more questions about recording drums..

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by spectorbass83, Jan 16, 2006.

  1. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Hey guys, I have a few more question for the recording pros in here in regards to drums..

    how much time do you usually take to get the drums sounding like you want them to prior to starting a recording?

    What kind of mics do you use to mic the toms? We are currently using 4 apex gooseneck mics - 2 for top toms and 2 on the floor toms. They sound good by themselves but once the bass drum is braught into the mix they get drowned out a bit and sound muddy...we were thinking about swapping the gooseneck mics for some sm57's...think these will work better? Perhaps mic placement is our there a specific way to postition the goosenecks?

    Do you use a drum tuner?

    Thanks for your help!
  2. From my brief experience, I've seen sm57s used on toms live, but not in the studio yet? I'm sure they would work fine though...

    I think it is more important to get the drums sounding good before you start playing with the mics. Rather spend the time beforehand getting the sound you want, than later trying to fix the tracks with eq etc. the quality will be better that way.
  3. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Definitely have the drums tuned properly. This will give you a good clean sound to work with.

    For live use, I have gotten by with a 57 up high, and a 57 on the floor next to the bass drum beater. It makes really good coverage without a lot of complication (which can be good for live) but studio situations probably would not use this method (unless you try it and like it). One of my main problems with recording is drums. They are so loud most of the time, I cannot monitor properly. Then, I can't get the EQ to come out right and make the drum sound stand on it's own. It sounds more like EQ-ewwww. It's hard to get a good balance without a proper recording situation.

    Oh, also, if you want to get a thick sound out of the bass drum, use a speaker. Just put a single speaker mounted in front of the bass drum as a mic. Blend to taste. It works wonderfully. I use this in conjunction with a 57 sometimes.
  4. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    It sounds like your drums are trying to occupy the same frequency range. Try sculpting them with EQ a bit, i.e. roll off some lows on the toms, and put a notch in the lower mids on the bass to give the toms some space to be heard.

    I could list specifics I've used if you like, but entire books have been written on this subject, and the only way I've ever really learned is by placing mics, recording, and twisting knobs and pushing buttons until it sounds like I think it should. I will say that your mics are probably not the source of this problem, but if you've got the SM57s lying around, by all means, try it and see what it sounds like.

    IME, you're never really finished micing a kit. If I have an hour, I'll take an hour. If I've got a week, I'll take a week. I record two drummers regularly, and their mic setups are constantly evolving. This seems to be the case with more than one engineer that I've talked to.
  5. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Thanks for the tips guys. Back to the drawing board...ahh the joy of recording ! :smug:
  6. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    I've been playing drums a lot longer than I have bass, and I do a whole lot of recording on both sides of the glass when I'm not playing (I'm not a pro, I just do it a lot 'cause I love it). Here is what I've learned over the years.

    First of all, tuning the drums is essential. I don't know what you mean by a drum tuner.. your drummer should know how to tune the damn kit with his ears and a drum key. :)

    When I record, my favorite setup typically goes like this (in order of importance):

    -A large diaphragm condenser in front of the kit, about two or three feet from the kick drum.
    -A set of small diaphragm condenser overheads about 6' in the air, adjusted side to side based on what kind of setup the kit is and what sounds good and adjusted up and down based on what kind of phasing issues I'm getting between them and the front of the kit mic.
    -Condenser on snare bottom *
    -Dynamic mic on snare top *
    -Shure Beta 98 on every tom, an inch or two off the top
    -Dynamic mic inside the kick (I use an MD421 usually)

    * Which mic I use depends on the snare in question

    When I mic a drum kit, I ideally spend a weekend day doing basic setup and adjustments for phase and then another evening or two after that for tweaking. It goes a lot faster if you have a drummer playing the kit, someone in the room with good isolating headphones adjusting mics, and someone at the board (ideally in a room that can't hear the drums but isolating headphones work in a pinch) listening and asking for adjustments. This includes some rough EQing at the board to see what is going to work when mixdown time comes.

    When I'm mixing, I try to use as few channels as possible to get the best drum sound that works with the rest of the instruments. What sounds amazing by itself isn't going to necessarily sound the same when you're bringing in stuff like background vocals and layered guitar. Minimizing "sonic clutter" does wonders for making your tracks not sound muddy.

    Micing a drum kit is a dark art. You have several sound sources spread out over what amounts to about a 4x4x5 foot area, and as soon as you involve more than one mic you start getting unavoidable phase problems. This is somewhat mitigated by close micing everything but that becomes expensive quickly and it isn't possible to do it to the point where it blocks other parts of the kit out entirely. So when you are putting up mics, be aware that a sound travels from the snare drum (for instance) to each mic that is on the kit and hits them all at different times. Adjust accordingly.

    Regarding your particular issue, I would address the frequency stuff mentioned by jabberwock before I messed with anything else. You can cut a lot of the low mid frequencies that a kick drum is putting out and roll off some of the low end of the toms to make them play nicely. It'll make the kick sound sort of weird or anemic by itself, but when you bring in everything else it'll work pretty well.