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Recording bongo's

Has anybody had any experiance recording these.

We have had this song knocking around for the last eight months adding and deleteing different elements everytime we play around with it, i got it out again the other day with a group of friends and decided to add some bongo' to the intro, a friend has offered to bring bongo's and play them on thursday, any advice on how to get the best results (mic techniques/placement would be appreciated. i have a stereo pair of C414s C1000s sm57-58 NTK. :D



MilesAway Tue, 08/08/2006 - 09:44

I've had some encouraging results close-micing each drum /w a 57, then dropping a pair of LDCs (3035s in my case) back a few feet under heavy compression. I mixed the LDCs as my main stereo pair, then brought up the 57s to add a bit more punch where required, as well as helping to place the mics in the stereo feild.

sheld Tue, 08/08/2006 - 10:04

where did you close mic from top/bottom???
how did you set up your stereo pair XY..

Cheers im gonna try a few different techniques before the recording on thursday.


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JoeH Tue, 08/08/2006 - 10:34

For live gigs, you'll never go wrong with an SM57 on percussion. For studio work, you may need some more detail, esp if the bongo's are light and airy; there's often some hand noise used to create the sound.

I'd try both - the dynamic for the punch, and perhaps a stereo pair of condensers (if you have the track/inputs available). I'd try a SDC mic first, but if you don't have 'em (KM-84s or even a Studio Project C4), try the 414's.

You'll want to give yourself a lot of headroom and gently limit the peaks of course (depending on the skill of the percussionist), either when cutting the tracks or in software in post. Try not to overdo it if you want the sound to remain exciting in the mix.

What I always like about well-recorded bongos is how they can "POP" out of a track.

sheld Tue, 08/08/2006 - 10:57

Thanks im starting to get a picture of how im going to attempt this now, ill use the C414s as the XY stereo pair starting at maybe 12" away and move around until i find the most pleasing position, gentle comp on focusrite TTPro, Then ill close mic each drum from the top with the 57's coming in sidewards pointing at the centre, as you would with a snare. Once recorded to HD ill play around with the transient of the close mics keeping the level below the stereo pair. am i going down the right road here????, Ill let you know how it sounds.


chrispick Tue, 08/08/2006 - 20:32

Just to say: Do you have to record these in stereo? Spatial mix decisions depend on your song and context. You could probably get great results with a single 421. I raise this suggesiton because many people default to stereo recording techniques, even if it may not be best for the mix in total.

RecTeach Tue, 08/08/2006 - 21:25

INSERT I just saw some comments about recording with compressors and "squashing" the bottoms yada yada..... Let me say to you with the strongest of suggestion that recording with effects is a very dangerous proposition because once it's on there it's there. However, if you record dry THEN you can try every try of compression eq setting you want before you print to disk and you're not locked into that ONE that you did when you laid down the track. Make sense??

Here are several options that all work well:

Put the mic 6-8 inches back and about 2 feet above the drums pointing down at almost a 90 degree angle.

Shure SM81
Brauner Phantom C
Soundelux U195
Sennheiser MD421 II
Royer 121

Neve 5012
Great River MP-2NV
Crane Song Flamingo
DBX 386

For Stereo
(2) DPA 4006 - if you want more room
(2) DPA 4011- if you want less room
(2) Shure SM81
(1) Royer SF12 - stereo mic (duh!)

stickers Tue, 08/08/2006 - 21:53

I'd probably close mic them with Audix D2s and maybe some sort of stereo configuration with condenser mics a few feet back.

MilesAway Thu, 08/10/2006 - 12:25

sheld wrote: where did you close mic from top/bottom???
how did you set up your stereo pair XY..

Cheers im gonna try a few different techniques before the recording on thursday.


I mic'd everything from the top and my condensors were in A/B, not XY. I should also mention that Bongo's were NOT the only instrument being tracked. The percussionist also had a few Congas and various shakers/tambourines/etc... and would move back and forth between them over the course of the song.

re: compression at tracking... for something like hand-percussion, you're going to need it, plain and simple. If you've got good outboard compressors, there's no reason not to use 'em on the way in if you've got a good idea of how you want the tracks to sit in the final mix.