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I stopped recording about 8 years ago and just recently decided to get back into it. I have a decent set of drum mics but they do not include any "overhead" mics. I ended up using two large condenser mics that I normally use for vocals but what I'm finding is that the snare comes out really loud, not giving me much control over the SM57 I use directly on the snare. The more I turn down the overheads in the mix, the less of high hats, ride, and other cymbals I get, making the drums sound kind of muddy.

I guess my actual question is, will a matched pair of small condenser mics give me the cymbals I want without the overbearing snare, or will they be the same? I realize this is a very basic question but at this point, I need very basic help. Thanks in advance!


KurtFoster Tue, 01/02/2018 - 09:11

using smaller mics will give you a more focused sound but it will not eliminate the problem. the trick has always been to get a balanced sound out of the o/h's and then add the spot mics to fill in any gaps. i don't hear very well any longer but if i were still engineering, i would be headed towards fewer mics, not more. what is the room that you are tracking drums in like? live? dead? how high is the ceiling?

Boswell Tue, 01/02/2018 - 09:12

First, tell us a little about the space you are recording in and how you have the microphones set up.

How high is the ceiling? How are the walls and floor treated? How far above the cymbals and below the ceiling are the overheads? Is your drum kit arranged conventionally?

What make and model are the overhead microphones? Are they set in a crossed pair or spaced? Can they "see" the snare directly? Are they used in a standard pick-up pattern (e.g. cardioid for crossed pair, omni for spaced), or set to be something different?

TheWeez Tue, 01/02/2018 - 11:00

The space is my basement.Fairly low ceilings, concrete floor, concrete walls, etc. It's probably the worst room for recording there is. I have a set of "drum mics" that I've had for about 15 years. Comes with four standard mics and a kick drum mic. I use an SM57 on the snare, an Audio Technica 2035 about five feet out around cymbal level. An Oktava MK-219 on the other side about five feet out, cymbal level. I'm sure my placing is as terrible as my room but any advice would be most appreciated. I've attached a panorama of my space. It's not much but it's all I've got. I haven't started to do anything with the room's acoustics yet but that's in the works.

Attached files

bouldersound Tue, 01/02/2018 - 11:39

There's lot's of treatment you could/should do to that room to make it better.

Aside from changing the room, try moving the mics closer. In that space the far mics are just picking up whatever is loudest, reflected off multiple surfaces. So I would try close cymbal mics instead of overheads. Also, you might want to try moving the kit out from that corner.

DonnyThompson Tue, 01/02/2018 - 12:25

When dealing with a poor sounding room, I'm with Kurt (Kurt Foster ) on this one, I think I'd be looking at using less mics, and not more.
Besides potential phasing issues, when you are dealing with mics all over the kit - as well as above it - you're picking up every bad sounding thing about the room that there is.
I suggest that You might want to research the Glyn Johns drum miking method. This might help a bit. BUT...
The room has so much to do with how successful you'll be recording live drums. I've heard people who are new to miking and recording real drums say how "difficult" it can be - but it's not the drums that are difficult to mic, it's the sound of the drums in a poor sounding space that is much more difficult to get ahold of.
Of course, the quality of the drums and cymbals matters a lot, does the drummer, but it's the space itself that is usually the biggest culprit in poor sounding drum recordings.
I'm not trying to sway you away from doing it, but there are certain spaces that you'll just never get good sounding drum recordings in, even after being treated. Low ceilings ( anything under a minimum of 8.5 feet) make OH arrays very hard to get nice, open sounding kit recordings from, regardless of whether you are using budget LDC's or pricey SDC's.
Certainly, adding treatment for upper end flutter echo and hi mid "pinging" isn't going to hurt, but the size and height of the space will still always be a factor, and make it difficult to get good sounding drum recordings.
I'd look into some treatment, maybe 2", and also, try the Glyn Johns miking method.
Keep your expectations in check,'ll never get the sound of Ocean Way or Record Plant drums in a small, shallow space...
One other thought... If you are using a laptop for recording, consider maybe renting a bigger space for the afternoon, and do your tracking there, or, record your drum tracks in a real studio. ;)
IMHO of course.

TheWeez Tue, 01/02/2018 - 12:44

OK, this is fantastic information. I did some reading on the Glyn Johns method and can't wait to get back to the basement. My space is terrible but I can pull the drums up to my great room and record there if needed. It's a fairly large, open room with high, vaulted ceilings. I'm going to record some drums tonight and play around with the method mentioned above. I really appreciate the advice.

bouldersound Tue, 01/02/2018 - 15:30

I'd do what Kurt says, and if it sounded good I might add a side mic for a M-S array.

But if the room just doesn't sound good with that method I'd go the opposite way, divide and conquer. It's not a complicated kit, so it's feasible to have one mic per source. Get close. Place and aim mics for maximum separation.

Definitely try all the suggestions. We can't hear the room, and we can barely see it in that photo, so you're the only one who can tell what works best. Post samples of different setups if you can.