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recording drums (my way)

Last response: in Home Audio
February 12, 2005 1:32:56 PM

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First, put some mics (any number between 1 but not more than 5 for jazz
and up to 23 for rock) you have in front of drum kit (in front being
get player to play whilst you move above mentioned mics until they sound
good. The last stage appears to be optional on modern recordings, but is
still worth considering.
Record with the gear you have in your studio.

Er......that's it.

More about : recording drums

February 12, 2005 1:32:57 PM

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Producing Drums

Drums are the fundamental component of music; "The Bed Track" as we
call it. All other instruments are recorded to the rhythms of the drum
performance. All instruments eventually trace their roots back to
Africa where rhythm was essential to the spirituality of the tribal
culture. To this day we notice the rhythm of the drum from the native
peoples of Canada, to a dance hall, to someone just tapping their feet
to a beat. We are all intertwined with rhythm.

Recording drums is one of the most challenging situations you will ever
come across in the studio. The microphones you use and how you place
them is important in the initial preparation. A tuned kit with new
heads is the standard operating procedure for all drummers. No amount
of EQ or signal processing can resurrect a cardboard sounding drum kit
after it's been recorded. The room you are recording in is very
critical also. Rock prod/eng's prefer large live rooms to capture the
ambience of the kit. As for pop drummers, they are often located in
booths or small rooms that are reasonably dry sounding so you can get a
present sound.

The Kick Drum

For the kick drum, you should use a dynamic mic - the bigger the
diaphragm, the better low-end pick-up. I've used RE-20's and
AKG-112's. The way I usually mic a kick drum is to stick the mic
inside the kick drum (I always remove the front head) about 3-6 inches
in front the front head. That's a good place to start - you can move
the mic around and find the best sounding location. I usually stick a
pillow or blankets against the rear of the drum head to minimize ring.
You'll get more attack the closer the mic is to the beater - you'll get
more overtones farther away. On certain occasions we use two mics. A
small diaphragm dynamic (421) close to the beater to get the attack of
the bass drum. The other mic, a large diaphragm, further away from the
head to pickup the low end of the resonance of the bass drum. This
allows you to have the flexibility to control the mix of the attack and
resonance. With the close mic you can EQ from 2-4Khz to get the
attack. Anything higher than 4Khz will just make the attack sound
thin. With the close mic try to avoid aiming it directly at the
beater. This prevents dramatic changes in the attack sound of the bass
drum. If you place the mic slightly off axis and EQ the mid range
(more than you would if the mic were on axis) the attack sound of the
bass drum will be more even. With the large diaphragm mic place it
closer to front of the drum (where the head has been removed) this will
allow you to get more of the low end resonance. If using a large
diaphragm condenser make sure to pad it down (use pad on mic) and place
a Kleenex over the microphone to prevent the capsule from being
overloaded by wind. With EQing the bottom end you need to know if you
would like the bottom end to be heard or felt. EQing between 30-60Hz
will allow you to "feel" the bottom end only on large speaker
systems. If you need to hear the bottom end EQ between 60-100Hz. This
will allow you to "hear" the attack of the low end on smaller
speaker systems. The bass drum also produces a lot of low mid range
frequencies that tend to not relate to themselves. This usually occurs
between 300-600Hz. Be prepared to remove some of these frequencies,
which will allow the bass drum to sound tighter and punchier.

As in any situation using two mics you need to be prepared for phasing
problems. This problem can be solved by flipping the phase on one of
the mics or moving the position of one of the mics.

The Snare Drum

The best way to capture a great snare sound is by close miking it with
a dynamic cardioid-pattern mic that can handle a high SPL and keep
leakage to a minimum. The legendary SM-57 is an excellent mic for the
snare, it is the choice of many professional engineers, and it's what I
use myself.

The classic approach for miking the snare is to place the mic 1-3
inches over the snare rim opposite the drummer and 1-3 inches above the
top drum head. The mic should be at about a 35-degree angle downward. I
usually try to also angle the mic inward (away from the hi-hats) to
avoid leakage from the hi-hats. You can also mic the bottom snare head
for some added top end but remember to reverse the phase. If the
drummer is playing with brushes try using a small diaphragm condenser
cardioid microphone. The condenser will have a larger pickup pattern
to capture more of the performance. With EQ the snare drum has three
basic regions: Low end 100Hz (depending on depth of snare drum), mid
range (crack) 3-5 kHz and top end 10 kHz and above. In rock, snare
drums you tend to desire a lot of the mid range/crack and low end. In
Pop you tend to desire more of the top end over the mid range.

The Toms

It's best to mic each tom separately. Again, small diaphragm
dynamic mics work the best, and SM-57's and Sennheiser 421's are a good
choice for their tight pick-up pattern and high SPL. Small diaphragm
condenser mics are great for getting more top end but remember to
insert a pad so the mics don't overload and be prepared for cymbal

The best approach to miking toms is to place the mic 4-6 inches above
the drumhead at about a 45-degree angle over the head. If you pick up a
lot of overtones, a little duct tape in the right spots will kill the
overtones, or if you have a noise gate you can gate out the overtones.
I always move the mics around to capture the right balance of attack
and resonance. In EQing toms there are four different ranges: Low end
80-120Hz (depending on size of tom) Low Mid range 300-600Hz, High Mid
range 2-4kHz and Top end 10kHz and above. In an average EQ setting on a
tom you would see a boost in the Low end, High Mid range and High end
as well as a cut in the Low Mid range.

The Overheads

The drum overhead mics are really supposed to capture the overall sound
of the drums, not just the cymbals. Condenser mics such as U-87s and
AKG 414s are the first choice for overheads, and one popular miking
technique is with a spaced pair of mics (on boom stands) mounted 2-3
feet above the drums -the right mic pointed at the right cymbals, the
left mic pointed at the left cymbals. Remember that when raising
overheads the acoustics of the room will factor into the sonic
equation. When mixing direct drum mics with the overheads this most
likely causes acoustical phasing problems, this happens in the low
frequency range. The low frequencies in phase with the snare drum mic
have a tendency to be out of phase when the overheads are mixed in, due
to the wavelength of low end frequencies. When checking for phasing
problems on drums assign all mics to a mono listening position. It is
hard to detect phasing problems with mics panned to different positions
in the stereo image. If you notice phasing problems just reverse the
phase button on the input strip or move the mic positions. EQ
overheads if you need a brighter sound and insert shelving curves in
the high end try to avoid rolling off the low end, for this will make
your snare and toms sound thin. E.g. +3dB @10Khz (shelf).

The Hi-hat

Use a small diaphragm condenser mic like an AKG 451 placed about
6" above the high-hats, pointed straight down at the center of the
top hat. Sometimes high-hats have a tendency to produce unwanted
midrange frequencies around 1.5 kHz which tend to make the high-hat
sound trashy. Omitting some of this frequency range will allow the
high-hat to sound more defined in the high end.

Room Mics

Use at least 2 omni mics of the same model. Place them in the centre
of the room to get an even room sound. This often requires the use of
hard surface baffles between the room mics and the drum kit. This
removes the initial direct sound in the pickup allowing the
engineer/producer to utilize more of the room resonance.

Drum Compression

Drum compressing and limiting is often used to control dynamic problems
and/or create a desired effect. When using a live performance you tend
to get excessive dynamics. For example: when the drummer hits a kick
drum and crash cymbal on the downbeat of a chorus, even though the
transient is of short time duration it will limit you into how much
level you can translate to a CD in mastering. This transient causes
the drums to separate themselves from the rest of the elements in the
mix. Because the duration of the transient is so short it is hard to
correct this dynamic problem through manual fader riding. A good
solution for this is to bus all the drums to two tracks and bring this
two track stereo sub-mix of the drums back into more inputs. At this
stage you can insert limiting to control the extension of the
transient. You will need to incorporate an attack time of less then
1millisecond due to the transient nature of the drums. The release
time should also be very fast 5-10ms so the only transient is affected
and the rest of the performance is left untouched. A limiting ratio of
10:1 or higher will suffice. Remember to allow headroom so some amount
of the transient will pass through, rather than being hard limited.
This is accomplished by first setting a limiting ratio, with a fast
attack time and a fast release time. Next, set the threshold to a
setting where the limited audio information is approximately 2-3ms in
duration for the nature of drum transients is a very fast attack and a
very fast release with little duration in between. The goal here is to
limit only this fast transient without affecting the resonance of the
drum sound.

Another advantageous use in dynamic control is getting your drums to
sound punchier. This is achieved by first eliminating the random
transients and then inserting compression with a ratio 4:1 to 8:1. The
attack time should be any where from 20-50 ms which allows the louder
attacks of sound to pass through unaffected. Once the attack is
cleared the compressor will kick in, lowering the sustain part of the
drum signal. Next set the release time (1-200ms) so the sustain part
of the signal is compressed and decays until the approach of the next
transient comp/limit. When you are sub-mixing drums to a stereo bus
remember to insert the stereo link function on the comp/limiter.

In dealing with dynamic control on separate drums allow yourself to
create a certain characteristics to achieve great sounds. With snare
drum a common problem is getting a good attack but with no sustain
which causes the drum to sound inconsistent and weak. The problem here
is that even though the attack of the drum is heard on a consistent
basis the length and level of the sustain changes randomly. In dealing
with this problem split the snare drum over two input channels. Over
the first input try to maximize the transient quality of the snare drum
by utilizing transparent limiting and EQ in the mid range and high end.
On the other channel first gate the signal so all you hear is the
snare drum. Next insert a limiter with a very fast attack and very
fast release time. The goal here is to limit the attack of the signal
heavily. This allows the sustain to be consistent in level and adds
more length in duration. To add more body to the sound, EQ in the low
mid range and low end. Now mix in this signal with the more transient
snare drum signal which will allow you to add in more body to the snare
drum that will make it sound bigger and more consistent. In effect,
you are decreasing the dynamic range between the level of the transient
nature of the drum and the sustain properties of the drum.

Room Microphones

Use two large diaphragm condensers of the same model placed at an even
distance from each other and closest walls. If the room is 36' wide
place the mics 12' from the walls to get maximum diffusion. If the
room is 48' deep place the mics 18' from the walls. The biggest
problem with room miking is the noticeable delay between the audio from
the close mics and the original audio arriving to the room mics
(diagram A). The solution is to remove the direct signal from the drums
from entering the room mics (diagram B). This will allow the room mics
to only pick up diffused early reflections and the room reverb,
allowing you to mix it in at a higher level without any noticeable
February 12, 2005 10:27:04 PM

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Matrixmusic wrote:

> Producing Drums

is something the poster knows very little about, but his copy 'n' paste
chops are to die for.

Dave Martin, you got copy 'n' paste chops to admire? This guy's a

Related resources
February 13, 2005 11:56:38 PM

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"hank alrich" <> wrote in message
> Matrixmusic wrote:
> > Producing Drums
> is something the poster knows very little about, but his copy 'n' paste
> chops are to die for.
> Dave Martin, you got copy 'n' paste chops to admire? This guy's a
> contender...
> --
> ha

The bandwidth to my brain is a little stressed from all these 'audio thesis'
that are showing up here lately. Are we supposed to be contributing to
a book and I missed it?

David Morgan (MAMS)
http://www.m-a-m-s DOT com
Morgan Audio Media Service
Dallas, Texas (214) 662-9901
February 14, 2005 12:24:16 AM

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David Morgan wrote:

> Are we supposed to be contributing to
> a book and I missed it?

Assuming you have toilet paper, this book you don't need.

February 14, 2005 12:24:17 AM

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In article <> writes:

> > Are we supposed to be contributing to
> > a book and I missed it?
> Assuming you have toilet paper, this book you don't need.

Is this kind of like having to make my own CDs by burning disks from
downloaded music files? I have to make my own toilet paper by printing
out these instructions for recording just about everything?

I'm really Mike Rivers (
However, until the spam goes away or Hell freezes over,
lots of IP addresses are blocked from this system. If
you e-mail me and it bounces, use your secret decoder ring
and reach me here: double-m-eleven-double-zero at yahoo
February 14, 2005 1:05:53 AM

Archived from groups: (More info?)

"hank alrich" <> wrote in message
> David Morgan wrote:
> > Are we supposed to be contributing to
> > a book and I missed it?
> Assuming you have toilet paper, this book you don't need.

Oh contraire. I'm a masochist and love being told how to wipe my ass. <g>
February 14, 2005 10:33:05 PM

Archived from groups: (More info?)

"hank alrich" <> wrote in message
> Matrixmusic wrote:
> > Producing Drums
> is something the poster knows very little about, but his copy 'n' paste
> chops are to die for.
> Dave Martin, you got copy 'n' paste chops to admire? This guy's a
> contender...
> --
I take my hat off to the superior talent.

Dave Martin
DMA, Inc
Nashville, TN