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Problem...I have three drum mics (2 OH + kick) and only two XLR inputs on my stand-alone DAW. The two XLR inputs are also the only inputs with phantom power. Does anyone have a solution? Is there more than one solution?


anonymous Mon, 03/10/2003 - 20:03

An external mixer never hurts... well, it does if it's a Bear-ringer. An external mixer'd be one solution; an additional (external) pre is always nice too. If it's a single channel strip then the kick mic gets to wear it... if it has a comp onboard thAt could be handy. If it's a dual, then you've two options for your OH pair. This is all assuming you're using a DAW that has additional 1/4" inputs on top of those two XLRs. Simplest bet'd be to stick an XLR-to-1/4" adaptor in one of those and plug the kick mic into that.

anonymous Mon, 03/10/2003 - 21:10

Simplest bet'd be to stick an XLR-to-1/4" adaptor in one of those and plug the kick mic into that.

I only have phantom power on the two XLR inputs, and the kick mic is a condenser. I have a '57 and a '58, would they work on a kick? I also have a mixing board with phantom power and XLR inputs, but I'm not too sure how to use that and get a good sound in the final mix. Thanks for your fast response by the way.

anonymous Sun, 03/16/2003 - 00:20

Glad your patching's working.

Ya know... now that you've got a functional setup, you could spend some time experimenting with the gear at hand. Right off the bat, consider using that '57 on the snare, on an additional track (the XLR-1/4" trick again). Granted, you're probably figuring to hang on to maximum mix flexibility by devoting those 3 (OH+Kick) tracks to drums... But how about recording OH's, kick, the snare AND the floor tom (with that '58), then mixing down to either just stereo or stereo + kick. ?? Depending on the kind of music/song/vibe you're dealing with, that additional control might be useful. Stereo + kick is lovely and largely hassle-free (from the perspective of phase issues, etc), but the ability to put some verb and EQ treatment on the snare is often handy, and though OH's dO get all the drums, chances are good that the floortom doesn't show up with as much bottom as you might like. To have the flexiblility to dial in juuust a little bit of that track (again, w or w/o EQ, verb, etc) can make a big difference. At least try it out to see what you think...

With regard to more nuts-and-bolts experimentation, it'd be good to see what kind of results you get incorporating pieces external to your DAW. Presumeably you've only got 'gain control-via-knob' capability on those two XLR channels right? That poor bass drum mic is really missing out on its potential by running right into a 1/4" input (software gain control there? yech). If your external mixer isn't too horrible (though for the kick mic anyway, a little noise isn't the end of the world) try running that mic into it, then on to the DAW. Chances are good that the addition of a pre in that path will net you somewhat bigger/better... if nothing else, a little more control over gain. The same might work for your overheads; check it out but listen judiciously- the addition of the external mixer is bound to impart noise, and the 'exposed' nature of the top end of OH tracks is gonna show that up like crazy. If you're not getting a marked improvement in sound quality, 'ts probably best to stick to direct input to the DAW pres for OH's.

And finally, for fun... If your external mixer has inserts on the XLR channels, you could try out some begged/borrowed/rented processing. Typically, the first bit of this kinda thing you'd look at would be inserting a compressor on the kick mic channel. With more devices available, compressing (or Limiting) the OH's, or any other source for that matter, on the way INto the recording device is quite common bUt... It's more common for AE's to recommend that you don't bother unless you A) have high quality units at your disposal, B) know what the hell you're doing, or C) rEAlly need to perform that function.

I'm getting to the point, I promise...

If you're already using an external compressor to smooth out vocals on the way into your DAW, great. (though I doubt it, 'cause you'd need to be using the inserts on the xternal mixer to do that) If you AREn't, eventually you're going to come to the conclusion that you'd like to. Grab a comp somewhere and check it out on your bass drum mic. Initially we're inclined to go for the results that the device is 'supposed' to give- a comp's supposed to control signal to a specified extent... so figure out how to do that with whichever unit(s) you manage to get your hands on, but don't forget to take note of the weird-sounding characteristics that you might come across; the point being that external devices can render some really interesting stuff on the way into the recorder.

Getting an awesome 'straight up' recorded drum sound is always a struggle when the recordist lacks the requisite million bucks worth of room and pres and mics and experience... At the same time though, slogging away with the tools at hand innevitably leads to better technique and experience, and sounds that you're happier and happier with. On the other hand, an undeniably awesome drum sound might be the results YOU get with your overheads in mono, the kick mic in a bucket and a '57 pointed into a ceiling corner with a comp squashing the living shit out of it. In that case, the million-dollar setup's got nothin' on you; the cool sound'll be the result of your creativity, uninfluenced by the usual 'compromise enforced by gear limitations' hangup.

Sorry to've rambled thusly, but hopefully there's a germ or two in there to getcha thinking about recording some interesting things...

anonymous Sun, 03/16/2003 - 23:35

Do you mix the drums down to stereo before mixing down everything else? If I was to mix in stereo or stereo + kick, I'd be worried that the drums would sound good by themselves, and then when I brought everything else in, it wouldn't sound good anymore. Then I would have to start from scratch, right? Cause I wouldn't have individual control over the drums anymore. Do you account for that ahead of time in some way?

anonymous Mon, 03/17/2003 - 08:56

HA! Therein lies the trick!!

You absolutely have to mix down and hope for the best once the rest of the tracks are in there. Pain in the ass eh? Figure though, this is one of those 'make important decisions early in the process' realities that recordists have always had to deal with; it's a fundamental aspect of recording. Folks've been doing a pretty good job of it forever too... If you're as multitrack-spoiled as I am, you've never had to contemplate the nightmare of boucing drums AND bass down to ONE TRACK. !!! I shudder to think, but there it is- gazillions of amazing sounding records were (and to some extent continue to be) made under conditions that forced the recordist to make big decisions right off the bat.

It's just going to be a question of experimentation, no? If you've got some time and interest, try your hand at mixing those multi-drums down to L/R+kick, and see how things sit with the rest of the tracks. You'll probably discover pro/con aspects of EQ and compression that'd never crossed your mind. Maybe get a bunch of the instrumental stuff done and mix thAt, bouncing the 3 drum tracks down to just L/R... The 'virtual tracks' feature on a DAW gives you pretty limitless flexibility with regard to filling up your available 8 and boucing stuff around, so never fear :^P