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Looking for info on drum miking techniques?


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I ran across this article from Barry Rudolph and it's got a lot of good information in it...

 

http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/and_in_depth_primer_on_microphone_techniques_for_drums/

 

What are some of your favorite approaches to miking up a drum kit? Do you have a favorite room you prefer to use? Any special tips or tricks? If so, please share! :)

 

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I'm kind of fond of the Glyn Johns method, one overhead mono LDC, positioned over the center of the kit about 3 to 4 feet, pointing downwards. Adjust this mic until you get a nice even mix of all elements. ( cymbals too hot, raise the mic, toms need a boost? Angle slightly towards toms, repeat as needed)

 

once you have a good balanced sound, set the second overhead LDC about 6 inches to the right ( for right handed drummers),off the floor tom aimed at the hat and snare across the kit more as a side wash. Watch phasing here, you want both mics equidistant from the snare drum. you can use a section of mic cable held to the center of the drum to measure the first mic distance then while the drummer still holds the same spot, adjust the second mic accordingly. Once these are in phase and set, you should have a good even mix, snare in the center, cymbals all around, toms clear with good punch. Add a kick mic for added depth and punch and a snare mic to fatten up the mix and you're pretty well set with only 4 mics. This was used to mic Bonham, amongst many others, and supposedly discovered by accident... But, Remember, there are no rules. Nothing new is ever discovered traveling the same old trails..

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Good article. He covers many of the basics. From a technical aspect the avoidance of phase issues was glossed over a bit. Its one of those things that can make or break a good drum recording and can easily be misdiagnosed as being anything from bad drum tuning to EQ problems after the fact. Its always better to get the phasing minimized before your press that record button. There is enough issues with the bleedover having phase problems. No sense in compounding the problem by having your primary sound sources off as well.

 

The other thing I'd expand on is the role of the drummer when it comes to recording. An experienced drummer will be more likely to have better drums, More experience tuning them. More experience working with engineer types trying to get them their best sound, and most importantly playing them well.

 

A band may not realize when a drummers not producing consistent dynamics. They generally listen to the collective beat and their own bio metronomes to keep a beat. A good recording drummer will have consistent hits, often at the sacrifice of doing fancier fills. Ringo Starr or Charlie Watts were not flashy drummers yet they each produced numbers of major hit songs. They were consistent on what they played. They locked to a beat and you hear very few weak drum strokes yet stull produced good dynamics when needed.

 

Without that consistency your going to have a hard time making any drummer sound good. You'll wind up using compressors and EQ in attempts to tighten the sound and in most cases it just intensifies the root problem.

 

Theres also allot that goes on with the drummers mindset recording. Many are defensive and for good reason. They physically work harder then anyone in the band and often go unappreciated for that hard work. Add to that the invention of drum machines and samplers under minds their importance to a good sound. Knowing many drummers myself it can be difficult getting them to cooperate in getting a good sound. In many cases

 

I like having them come by the day before they actually record to set up their rig and fine tune it (if they aren't using my studio set and choose to use their own) I can work out all the fine tuning on the drums and getting the best mic placement, and maybe do a few tracks to test the setup. I can then work with those tracks before the band comes by and see if there's any issues there making it sound like a well mixed set.

 

I can detect both phase and gain issues based on distances much easier this way. doing it with a full band there chomping at the bit wanting to get the recording done doesn't allow for making accurate judgments. You're lucky if you can get the drummer set up and miced no less tuned up and mics properly adjusted for the best tones. I realize this may not be the best option for studios bringing in money and having bands booked back to back but most studios do have week days where they may not have anyone booked where its possible to bring the drummer over the night before. Of course this is also extra time and expense. I do it as part of a recording package.

 

I know what works involved in say getting 5 songs in the can so I charge accordingly. Its actually easier in the ling run because having the drums setup and ready to go not only builds confidence the recordings going to be better technically but the drummers going to be focused on his performance more and not weather his kick sounds flat or is annoyed by the floor tome ring. In the end its all about capturing a good performance. Having good tones as well means life is good.

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I am also a big fan of Glyn Johns method. It's pretty fool proof ( I think)

 

The room is not that supercritical either, but it always helps.

 

How can anybody not love this

 

 

John's method is to keep the drums in the centre of the mix with a slight stereo effect come from the over head mic and distant mic on the left. Kinda the way you would hear a band it the set up and played.

 

John Bonham wasn't a fan of close micing. Love em or hate him, he was a powerhouse.

 

 

or this

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