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Positioning of Drum Room Mics

Discussion in 'Drums' started by spp, Jun 4, 2002.

  1. spp

    spp Guest

    I have a great sounding studio drum kit (Ayotte/Paiste) and a great sounding wood/concrete/carpet room that measures approximately 20'x22'x11' high with a vaulted ceiling. It's professionally spec'd and acoustically treated (bass traps, dimensions, etc.) I know it's not large by drum room standards, but it sounds large and powerful. However, I've never been able to translate the power of the room sound to "tape" (PT Mix +). The drums are usually along the long wall. I often place the OVHs like RecorderMan suggested with additional snare, kick, and hi-hat mics (love the blend!)

    For room mics, I have PZMs, ribbons, large & small dia. condensors available to me. Any suggestions on placement? Pattern shape? It's often said, "walk around the room and if the drums sound good there, put a mic there." That doesn't seem to translate for me. Is it more an issue of it will NEVER sound as good recorded as it does in the room?

    Thanks for any suggestions.
  2. spp,
    A couple of recommendations-

    1. Try an LD condenser pair (or mono) in x-y at 24-30 inches above the ground, on-axis from the kit, 2 feet out from the opposing wall. This will help minimize your cymbals and hats and help pick up your shells. 47s are nice if you have them (I don't). Try varing the distance from the kit at about the same height.
    2. Try a pair of PZMs behind the drummer's head, taped to the wall in 3:1 position.
    Hope it helps. Cheers, Doc.
  3. spp,
    A couple of recommendations-

    1. Try an LD condenser pair (or mono) in x-y at 24-30 inches above the ground, on-axis from the kit, 2 feet out from the opposing wall. This will help minimize your cymbals and hats and help pick up your shells. 47s are nice if you have them (I don't). Try varing the distance from the kit at about the same height.
    2. Try a pair of PZMs behind the drummer's head, taped to the wall in 3:1 position.
    Hope it helps. Cheers, Doc.
  4. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    here's two tips for the price of one:

    1. Spaced pair behind drummer and high, against the wall, facing out into the room.


    2. Mics, High on the opposite wall, facing the wall (in cardiod), this will really minimize the cymbals and maximize the bottom.
  5. spp

    spp Guest

    Thanks guys! I'm eager to try all your suggesions -- I'll report back with the results.
  6. Jim Chapdelaine

    Jim Chapdelaine Active Member

    here's a few: they might be obvious.
    The more mics, the more possible phase problems.
    also, at approx. 1 foot per millisecond, each mic arrives from the source proportionate to it's distance. I'm guessing you've already addressed this but it's easily checkable by listening and looking in PT.
    Also, instead of symetrical oh. mics, I like to watch the drummer play, talk to them about their hotspots. Then I'll place my overheads about 18 inches above the 2 hotspots. Place a room mic (M149s are great or a ribbon) in mono which you can later compress and align in PT to make the room as 'tight' or loose as you choose.
    hope this helps
  7. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    True...but don't be afraid.
    1. really learn to "hear" what inphase/out-of-phase sounds like.
    2. Every new mic you put up...check it in solo against the: Kick, snare,toms, oh (each of the aforementioned, separately) Flip the new mic(s) in and out-of-phase. Quickly adjust balance with more of the new mics or more of the K/snare/ect so that you can hear if the Kick(ect) is going away when you're in one phase relation ship, or the other, relative to rhe new mics your adding. Use the kick drum as your ultimate ref...make everything (snare, toms, OH's,ect) sound fat ,when you listen to the kick and any other mic(or use the OH as your ref, or the snare...pick one and refer the other mics to it)

    Once you've done it a couple of times it'll be old hat, and fast...and you'll increase your sounds by more than a few degree's.

    Phase...it can be your friend or your enemy...make it your friend.

    Lastly...I've been assuming that you have polarity switches on your desks...if you don't, by all means get some empty xlr barrels from swicthcraft and wire pin2 to pin3, pin3 to pin2, and pin1 to pin1, thereby making some phase flip barrels, I've got a few, and I use 'em for more than mic polarity.
  8. Jim Chapdelaine

    Jim Chapdelaine Active Member

    I agree, be fearless. I put in the phase stuff because I can't count the number of times people bring me tracks that they've recorded and ask me to mix it. They'll say "I can't get the drums to punch' or something like that. Invariably it's one of 2 things - phase problems (fixable), overcompression while tracking (fixable but more time consuming and aggravating) So....be fearless but check your phase. ;)
  9. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    YES YES YES to all that you said. I think that badly recorde drums, i.e. phase issues...so that everytime the snare is it it "goes away" so to speak....is the biggest problem with tapes I also get to mix...even ones recorded by people who make a continuing living in this buisness.
    I'm afraid that it would happen on everything else if they were using more than one mic. Thank god (i guess) that we don't multi-mic the vocalist.LOL.
    :p :p :p
  10. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Attack of the clones...recorderman had my vibe on this one.



    Two behind the kit pionting forward, on in the kick, pionting toward resonant head and one good dynamic (cheap 57 works) on the snare...but pointing forward again to keep phase from messing with you. The snare mic will get plenty of thwack from the kick. Not too close..about 6 inches in my book. D112 still today is a good kick mic. Point it right (correct in phase) and listen, it works on the cheap. If you must point 180 degrees, run a 180 on the input to compensate. Phase problems really make for nasty (hard to do) mixes.

    That is close micing.
    Now midfield:

    Let the room work for you...mid field..but remember..microphones pointing 180 deg. = out of phase nastyness. Find an area with a cardioid that does not get the wall behind it...rather the space around the kit..Always in stereo.

    Now the real debate......

    L/R for drumers view? L/R for the audiences view??

    That one is still up in the air..but I like the drummers and audiance views...just have to see how the panning translates per song...I reckon...
  11. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member

    I vote for audience view although drummers tend to disagree
  12. spp

    spp Guest

    Bill, I'm trying to picture exactly where you're placing the 57 in this scenario. Is it 6 inches on the other side (player's side) of the snare pointing towards the kick? 6 inches from the kick, pointing at it but alongside the snare? Can you clarify? Sounds interesting.

    As far as panning perspective -- unless I'm going for something creative, I usually default to drummer's perspective. Otherwise, how are you going to "air drum" along with it? ;)
  13. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Snare mic position really depends on the drummers style and type of tune..etc..

    Example: if it is brush work, I will put the Mic as close as 2 " away from the rim, level with it, pointing forward (toward snare) from drummers perspective. Now it depends on the snare as well! Hard hitting stomping rock..I back it off to get that balance between kick and snare. Their is no "one right way" to do this. Experimentation is the key. Basically you need to look at proximity effect, phase relationships between microphones, keeping the mic and cord out of the drummers way..etc. A 57 can be a remarkable performer but take care to avoid overload. Eq used in post will get the sound you want. I had a session that used only two mic's on the entire kit...rear of the drummer..3 feet back pointing forward...sounded just like standing behind the drummer...which is IMO a fantastic sound. The close VS mid field recordings uses entirly different eq settings in post (i never record with EQ or efx) and use the eq for dynamic control AND frequency contour. Balance again is another key word. I wonder how many Studio Eng's simply have not listened to the way a kit really sounds...many horrible examples on the airwaves...
  14. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    I also vote for audience view.
  15. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    I use both...sometimes on the same record. Haven't tried a switch in the same song yet though......................... :eek:
  16. Jim Chapdelaine

    Jim Chapdelaine Active Member

    Great question on panning, Bill!
    I've always wondered how other mixers/producers approach this. For some reason (maybe because I'm a guitar player) I've worked extra hard on the drum part or recording.
    Here's what I've found. I automatically mix as if I'm sitting behind the kit - i.e: hi hat left speaker. I don't know why but it sound more natural to me (drummer wanna be?) most importantly,
    drummers like it more. They feel as if you've acknowledged their contribution. And it's a much easier concession to make than having the snare be louder than the vocals.
    Here's another question. Does everybody still mic the hi hat? I find that every time I do, I end up pulling that fader almost out because of all the bleed from other tracks. It can also move the snare to the side of the hat too much unless you painstakingly seperate the hits out. Any tricks for this?
  17. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    ..The trick, are the two mics behind the kit (formally known as "overheads"). The Cym. racks are so loud as is..I have made overheads a thing of the past... even with the rear mics..(a shade below the drummers shoulders (tittie high?) the cymble racks are "LOUD"..so post eq and knoching are important. Use baby steps...Oh BTW..the hat is right there..so making sure the left mic is not pointed "right at the hat" is most important...more like toward the snare is more approprate. I get drummers who prefer the hat on the right..between the lower tom and floor tom..this presents another set of varibles as well. One of the very best drummers I work with eliminated the throne years ago and plays standing! He is awesome..and hat is on the right as well....Should I say left foot clave as in El negro Hernadez?? ( no it is not him)..but this cat is good. I think I could put the hat inside the kick drum..and he would figure out a way to do 64th beats on it (LOL just kidding)...anyway..use of the ears..a patient drummer (few and far between unless super pro with open mind..)will serve you well!!

    Experiment!! I definitly will try more new things as time permits.....now when am I going to get my own kit?????... (still looking for used lay-arounds)

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