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two questions about recording drums

I have to record drums next week. I've never done it before. I've got one Neumann TLM 103, one Shure SM57, two Shure SM58's and one Sennheiser 421 at my disposal (note: no bass drum mic)

I don't mind buying a bassdrum mic but which? The AKG D112? The Sennheiser E602? Something by Peavey? That's my first question.

Then my next question is: how? I've got a 16 track mixer and a soundcard with two ins and two outs. I figure one mic for the bass (centred) the SM57 for the snare (panned slightly right) one SM58 for the toms and the Neumann for an overhead. All the mics connected to the mixer and then sent to a subgroup going to the soundcard.

Does that sound good? Bad? Any further suggestions?



Member Sun, 01/04/2004 - 19:46
I would use the 421 on kick, either inside near the beater (for click) or 15 cm back (for more body), or outside (for more "old school" sound). The 57 would go on the snare top, 4 cm in and 4-6 cm up from the rim and pointed where the stick hits (make sure the drummer is comfortable w placement). The Neumann would indeed be the mono OH mic, as high as you could get it above the kit and centered over the snare. When you are listening to the sound of the OH mic, make sure the snare sounds good (and the rest of the kit), not just the cymbals. The 58s could be used for tom mics, but I would probably just leave them out as this is your first time.
Phase is something you must check for, listening with all mics coming through one speaker/monitor.
1. Once you have the 421 in position you like for the kick, bring up the kick mic while the drummer plays the kick (only) slow and steady. Get used to the sound of the kick.
2. Then bring in the OH mic and listen to the bottom end of the kick: does it lose "oomph" or get quieter? That would be a phase problem. The mic must be moved slightly until the "oomph" is back.
3. Once you have established proper placement of the OH it is time for the snare mic. Mute the OH mic and compare the snare mic to the 421, still listening for "oomph" from the kick. there shouldn't be much of a problem, but if there is move the snare mic ever so slightly until the "oomph" is back.
4. Now bring in the OH mic so you have all three mics listening to the slow, steady kick drum. Any "oomph" missing? Does the kick drum sound good?
5. Ok, now for the snare. Have the drummer play the snare and make sure you are happy with the snare sound (any movement of the snare mic will require another check of 4.).
6. Bring in the OH mic and listen to the sound of the snare. Still happy (if moving the OH, go back to 4. when done)? Now add th kick mic and listen to the sound of all mics channeling the snare- still Ok?
7. Once you have the kick and snare sounding good and all mics checked for phase, have the drummer play the full kit (a basic beat, rounding on all the surfaces) while listening to all the mics. Losing bottom from any of the toms (solo the OH to hear)? How do the hihats sound?
If you have compressors you can add some compression to the sounds. I would use a comp on the kick, fast attack and slow release, getting 2-6 db of comp at 2:1 to 4:1 ratio. On the snare, a fast attack and fast release with 2-6 db reduction and 2:1 and 4:1. OHs, fast and fast, and 2-4 db comp with 2:1 or 3:1.
In terms of assigning to the sound card, I would bus the OH and snare to 1 and have the kick on it's own in 2. I would find the "right" balance of snare and OH mic and make that my mix for channel 1, and send the kick alone to channel 2 so you can control your bottom end when it comes to mixing. Hopefully you will get a good sound with the basic mics as recorded and not have to do too much eqing later, as that will be difficult.
It is tricky to record drums well and takes a lot of practice. Don't be discouraged if it doesn't sound like songs on the radio (yet). If I were you I would get a sound card with more like 8 inputs if you are going to be doing drums. Mic wise, I think you are Ok for right now.
Good luck, let us know how it goes, David

[ January 05, 2004, 06:58 AM: Message edited by: David Doc Herbert ]

Barkingdogstudios Mon, 01/05/2004 - 10:08
I second the Doc's choice of using a 421 in the kick. If you're set on buying a kick mic, tho, I have had excellent results with the EV RE20. It's more expensive than the D112 but I have never had any luck with that mic (I'm probably just not using it right). But the RE20 will also give you a mic which can be used for a number of other applications. I have also had great results with combining an RE20 and a 421 in the kick, the RE20 inside the drum about 6" from the batter head, the mic off center but pointed at where the beater hits the skin. Then the 421 outside of the kick and well off-center under a stool which is covered in moving blankets (as well as the front half of the kick drum).

Just a couple of things that have worked for me.

Hack Tue, 01/06/2004 - 04:21
heres another idea, kinda based on two things, one, snare drums are loud and two, cymbals are loud. So, no matter where you put a mic near a drum kit, you can bet you will hear those two things, so... finding some cool spots is the goal.

1. neal down in front of the kit and have the player hit kick, rack, rack 2(if there is one) somewhere just above the kick and under the toms a foot or so away will be a spot where you hear real thick low end from all 3 of the drums. Put the 421 here. If the toms are too loud in this mic tilt it down, it the kick is too loud, tilt it up.

2. Go over to the floor tom and find a spot about an arms length away and a little up where the floor tom sound the thickest and put the 103 here. Aim that mic at the snare. You should get some attack from the rack toms to so aim this mic to try and get and even blend of the snare and rack, but mostly snare.

Now just pull those two mics up and see what it sounds like. Listen one at a time, and together. the posts above about phase really apply big time so think about that too. Just listen for what is missing. Maybe a crash cymbal on the left side, or the hat might be alittle low. So go to the left side of the kit and find a spot where you hear that cymbal and the hats real well and put the 57 there. And maybe pan it a little left, but just barely. You might not get a lot of click off the kick, but, the 103 will give you more attack than you expect.

At this point you are pretty much mono, so you could leave it that way and have all kinds of space for other inst. Or, make a digital stereo room for them.

BTW, I have never tried this setup, I use the methods I described, and similar setups, but never this exact setup. So, consider that.

Member Wed, 01/07/2004 - 08:13
Hi all,

astoundingly good advice. Thankyou all.

I've ended up with a Beyerdynamic opus 99 for the bass drum.

I have another question now regarding the "direction" that one should point the mic in when recording the snare (and toms). I've heard conflicting advice. Namely:

1) you should point the snare mic directly at the drum and
2) you should point the snare mic "across" the drum.

which is correct?

Member Sun, 01/18/2004 - 13:10
Just to let you know how it all went.

I bought an Opus 99 microphone form the company Beyerdynamic. The drummer brought his own set of drum mics which, he said, were fine apart from the kick and the tom mics. So I used my kick mic and his snare and overheads.

The kick mic I positioned inside the kick at an angle slightly away from the beater. The guy had double beaters! Could make a right racket! The snare mic was about 5 cms from the top skin head pointing directly at it. The overheads were, well, overheads, really! I mean they pointed at the kit from above and the stands were at the front of the kit and not behind the drummer as there was no room.

Took seven hours to do the drums. We had one kick mic, one snare mic and two overheads. We added reverb to the snare and kick via the auxiliaries on the desk.

Later we compressed the two tracks and panned one slightly left and the other slightly right. Added a limiter and a fat EQ (Logic).

Et le Voíla!

Member Tue, 01/27/2004 - 12:30
Omni mics in drum recordings

Another way to start off when miking the drums is to (having a setup of BD, SD, floortom, tom, ride crash and hihat.) put up an omni condenser mic under the crash right between the tom, SD and hihat (ca 40 cm up from the floor) and another omni condenser under the ride between the floortom and the tom (also 40 cm up). Experiment with the distance "deepwise" to get a nice balance in the kit. This way you should get no phaseproblems which is related to the off-axis sounds in cardioid mics. Ofcourse you will need condensers that tolerate high pressure-levels like the DPA/B&K 4007. This sould result in a sound that pretty closely relates to the acoustic sound of the drums in the studio. After that position mics where necessary if all. A nice omni condenser in the BD, perhaps?

It's also a interesting thing to try an omni on SD if you think of the problems that occur with the hihat when you mic a SD traditionally with a SM57. While you might dig that sound of the SD (with the SM57) the sound of the hihat leakage just could be awful. No highs and sounding all muddy because of phaseproblems in the off-axis area. With omnis it is easier to deal with the leakage because it sounds right and are in absolute phase with the direct-sound. And it becomes much easier to blend a separate hihat mic with that signal.

Just suggestions and personal taste, but worth a try, perhaps?

PS, I'm new on this forum. Hi!

Member Tue, 01/27/2004 - 23:01
Am I happy with the sounds I got?

yes and no. The snare was a little flat. I wanted to have a really big, heavy metal snare (that's the type of music the band does) but it sounded more, well, piccolo snare, if you can imagine what I mean. Everything else seemd fine though. However, I should say at this point that just because it sounded good to me doesn'T necessarily mean it'll sound good to a professional with many years of experience in these things. It's my first time recording a band let alone the drums :)

Member Wed, 01/28/2004 - 10:54
Yes, an example of a snare sound they (and I were looking for) can be found on any music by the Band "Nightwish". I'm not familiar enough with the albums to be able to name any tracks (or albums, for that matter).

You're right - I am glad I got it done at all. It was a real thrill for me to be able to come up with anything useable at all.

Here's a snippet of the results: [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.thefair…"]RESULTS[/]="http://www.thefair…"]RESULTS[/]