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Hi, I'm new here. I work at a studio here in Houston. I started recording a new project tonight in which we are trying to achieve the best possible drum recordings before we move to processing/EQ etc.

This is how I have the set miked right now:

Kick: SM25 inside the kick drum pointed at the beater and a Neumann U87 outside the kit on a 45 degree angle to capture the "oomph"

Snare: SM57 on top and bottom

Hat: Oktavia (don't remember model number)

Toms: AKG 421

Floor Tom: Sennheiser e602

Overheads: 2 AKG 414

I also added two AKG c451b's, using the Recorderman technique, one over the drummer's head pointing at the snare and one just behind him also pointing at the snare at the exact same distance ( this YouTube video explains it well ) and find that it adds great punch and brightness to the mix.

So there, great mics, everything sounds awesome. Now here are my questions:

-How can I achieve a nicer, rounder low end from the kick with this set up? The SM52 picks up great attack and punch and the U87 gives me great body but I still want that kick to be fatter.

-The harmonics on the toms are great but the decay is way too long. I tried dampening them with some tape at the bottom skins but that kills the harmonics and I just want to shorten the decay. Any ideas?

Thanks, any input will be appreciated! 8-)


Davedog Sat, 08/02/2008 - 09:56

For once Mr Greener has said something positive.

Gates on the toms and get the decay in sync with the speed of the song at the quarternote cadence.

Compress the kick mic inside with either a DBX160S or an 1176. Do not attempt to overcompress for control as you are looking at this device as a tone generator. Its not a fix, its the circuit in the box you want a bit of.

If you want to get a little fancy, you can sidechain the gates.....take the gated signal out to separate tracks and keep the tonal ones. This way you can combine them at mix.

A little compression of the soft-knee variety on the 451's goes a long way to increasing the overall image of heavy thud without loss of clarity.

Do a search on these pages for Remy's post of her methodology of this very thing. Its very good.

anonymous Sat, 08/02/2008 - 10:18

Thanks but here's the thing:

The 421's on the toms are not the microphones picking up the decay. As you can see I have a lot of microphones on this kit and the sound is very real and very open. The harmonics on the toms are more apparent on all the different condenser microphones set about.

My goal here is precisely not to resort to too much processing and try to capture a more "old school" sound for the drums.

Maybe I should be asking this question on a drumming site instead of this one since I'm trying to reduce the actual length of the tom harmonics decay and not to limit capturing the tone on the recording... but I'm sure there have to be drummer's around... :?

Either way, if you can post a link to Remy's thread, I'd still love to read it. Or should I just do a search for what... Remy gate toms ??


RemyRAD Sat, 08/02/2008 - 15:22

OK, I'll go through a few things for you here.

I generally don't need 2 microphones on bass drum & don't really suggested but if you like it then do it. The microphone in the bass drum gives you the attack. The compression/limiting gives you the "oomph" fatness. The gate tightens up the slop. I also frequently invert phase on just the bass drum microphone. This cancels out other slop while tightening up the bass drum sound. It also makes it feel harder hitting & doesn't get as lost in the mix as easily.

On the snare, 57 on top, 57 or what you want on the bottom, phase inverted on the bottom. The two together make it fat and a gate on the composite of the two helps to give you more "thwack" while tightening it up. What's cool about the gates is that they all take a certain amount of time to detect & work. Those can only function after-the-fact. Meaning that the initial transient is frequently not included on the throughput. You get that initial snapping crack from your overheads. But this gives you all the meat & fat the arteries in your ear drums can handle. The gate release times shouldn't be too fast but actually follow the natural decay of the drum.

The toms merely need gates on each. Off when they are not being hit. With a smooth but quick delay. This removes that god awful ringing. And all of these gates actually helped to mask and/or remove time/phase issues since the operation of the gates is quick. Not like having microphones always on picking up bleed/slop.

The two overheads can be left alone or with some limiting to give you a more dense ambient feel. My rule of thumb is generally if the room offers some good ambience, some compression/limiting can enhance that. If the room is not particularly flattering, I'll not compress/limit the overheads. And a lot depends on the drummers style/technique.

Microphone on hat if it's important and they don't overplay it. Yup, I love 414's for overheads. I love SM57 and/or MD421's on all the rest. Generally, I'll use all that I mentioned simultaneously.

Recorder Man is out to lunch.
Ms. Remy Ann David

anonymous Sun, 08/03/2008 - 08:22

binaural42 wrote:
Maybe I should be asking this question on a drumming site instead of this one since I'm trying to reduce the actual length of the tom harmonics decay and not to limit capturing the tone on the recording... but I'm sure there have to be drummer's around... :?

There are many things you can do.

For starters, new drums.

You could put cast or machined hoops, basically heavier hoops than the cheap pressed ones. Chokes a tom up real good. If you like that.

You can screw mass to the sides of toms, but good luck not making things worse.

You could not stick the microphone so close to the drum. This ones hard...

You could put Pearl ISS mounts on the toms, they will still ring but more freely, which sounds nicer.

You could also ask more succinct questions.

Btw, Ms. David, thanks for another awesome free lesson.

RecorderMan Tue, 08/05/2008 - 22:18


Remo Pinstripe or clear emperors on top... ambassador's on bottom.

try on overhead...either over the shoulder or up directly above snare.... cover the ride with a spot mic and hat (both sm57;s)... use the 414's out in front of the kit like ala Andy Johns.... like 8 feet high.,.. spread as far apart as the width of the kit and cardiod... adds a lot of depth and puts those cymbals back.