Tip: Recording Drums

  • picothinker
Posted: Mon, 03/17/2008 - 13:35
This has always been a scary thing for me. My main experience with this has been in a live band situation. I have usually been involved with two extremes, sometimes live recording, sometimes just live FOH stuff. 1. Mic on every drum, and some overheads. Pros:
  • gives you every drum in the mixer.
  • ultimate flexibility on mixing, assuming there isn't too much stage noise.
  • Cons:
  • takes a lot of channels in snake/mixer. submixing can help, but more complexity.
  • easy to get strange phasing problems that are hard to fix later.
  • in a live situation, can be too much stage noise to add effects.
  • requires lots of mics.
  • plenty of opportunity for 'mystery feedback'. requires sound man that is on his toes.
  • 2. Stuff every drum full of foam/pillows and trigger them. Overheads for cymbals. Pros:
  • incredibly quiet stage volume, no more loud drums in the vocal mics.
  • easy to have hundreds of drums available for different songs.dog-bark samples are optional.
  • fun to take a block of wood and install a trigger in it. easy cowbell/hand percussion for front person.
  • easy to have effects, and have them change levels automatically with differing kits.
  • very reproducible results in a live situation.
  • Cons:
  • drums now sound like cardboard boxes acoustically.
  • because of crappy acoustic drum sound, a monitor is almost required for drummer.
  • an additional drum monitor mix can require more complexity with PA
  • requires time spent on getting velocity levels edited to drummer's playing.
  • a power blip or reset while playing live will produce angry drummers.
  • HOWEVER... Recording drums on their own at home is a whole new ballgame for me. I don't have lots of drum mics. As noted in other threads, I am just starting on getting an acoustically treated space for mics. I stumbled across what's known as the Recorderman/Glynn Johns method of micing drums. This requires good sounding drums and room in the first place... It's easier to see the Youtube video demonstrating it than for me to make this post longer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiFOD1EeKhQ A mic on kick/snare still can help, but I read of people getting good results just with overheads. It seems very concentrated on avoiding phase problems. I have read that some like to use three drumstick lengths instead of two. In the video, when he's moving the string in an arc, I think it's important to not let it slip, keep it pinched. Your mileage may vary. Now, the next step is to get a drummer to my house and try it.

    individual mic tweaks

    • picothinker
    • 08/22/07
    • Mon, 03/17/2008 - 17:46
    I am just parroting some interesting sounding stuff I found online, but it sort of makes sense. Some of what I read say that they can make quite a difference on kick response by careful re-aiming of the mics. But I agree, big kicks can be loud. Here is a lengthy discussion about it from people with more experience than I: http://www.gearslutz.com/board/low-end-theory/76502-best-placement-drum-overheads.html I think an important part of this recipe would be having matched mics, which I do not.

    hey that does look like an

    • Nate
    • 05/22/07
    • Mon, 03/17/2008 - 16:50
    hey that does look like an excellent idea. can definitely simple things up. I have done similar things with my kit as well although I do prefer the mic everything method but I would use this over triggers and have in the past. There are just 2 things I can think of that might be of a slight concern and that is 1. I have noticed that big kits with 2 kicks and lots of toms are coming back into fashion maybe more than 2 condensers are needed to get the whole kit balanced. And 2, I had recently gotten a kit with a HUGE kick made of birch so it has alot of low end punch. Without some sort of mic that is designed for those low frequences (kick mic) you really lose it, very noticable. You did mention of using an extra kick and snare mics so I would imagine that would take care of that problem. I hope you let us know how the method works for you. I was thinking the other day how much it can seem my "tom tracks" seem somewhat wasted. I might have to experiment myself if you get good results picothinker.

    Rec drums

    • mirami
    • 02/20/08
    • Mon, 03/17/2008 - 19:22
    I can confirm your thoughts. I recently made a recording of band and I used just one overhead a mic for kick. Sound was surprisingly good.. I thing especially because very good drum set and nearly no phase cancellation problems. I very like the technique from the video and I think with additional mics for kick and snare you can achieve a very good results. Other thing is acoustic condition this can be advantage and big trouble too. mirami Asus M6Va,CPU 2GHz, RAM 2GB, 64studio 32bit 2.1 pre11