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  • 3 Mic Drum Recording

    I'm recording my friend's band and I'm going to use the 3 mic technique for the drums. One of the mics if definitely going in front of the kick. The other two will either both be overheads or one overhead and one snare. I only have 4 mics in my locker: 2 MCA SP1 small/medium diaphram condensers and 2 SM 57. We'll be renting a few mics as well. If I choose to use just the one overhead I'm gonna rent a SM 81 for this. If I decide to go with two overheads will it be more consistent if I use both SP1's, instead of an SP1 and 81?

    The band wants to record live, so I might just use the SP1 (s) as the overheads no.matter what, so I can save the rental money for a kick mic and guitar amp mic. They are a punk rock band, so I was thinking a MD421 would sound great for that. I've read great things about the AKG C414 on guitar amps, but the rental place only has the new C414 XLS, which doesn't have the vintage C12 capsule that supposedly makes the mic. Does anyone have any experience with the newer XLS version? Does it hold a candle to the vintage model? I also like the SM57/RE20 combo on guitar amps.

    Any suggestions?
    Thanks,
    Adam

  • #2
    I'd use the SM57's on the guitar amps. You wont benefit much by using any other mics in an unknown live situation unless you spend allot of time tweaking things before the gig. SP1's can be used as closer drum mics or boundary mics to record the entire band from a farther distance. The question is going to be how much room reflection there is.

    You haven't mentioned how the rest of the band will be recorded. I'm guessing you'll be recording bass direct. Vocals can be tapped from the PA. If the Mixer has inserts you can tap each individual vocal mic. If you don't, a monitor, effect, or tape out send can be used. You'll wind up getting allot of the band coming through the vocal mics and bleedover is usually a nightmare mixing. What can help is to use those foam wind shields over the vocal mics. They reduce the proximity of the vocals so you have to have the vocals right on the mics and helps block bleedover from the band. It may kill some frequency response but you can always re-track the vocal parts later.

    As far as drums go, you usually have allot of reflection and acoustic reverberation micing drums live. Condenser mics pick up allot of reflection and will pick up allot of backwash and bleedover from other instruments. You could use one on a stand in front of the set placed at about the height of the toms so it picks up the kick, toms and a good deal of the snare. You can use the other above to capture cymbals, drum tops snare etc.

    Again these mics will pick up allot of guitars and bass. I've gotten good results using similar mics as boundary mics in front of the band. You place them so they capture some of the PA and the rest of the band. Drums will sound like they do when the audience hears them. You could use a kick mic through the PA for a little extra thump but again, I have no idea what the room is like. Boundary mics can work great in some situations and in others be awful.

    In a room where you have allot of reflection I prefer too use dynamic mics on drums because they pick up less room reflection when close micing.
    If your guitar amps have line outs you may want to consider using those to record. you can do allot with those signals if the guitarists dial back the drive and play cleaner. you'd have them isolated 100% on tracks that way. You could then use the SM57's on the kick and snare then use the two condensers as overheads.

    There's allot of ways of doing this and I've used them all. You aren't going to have allot of isolation. I would suggest you not place any amps in back of the drums. I would place the amps to the side of the drummer so the cabs are directly to the left and right, not behind. This will reduce phase issues and bleedover. If you can keep the guitar amp on the inside and bass on the outside it helps keep the low frequencies out of the drum mics which can cause problems mixing.

    If you can monitor the signals with good isolation headphones it will help you set levels and mic placement to get the best sounds.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the response. What do u mean by keeping the amps on the "inside" and "outside"?

      The room is rectangular. Concrete floor, drop ceiling tiles (room height is 8.75') and dry wall. Neither I or the band has cash for any acoustical treatments. I plan on placing the drums at one end of the room (length wise). Gonna place the guitar amp at the other end on a folding chair. Put another chair directly across it and drape a moving blanket over the tops of the chair backs. DI the bass and have the singer in a corner behind a couple matteresses. If he can sing at normal volume w/o bleed thru, great. If not, just loud enough for the rest of the band to hear him thru the headphones as a scratch track. Record the bass alone thru an amp and mix the DI and amp takes.

      If we have enough mics I might use 4 on the drums...kick, snare and 2 overheads.
      Last edited by Adam O'Blivion; 09-18-2016, 01:21 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        When you said live recording I thought you meant you were playing a live gig. when I said having the amps on the inside, I meant a band setting up on stage and having the guitar amps on either side of the drummer.

        Apparently you're simply recording multiple instruments. I do it all the time with good results.

        What I suggest is take some blankets and use thumb tacks and take them to at least two of the walls. Leave the wall in back of the drummer untreated at one end of the room. Put the bass at the other end of the room facing the drummer. Put the guitar amps on the other two walls half way between the the drums and bass with blankets on those walls. If they are small amps raise them a foot or two off the floor.

        If you use 4 drum mics, Kick Snare and two overheads will work. Get a tape measurer and make sure the overheads are equal distance from the snare so they are in phase with each other. You wont need the mattresses with the singer, simply stay in the center of the room, away from the overheads or down by the bass amp recording direct. If you want quality vocals you'll need to re-track the vocals in a silent room after the rest of the music is mixed anyway so just consider them scratch vocals.

        personally I wouldn't bother using headphones. I've done it both ways and unless you're players are used to playing through them, don't bother. Headphones are only needed tracking vocals. If your band cues over the vocals then get a monitor wedge or PA cab and raise it up near the ceiling above the bass player. You want it up high so your players can hear it to cue off of and having them high where they wont be in the line of the recording mics minimizes bleedover. If there's allot of reflection, tack a blanket to the ceiling

        You could also just use a monitor wedge on the floor if you want. Just stay away from the overheads. If you're using dynamic guitar mics they don't hear allot of bleedover. The guitar speaker is allot louder then any reflection with the cab being close miced. You may want to have one cab with the mic pointed straight at the center of the cone and the other angled. You may find separating them in a mix works out better with one of the two offset.

        The rest you simply have to experiment. I'd do one song, and make sure your levels are good both tracking and playback. Try and get equal levels on all the mics without any major booming or resonance. Don't be worried about the tone as much because that's all done mixing. Especially make sure the drum heads don't ring or have odd resonances. Have some duct tape and tissue paper handy so you can pad the heads if you notice any oddball ringing. Dead heads are better then ones that ring erratically. Since you only have one snare mic you might want to mic the side of the shell instead of the top or bottom heads. You can pick up the high hat with a side shell mic too but the Overheads will have allot of that so don't intentionally try to capture them. Keep the mic an inch or two from the shell and you should capture and nice whack containing top and bottom heads. The bottom head bounded off the floor and the top of the snare gets captured by the overheads too. The side shell captures a midrange impact the overheads don't capture.
        Last edited by WRGKMC; 09-19-2016, 05:45 AM.

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        • #5
          Ive never tried mic'ing the side of the snare shell. Where do you ususally place the mic? On the same side as high hat? Is the mic angled at all or straight?
          Last edited by Adam O'Blivion; 09-19-2016, 08:40 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Adam O'Blivion View Post
            Ive never tried mic'ing the side of the snare shell.
            I do it frequently.

            Where do you usually place the mic? On the same side as high hat? Is the mic angled at all or straight?
            I usually have it fairly straight on towards the shell, aimed about midway between the top and bottom at a distance of a few inches. Watch out for vent holes though - if you put the mic in front of one, you probably won't like what you hear.

            I also often use a sE Electronics Instrument Reflection Filter to help reduce the hi hat spill into the snare mic.

            **********

            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
            - George Carlin

            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

            Comment


            • #7
              Yes, straight at the side under your high hat. You can be closer to the top or bottom depending on what suits you.
              I like it because you get a combination of top and bottom heads pretty evenly. results can vary depending on how the drums tuned and what kind of shell it has.

              Again this may not be everyone's preference people sitting in front of the set hear the side shell, not the top and bottom heads directly. That hear the top and bottoms bounding off the ceiling and floor and the overheads will capture those sounds so you can mix them with the side shell tones. Shares are really loud too so its not like that mic wont pick up sound.

              I learned the track 25 years ago just experimenting only to discover its a pretty commonly used years later.
              I mainly did it so my drummer wouldn't whack the thing with his drum sticks.

              I found, If you only mic the top it can sound like a timbale. If you only mic the bottom it can have too much snare wire buzz, especially if the drum isn't tuned well. Ideally micing the top and bottom then mixing the two mics to sound like its been side miced is what's commonly used. I simply took a short cut and side miced and use the overheads for the rest.

              With the mic on the side a couple of inches away you'll get a fairly balanced combination. You also pick up a little kick beater, toms and high hat too, but you get bleed-over from all drum mics no matter what you do so the key is to target important areas that can be blended and have use that bleed over to your benefit.

              Keep in mind, most drum sets up to and including the 60's before multitrack recorders were available were often recorded with maybe only one or two mics, that's it. Multitracking individual drums makes the process allot harder, not easier to mix.

              The only way you can get complete isolation is using contact mics and then you're into a whole different thing using midi to replace actual acoustic vibrations. (Those piezo elements are very cheap by the way. You can buy them for a half buck each and wire them to trigger an electric drum set brain).

              As I said, put on good isolation headphones and monitor you mics and move them around. (quality headphones is important here too. Cheap headphones can cause false resonant tones and lead you to thinking you have a problem when there really isn't)

              Try a recording and see if it suits you. Just keep in mind, drums aren't going to magically sound powerful like guitars and bass do right off the bat. They only use one mic and have no phase issues. You often have to do allot of tweaking and even shifting tracks to get the proper phase alignment between mics if your mic placement isn't ideal (that's why I mentioned measuring the overheads from the snare so its one less mixing issue to deal with)

              Make sure you phase align BEFORE you go using a bunch of EQ and effects plugins. The sound of out of phase mics sound exactly the same as mics needing to be EQed.

              I got reminded of that when I had a band come over to record and the drummer insisted on using his own set.
              I had forgotten I had spent several years tweaking mic positions on my studio set for ideal tones and when I tracked his drums the positions were off so the mics weren't hearing the drums from ideal positions.

              I wasted a full week trying to EQ those drums and all I could get sounded like a crappy cassette recording. I finally realize the mic bleed was having phase cancellations all over the place. Fixed that and the drums solidified dramatically and the mix was fine after that.

              Drums are the foundation for everything else. If they sound punk assed your entire mix will sound punk assed no matter what you do. Get the drums to sound good and everything else falls into place.

              The trick is to view the drum tracks in a DAW then expand the tracks in height and width so you can see the loudest kick and snare hits full frame. Then highlight the tracks and shift them so the Kick/and or Snare rises at the same time. If one is 180 degrees out you can reverse the mic phase in the daw. You only have to shift them a few milliseconds either way so the signals all aligned but what a difference it can make.

              Back in analog days you only had mic placement to work with so getting the mics right took allot of time and experience. Recording digital that process is still important but if you're off you can at least fix most of it.
              Last edited by WRGKMC; 09-19-2016, 03:07 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Adam O'Blivion View Post
                I'm recording my friend's band and I'm going to use the 3 mic technique for the drums. One of the mics if definitely going in front of the kick. The other two will either both be overheads or one overhead and one snare.
                Is there any reason you can't use a four-mic technique, with two overheads, a snare mic and one kick mic? Unless you're short on input channels on your interface, that's what I'd recommend.

                I only have 4 mics in my locker: 2 MCA SP1 small/medium diaphram condensers and 2 SM 57. We'll be renting a few mics as well. If I choose to use just the one overhead I'm gonna rent a SM 81 for this. If I decide to go with two overheads will it be more consistent if I use both SP1's, instead of an SP1 and 81?
                I'm not a big fan of mixing up mics for a stereo pair. Since at their heart the SP1's are similar to MXL 603 SDC's, I'd suggest you use those for the overheads in a Glyn Johns configuration. I still recommend this even if you're unable to use a four mic setup - just dispense with the snare mic if that's the case.

                The band wants to record live, so I might just use the SP1 (s) as the overheads no.matter what, so I can save the rental money for a kick mic and guitar amp mic.
                You will definitely want to rent a suitable kick mic... the guitars can be handled with an SM57. If there's only one guitarist, and assuming you have enough channels on the interface, you could use the second SM57 for the snare mic.

                They are a punk rock band, so I was thinking a MD421 would sound great for that.
                For the kick? Yeah, you can do decent kick recordings with a 421, but it's not my first choice. I'd suggest a Audix D6, Electro-Voice RE20 or RE320, or an Audio-Technica ATM25 instead.

                I've read great things about the AKG C414 on guitar amps, but the rental place only has the new C414 XLS, which doesn't have the vintage C12 capsule that supposedly makes the mic.
                You'd have to go back to the early 80s to find a version (AKG C-414 EB, the pre P48 model) that uses the original (non-nylon ring) CK-12 capsule. Is there a difference? Yes... but the more modern mics are not without their uses too. And yes, a C-414 can be a good mic for guitar amps, but again, so is the SM57. If you really want something cool (and assuming you have some decent preamps on your interface), you can see if they have a Beyer M160 or a Royer ribbon mic for rent. They're a bit more fragile than even the condenser mikes, but ribbon microphones can sound fantastic on guitar amps.

                BTW, what are you using for a computer, DAW software, and audio interface?
                **********

                "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
                - George Carlin

                "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
                - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
                - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post

                  For the kick? Yeah, you can do decent kick recordings with a 421, but it's not my first choice. I'd suggest a Audix D6, Electro-Voice RE20 or RE320, or an Audio-Technica ATM25 instead.
                  I've been debating on whether to go with the 421 or RE20. I want a vintage kick sound and if I'm not mistaken the D6 is more modern. I just did some research on the two and it seems like most people use the 20 for kick and bass and the 421 on toms. Looks like I'll be going with the 20.

                  Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post
                  You'd have to go back to the early 80s to find a version (AKG C-414 EB, the pre P48 model) that uses the original (non-nylon ring) CK-12 capsule. Is there a difference? Yes... but the more modern mics are not without their uses too. And yes, a C-414 can be a good mic for guitar amps, but again, so is the SM57. If you really want something cool (and assuming you have some decent preamps on your interface), you can see if they have a Beyer M160 or a Royer ribbon mic for rent. They're a bit more fragile than even the condenser mikes, but ribbon microphones can sound fantastic on guitar amps.
                  I've always wanted to try out the M160. That's the mic Zeppelin used for the killer drum sound on When The Levee Breaks, no? The mic rental place I'm using doesn't carry them. I'm gonna stick with the 57. They do rent the 121, but it's a hundo per day (WAY too expensive).

                  Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post
                  BTW, what are you using for a computer, DAW software, and audio interface?
                  I have one of the newer MacBook Pros (with the SSD hard drives), Pro Tools 12.4 and a UA Apollo (4 UA preamps and I can insert the 4 pres from my Mackie 1202VLZ PRO Mixer for a total of 8 simultaneous). Those UA plugins are next level.
                  Last edited by Adam O'Blivion; 09-25-2016, 08:28 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Adam O'Blivion View Post
                    I've always wanted to try out the M160. That's the mic Zeppelin used for the killer drum sound on When The Levee Breaks, no? The mic rental place I'm using doesn't carry them. I'm gonna stick with the 57. They do rent the 121, but it's a hundo per day (WAY too expensive).

                    Led Zeppelin recorded a version of the song in December 1970 at Headley Grange where the band used the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. The song had earlier been tried unsuccessfully by the band at Island Studios at the beginning of the recording sessions for their fourth album.
                    The famous drum performance was recorded by engineer Andy Johns by placing John Bonham and a new Ludwig drum kit at the bottom of a stairwell at Headley Grange, and recording it using two Beyerdynamic M160 microphones at the top, giving the distinctive resonant but slightly muffled sound. Page later explained:

                    There's allot more to recording then simply the mics used as you'll find out. I've owned Les Paul's for 50 years. Doesn't make me sound like Jimmi Page when I play one, even though I may used the exact same gear and play the same riffs. Best I can be is an imitation.

                    Of course you can learn allot from imitation others so I don't discourage trying. I just don't see it being an effective way of getting the best form the gear. Every recording session is unique. Players are unique, Rooms are different, gear is different, performances are different. Even if you walked into a studio, picked up the instrument still warm from another famous band playing them with every setting in the studio left exactly the same, using the same engineers etc, you're not going to sound the same as that other band. You can try and maybe come close but peoples minds look past the recording quality and hear the performers themselves in the end.

                    Best thing you can do is simply focus on getting the best results possible from the mics. If you can get half of what they are capable renting them little time to experiment getting the most from them you will have had a good day and gotten your money's worth.

                    It can take years owning a mic to learn how to get the best from it. Mics are tools used by engineers who is an artist in his own right. They put many years into learning how to get the most from their instruments just like a musician learns to get the most from theirs. Good mics can facilitate great recordings but having the skill to get the best from them doesn't come with the purchase or rental. You can either book professional studio time and rent peoples who have that skill or you can put in as much time as they do learning the trade like they did.

                    In the end its just like any other trade. Many people think repairing a car is easy. Hand them the tools and they may be very energetic when they start off. A short way in they begin to question if all this ball busting is the way to go. They could have simply taken it to a mechanic who knew his job, spent allot less and been back on the road doing what you do best.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Adam O'Blivion View Post

                      I've been debating on whether to go with the 421 or RE20. I want a vintage kick sound and if I'm not mistaken the D6 is more modern. I just did some research on the two and it seems like most people use the 20 for kick and bass and the 421 on toms. Looks like I'll be going with the 20.
                      The RE20 has been my go-to kick mic for years. It is a very good choice for old-school type kick tones.


                      I've always wanted to try out the M160. That's the mic Zeppelin used for the killer drum sound on When The Levee Breaks, no? The mic rental place I'm using doesn't carry them. I'm gonna stick with the 57. They do rent the 121, but it's a hundo per day (WAY too expensive).
                      Yes, the Beyer M160 is, IMHO, a bit under-rated. They were used on overheads for When The Levee Breaks, and they sound great on drum overheads, but that's not their only use - I have used them on sax numerous times and love them for that, and it's one of my go-to guitar amp microphones. Not to mention Eddie Kramer used them on Jimi's guitars quite a bit too... so I'm in good company there.

                      I have one of the newer MacBook Pros (with the SSD hard drives), Pro Tools 12.4 and a UA Apollo (4 UA preamps and I can insert the 4 pres from my Mackie 1202VLZ PRO Mixer for a total of 8 simultaneous). Those UA plugins are next level.
                      I reviewed one of the Apollos, so I'm pretty familiar with them. Which model are you using?
                      I do agree that their plugins are absolutely first-rate.
                      **********

                      "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
                      - George Carlin

                      "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
                      - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                      "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
                      - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by WRGKMC View Post

                        There's allot more to recording then simply the mics used as you'll find out. I've owned Les Paul's for 50 years. Doesn't make me sound like Jimmi Page when I play one, even though I may used the exact same gear and play the same riffs. Best I can be is an imitation.
                        Ya, I'm aware of that. I read the piece about that recording a while back, and then did some research on the M160. It sounds like a great mic.. and versatile. I don't want a When The Levee Breaks drum sound, nor have access to a mansion to try getting it! I'm more interested in trying it on guitar amps, and yes, overheads.
                        Last edited by Adam O'Blivion; 09-26-2016, 08:16 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post

                          I reviewed one of the Apollos, so I'm pretty familiar with them. Which model are you using?
                          I do agree that their plugins are absolutely first-rate.
                          It's just the straight Apollo; the original silver version. I should have done a bit more research tho cuz UA came out with the updated black unit literally a month after I bought mine. If I could change one thing I would have waited to save the extra money for a QUAD. I only have a DUO and run out of plugin processing on occasion.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Adam O'Blivion View Post

                            It's just the straight Apollo; the original silver version. I should have done a bit more research tho cuz UA came out with the updated black unit literally a month after I bought mine. If I could change one thing I would have waited to save the extra money for a QUAD. I only have a DUO and run out of plugin processing on occasion.
                            You can always add a UA Satellite to your rig and get the extra processing power that way.

                            I have a Quad Satellite and I love that thing! I find myself using my PT HD plugins less and less because of it.
                            **********

                            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
                            - George Carlin

                            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
                            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
                            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post

                              You can always add a UA Satellite to your rig and get the extra processing power that way.

                              I have a Quad Satellite and I love that thing! I find myself using my PT HD plugins less and less because of it.
                              Ya, but they're insanely expensive.

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