Heavy audio processing management for drum's close mics and overheads.



Lately I'm re-listening some of the The Roots albums as well as some acts from electronic scene who use acoustic drums like Nerve.
Songs like [="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm7Xt2Qsjcg&feature=fvst"]YouTube - The Roots - The Next Movement[/]
[="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJCHeEQV454&feature=related"]YouTube - The Roots - You Got Me ft. Erykah Badu[/]
[="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TdMsJ5G9Vw&feature=channel"]YouTube - The Roots - Concerto Of The Desperado[/]
[="http://nerve.bandcamp.com/"]jojo mayer / nerve[/] (first song, middle section)

I'm interested how audio engineers manage whole audio processing. What are the guidelines how much to process overheads and close mics? How to choose to which effect assign to which mic? I've heard that in some of records there wasn't a lot of after editing; drums where recorded with all the fxs? What's the secret to make acoustic drums so processed-loop like(other then drummer with perfect timing :)? One thing is to edit or process seperate drum samples, other- real acoustic drums. I have heard that they love studios with smaller spaces to get less natural reverb and often use ribbon mics on fairly muted piccolo snares. But other then that, it's hard to find any info.


Guidelines for processing?
Process until you hear what you want to hear.

Listening to these songs, I wouldn't be surprised if they were drum patterns programmed with samples from the drummer's kit. It sounds like they were recorded in a pretty dead room. Individual tracks were probably gated. If they really are miking the snare with a ribbon like you said, it's probably placed at least 2 feet away, which leads me to believe they didn't record the whole kit live because you'd have a lot of kit bleed.

Probably a lot of compression on the snare and overheads pretty low in the mix. Just my guess.


Albatrocity thanks for reply.
I guess I didn't word my question in correct way and made mistake when wrote that they use ribbon ''on'' snare. I wanted to say ''and'' instead.
I'm surprised how these guys assign FXs, compression to close mics and overheads so that together they sound the way they sound- like processed loops or drum machines?
I'm 100% sure that they don't use any programmed patterns. The Roots drummer said this about his playing:

"I'm really into the game of making people guess, is it a machine, or is it him?''... ''I was really sounding like a drum machine. I would have arguments with people: no that's me playing''

I just found this video
[="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgMiGqA6xtA"]YouTube - Pharrell & The Yessirs. The Making Of "How Does It Feel?"[/]

It looks that he is using AKG on overheads and Ribbons. I can't identify close mics.
Also I found info that he sometimes use guitar amps as drum FX.
Any help to analyze the mic setup in video or possible processing methods will be appreciated.


I think a lot of the reason they sound like loops is because he's tuning and playing his drums much like the older recordings that people sample to make loops. You can hear it in the crappy audio from the camera, even. He's very consistent.

The mic furthest from the throne, directly out from, looked like a Gefell. The one facing straight down over the kit looked like a Neumann U87 (or U47). Neither of these are ribbons. I can't identify the others. Looks like a small diaphragm condenser on the snare. Overall, kind of a weird setup. I'm guessing they're using mostly the close-ish mics for the recording, compressing and gating them, and maybe adding some distortion or something. But mainly, I'm guessing a lot of the sound comes from the drums themselves.


Well-Known Member
Aug 28, 2008
Cincinnati, OH
?uestlove is widely regarded as one of the better drummers around.
Check out Jimmy Fallon's show. Even on TV, it's all about the groove w/ that band.
He may be a problem for your question, because the guy is almost a robot.
Personally, I'd be surprised if there was as much processing/replacement going on as you think.

In the case of the Roots, like albatrocity said, it's mostly about the drums and the drummer.
Actually, that's how it is in every case.
Each engineer has their own choice mics, techniques, and tricks.
These can do a lot for the sound - but more important is having a drummer like
?uestlove behind the kit and having his drums!