Drum Miking Questions

Discussion in 'Drums' started by Rbakken, Jun 21, 2001.

  1. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Originally posted by jeronimo:
    drummer 50%, mic placement 25%, gear 15% and room 10% for a good sound!

    I would put more like 80-90% on the drummer/musicians. The better they are, the easier everything else becomes. So maybe the percentages aren't even static, changing with each factor present during the tracking. I dunno.
  2. irushant

    irushant Guest


    Whether you are recording drums, voices, or a parade of elephants, one thing that can cut down on option paralysis is to decide whether or not you like the sound of your subject in your room. If the room sound floats yer boat, great -- try to capture it. (Here, less is definitely more.) If you have problems with the sound of your room, then close micing or iso might be your way. You may find that you get more milage out of some room treatment bucks than microphone bucks. (I know, I know... it's not as much fun. But a really great mic sometimes just makes a really accurate representation of an ugly sound.)

    You have some pretty good tools to work with. Maybe a little experimentation will suggest the techniques or equipment required to produce the sound you want. The only right microphone is the one that gets the sound you're looking for.


    ian rushant
  3. Brad Gallagher

    Brad Gallagher Active Member

    Jul 17, 2001
    Sounds like you have a very nice mic collection. Work with those awhile and learn their strengths/weaknesses. Try them on different sources with different pre’s… which I didn’t see you mention… or did I just miss it? I’m fond of TL Audio and Great River, but there are as many choices as there are dirty politicians.

    When you get ready for another mic buying spree (we all get it in our system before long), I suggest you get another KSM 44 to have a stereo pair. They really shine on overhead applications. I also find the 421 and RE-20 very versatile. My all time fave is the TLM-103… once again, a sea of choices
  4. Rbakken

    Rbakken Guest

    Thanks for all of your help...I'm actually gotten some pretty good results. I haven't gotten a good sound on the bass yet...how close do I need to get?
  5. smokinjokin

    smokinjokin Guest

    My studio usually caters for heavy rock and punk bands, so drum sounds have to be big for us.

    Overheads - The first mikes you listen to when setting up. Get 65% of your drum sound here. This is make or break time for drum soundchecking. I use Neumann KM85's usually in a spaced pair. The standard is KM84's, but I find I usually roll off some bottom end from the OH anyway (because I like to close mike everything else), and the 85's have that built in, which is probably more phase coherent. USE A NICE PREAMP - I use API 312, staright to tape.

    Kick - Beyer M88 just inside the shell, API 312 preamp straight to tape. Avoid compression if possible, if not then something clean. If you need more beef from the kick (as opposed to that modern "snappy" sound) then a large diaphram condenser, I usually just use a Rode NT1, about 3 - 5 feet out from the kick, TAKE MUCH CARE checking for phase coherency - into a dark sounding pre, I use ART tube. Straight to tape. Blend during mix.

    Snare - SM57, :roll: I sometimes get tired of pulling it out but nothin beats it. If anyone has a suggestion for a better mike, I'd like to hear it (providing you have done the hard yards with a 57). Maybe I should save for a Beta 57, just for a bit more crispness... into an API 312 pre again, straight to tape. Use mike placement as your EQ during tracking - your mix will thank you for it.

    Rack Toms - Here is a new one - Shure SM99. Yep, those bendy lecturn mikes. They are punchy as hell on rack toms, not quite big enough for floor toms but they have a really small profile, so your drummer wont be intimidated by a huge expensive mike on every tom. They usually comment on how much easier it makes playing. API, into a drawmer freq selective gate. Some may disagree but I dont like my tom mike to be open when the toms aren't hit.

    Floor Tom - MD421 is pretty hard to beat, especially going through a nice transient preamp. I have gotten equally good results from my NT1, and a 57 will do in a pinch. If you get good sounds in your overheads, then it's much easier to get a thumping floor tom sound, whatever mike. Gate to tape.

    Room Mikes: I find that I use room mike in the mix less and less, maybe I need to tweak the acoustics of my live room a bit. I do have some brick walls which may be why I dont like my room mike sound too much. In a nice room, these mike can add so much character to a drum sound - if you can use a pair of Neumann large diaphrams, like M149's, and slam em with a good compressor like a distressor. Want beef? Get good room and room mikes. I have gotten some cool results with those Radio Shack PZM's, and 421's are good as well.

    There are a few more very important factors in drum sounds to be noted:

    1. PHASE - especially when multimiking everything. Setup your overheads first, and make sure every mike you bring up thereafter is in phase with the o/heads.

    2. THE KIT - I can't believe no-one has mentioned that the actual drum kit should be in good shape! Sure, we can get a cool sound from a ^#$%ed kit, but at the end of the day the client wants to sound like Pantera / Limp Bizkit / latest drum sound goes here.... Tuning is a skill that is invaluable to an engineer who tracks drums, I am still learning - when you have a kit tuned properly mike selection becomes so much less critical. Maple shell drums sound much different to steel shells, and different sizes of kick drums will make 1000 times more difference than different kinds of microphones. I guess the keyword here is PREPRODUCTION.

    3. THE ROOM - it plays a huge part in drum sounds. Experiment with different placements of the kit around your live room (find the spot where the floor tom has the most bottom end), try putting up curtains, or laying down some big sheets of MDF board to set the drums up on.

    4. PREAMPS - I would rather have all Radio Shack mikes and Class A preamps (and an analog recording medium for that matter), than Neumann this and Royer that and just a Mackie board. Yep, they make that much of a difference, especially with very transient material like drums. And get a 2 inch Studer, if not, make sure your at 24 bit at least.

    Dont get me wrong, I agree with the comments about the player being the most critical aspect, but I thought these points should be addressed.
  6. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000

    Now might be a good time to consider starting a new Topic, as we have drifted away from Drum Miking and are now into Bass Miking.

    But anyway...

    I assume you're talkin about proximity of the mic to the bass amp? There are a lot of variables to consider when getting your bass sound. First of which (like to drums, and in fact, all sources) is getting it to sound as good as you can in a room. (Or outside, in the ruins of an acient greek temple - if you have ridiculous amounts of money to blow on such endeavors.) Bass is particularly space sensetive. As the pitch of the notes get lower, the waveform gets longer. Whenever you are in a room shorter than the wavelengths of the notes being played, the reflections off the walls will phase with the signal coming out of the amp. This will cause pitch-specific level fluctuations, among other "problems". (Hey, maybe you like your bass to sound exactly like it was played in a small room. There's no right or wrong to this, just what does or doesn't please you, the listener.)

    When faced with a small room as the only option, the 2 most popular ways of eliminating the accompanying problems are:
    a. Go direct. (Ho hum. No fun.)
    b. Close mic the amp, preferrably with a directional mic such as cardioid.

    Now, there are trade offs when you close mic the bass amp.

    The first issue is proximity, or the unnatural low frequency "bump" that comes from placing a directional mic very close to the sound source. This can be eq'd out to an extent, but it's very difficult to get it to sound "natural". You could use an omni pattern mic, which is more immune to the proximity effect than directional mics. But the less directional the mic the more room will be picked up, along with the phase you were trying to eliminate to begin with.

    The next issue deals with the perceived size of the source. This may not be a very scientific explaination, but it's the one that works for me... here goes. When you mic a speaker cone, you get a recording of bass the size of the amount of cone that is mic'd. So if you start with a 10" cone, and have the mic 2" away from it, with the mic picking up a width of 90 degrees, the mic is "seeing" approximately 2.75" of cone moving back and forth. You will then perceive a bass rig in the mix that is 2.75" tall in your mix. Not very impressive, eh? You then proceed to stand on your head and other tricks to try and make it sound like something big. But it's hard to compete with a track that sounds like a three-way with dual 15"s.

    How close should you put the mic? Only as close as it needs to go.
  7. Rbakken

    Rbakken Guest

    Sorry...wanted to clarify that when I wrote "bass" I meant "kick" on the set...sorry for the confusion...must have been a late night typing.
  8. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
  9. radiophonic

    radiophonic Guest

    Originally posted by Adam B - Smokin & Jokin:
    Snare - SM57, :roll: I sometimes get tired of pulling it out but nothin beats it. If anyone has a suggestion for a better mike, I'd like to hear it (providing you have done the hard yards with a 57).

    Many say the Beyer m201 is a great alternative.


  10. Lobstman

    Lobstman Guest

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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