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sorry, another drum thread

Hello all- I am a new member to this site, though I have been reading it for a while. My question pertains to recording drums. Recently I was allowed access to gigantic old military base room that is about 150 ft long and 75 feet wide with about 40-50 ceilings- its all concrete. Drums sound absolutely incredible in there to the ear, but when we tried many different tequniques for recording, we couldnt get anywhere near the sound we wanted. The mic inside the kick, an md421, sounded like it was in a cardboard box, and everything else sounded thin and had nowhere near the bass that ive achieved out of my small room at home (which is much more acoustically dead). The best results that we ended up with were two mics about 50 feet from the kit- though it didnt sound very full at all. Does anyone have any experience in this type of setup or perhaps any suggestions to offer? My gear isn't all that great, but not awful either- sm57, pair of RØDE nt5s and an nt1a, Sennheiser md421, e906, e609 x2, e901, and into a couple different pres; dbx 386 and a couple Focusrite pentas.



Scoobie Sun, 09/10/2006 - 11:56
Hello Adam...........

I'm also a newb to posting in this forum. Far as your recording, is it a live proformance or are you just tracking drums. Need more information.

One thing i will said, (its all concrete) thats has alot to do with your problem. Put aleast a 10x10 rug or carpet under the drums and have a party. It will sound alot better with alot of people in the room.
PEOPLE nothing.


Pro Audio Guest Sun, 09/10/2006 - 13:08
thanks for the tips; we actually did place a rug under the drums- easier to move the kit around and try locations as well as better sounding- agreed. as far as tons of people- we are just tracking, so just me and the drummer are in there and it is HUGE. What do you think for placement? we mostly tried the middle so that decay would be less and slapback wouldnt be so doppled. and would the kick drum sound so bad because of the room being the way that it is? it sounded great standing in the room, but the mic picked up almost no real low end and sounded like it was hitting a piece of cardboard (when placed just inside the kick).

moonbaby Mon, 09/11/2006 - 07:29
Welcome to RO!
You stated that the 421 sounded too thin: where was the rotary switch at the connector end set? It goes from "V" ("Voice") to "M" ("Music") in 5 steps. "Voice" is a tight ass roll-off (see what can happen to a simple statement when a single letter like 'B' gets left out?). That's BASS roll-off, and that may be your problem right there. Also, do any of the mic pre's at your disposal have what is referred to as a "phase reversal" (really polarity reversal) switch at the input? The room may be too reflective to have a single pair of mics used alone as "kit mics". You will have to be careful and attempt close-mic'ing of the kit, utilizing the phase reversal switches to minimize comb filtering between mics. Any "room mics" should be used sparingly, and placed on their own tracks. I like the sound of a big kit in a big room, but this might be a bit too big a room.

MadMax Mon, 09/11/2006 - 16:13
A couple of thoughts along moonbaby's train of thought (I'm guessing)...

Placement of the kit in the big room (hall) is just about as critical as in a small room... if not more so.

Do some measurements and try this as a starting point...

Start by placing the center of the kit 109 ft from the "front wall" and 46.5 ft from one of the "side walls". It doesn't have to be exact, but as close to the center of the kick as is practical.

Tune the drums down to the fundamental resonance. This should help along with the correct mic roll-off setting to get some more of that "big" sound in such a large active room.

The front mic is going to end up somewhere around 3-4 feet in front of the kick... you'll need to get your head down low... like the center of the kick low. Start the drummer on the kick, and move out slowly in front of the kick until you hear it peak out as far as the low frequency and punch. Put the front mic there. I would try the NT1a and be sure to leave the roll off de-selected... you want/need that low frequency punch.

I'd take the 421 and start with that JUST inside the kick and only move it a 1/4" at a time until you hear it max out.

Your overheads (the NT5a's?) in either a bleuline or ORTF will probably end up somewhere like 8-12 feet above the kit. Be sure that you listen to them as they go up... until you hear the maximum sound output. Maybe take em' up in 3-4 inch increments or less.

If possible, I'd rent a pair of U87's, a stereo ribbon or a pair of Cole's for the room mic's. They're gonna end up pretty far down the room and at about the same height as the OH's. (As a start, try em' at the mirror opposite end of the room (109 and 46.5) give or take a foot ot two. In that large of a room, it might be wise to try a spaced pair. Since I've never just tracked drums in THAT big of a room, the stereo image may be impossible to accurately capture at that kind of distance... moonbaby, Remy, Jeremy?!?

I know it's a LOT of work, but most of us would die for a big ol' room like that to track drums in. It'll be worth the effort you put into it.

My paltry .02 worth...

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 09/11/2006 - 22:50
Thankyou all so much for the comments;

Moonbaby, i actually did try every setting on the md421, and figured out the difference in the sounds. I tried the phase reversal, but it didnt really end up doing much in the way of the sound- far as i could hear. when i close mic'd the kit i got very poor results as compared to mics far away, but i shall keep trying.

drumist 69- because i dont want it to sound like every other set of recorded drums, and you would know what i mean if you could hear this room. it is beautiful.

Mad max, thankyou very much. I may actually try all of that- though im not sure where around here i can rent a nice pair of mics like that- or even one- but it was definitely a thought that i had and would love to carry out. What exactly are those measurements for (109 and 46.5), they seem a bit abstract, and im just wondering if those are standards or something for mics between kit and wall. I know that it will be worth all of the work, becuase even with my inexperience it is sounding quite incredible (with some time eq'ing and compressing a bit) and i know it could even sound alot better. Thanks again for taking the time.


Pro Audio Guest Tue, 09/12/2006 - 01:46
I would recommend starting at the source. Making sure the drums are tuned to the sound your looking for. I deal with a lot of musicians who tune their drums extremely high and then wonder where there low end goes. Also, a couple different rules of thought that might help, or might not.

The 3 to 1 rule. If your mic's are 3 feet out from the kit, place your ambient mics 9 feet.

I would almost bet that the room is making a phase reversal switch a bit useless, It would be hard to catch something exactly 180 degrees out of phase in a room like that.

If you wanted to get crazy I use my wireless in ears, a mic with a ton of lead and walk around the room with the mic while your drummers playing until I find the sweet spot... if there is one.

Anyway, enjoy the room, I wish I had that problem.


MadMax Tue, 09/12/2006 - 04:16

The 109 and 46.5 are length x .625 and width x .625. e.g. At a point 5/8 of the distance from any perimeter, you SHOULD be relatively free from anti-nodes (nulls) and close to a decent harmonic node of the fundamental wavelength of the room.

This is not always the case as the actual room dimensions actually play a role in what the fundmental frequencies of the room are. However, they should be a good starting point.

Make sense?


Pro Audio Guest Tue, 09/12/2006 - 12:25
Thank you all so very much!

As far as the drum tuning; i think it sounds great in the room, the low end is definitely there- just unfortunately not getting it through the mics...
Ill try the 3 to 1 rule, but the best sound i got from the ambient mics so far was about 60 ft away. it was much more full, so maybe i need the other mics further away. the wireless is an excellent idea, the only prob with mine is i hear to much of the live sound because they dont isolate very well and the room is SO loud.

thanks again madmax- that makes perfect sense; i remember all of that from good 'ol physics classes i had to take back when. but is slapback from the walls going to create equal arc lengths, or is it going to depend quite a bit on the freq coming out of various parts of the drums? in other words, im wondering if the nodes will be doppled on the way back so that they really could be anywhere. or is that conquered by placing the drum in a certain area, like in the center of the room? Also, the inside the kick mic sounded awful, any ideas for that? just not use one if i get enough bass from the outside?

thanks again,


moonbaby Tue, 09/12/2006 - 13:44
A 421 "awful" inside the kick? That's a new one on me. Do you have the front head on with a hole cut in it? No front head at all? I usually place a 421 a couple of inches into the drum and aim it towards one side, where the drums resonance seems to be strongest. Not dead straight at the beater head. I will throw a small pillow inside the drum, but you don't want to over-deaden the tone. What kind of sound do you want from this kit? And haven't you had compansion issues with a wireless mic on percussion?

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 09/12/2006 - 15:34
Hm, i dont have any wireless mics- just headphones. Yes, there is a hole in the kick, i was pointing it towards the beater though, which may be part of the problem. I agree though that it did sound better with a bit of insulation inside and not too much.

That would be really unfortunate if the diaphragm was toasted because im a poor college kid who bought the mic on ebay... sucker, i know, but ive gotten lots of good gear thus far and saved hundreds and hundreds. is there any way to test and confirm that it might be that? ill try using it some more this week on drums, and see... but it seems like it could be that, cause what was really missing are the lows, the mids were there. =(. the421 actually sounded good placed 50 or so feet in front of the kit.

thanks again for all the help- im just a new kid to this (quire obviously) and am very appreciative of the help.


moonbaby Wed, 09/13/2006 - 06:28
You need to check the 421 for exactly what MadMax mentioned, just to know for future reference. Easy to test the 421 simply speak into it from the front. If it sounds "nasally" or "tinny", it's a goner. 421's (especially the earlier versions) are notorious for not being tough when knocked by a drumstick or dropped.And when you buy one used on e-Bay, ya just never know...