What mic's to use on drums? Great selection...

Discussion in 'Drums' started by jordan_ellipsis, Jan 17, 2009.

  1. Hey guys, about to embark on a recording sesh with some very very good mics at my disposal (i'm borrowing them, i don't own them) Was wondering what you'd suggest i use where on the kit...

    Here's the selection:

    2 x AKG 414 - new matched pair
    2 x AKG 414 - Older ULS version, which i prefer
    2 x AKG 451
    2 x AKG D12
    6 x Neumann KM184
    4 x Neumann KM140
    1 x Neumann KM130
    4 x Shure SM58
    2 x Shure SM57
    2 x Rode NT2A
    1 x Rode NT1000

    As i said, it's a great selection of mics... unfortunately I only have a Digi002 to work with - it only has 8 inputs. But I'm planning to use some small mixers to group mics together. My rough idea was to use as follows:

    2 x KM184's as high overheads. 2 x AKG 414 (ULS ones) placed underneath the cymbals as low overheads (a technique i saw used recently with great results) The D12 for the Kick, and maybe one of the rodes on the kick too. I was planning on micing the toms on top and bottom, maybe the new 414's on the top an 57's on the bottom. Probably a KM184 and a 58 for snare top n bottom respectively.

    Any thoughts?


  2. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    In before Remy suggesting a SM58 on snare top, kick drum, floor tom, and also in before someone else probably suggests the AKG 414 as overheads.

    Micing TOMS top and bottom?
    Snare maybe. Toms? Are you mad? Imagine the phase issues...
    Be glad you're not recording in Soviet Russia!
  3. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    Mar 3, 2006
    in soviet russia, drum kit mics you
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    First, it would help a lot to know what kind of music, what kind of drummer and what kind of room we are talking about. Second, it's hard to tell from your post - Do you have a lot of experience micing drums with a couple of dozen mics and you are just looking to shoot the bull and brainstorm about this mic collection. If so I apologize in advance, but the post reads like a kid in a candy store trying to find the fastest way to a stomach ache. If you have not done this a million times before, you should limit yourself to the eight mics you can do directly with the 002. Yes there are people who can do better with more mics, but very few of them have posted a question like your on this board. (There is always a first time of course.)

    As far as the decision process:
    Step 1: Find the best pair of overheads. I'd audition all of the 414s and the Neumanns. If I were recording jazz or folk, this decision is 90% (made up number) of the sound.
    Step 2: Snare top. 57 for me. might be different for you.
    Step 4: Kick. Used to use a D112. Use an Re20 now. Experiment.
    Step 5. Stop. Take a breath. You don't really need to do anything else. If you insists...
    Step 6-76 Toms (58's? the micro Neumanns?). Room mic(s). (Neumanns? 414? Rodes?) Under snare. (Neumanns) High hat. (Neumanns) Drummers arm pit.(57), etc.

    If this is baby talk I'm sorry. If this is new info spend at least a few sessions recording and mixing with four mics, Then the next few with eight. Then do whatever insane plan you have to create the perfect drum track. Good luck.
  5. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    To reinforce Bob's point-

    I played bass on a session about a year ago in which a local pro with more than a few gold records to his name did a similar thing - Neumanns all over the place (those were the "fancy" ones I recognized), double micing cymbals, sub-kick, etc.
    In all there were easily 16 drum mics.

    This was a trio (vox/piano, bass, drums) w/ a jazz bent to it.

    I wasn't that impressed with the finished cuts really. I think he could have gotten the same results using about $30k less in mics.

    Stranger still, he only DI'd the bass, and never reamped it through any of his wonderful bass amps. The bass sounded wonderful - warm and powerful.

    Go figure.
  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    There are SSSSOOOOO many posts about good drum mic'ing here. Do a search and you'll see plenty of choices.

    The road you're headed down is the road to disaster.

    I worked with an ol school rock cat one time who INSISTED on a setup similar to yours. In his opinion, it was the only way to really get the raw sound of the kit and be able to manipulate it in the mix.

    I did it (20 tracks on the kit) but I also ran my stand-by -
    Beyer M130/M160 in front of the kit in M/S
    SM57 on Snare
    SoundElux u195 on kick

    Just for sh*ts and grins, I played the drums back to him and he got this real smug attitude:
    "See! I told you that would get you the fattest, biggest drums you ever heard in your life!"

    Then I showed him that all of *his* tracks were muted and only my 4 mics were playing back. When I brought his tracks in, the drums collapsed into a horrible mess of crappy sound.

    Moral of the story -
    Use only as many mics as you have to. When you start adding more mics, it's because you're compensating for poor microphone placement and/or choice.

    4 mics to start. If you must 8 max. You'll complete your Jedi training when you can get the whole kit with only 3 mics and it sounds dang fine!

  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I think you should rent yourself a large mixer and put all of those microphones on the drums simultaneously. That way, you'll know what knot to use next time. Or is that what not to use next time?

    The 451 will overload on the drums without a -20 DB screw in pad.

    Microphones underneath drums should be phased inverted. So should engineers.

    Don't use the D112 & do yourself a favor. Use a condenser mike, with pad on, on the microphone, not the mixer, unless you are also overloading the microphone preamp, on the 002, in the bass drum. And phase invert that for a better kick in the chest. No, do not put the preamp in the bass drum.

    Learn how those 002 preamps are so uninspiring sounding. Then learn how to track with other preamps into other software. Then import to ProTools.

    The following is a trick question.

    What's better?
    A Rolls-Royce with a VW engine?
    A VW with a Rolls-Royce engine?

    The answer is simple.
    Ms. Remy Ann David[/quote]
  8. Greener

    Greener Guest

    Rolls Merlin engine? Or the VW Veyron engine?

    Spitfire versus a tank...
  9. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    I'll have to try a setup like that soon, Cucco.

    I started recording close micing everything + overheads and maybe a room (I put my OHs higher). Truth be about "compensating for poor mic placement/choice". I knew how important getting a good kit sound was to the whole recording, and wanted to cover my butt.

    Then, as I got more comfortable, I started cutting. I went from 8, to 5, maybe 6 drum mics, depending.

    Recently I changed modes entirely for a project:
    Kick x2 (playing w/ micing the beater), Sn x2, OHs, Front Kit (and a room - it IS a church)

    Your standby seems like a natural progression at this point.
    I'm sure I'll put up an extra mic or two for the sake of exploration/covering, but I like that. :wink:
  10. Hey guys, thanks for all your replies. I've done this kinda thing quite a few times before, but I definitely wouldn't say I'm anything near an expert. I was planning to use as few mics as possible initially, as many of you have suggested. I would then try adding more just to hear the results... if they work they stay, if they don't they go. I've ran in to situations before when there's been too much going on and it's hell to mix! I've had a great sound before with 5 mics so I'll get that back again hopefully, and see if i can enhance it.

    As far as micing toms top and bottom, the plan would be to flip the phase on the bottom mic... this may not work but I'll try it first.

    A major problem is that the room is really really small, just big enough to fit the kit (hopefully!) Are there any things I should do bearing this in mind?
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Get a bigger room.


    You're going to induce all kinds of little phases, comb filtering,nodes and the like in a setup like that ESPECIALLY with the level of microphone sensitivity you're going to have. Yeah....all them mics are gonna pickup ALL the unwanted crap you're gonna get.

    Top mic the toms with the mini's....use the Km184s for overheads in close....basically simply micing the area of the ride cymbal and the hat but not closemicing.....57 snare top...km130 bottom, phase invert...keep the 130 away from the kick head...angle for the null...use a pair of the 414's in XY out in the room or in a hallway...gate now or later....and damp the drums for volume.. Thick heads....hydraulics....volume in this case is NOT your friend. Pad the mics as Remy said. I really hope that the AKG bass drum mic is really a D12 and not a 112.

    placement is everything in smaller rooms as well as tuning. Tuning is ALWAYS important but more so in an area you cant swing a stick without hitting a mic....

    Gain stage it properly.
  12. Thanks very much man. Ah, theres no way I can get a bigger room for this session... it's one of the things i've been close to tears about! I'll just have to make do - if it sounds dreadful i guess i'll have to call things off.

    I'm going in today for a preliminary setup, thanks all for your help :wink:
  13. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    In my limited experience all the microphones in the world will not make up for a poor sounding room.

    With close micing, you aren't going to hear the reflections distinctly, but like double D said, it's going to be a comb filtered mess.

    Is threre any way you could track scratch drums in the Kleenex box then move them into a larger room for the final take?
  14. Hey guys, k so I'm in the studio as i write, good wi-fi down here. The room is larger than I had remembered - it's still small, but not as bad as i thought. The drums actually sound really good in the room, they're punchy and almost sound like they've been compressed :? A little on the dead side, but they might just do. Recording scratch drums now and better versions later may be an option - but i doubt i'd find a good room anywhere plus i like to get a guitar/bass sound that lies well with the drums.

    I'll maybe try recording some samples and uploading them somewhere so you guys can hear. You could then tell me if i should be getting far better results.

    Also, there seems to be no phase invert switch on the digi002 or the mackie mixer... how do i get round this? When testing the snare sound i took two mics straight into the Digi and could flip the phase on the bottom mic using a plug-in. In the tracking, though, ideally i'd group these two mics on the mixer and flip the phase there... should there be a switch? The mixer im using is a Mackie 1642-vlz Pro.

    Thanks for the ongoing help :wink:
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Dead in a smaller room is good. Almost necessary.

    I do not think theres a phase switch on the Mackie or the 002.

    You will have to do this old skool and (if you want them both on the same channel) you'll have to build or buy a Y cable that has the hot and the minus reversed from each other on the input sides.
  16. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    No offence but I have a feeling the room isn't dead, but you're just not able to pick up the inevitably short reverb tail.

    Doubt I would either.
  17. Yikes, I'll need to brush up on my electronics... Are cables such as this available at any common shops you're aware of?

    After experimenting with all the mics on the snare drum and tom (forgot the kick drum pedal so couldn't start on that) I brought the results back to my bedroom setup. I far prefer my monitors, think I'll take them down and use them instead of the Genelecs in the small studio. Anyhoo, I think I'm gonna go with the 57 for snare top, and KM184 for snare bottom. The combo really turned out well - especially after applying some eq/comp (courtesy of Waves) I recorded them into separate channels in Pro Tools and used a Phase Invert plug-in on the bottom. For the toms I'm still undecided... the mics on top and bottom really worked well, but I reckon i can achieve a good enough sound with one mic and careful application of eq/comp. I may go with the new AKG's here.

    If I can't find a solution to the phase problem I may just go ahead with 8 mics on the kit, that being:

    Kick: AKG D12e and Neumann TLM 103 (Found both these mics today)
    Snare: 57 top, 184 bottom
    Overheads: Old 414's - or 184's
    Rack Tom and Floor tom: 2 x New 414

    This leaves no ambient mics - though i have been brewing a theory to record two further channels through my mbox2 into another machine, then import the audio file into my session and drag into place - sketchy but perhaps doable?
  18. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    "through my mbox2 into another machine"

    I smell sync issues.

    Like having to use MME soundblasters again...
  19. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    To expand on Jeremy's last post-

    Even if you manage to start both machines recording at the same time, it won't be the exact same time.
    Even if they *were* started @ exactly the same time there's always the very good chance they'll still not record at the same rate (I KNOW this is true for playback on CD players and the like, and suspect it's the same for different interfaces/machines - anyone know better?).
    The Flaming Lips recorded a whole album (Zaireeka) with this in mind.

    So I would decide which is more important - the ambient mic, or the extra kick mic?

    Or maybe you could use one of the 414s in Fig-8 (relatively parallel to the kit) as a single overhead, and free up a channel that way?

    Just some more thoughts to re-complicate your already complicated situation.
  20. I'll probably avoid the different machine idea, was just an idea.

    I'm going back in today to experiment and hopefully get started on takes.

    If I could find an easy way to get this phase flipped then I'm sorted because I can double up toms, maybe snare and kick too. If not I'm sure i can get a great sound from 8 mics.


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