Recording my Acoustic Drum Kit. Where to start?

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gjm
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Recording my Acoustic Drum Kit. Where to start?

Post by gjm » Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:40 am

I would like to discuss what I need to consider when recording an acoustic drum kit. There are a couple of reasons why I would like to pursue this:

1. I already have a fusion size kit.
2. I am in a casual band where my little studio is the practice space, so would be great to record the sessions.
3. Some other reasons specific to my teaching but irrelevant to the discussion.

I will have to invest some money to do this, so I am wanting to discuss how its generally done, equipment, room acoustics, mic's, interfaces, and if possible, an approach using Live, or a DAW in general.

Hopefully there are some drummers/audiophiles here interested in getting this inexperienced hobby muso more informed.

Thanks in advance.
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knotkranky
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Post by knotkranky » Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:56 am

Best sound? small kit. 5 piece tops. Mics all over fusion kits sound poopy imho. Put the extra toms away...... Descent pre's at least straight to it, no compression on a single mic or i'll rip your throat out..... Room? use a good one. Walk around the room talking, the spot where your voice sounds clearest is the spot. Knock the ambience down if it's wild, with blankets, couch cushions etc. ...... interfaces?, evs.

Mic it like a pro and drop in.


Now play some awsome shit or the rest won't matter, LOL.

gjm
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Post by gjm » Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:31 am

knotkranky wrote:Best sound? small kit. 5 piece tops. Mics all over fusion kits sound poopy imho. Put the extra toms away...... Descent pre's at least straight to it, no compression on a single mic or i'll rip your throat out..... Room? use a good one. Walk around the room talking, the spot where your voice sounds clearest is the spot. Knock the ambience down if it's wild, with blankets, couch cushions etc. ...... interfaces?, evs.

Mic it like a pro and drop in.


Now play some awsome shit or the rest won't matter, LOL.
This is what I meant by a fusion kit... smaller than reg size. (not a good pic)

So 1 single condenser room mic?

Decent pre's??? :oops: sorry, no pro here. Just starting from ground up. Not even sure what you mean. More reading.

Interfaces? I imagined mic's all over the place, perhaps all to individual tracks. Sorry, just read that in another post.



Image
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bensuthers
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Post by bensuthers » Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:40 am

start with a great sounding drum kit.

stick it a fantastic room.

add some microphones.

and the rest is dilletant engineering.

knotkranky
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Post by knotkranky » Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:50 am

gjm wrote:
knotkranky wrote:Best sound? small kit. 5 piece tops. Mics all over fusion kits sound poopy imho. Put the extra toms away...... Descent pre's at least straight to it, no compression on a single mic or i'll rip your throat out..... Room? use a good one. Walk around the room talking, the spot where your voice sounds clearest is the spot. Knock the ambience down if it's wild, with blankets, couch cushions etc. ...... interfaces?, evs.

Mic it like a pro and drop in.


Now play some awsome shit or the rest won't matter, LOL.
This is what I meant by a fusion kit... smaller than reg size. (not a good pic)

So 1 single condenser room mic?

Decent pre's??? :oops: sorry, no pro here. Just starting from ground up. Not even sure what you mean. More reading.

Interfaces? I imagined mic's all over the place, perhaps all to individual tracks. Sorry, just read that in another post.



Image


Ohhhh, Ok, put a mic on each drum pointed at the skin 1" off the skin, real close.

Hat mic 6" away pointed right at it. But not looking at the snare,

Kick drum mic inside it and pointed at the beater if you want some extra attack.

2 mics for overheads about 3 feet over the kit with left and right mics pointing at between the snr and kik. Or at the snare if you need a ton of that. Just make sure yer getting the left right thing good enough and there's strong cymblz in there.

Put any mic in the bathroom or down the hall.

Use a bunch of any mics and a mackie 1604 for the pre's. Don't eq anything and output each mic from the mackie to an interface input and track. Play and get levels. Stay outa the red and record listen, record listen, record listen. Once you got sumptin you like, drop in for the real deal.

Angstrom
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Post by Angstrom » Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:08 am

I'm no kind of drum recording master, in fact 'lucky amateur' would even be stretching it, but I am an opinionated bastard. So here's my opinion on this

I don't like close-mic'ed drums, I think that Drums in an ideal world would be recorded like a grand piano, IE - with mic's roughly at a distance equal to their longest wavelength.
I think that close-mic'ing can just kill a kit dead, the obsession with separation that emerged in the mid 70's has some serious drawbacks for cohesion and putting reverb on a kit to re-animate it just isn't the same as a nice live kit. Of course, you need to get the room and mic positioning right. And to live in an ideal world, but hey, I can dream.

Well, like I said - I honestly know nothing in this dept. Just my preferences after sitting around in studios a lot thinking "that kit sounds terrible and lifeless!"
I prefer a more 'unified' sound, leave it up to the drummer, not the engineer !

The old Glynn Johns 3- mic setup
http://www.mercenary.com/3micdrumstuf.html

----

note: knot Kranky's approach is much more sensible & practical than my misty eyed nonsense, but it totally depends what sound you are after.

gjm
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Post by gjm » Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:17 am

knotkranky wrote:Ohhhh, Ok, put a mic on each drum pointed at the skin 1" off the skin, real close.
Top or bottom?
Hat mic 6" away pointed right at it. But not looking at the snare,
Above or from the side, does it matter (I know I would need to move it around)
Kick drum mic inside it and pointed at the beater if you want some extra attack.
So remove the resonant skin completely?
2 mics for overheads about 3 feet over the kit with left and right mics pointing at between the snr and kik. Or at the snare if you need a ton of that. Just make sure yer getting the left right thing good enough and there's strong cymblz in there.
Put any mic in the bathroom or down the hall.
Condensor mic?
Use a bunch of any mics and a mackie 1604 for the pre's. Don't eq anything and output each mic from the mackie to an interface input and track. Play and get levels. Stay outa the red and record listen, record listen, record listen. Once you got sumptin you like, drop in for the real deal.
So no real fixed rules for the mic types? I will have to aquire these so I will need to know wether dynamics or condensors etc.

Thanks KK. Much appreciated.
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gjm
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Post by gjm » Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:22 am

bensuthers wrote:start with a great sounding drum kit.

stick it a fantastic room.

add some microphones.

and the rest is dilletant engineering.
So I should quite now before I get started?

I am under no illusion of greatness, or even getting remotely 'good' stuff. I am just a beginner, wanting to talk about where beginners need to get started. 8)
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knotkranky
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Post by knotkranky » Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:27 am

gjm wrote:
knotkranky wrote:Ohhhh, Ok, put a mic on each drum pointed at the skin 1" off the skin, real close.
Top or bottom?
Hat mic 6" away pointed right at it. But not looking at the snare,
Above or from the side, does it matter (I know I would need to move it around)
Kick drum mic inside it and pointed at the beater if you want some extra attack.
So remove the resonant skin completely?
2 mics for overheads about 3 feet over the kit with left and right mics pointing at between the snr and kik. Or at the snare if you need a ton of that. Just make sure yer getting the left right thing good enough and there's strong cymblz in there.
Put any mic in the bathroom or down the hall.
Condensor mic?
Use a bunch of any mics and a mackie 1604 for the pre's. Don't eq anything and output each mic from the mackie to an interface input and track. Play and get levels. Stay outa the red and record listen, record listen, record listen. Once you got sumptin you like, drop in for the real deal.
So no real fixed rules for the mic types? I will have to aquire these so I will need to know wether dynamics or condensors etc.

Thanks KK. Much appreciated.
Cheers. Yeah Angstrom has got it right but it does take some experience and a drummer that can mix him/her self. Few drummers do, Bonzo did it better than the rest.

This is no ideal setup, just sensible as mentioned and the one to do first if you haven;t done it before. It works well if you have other noise/musicians playing together.

answers;

Top

Side is good. I like getting the stick noise, so close to those.

Yup, no front head on kick or 8" hole in front head for the mic is better.

condenser is fine. anything is fine for a far mic.

Use dynamic on drums and a condenser on OH's and hat. OR screw it, whatever you got laying around for that matter. Mix and match, you won't hurt anything.

gjm
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Post by gjm » Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:36 am

Angstrom wrote:I'm no kind of drum recording master, in fact 'lucky amateur' would even be stretching it, but I am an opinionated bastard. So here's my opinion on this

I don't like close-mic'ed drums, I think that Drums in an ideal world would be recorded like a grand piano, IE - with mic's roughly at a distance equal to their longest wavelength.
I think that close-mic'ing can just kill a kit dead, the obsession with separation that emerged in the mid 70's has some serious drawbacks for cohesion and putting reverb on a kit to re-animate it just isn't the same as a nice live kit. Of course, you need to get the room and mic positioning right. And to live in an ideal world, but hey, I can dream.

Well, like I said - I honestly know nothing in this dept. Just my preferences after sitting around in studios a lot thinking "that kit sounds terrible and lifeless!"
I prefer a more 'unified' sound, leave it up to the drummer, not the engineer !

The old Glynn Johns 3- mic setup
http://www.mercenary.com/3micdrumstuf.html

----

note: knot Kranky's approach is much more sensible & practical than my misty eyed nonsense, but it totally depends what sound you are after.
mmmmm, thanks for that. Much appreciated. Actually after reading that article I am a tad discouraged already. Sounds like a bit of a black art.
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UKRuss
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Post by UKRuss » Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:53 am

Yep. My advice is don't do it expecting any kind of decent results. (No offence, but if santa is stil searching for pressies for you...You need new cymbals :-))

Ideally, one stereo mic in the room will get you as a good a result as any if you are just going straight into an interface.

Close micing if you have other people playing in the room is your only option and for that i would have one mic pointing up between the snare and the underside of the hi-hat, one inside the kick and one between the toms and your crash, avoid overhead ambient micing as it will just pick up all the other noise, which wont help you when trying to mix.

We've tried all sorts of different things in the band I'm in when recording our rehearsals and on thing is a constant.

The drums always sound shit. :D

gjm
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Post by gjm » Fri Dec 12, 2008 7:26 am

UKRuss wrote:Yep. My advice is don't do it expecting any kind of decent results. (No offence, but if santa is stil searching for pressies for you...You need new cymbals :-))

Ideally, one stereo mic in the room will get you as a good a result as any if you are just going straight into an interface.

Close micing if you have other people playing in the room is your only option and for that i would have one mic pointing up between the snare and the underside of the hi-hat, one inside the kick and one between the toms and your crash, avoid overhead ambient micing as it will just pick up all the other noise, which wont help you when trying to mix.

We've tried all sorts of different things in the band I'm in when recording our rehearsals and on thing is a constant.

The drums always sound shit. :D
LOL...That is my sacrificial school cymbal. I have a bunch of 7-10 year olds wacking the crap out of the cymbals. But having said that, I paid some decent money for these and was very disappointed. Those planet Z things sound much better. But yes, I am playing with toys :lol:

I have a lead on some second hand mic's so will see how it goes.

Thanks. BTW, have you started the guitar vid's yet??
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UKRuss
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Post by UKRuss » Fri Dec 12, 2008 9:29 am

Oh yes, good idea, don't let the little buggers play with your good cymbals. Actually some of the Stagg top range suff is really not bad, but you just can't beat Sabian, Paiste et al.

Vids a promise for early 09! :D

roby
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Post by roby » Fri Dec 12, 2008 10:23 am

sorry, i haven't read the whole thread so this may be redundant, but this is what we did to record drums:

our drummer bought a 6-mic kit for drums. we placed one mic for snare, kick, tom, and floor tom. we set up two mics for over head cymbals, ride, hi hats, basically one mic for hats and cymbal, other mic for the other cymbal and ride.
to get rid of the boom of the kick and get a punchier sound, we took the front head off of the kick and placed the mic closer to the general area where the kick pedal hits the other head. that was the biggest mic tweak we had to do to get a good sound. the rest of the mics needed small tweaks here and there but nothing major.
all mics where sent to a Mackie mixer and out to an audio interface. I set up Live to record to 6 tracks. that's it. it does take some time to mess around with settings to figure out the best sound over all, but most the real work comes from mixing, in my opinion.

ashtonron
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Post by ashtonron » Fri Dec 12, 2008 10:45 am

When I have been micing up a kit I have been using

Sure Sm57 on the snare.. position it near the edge and angle it towards the center if you want more stick sound and towards the edge if you want more of the drum sound. If you want to pick up brush sounds then you can raise the height a little..

Sennheiser E604 clip on mic on the toms and under the snare if you want that as well (remember to invert the phase of that one though)
nice thing about clip ons is you dont have to have stands everywhere. Again point towards the edge for more drum sound and towards the center for more stick sound.. Remember to make sure the toms are tuned properly though hehe and it is often useful to damp the toms as they can resonate

kick Shure Beta 52A dynamic mic position just inside angled towards the batter for more click

condensers e.g. Sennheiser e914 this has a physical pad which is usefull when micing drums

right condenser equidistant from the hat, snare and crash
left condenser looking at the ride, equidistant from that and the crash

To do this will set you back $$ though so it is worth reading ....

http://www.phobospeepl.dk/documents/shitty1.pdf
http://www.phobospeepl.dk/documents/shitty2.pdf

and just keep it low-fi with a cheap dynamic mic hanging from the ceiling. The main thing as always is to listen carefully...

I have just finished an album recently that was recorded that way. and it worked out ok! There were of course some issues (the hi-hat being a bit loud but i was able to control that using a bit of de-essing) but it was good enough for the job.

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