Recording Drums

Aiight, I’m just gonna tell you what I would/do do.

Snare: I like a 57 on the snare as much as the next Neanderthal, but I reco using a different mic either top or bottom.  I usually do – I change snare mic’s like gurrlfriends, about every cuppla sessions.  Lately I been digging the Beta58 because it’s a solid, smooth, predictable sound what takes EQ and FX well.  It’s also kinda boring but gets a good sound all by itself, onna on-drum clamp (many hate them, but I like it for convenience and speed of set-up) on the front of the snare (across from Krister) pointing 1/3 from center, about 2″ up and slightly off axis.  I also like to mix and match various cheapo mic’s (often AKG’s) on top with a 57 on the bottom, and vicey-versey. When using 2 snare mic’s, remember to check phase.  I like to shave a few dB with a 4@1 slow compressor – I tend to use the same compressor and settings on top and bottom.

Floor Tom: I’ve tried a buncha mic’s here, and RE320 and MD421 II are good and setch, a 57 works, I have a mediocre Fusion mic (F2?),  … I like the Sennheiser E503 (same as E603, but black) the best, with a nylon clip, 2″ offa the drum – since I got it, it’s all I use. (I would like to try a ATM 250, tho’.)  I keep thinkin’ to try the SM7B or Peavey 520i, but the 503 sounds so good, the perfect boom. (Compress like OH’s, or smash like sitting onna muffin.)

Kick: IMO, like the snare or yer fave brand of condumbs, it can be a very personal choice.  I use a Senn 602 with the screen cover entirely inside the 6″ front hole, pointed in the area of the beater, pillow in the drum.   Your choice sounds good to me, altho’ in the mix I’d be compressing it more (4-12@1 fast, taking mebbe 9dB off), and riding it higher.

Hat: don’t like hat mic’s.  I get all I need from the OH’s and the room mic, see below.

Rack Toms: see above, and below.

OH’s:  I have gone thru a buncha methods on OH, and recently gone back and re-used and re-mixed some drum tracks done in different ways. Initially, I used Recorderman, with some Digital Reference 57 knock-offs, then I used 57’s.  I like Recorderman’s imaging, the set-up looks cool, and I used small dynamics because the room was splashy (concrete basement, irregular sized, but then about 50′ x 30′.)  Next, I went with SDC’s, some Beta Green 4.1’s were OK, kinda harsh, then some Studio Project C4’s, what were better.  I tried those in Recorderman, spaced-pair, Glyn Johns and coincident, and ORTF.  Now I use AT4040’s in spaced-pair about 6′ up and 3′-5′  in front (lightly compressed), and them is just lovely; I’ll say more below.  I note our space now has a 2″ thick reed rug, a huge couch and recliner, and a 4’x4′ footstool, and wallboard on the walls and ceiling, and the kit is in a corner pointing out at a 90 degree angle and right at a doorway to a 20’x12′ fecund room whose doorway I put the room mic in.

Room: I always try for to have at least one room mic, even if it’s just an open vocal mic, or an unused floor-tom mic.  Whatever is available is often useable, 57’s, 58’s, crappy AT’s; I find a Chinee ribbon excellent because it’s always useful and I try to place that about 12′-20 feet out, mebbe 6′ up.

Mix: There is a concept that helps to keep in mind, altho’ it’s not exclusive in definition.  Generally then, yer OH’s is the main drum sound, or they is the fill.  If the former, you get the OH’s sounding best as you can, then reinforce the kit submix with the close mic’s.  More often, I get my main drum sounds with the kick-snare-floor toms individually gated, smashed, EQ’d (generally just pass filter), limited and panned.  Then I use the OH’s (smashed and limited, sometimes hi-passed) as fills to bring in the cymbals and rack toms.  I do this because Krister really works his hats hard, and so I need to control them via the OH levels.   I tend to do the American pan, putting the floor tom about 8:30.  I then use the room mic (sometimes shifted back a tenth of a second or so and usually – not always if I want Bonham – hi-passed) just audible and panned mebbe 12:20 to bring the hi-hat more into location. It’s subtle, but it works!

Other shite: I have used M/S on occasion and loved it, altho’ only with cheap mic’s;  Krister, however hated it (probably due to my exaggerating the stereo spread too much), and since we don’t have a lot of experimenting time …   I have messed-up and lost a OH track before, just had one, and that was cool in that I had a deeper room mic.  I successfully used the two as OH’s, panned to suit, and as room mic’s, panned at about 11:00 and 1:00, with the snare and kick shifted enuff to keep ’em centered. I have a Sennheiser boundary mic that I’ll use someday, and a MXL 9000 tube mic for kick or room …  I note that using the Zoom R16 I have but two phantom powered channels and typically use them and 3-4 un-powered; I do have a outboard power box and a small Mackie mixer but it’s that much more hassle, and requires extra cords.  That said, I have used cheap LDC’s (MXL, Samson, Bellwanger) as room mic’s, as the M/S mics’s, and very successfully used a MXL1006 about 1′ out from the kick.  I especially like figure 8, or even dynamic omni’s, as room mic’s when in a doorway; if the door leads to a bright room like a tiled bathroom, it can be a cool nat’l ‘verb and I do that pretty often.  I also intend to do a FOK mic soon – front of kit replacing, perhaps, the room mic.  Also, don’t be afraid to not use a track; doya really need the snare mic’s or do the OH’s and room work for it?  Or mebbe just add a little of the bottom for sizzle …  I have, as said, smashed the shite out a open vocal or tom mic and used that for a ‘verb.  And of course, don’t be afraid to ride faders like the long-lost drunken girlfriend of yer dreams; I sometimes bring the OH’s up on fills, the room on a chorus, etc. Also, parallel compression of the entire kit can be used, kinda like a room mic … Finally, I tend to not use effects on drums, other than a plate onna snare (especially if there’s no room mic), with mebbe a RCH on kick.

Can ya tell I love this shite?  thumbsup


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