDI samples, and I don't have any good china samples.
    C) It's super difficult to have any technique or dynamics with the sample cymbals. Like stopping the cymbals with your hands doesn't work. You have to go back in afterwards and add a new note where the cymbal cuts off at the right time.

    What I ended up doing was putting the Rode on one side and recording a few takes, then moving it to the other side and recording a few takes.
    It sounds good, but the dynamics are a LITTLE inconsistent so it doesn't pan correctly. Even still, I think its probably as good as I can do right now.

    I'll put up the recording here in little while so I can get an opinion.
  8. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Get a stereo compressor on it, unlink the left and right channels.
  9. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    Oh thanks! That sounds super helpful! What do you mean? Stereo compressor? Like put the cymbal tracks in a stereo bus and compress it? And "unlink the left and right channels"? How do i do this?
  10. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    If the dynamics are inconsistent, then yeah, I would do that. Thinking it through more ...
    [by that I mean realising how stupid my original statement sounded]

    If one track is more consistent than the other, you could get the other to follow that.

    Bus them in stereo. Put a compressor on it, one which you can unlink. How you do that depends on the compressor you use, which depends on the software. I have no idea if Logic's comp can or not.

    When unlinked, the sides are compressed individually. It's not that different to putting a separate compressor on each track, except only one plugin is loaded and you only need to set it once. You could probably get away with 2 separate comps on each track. I'd prefer the bus method, then you could pan the tracks going to the bus slightly less than 100% L/R.

    That should help tighten up some of it, but I doubt it'll be a fix-all. For really bad times you might need to "help" it by manually adjusting the volume of the track with an envelope.

    I also think from now on you should ignore whatever half-planned ideas I blurt out.

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