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How to mic Tabla ?

I'll be recording a Tabla player for the first time in a couple of days. While I've recorded hand drums, they were always open drums.

Anyone have advice on how to mic Tabla ?

Thanks, Kirk


Mike Simmons Wed, 06/19/2002 - 04:58

Kirk, how dense is the instrumentation on the tune? Is the tabla a major player or just flavor? I tend to treat 'em like conga with the exception that I've never had much luck micing under the drum 'cause the tambs are too brite. Decide what balance you're looking for in terms of slap, resonant boom or the shimmer from the tambs. If I've got a small group and the tabla is THE percussion, I might throw a stereo pair of small condensers XY over the top of the skin just above the players head and a dynamic (MD421) near the drum head for slap. I'll move the condensers around to balance between the resonance and the shimmer of the tambs, and pull the 421 back off the rim to adjust the slap. If the tabla is just a flavor percussion on a dense track I'll put up a single small condenser above the drum and move it around 'til I like the balance or (if the room sounds nice and the player and instrument sound good) I'll try a LDC room mic and compress it pretty hard in the mix.

anonymous Wed, 06/19/2002 - 07:08

Thanks for the reply Curious.

The tabla are the sole percussion, though the player's teacher will be here from Nepal to add a solo in another session.

Instrumentation is Sax, two string instruments (whose names I won't try to spell) and the tabla tracks. Vocals will be added as well.

Interesting idea to do the XY pair. I was thinking I'd mic right off the top of the head with an Earthworks SR-77 and put a Soundelux U95S out front for a room mic. I've also got 421s so I could easily compare the two.

The player told me that in the past he's had a small condensor over the smaller drum and a larger condensor at the larger drum. Other engineers have just put a single mic near the middle of the two drums, though I don't feel that doesn't give me enough control.

anonymous Thu, 06/20/2002 - 09:10

Originally posted by Kirk Candlish:

Try two PZM's taped back to back and get close in between the two drums.

Now there's an intersting idea, seperation would be good, imaging could be very cool.

Now I'm thinking a pair of M-147s near coincident right in front of the Tabla.

with the pzm's you'll hear the players fingerprint ridges, seriously there will be a lot of finger contact detail as well as much less phaseing of the complex midrange of the drum.

anonymous Thu, 06/20/2002 - 18:27

Well like most sessions not enough time was available and we had to do a quicker setup than I would have liked. I put a Soundelux U95s about 18" in front and at the height of the smaller drum. I put an Earthworks SR-77 up off to the side pointing at the head on the smaller drum. Both mics were run through Avalon M5 pres.

Listening to the tracks now I have what was needed and the player is very happy. The U95s gave me a very nice sound over all. The SR-77 added some texture and detail.

Thanks for all the replies and opinions.




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