How do I get an indie-rock kind of drum sound?

Discussion in 'Drums' started by gunsofbrixton, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. gunsofbrixton

    gunsofbrixton Active Member

    Hi all,

    I am gonna record an indie rock band soon and I am not sure how to mic the drum kit. I want the drums to sound like Franz Ferdinand, Interpol or The National. Here's two excerpts from songs I like:

    1. Franz Ferdinand: Darts of Pleasure

    2. Interpol - PDA

    I've read that the drums in Darts of Pleasure were recorded using only 4 mics, so I started experimenting with 4-mic techniques. Do you think this is the way to go or would you rather record the drums in the traditional way, close-micing every drum + 2 overheads?

    Here's a link to a recording I recently made using 4 mics. I think the drum kit sounds decent, but the cymbals are a bit too loud. Plus I don't like the sound of the snare drum, but that's another matter. Is there a way to make the cymbals less loud? Tell the drummer to hit the cymbals less strongly?

    Thanks for your advice!
  2. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    Here's what I do:
    Close mic + 2 OHs, then throw out all the close mics but the snare and kick - UNLESS the toms are really important to the song. I like to have the option of using them to boost what the OHs pickup. Even then I still often throw them out.
    In general the 4 mic technique will yield better results - the more mics the chances for issues like phasing, etc.

    Just bring the OH mics down in the mix, brother. Or, find the frequency where the cymbals are particularly annoying and make an EQ cut there w/ a very narrow bandwith.

    Check out the song by The Harlequins on my page. A little more garage than indy, but it's an audio description to what I wrote.
  3. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    Also, mic placement is CRITICAL to your snare sound, not to mention a good snare, well-tuned, played by a good drummer.
  4. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Hey there, just wanted to say that I have had great results with just two condenser mics.

    I guess the snare and bass drum are essential for a controled balance, but in a pinch the correct placement as soapfloats states is Critical!

    FWIW, Take some time to play around with micing the kit by yourself and find a sound you like before having your session.

    Its always nice to have that tech stuff figured out before the inspiration comes :wink:
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Pacific NW
    You can mic a kit with one mic if thats the sound you want.

    I have been using seven lately but not close micing anything except the snare and the kick. Two mics on the snare is essential to getting a full and complete snare sound. Its really hard to get the 'snares' to articulate from the top only. Two mics on the kick gives you the depth for this that I hear missing on a lot of budget recordings. That , a couple of overheads and a room mic and that makes for a pretty complete sound of whatever kit you bring into the room. This can be done without the two overheads and using only one room mic in an overhead placement. The key here is the quality and depth of the snare and the kick. Without this, the recording is going to tend towards 'flat' in dimension.

    The height on your overheads and the placement will determine the cymbal sound being too much or too little. Always check your phase with these as well as any other two mics being placed on the same source.

    As for a 'style' of playing being enhanced by a particular way of micing and recording, understand that its all about the tuning of the drums and the playing style appropriate for the music WAY before the recording techniques.
  6. gunsofbrixton

    gunsofbrixton Active Member

    So if you have a song with 2 or 3 tom breaks in it you bring in the tom mics only during the break and then take them out again?

    Do you think a gate on the tom mics would be an option?
  7. gunsofbrixton

    gunsofbrixton Active Member

    How high do you place the overheads in your 7-mic technique? I placed one the length of two drum sticks above the snare drum and the other one next to the drummer's right shoulder, so that both have the same distance to the snare drum and the kick.

    I totally agree about the room mic. In one recording I used a Rode NT-2a in omni position about 4 meters away from the drum kit as a room mic and it sounds killer. Depends on the room, obviously. Unfortunately I didn't have this mic at my disposal in the recording I uploaded, because in that recording I used two NT2-a as overheads. So I used an AT3035 as room mic.
  8. gunsofbrixton

    gunsofbrixton Active Member

    No other suggestions?
    I would be interested if those of you who close-mic only bass drum and snare ever use a gate on those mics.
  9. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Rule #1) No rules!
    Gate or not refer to rule #1. Use a gate if you think it adds clarity to the drum mix and you have not lost dynamics. It seems to me the more isolated the mic is the less it requires gating and it seems that gating can relieve phasing issues somewhat in less isolated recordings. So its up to you.
  10. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    I personally don't like gates. I'd rather go in and cut the waveforms so only the tom hits remain - make sure to leave enough of a tail that they sound natural.

    The song "Killing Me Hardly" on my player on my page has an example where the tom mics get some good use.

    Like Dave said though, kick+snare+room/OH can get a pretty nice sound - it's all about placement.

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