Recording drums in the studios can be fun, exciting at the same time very complicated depending on how you set them up, the room you using (is it acoustically treated? or not), the type of drums and the microphones being used to record play a big role to sound achieved. A lot of people have different ways on how they approach recording drums and end up with either a clean good recording which saves much time that would have been spent in the mixing stage or some end up with recordings that might need much processing after the recording.
The complicated side of recording drums is that they sound good when you in the drum room with the drummer is playing them but once you go in the recording room, every sound you heard in the drum room changes as you listening to drums through the monitors in the studio.
Today I would like to share with you some of the drum miking tips and microphones that me and my friend max used to sample a full drum kit that we will put together for a sample pack. These tips would benefit you and will take your drum recordings to a higher level.
Before you start selecting microphones for drum recording, you need a have bit of knowledge about microphones, their characteristics, sensitivity and polar patterns as this will help reduce a risk of feedback, bleed and drum spills.
DRUMS AND MICROPHONE
A full kit has different drums and instruments which include a snare drum, kick drum toms hi-hats cymbals and rides. All of the above instruments have different frequency ranges so each of them has to be miked up with microphones that are good at picking up its frequency response.
For example, kicks and floor toms with low frequencies need low frequency like AKG D112, Shure Beta 52A, Sennheiser’s e604, MD 421.
And sharp transient instrument such hi hats snare drum cowbell and cymbals need and high frequency response microphones like Shure’s SM 81, AKG’s C414 with small capsule to pick up the sharpness of those instruments.
As you know a kick drum has a low frequency and heavier/punchy bass sound. We used the AKG D112 that we placed the mic a few inches from the hole in front of the kick drum to capture the oomph (beefy) sound of the kick. The AKG D112 is a great microphone for recording bass sounds as it has a large diaphragms and a bass resonance volume chamber that gives a unique and punchy sound. The microphones also have high sound pressure level capability (160 dB SPL) and built in punchy EQ that can handle more bass sound without distortion. This microphone can pick up response below 80 Hz.
A kick drum can be miked in serval ways you can use one microphone or two microphones (kick and kick out). In case you want to use a second mic which in this case we didn’t use. You can insert the microphone inside the hole at the front head of the kick drum close to the bitter to record more attack from the kick. move it around the head to find a suit spot the emphasizes the sub sound that adds beef to the inside microphone.
Below is a Frequency chart of AKG d112 my favorite kick drum microphone
For a snare drum we were going for a snappy, crispy and poppy sound so we used two SM57 microphones on it. As are great microphone for picking up bright and clean sound with their good frequency response that range from 40 to 15,000 hertz. We placed one mic (SM57) at the top of the drum which, placed it between the hi-hats and the rank tom, two-three fingers away from the rim of the snare drum but positioned it facing towards the head of the drum to pick up more lows and crispiness
We We placed an sm57 and the bottom of the snare drum looking directly to the top microphone and we phase flipped it to cancelled out phasing issues. The aim of the SM57 at the bottom was to capture the crack sound of the snare drum and the rattle of the snares at the bottom of the drum.
For the toms we should the same microphone on three of our tom drums thou we were aiming to record the different tone the toms produce as they have different sizes. We used the Sennheiser’s MD 421-II which are legendary cardioid microphone with a five position bass roll-off switch that enabled us to cut off low- end frequencies from the the floor tom. With the mic placement we approached same same we did with the snare top.
Off the hats we used the Shure SM81 unidirectional condenser microphone which we pointed close to the edge of the hats but with a offset direction from the snare. This captured the crispness and and a bit of air from hats but it controlled much of the snare from bleeding in the microphone. The SM81 is always great for the high frequency sounds because of it fabulous frequencies response range from 20Hz to 20 KHz.
Our drum our sampling didn’t good as we had a limited time frame of two hours to set up microphone and recording the drum. so end up rushing through the process tho we managed to get some great sample of the drums but we definitely going to go back and resample the kit again to get good quality sample. through the process we learnt to mike up a drum kit and rum the neve desk for recording.