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Recording Drums

Member for

21 years 3 months

Coming up this weekend I have my first session with drums. I have an M-Audio Delta 44 card with a sixteen channel four bus mixer. My question is, should I record the kit with two overhead's, a snare mic, and a kick mic? or should i mic the whole kit and try to get a good sound to tape using two of the buses? Also, What would any of you suggest as the best way to position the overheads? Thanks
Wes

Comments

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Tue, 02/25/2003 - 08:33
Wes,
There are a million ways to mic a kit, a lot depends on the kit, the room , and the type of music.
I like to put my drums on at least 4 different tracks some times 6. I would suggest if the music is something like Jazz or Folk where the toms don't have to be overly beefy, use just 4 mics like you suggested putting the overheads directly over the drummers head about 6ft high (higher if room is tall)in a x/y configuration. You will get a very clean image.
I could give you a better more concise answer if you give a little more details such as music style / kit arrangement / room size / mics you have available etc.
Get back! we'll help!

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Tue, 02/25/2003 - 09:32
My room is 19 by 14 with an 8 foot ceiling. The type of music that im recording is rock so i will need the toms to be punchy. Unfortunatly at this time i hardly have a selection of drum mics, i will have 4 57's for the snare and toms, and an apex drum mic package which i will use for overheads and kick.
Thanks
WES

Member for

19 years 5 months

Kurt Foster Tue, 02/25/2003 - 10:27
Wes,
If you want a "commercial" rock drum mix, it will be very difficult to make that happen with the limited mic collection and mixer/ soundcard you have at your disposal. You can get something that sounds good but it's not going to sound like most of the rock CDs out there. Having only 4 tracks in is a severe limitation. I usually use a mic on the kick, 2 on the snare, 1 for each tom, 1 on the hat and at least 2 or perhaps 3 on the overheads. These usually are routed to their own tracks for treatment post recording. To get a commercial rock drum sound with what you have available, you would most likely need to gate the toms to the recorder (not a smiled upon practice) to prevent the cymbal spill from invading the tom mics. Tom mics are usually eq'd with a lot of 5 or 6k boost and the cymbals can really play havoc with the mix. To exacerbate the situation many inexperienced drummers will set their kits up in a way that does not accommodate micing them and with the cymbals so low they spill into everything (can you say “ride cymbal 1 inch above the floor tom”?).

My advice is to mic the kick and snare, sending them to their own tracks. Then place the overheads as Tom suggested or in a spaced configuration (left side / right side of the kit, measuring to insure that each mic is the same distance to the snare drum). Route these to the 2 remaining tracks. Fine tune these with placement and a very little amount of eq. The less eq, the better. Use you ears. Step into the control room and listen or record a bit and listen if you don’t have a separate control room. Try to pull as much of the drum kit sound as possible from the overheads. Always check for phase differences and be sure to check that the left/right imaging is correct. Make sure the snare sounds like it’s dead center. Once you have pulled as much as you can out of the overheads useing placement and eq, you may start adding the mics on the toms. Blend them in on the same tracks with the overheads and have the drummer play beats with a lot of cymbals, crashes and rides. Try to find a balance where the toms are beefed up a bit but the cymbals aren’t being brought up so much as to be objectionable. That will be about the best you can do with your present equipment roster. The good news is you have a decent room to record in. The dimensions are pretty good, although it would be nice to have a higher ceiling. You should be able to get a good sound in a room like that. Most important, have a good time. You can hear a smile on tape. Fats
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Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
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Member for

19 years 5 months

Kurt Foster Tue, 02/25/2003 - 14:23
I personally don't care for room mics. It louses up phase compatibility and makes the sound less defined. I prefer to re amp drums through a PA and mic that up in mix to get room sounds. But a lot of cats use room mics, some quite successfully. It's hard to argue with success. In the end, it's a very subjective, a matter of personal taste. Fats
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Member for

19 years 11 months

Davedog Tue, 02/25/2003 - 14:26
You are definately going to 'hear' the room with the 4033 added in ...i was thinking about your situation and thought i might add a few thoughts....is it possible to record 'basic' drum tracks? you could put down your snare and kick with hihat on three tracks and tehn go back and enhance with the tom work and such...ive done this and it is laborius but when theres a lack of tracks and inputs it will work...im not sure how many tracks you can get on your m-audio set up,the other suggestion is as you indicated before, mic it all get as good a mix as possible and go to two tracks...just like live....good luck

Member for

20 years 10 months

GT40sc Tue, 02/25/2003 - 20:02
Wes,

Because you said this is your first time recording drums, you might want to try a very simple setup. Don't bother with too many microphones, and don't make any submixes before recording. Instead, use a "single microphone for each sound."

When I first started recording, I had a hard time "pre-mixing" the drum parts before recording, because I did not understand the balance I needed to hear.

Since your Delta-44 is limited to four inputs, I would try:

1. Kick (57 or Apex)
2. Snare (57)
3. Overhead (4033)
4. Room Mic (57 or Apex)

This way you don't have to pre-mix anything, and you can work out a good balance after recording. A clean, simple recording with good tone is much more impressive than something complex, but off-balance.

When you gain a little experience, you will "know in your head" the individual drum tones you want, as well as how to balance toms vs cymbals in a stereo submix, etc.

Let us know how it turns out...

best of luck,

Member for

19 years 5 months

Kurt Foster Tue, 02/25/2003 - 20:17
Wes,
If you just follow the instructions I gave the balances should be correct. GT40sc has a very good point. Knowing the correct balance of things, especially drums, is something that comes only with experience. But the layout I suggested takes all that into account. Get most of the sound from the overheads, beef up the toms a bit with their own mics, have the kick and snare on their own tracks and everything should be fine. It isn't rocket science ... Fats
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Member for

20 years 5 months

audiowkstation Wed, 02/26/2003 - 19:20
In my experience, fewer microphones is always better, less electronics for gates etc.

Organic "real" drums "the best sound", 2 or 3 mics, two behind the kit and one kick.

If the drummer is talented, this is the way I mic. No head ringing, not tom ringing, no artificial sounds, just the kit the way the drummer hears it.

I hope you consider this approach as well.

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Thu, 02/27/2003 - 01:40
One other thing.
Some times when I use a 4 mic set-up if I want to beef the toms up a little I use a few pieces of 3/8 plywood (4ft square) propped up directly behind the toms (in front of the kit obviously) angled upward (leaning against some chairs or ?)
to add some fuller bottom tom sound (and some kick as well! )I listen through head phones and work with the angle until I hear a definite low end boost and then stop.

Member for

20 years 8 months

RecorderMan Thu, 02/27/2003 - 06:43
Originally posted by Tom Menikos:
One other thing.
Some times when I use a 4 mic set-up if I want to beef the toms up a little I use a few pieces of 3/8 plywood (4ft square) propped up directly behind the toms (in front of the kit obviously) angled upward (leaning against some chairs or ?)
to add some fuller bottom tom sound (and some kick as well! )I listen through head phones and work with the angle until I hear a definite low end boost and then stop.
Sounds cool Tom. I'm going to try this one myself.

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Sun, 03/02/2003 - 19:32
The drum recording went really well. I ended up using only four microphones. I ended up with the two apex mics on the overheads a 57 on the snare and a 57 on the kick. I got quite a bit of toms with the overhead pattern I used and overall the result was quite impressive. Thanks again for all the help guys.
Wes

Member for

20 years 5 months

audiowkstation Sun, 03/02/2003 - 21:47
It was wierd. We did aux out of the marshalls but if you yelled into the speakers, it was picked up into the track..a feedback loop appeared, we liked it, did not know how it happened and cut it.

(there is a ghost in every studio and they are always my friends)

Per guitar, (ryth/Lead) we had a double stack of kitty hawks (modded marshall like cabs with celetions wired by me), a Carvin stereo power amp running them 2 channel each, and the marshall efX unit, (got to ask ab what it is.., been a long time)

I remember in the control room, someone yelled with no mics open and it came into the guitar tracks...thought the pickups were doing it :d: but it was the speakers feeding ambient noise back into the signal..

Speakers were microphones......

It did kick butt..

I dialed it in, and dialed in the post..pretty wild eh?

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Mon, 03/03/2003 - 04:43
Hey Bill ... yep I'm digging out of constant work and am back to share my .. uh ... thoughts (?)...
sounds like the drummer was a strong one (power).

My 2cents here is that a wide open sounding kit will do well with a strong drummer and a few mics, or an open sounding jazz kit with (duh) a good dynamic drummer. So the bottom line is that it is, IMO, a direct result of the kit and drummer before the mics.
As for room mics .. I'm here and there with it .. I throw up one or two, while walking around the studio listening to the drummer play and see what I have. Sometimes they add some huge oomph, and sometimes not .. again, IMO, a direct result of kit and drummer. Bottom line is you can't get a big sound out of a whimpy drummer. Sad to say (and I'm a drummer), there are way too many whimpy drummers out there. It's rock and roll? Hit the damn thing! :)
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