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I wanted to create a topic where we can share drum recording techniques. I'll give an overview of some of the stuff I do at my studio but would love to hear what othert techniques people are using.

Snare Drum Recording Techniques
We usually end up Micing the snare drum's face with a Shure SM57 sometimes together with a Beyer M201 or a Neumann KM84. There’s often a debate over whether mics should also be placed underneath the snare. Occasionally we have used this to get more of the snare spring sound. However it will almost invariably need gating and can also introduce phase issues. If we do place mics underneath we will usually go for another SM57 or possibly a C451EB.

Overhead Microphone Recording Techniques
Overheads are also very important and at ALT Recording Studios the approach we take with overheads is that they bring the drum sound together giving a more natural less disparate feel than just close Micing alone can. We always meticulously check the phase relationships between each drum and the overheads as this can ruin the bottom end of the recording.

We always move the mics around loads. When were recording a drum kit in our bank vault live room we often spend much more time in the live room trying out mic positions than we do in our control room.

Kick Drum Recording Techniques
For recording Kick drums we always go for the classic AKG's D12 large-diaphragm dynamic mic as it always seems to deliver the results we’re looking for. It’s basically a microphone that emphasises the sound you want form a kick drum.

Our secret weapon for creating an extra big Kick sound is an Electro-Voice RE10. This vintage mic has a frequency response that’s pretty flat for a dynamic mic and it also doesn’t produce too much proximity effect. Another trick we use at ALT Recording Studios is Brighton is Micing closer to the beater head. We find were able to get greater beater presence. When doing this changes to the mic positions greatly effect the level and quality of the beater sound. We often end up essentially with 2 different recording 1 of the beater and 1 capturing the tonality of the kick.

The full article I've written is posted on our website


Davedog Thu, 07/16/2009 - 09:51

These are are all very good and standard techniques. All of this information can be found at various places on this site by using the search function.

A lot of the readers and posters here do not have a 'bank vault' live room to record a kit in, so there needs to be an emphasis on the very most important aspect of drum recording mentioned along with the basics.

You canNOT get a great drum sound without the proper tuning and the proper heads chosen for the style of music you're recording. A quality drum is important but the head selection and the tuning go way beyond placement of the mics. Placement, in this case, will only ensure that the great sound already being produced by a great setup will be captured.

Think of mic selection and placement as a fine tuning of the already great source.

Source is everything no matter what instrument it is.

moonbaby Thu, 07/16/2009 - 10:16

Haven't we seen this before, where someone strolls in here and ,BAM !, on their very first post they want to espouse their way of mic'ing drums...
And usually it's patronizing, with a heavy emphasis on gear, and absolutely no mention of the most important element-what DD talked about:
Sorry, DD, I pulled that and edited it...

RemyRAD Thu, 07/16/2009 - 22:24

And so this is all very well and good but really has very little to do with recording. Crappie sounding drums will always sound crappie regardless of microphones & position. Good fresh heads & proper tuning is paramount. But if it's a cheap drum the heads & tuning almost don't matter. You also neglected to indicate anything about musical genre. What? You do everything the same regardless of musical genre? That doesn't make any sense. You just got out of recording school right?

And you have 40 years of experience?
Ms. Remy Ann David

anonymous Fri, 07/17/2009 - 01:54

+1 on good heads and proper tuning. One thing I've found that makes a night and day difference in the clarity of drum recordings is tuning high -- higher than you think sounds good. I also recommend tuning the bottom heads higher than the top heads for most genres. This gives the drums a lot more resonance, vibrancy, and they just have better tone while cutting better.

I've gotta admit I'm not terribly picky about microphones. I could make do just fine with all sm58's. I usually mic the edge with the mic pointing down and slightly towards the center of the drum. Of course, it sounds best if every drum and cymbal has its own mic. The kick drum is the hardest for me usually. The Yamaha sub kick mic works very well, but the bass drum is the one drum I really feel the need for two mics to get a great sound with; one mic to get the lows and tone, and another mic to get the beater and air movement.

But don't ask me about getting the ring out. I say add more ring in, especially on the snare drum. Ooooooh yeahhhhhhhhhhh.