How to get a useful drum room mic sound?

Discussion in 'Drums' started by innerbooty, Mar 21, 2005.

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  1. innerbooty

    innerbooty Guest

    Doing a fair amount of drum tracking in my not large, but not small studio here in NYC. Maybe 30 x 20 room. Not super well tuned or anything, but there's decent room tone to be had. Generally, just because I have the tracks and mics, I put up 3 room mics, one about 5 feet in front of the kit, in varying positions. One about 20 feet back. And another one in a small hallway area just off the main live space. When I do the mix, I have very mixed results (pardon the pun) with regard to how useful the room mic tracks are in the mix. What I want to use them for is to get a nice, beefy, roomy kick/snare vibe to bring into the mix. But more often than not, then room mics just end being a big wash of cymbals and hi hats, which are not useful in the mix at all. Anyone have any tips for how to get that certain room sound on the kick/snare primarily? I've read elswhere that some engineers say that it's all about the drummer knowing not to bash the living crap out of the cymbals, so they end up creating their own mix. Makes sense to me. But I deal with a fair number of non-pro drummers in here, so it's all I can do to get them to play tight to the click, much less get them to think about how hard they hit the cymbals. And to hit the snare consistently! Good lord, but that's a whole other issue....

    Thanks a lot - Steve
  2. wwittman

    wwittman Active Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    That's the universal complaint.

    The only answer is to acoustically, at the source, make the drums louder or the cymbals lower.
    Lighter, faster cymbals help.
    And loud, undamped, well tuned drums help.

    But it's mostly about the drummer's balance... how hard he hits the drums (especially the snare) versus the cymbals..

    Phil Collins used to often play without any cymbals and overdub them so they could maximise the room boom on the drums.

    It sometimes helps a LITTLE bit to get the room mics down low, below cymbal height... but only a tiny bit.
    It won't make a night and day difference.
  3. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    I saw Barry Rudolph use a very cool room mic setup that amazed a room-full of engineers at last years AES show. It was a micing clinic at Hyde Street studios.

    Basically he setup 2 AKG 414's in cardiod. They were place about 8 feet directly behind the drummer, about 4 feet apart and about 1 1/2-2 feet off the floor. When he brought these mics up on the board it was without a doubt a killer kick/snare sound. You could have easily used only these two mics and a very small amount of overheads to complete a great drum mix.

    It floored everyone.

  4. innerbooty

    innerbooty Guest

    Yeah, it keeps coming back to being about the quality of the instrument, and the quality of the player. Which makes sense, I suppose. You can't polish a turd. There was an interesting thing in the recent Tape Op about some guy who does like Smashmouth and stuff who had a technique for putting the cymbals up pretty high, then slipping a ribbon mic in to get a view of just the tops of the drums. I can't quite picture how it would work, or exactly what the pickup pattern looks like, but it sounds cool.

    I'll give the behind-the-kit mic thing a shot, too. Never done that with 2 mics...

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