Drum Mic Placement Help has Arrived WITH SOUND CLIPS

Discussion in 'Drums' started by mistervenable, Sep 28, 2006.

  1. EDIT: Here are some sound clips. I posted them down in other replies, but a couple people said I should move them up here. So...

    Rough clips:
    Rough Sample 1
    Rough Sample2

    Mixed clips:
    Mixed Sample1
    Mixed Sample2

    I've been an avid reader of the forums for months now, and today I thought I should chime in with some drum miking techniques I use to get some killer sounds. Let me preface this by stating that the settings I use will not always be good for every drummer, drum set, room, or session. I highly recommend new drum heads, good tuning, and a solid player; those are important - the rest we can deal with later.

    On this particular session, the band was recording some acoustic driven, straight-forward rock. I wanted a solid punchy kick, with a thick pop for the snare. I noticed the kick beater was hard felt, so before we started, and with the drummer's permission, I taped some folded paper towels to the batter head of the kick drum right where the beater hit. That softened the blow a little, and you'll see it in the photos a little later. The snare was a bit ringy, so I used a couple of strategically placed moon gel pieces to dampen the top head. That's about all I had to do as far as modifying the kit goes.

    SNARE DRUM: I used a pair of SM57's, one on top and one on bottom. The top one was about an inch above the drum, aimed at the center of the drum (or where the drummer hits the head) and the tip of the mic should be lined up with the edge of the drum. Check out the pics below for a better idea. The bottom mic is not where you would typically be told to put it, but it works if phase-aligned correctly. I place it 4 inches below the head and line it up about halfway between the snares and the edge of the drum and aim it at the center of the head where the snares are. When you record your test or scratch track, check for phase issues!

    KICK DRUM: Some people suggest the D112, some say the Beta52. I use both. The Beta52 I place inside the hole completely so the rear of the mic is about an inch in. I aim it at the beater. I put the D112 on the outside of the resonant head, halfway between the hole and the far hoop edge. It should be the same height off the ground as the inside mic is, and put it about half an inch from the head (either pointing directly perpendicular, or slightly aimed towards the beater, but not too much).

    HIGH HATS: I ended up using a Cad E100 on this (swapped it out after I took the photo). I placed it about 7 inches above the top hat, aimed straight down between the dome and the edge.

    TOM 1: The MD421 is always my choice for toms. I place it about the same way as I do the top snare mic, about an inch above the drum rim, lined up to the rim. I aim it about half way between the center of the head and the rim though... I still get some attack click, but more of the resonance that I love to EQ later.

    FLOOR TOM: I used another D112 on this one, though an MD421 works as well. I set this a little higher than the other toms' mics. This one is put about 2 inches above the head so it allows more of the lower frequencies to fully bloom. Align it just inside the rim and aim about 4 inches in from the rim. They key is to get more resonance than attack (there will be plenty).

    OVERHEADS: I used a pair of Royer condensers about a foot above the crashes. I put them about 2 and a half feet apart from eachother, aimed slightly away from eachother. They are about halfway between the dome and the edge. Check for phase issues!

    ROOM MICS: Here's something a lot of engineers have been doing, but it isn't really taught anywhere. I put a pair of Rode NT2's in the X-Y formation in a bathroom that is 6 feet away from the live room but it shares a common wall. The tracking room has a door that opens into a small 6 foot hallway which leads to the bathroom. I left both the doors open. The mics are about 7 inches apart. Since I am using a relatively small tracking room, I put these in the bathroom to create a little decay. The mics will pick up some rumble and mid-low end.

    GAK MIC: Another trick. Use the crappiest mic you can find and place it about as high as the snare is, but place it about 3 feet away from the snare, pointed at it, in the gap between the highhat and tom1. See the pic. Compress the crap out of this using a limiter, and bring it up under the drums for a little edge. I love it.

    Top snare:

    Bottom snare:

    Kick mics:

    High Hat mic... remember, I switched this out for a Cad E100, but it's in the same place this mic was.

    Tom1 mic:

    Floor Tom:


    Room Mics.. side and top views:

    GAK mic is in the lower right corner of this pic:

    I neglected to mention that I put some drum rugs under the drums on the hardwood floor to minimize some of the slapback off the floor. It also aids in keeping the drums from sliding all over the place... that's common sense though.

    I ran the inside Kik mic through an EL8 Distressor at a 4:1 ratio, 5.4 attack, 3.1 release.

    The Snare top mic was at 4:1, attack of 1.0, and release of 5.7.

    I can't recall the other compressor settings, sorry.


    Kick in: boost from 2kHz - 20kHz up about 6dB. 500Hz -6dB. 250Hz -12dB. 125Hz - 63Hz can be nudged up 3dB for some thump.

    Kick out: 1kHz - 20kHz can be cut -12dB. 500Hz -5dB. 250Hz - 125Hz can be cut a couple dB. Then cut the 31Hz mark down by about 5dB.

    SN up: 4kHz - 20kHz boost +6dB. 2kHz +3dB. 1kHz -2dB. 500Hz -6dB. 250kHz -5dB.

    HH: 16kHz +5dB. 8kHz +3dB. 500Hz -3dB. 250Hz -125Hz cut -4dB. 63Hz -1dB. Rolloff 31Hz.

    Tom1: 16kHz +6dB. 2kHz - 8kHz add +3dB. 250Hz -5dB. 125Hz +2dB. 63Hz +5dB.

    Floor: same as tom1 except 8kHz - 16kHz only boost +2dB.

    NOTE: As mentioned at the top of this post (decades ago) these settings were used on my session... and they most likely will not be the same for you.

    So, if I remember, I will post some raw sound clips of the drums I captured with these settings and mic positions. I can't stress enough the fact that you need to check phase on everything and make the necessary adjustments. I need to get back to work. Let me know if you have any questions.

    -Robert Venable - Phoenix, AZ.
    email: mistervenable (-at-) yahoo.com
  2. stickers

    stickers Active Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    Lowell MA
    Home Page:

    If you post RAW clips, we should hear it without EQ or Compression. Raw, IMO is unprocessed..isnt it? :?
  3. Sorry, I guess what I meant was, without post compression, reverb, or other addional processing other than what I wrote to tape (or disk). You are completely right. It's late.
  4. stickers

    stickers Active Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    Lowell MA
    Home Page:
    didnt you find those hydrolics a little to quick? I did a session a couple months ago with those heads on the toms. The head plenty of punch, no ring but where's the good fun stuff... SUSTAIN!. hehe.
  5. The drumheads worked pretty well for what I needed, it really depends on the style and drummer.

    Here are a couple mp3s you can check out... as mentioned above, they have some kick and snare compression that was written to disk, no post editing, cleanup, gates, verb, etc.


    Feel free to email me with questions or comments.
  6. stickers

    stickers Active Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    Lowell MA
    Home Page:
    nice work.

    Everything sounds good. I dont care for the hats but oh well. Maybe less hihat track in the mix will help. Its always nice to work with a drummer that show up prepared..New heads and the kit tuned well. Last session I had to spend a lot of time tuning the drummers kit. That wasnt fun.
  7. separation

    separation Guest

    Over the past year I've had some of the worst equipped drummers known to man. Poor tuning, squeeky pedals, cracked cymbals, OLD OLD heads. The last kit I did was the worst thing I've ever heard. I almost gave up and told them I couldn't do it, but they were happy with what I did to it. I just wanted to record this band and that is the only way I could do it. Scary stuff. Duct tape hanging off the kit. More deadening foam on the kit than auralex on the walls.

  8. Mguitar34

    Mguitar34 Guest

    The kick sounds amazing. I am young and have a home studio but suffer from not getting a decent kick sound. I used a beta52 and placed it like they say but I can’t get a good sound to come out. I know a little about eq and compression and have used all the advice that has been given. I can’t get it to show up at all on anything like laptop speakers (your kick sounds amazing). Among other things I've tried doubling the track and cranking the treble on one of the kicks but even that doesn’t help to the needed extent.

    In my latest drum recording I put an audix i5 on the back side of the kick so see if that would help with the high end. I haven't mixed in any other instruments so I don’t know how successful it will be.

    This rant really has no point. sorry.
  9. blaumph2cool

    blaumph2cool Active Member

    May 2, 2005
    Portland, OR
    I think this sounds sweet!! do you have any more of the toms and ride.
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    It sounds very good. The kick is nice and crisp and the snare deep and full. I'm not a fan of the floor tom sound and thought that another MD421 on it would give more of the 'resonance' you are speaking of. The D112 is a rather limited frequency mic ( as far as peaks and dips) and as such leaves out some of the (in my opinion) tonal qualities of this drum. The rack tom is superior in the clips. Of course this can all attributed to the player not actually getting any torque on the hits to the floor in which case my take on this is out the window.

    I also dislike the hihats, but I think its the size and weight of the hats themselves rather than the recording techniques. I would think that 'acoustic driven straight ahead rock' would benefit from hats with some more high-end gloss rather than that thumping kind of sound these seem to have. A lighter formula on the cymbals themselves as well as a smaller set would help here. Also a dynamic mic could be the ticket. Hyper cardioid for better off axis rejection. The i5 Audix or the Audix D1 works for me as well as some of the Audio Technica instrument mics.

    BTW, what is the preamp setup and or console being used? What format are you recording to?

    Good work.

    As a moderator here, might I suggest, if you have the time, you post some samples of each set of mics for the benefit of those who are just starting and learning...(well, we all are learning)...a set of the overheads alone, the room mics alone, the bleed from the toms alone, and the basic trapset..ie kick snare and overs. If you have time....it would be a good process for all.
  11. Cresta

    Cresta Active Member

    Dec 29, 2005
    I am a drummer and... very nice kick and snare. The toms are not my kind of tune, but it is ok too, indeed a good work :cool:
  12. Davedog,

    Sorry it's been so long since you posted this without my reply; Happy New Year!

    Thanks for the compliments, they are much appreciated. I didn't care much for his hihats either, but it was out of my control so I worked with it. Also, if I find some time, I will bounce some solo'd tracks of each of the mics so everyone can hear the bleed/isolation, etc.

    I can't locate my session notes so I am not too sure of which pres I used. We have a Control24 as a controller (and, for those who might not know, it is a glorified mouse... not a true console - even though it does have focusrite preamps, it's still just a controller!) and run through ProTools HD on a Mac G5 (usually only 24bit 44.1k sessions for stuff like this).

    Oh, I just glanced over to my bookshelf and I have a copy of the rough mixes of this album here, so I'll rip some of the clips and post them here later if I can find a place to host the files.

    It's my 2 year wedding anniversary today, so I might forget to post the files tonight, but I will do my best before the wife gets home.
  13. Okay, so here are the somewhat mixed clips. They are the same chunks of the songs as I posted earlier, but these have the other instruments now, and I have done a little adjusting of the tones and levels. Let me know your thoughts!

    Rough Clip 1
    Rough Clip 2
  14. BFKsound

    BFKsound Guest

    hi. Im brand new to this website but i have been recording for about 2 years. I am having a hard time getting a good snare sound. I like the snare sound you got, but I want to be able to get a similar sound and even a snappier pop too. Any advice? I have some sm57s and 421s, going through focusrite preamps and 1176 into protools. Anything you got could help. I have a session this weekend!

  15. elcubo

    elcubo Active Member

    Jan 5, 2007
    well...im not a drummer...but i love the toms...thats what i looking for...great tunning...are you the drummer? :cool:
  16. alimoniack

    alimoniack Guest

    Dunno whether clip two is going into a chorus or middle eight but the wide panning of the toms detracts from the vocal. Tad more focus on the guts of the song?

    Er, the kit sounds a bit wimpy, but I suspect that will fit the music...no offense meant. I'd lose the hats altogether. Good luck with it!

    BFK, if you want "snap" go for 57 top & bottom (bottom reversed phase), although I'm sure some will disagree it's always sounded better to me than eq'ing the top snare mic. On a well set up snare drum of course...
  17. SirZeusor

    SirZeusor Guest

    i get the same sound out of a cheap set of cad drum mics, a cheap oktavia condenser and a 57 on the snare, and a 49$ set of matched behringer overheads
    probably spent less then 100$ on all of them
    people think im crazy, but the room and the engineer has more to do with a good recording then the equiptment

    if someone can expain to me how to post a sound clip and pix of it, i would be more then happy to do so , and explain how to do this for ultra-cheap
  18. Upload the clips/pics to a site somewhere and link to them. You can use your own ftp or any of the free ones out there.

    In response to your post, I agree that the room has a lot to do with the sound you get from the drum recording. And, the engineer definitely needs to know what he/she is doing considering there are so many variables and aspects to pay close attention to. But, I must throw this out there: the equipment does make a difference. You can really hear a difference when recording drums through API pres compared to behringer pres. I'm not knocking behringer products, but they put out a different sound than other mic pres which contain higher quality electronics.

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