Drums

How do you record drums?

2

I've had that stuck in my head for days at a time all summer. There's another track from their album "Helena Beat" that was just as catchy. If you look you can find acoustic versions, also very catchy.

3

Are you saying that you want to get that drum sound? Sounds like total isolation, individual close-miking, loads of compression, and possible use of snare drum hits to trigger sampled sounds. Not the way I would choose to record drums by a long shot.

I favor a matched pair of omni-directional overheads, both exactly equidistant from the center of the snare, a Shure Beta 152 on the kick, and a simple dynamic mike on the top of the snare. A second snare mike underneath can add punch and snare-band rattle, and it's worth experimenting with different mikes. I got excellent results with a cheap Russian ribbon mike on a few occasions, but I had to tape a hand towel to the back so that it wouldn't pick up the kick drum and various pedal squeaks that were otherwise inaudible.

I tend to think that the overheads should give you a fairly complete sound on their own. The separate mikes on the kick and snare enable you balance volume levels, add EQ when needed, and perhaps apply a bit of compression to the kick and reverb/slapback on the snare without affecting the other components of the kit.

This yields a result that is a far cry from the heavily processed sound on this song, but it suits my tastes. FWIW, the session drummer Simon Phillips uses an identical set-up, and I've never heard any complaints about his sound.

5

I've found a room with higher ceilings to be preferable.

Try throwing a condenser mic up in the room, too. You can blend it in, if you want.

6

I like one kick, two snare and two overheads. Maybe a separate room mic as well. Condenser

7

It depends entirely on the drummer.

8

what seadevil said, generally, though when we recorded the cd we did a a lot of room and high over heads as well as close micing... we had a very high celiing room and took advantage of it. heres some pics of the intiial tracking (from Aug 2012) with some godd drum set up pics: Link

9

If you want a natural kit sound you can get most of the way there with just a kick mic and two overhead condensers. AS seadevil says, an extra snare mic will allow you to add compression or eq to the kick and/or snare without compromising the overall kit sound.

10

I can tell you how we were doing it lately:

  • set the correct tempo before start by trying with the whole band; even 2 or 3 beats can make a huge difference.
  • create a midi track /w cowbell or similar 1/4 or 1/8, depending on what you prefer.
  • song is recorded to two 'dirt' tracks by guitar and bass.
  • drums miked and leveled; make sure not to record too quiet; use apropriate microphones!
  • give the drummer the pilot/'dirt' track and click to play to.
  • repeat every recording or just punch in/out for corrections - there's NO 'fix it in the mix'! don't rely on warping! everyting that's not correct cannot be corrected afterwards to be sounding natural.

this worked pretty good for us!

Tempo change is a pain in Live, unfortunately. you have to do this using an automation in the master track. make sure to set the correct minimum and maximum bpm, because you're likely to end up /w really odd measures like 114,67 as the resolution of the automation drawing is very special in Live.

11

Teenagers of today vs. teenagers of yesterday hey. I always loved the sound of the Sonics drums, just one mic above the kit apparently. The rest of it must have been a pretty basic set up but it's a great sound. Separation is ok for some folks but not the only way of doing things, whatever works best for you though.

12

I’m not sure which mics they are or how they are mixed, but there are a pair of overheads like mentioned above(equadistant from snare...) and close mic setup on everything too. Sounds good to me. But what do I know....I just play guitar.....

13

Lately in the studio, I’ve been using a kit with a 24” BD, 13” RT, 16” & 18” FT’s, and 5”, 6.5”, and 8” deep Ludwig Black Beauty snares. They all have MayEA mics inside (Sennheiser 604 in the 13, Shure Beta 52 or an old SM-91 in the BD, Beta 52’s in the FT’s, and special 57’s inside the snares.)

The internal mics alone, while just fine for live work, don’t cut it for me in the studio used by themselves except for the bass drum. For one thing, the 57’s inside the snares are pointed toward the bottoms and they’re always on a separate track, strictly to be able to have control over the degree of “snarey-ness” in the overall mix. I always use either an external 57 or BLUE Hummingbird on the snare in conjunction with the internals, both live and in the studio.

To make the kit sound more natural, I use a stereo pair of large-diaphragm condensers that I put up from 5 to about 10 feet away from the kit unless the room has a sweet spot or two, then they go there. Those are two BLUE Baby Bottles or one ‘Bottle on the FT side and a Bluebird on the snare and HH side, depending on the room. (I always use slamming compression on those BTW) For hihat, I use another Blue Hummingbird and a pair of Rode 5NT’s for overheads.

Once all that’s in place, the big priority for me is tuning for the snare sound. What type of snare sound am I hearing for this song/project and which snare will give me that in the room I’m currently set up in? (Thankfully, once you know the bass drum and tom sounds that you prefer and know how to tune the kit for those sounds, room acoustics don’t seem to affect their tones anywhere near the degree to which the room affects snare drums. So I don’t have to retune toms and bass drums for the room the way I have to with snares, thank ya jayzus.) And I always EQ the snare last, because if it’s done first and then you keep opening mics that are hearing it at all the different angles and proximities, it doesn’t sound anything like it did when you started. (Learned that trick from Tom Pick back in my Ny-ish-veel days.)

I’ll invariably have a pretty thick rug under the kit, not so much to avoid creep, but to keep the bottom of the snares from reflecting upward off the floor and uncontrollably affecting the overall snare sound too much, along with its bleeding TOO much into the overheads.

One last thing: I personally muffle nothing on the kit except for using bass drum heads that leave the factory with a tiny bit of pre-muffling but I use that to center the bass drum’s pitch, not to shorten its note at all.

My overall objective has always been to make the sound of the kit “on tape” the same sound that you actually hear in the room.

14

I started out as a recording engineer in the 80s, when it was far from unusual to take up 12 of the 24 available tracks on drums alone. Crazy times.

Over the years I've paired it back and my usual starting point is now the Glyn Johns method.

https://www.recordingrevolu...

I generally mic the snare, hat and toms too, and I do like room mics. But the basis of the drum sound will be the 'overhead pair' plus the kick drum mic.

More often than not, the snare mic, and especially the hat mic, won't be used in the mix. The tom mics are there to bolster the tom sound in the overheads because few drummers hit the toms loud enough.

It's useful to have the close snare mic because I can route the signal to a reverb effect even if I don't send the dry sound to the stereo bus.

15

Interesting thread this. I've taken to recording at home due to studio costs and not being happy with the results from letting others tinker with the knobs. And we found that the almost live feel of overheads is the favourite sound for us. I know some like close micing but I always think hey, I don't listen to drums with my ear pressed against the drum so I regard it as unrealistic....but that's just me and what I think works best for our recordings. So it's down to overheads...or 'overhead' in our case as we only use one. No need for that stereo malarky either.

Only problem is the drummer whacking away on the cymbals. Without the separation of drum sounds, it's hard to control the dynamics

16

I Like overheads to catch mostly cymbals and then mic each drum for separation, and only a bit of compression on the kick. I've used only overheads and it has turned out cool too. Really whatever you want the drums to do, you can figure out a way to mic them. https://andhow1.bandcamp.co...

17

Depends very much on the style of music, the drummer, and the room

18

Tub and I had an epic drum recording adventure in...1988?

The project was his current metal band's album, and it had to have a monster drum sound. A band member's parents' durn big historical-district house (or it might have belonged to friends of the band) was either temporarily empty during a move process, or in the midst of remodel.

In any case, we had the run of the downstairs for a few days to record drums. There were three rooms on the main floor which interconnected via double French doors, so they could be opened into one long gallery, probably 20' x 60' or so altogether. Hardwood floors, high ceilings. Assortment of window treatments over high casement windows.

We dragged my Tascam 80-8 reel-to-reel multitrack to the house and set it up at one end; Sam's kit went at the other end. As I recall (and it's all bathed in the golden fog of old-man memory and those-were-the-days), we used a pair of overheads, a snare mic and a kick mic, and then a pair of mics about halfway down the gallery and another pair at my recording location. Thus we filled all eight tracks of the 80-8 with drum mics. It was a point of honor to record the drums completely flat, without eq, and to get the intended sound as "naturally" as possible. I think I also defeated the dBX noise reduction in order to get crisper high end, with the intention of keeping the meters as near the red as possible anyway.

It wasn't going to be whisper-to-roar dynamics. More like roar-to-Armageddon.

We spent the better part of a day recording, listening, moving mics minutely, listening again. I'd been worried about phasing issues, but that really only applied to the room mics closest to the kit, and were vanquished early on. With most drummers, recording wide open and raw would have presented dynamic and transient challenges you'd naturally reach for compressors to fix - but Sam is extraordinarily consistent in whammage, and well able to calibrate his performance. Also, as long as we set levels to accommodate as loud as the drums could possibly get (which is more or less what the performance called for), we were good. Not only was Sam not going to exceed those peaks...the set simply couldn't. So I don't recall that any compression was used during tracking.

The intent was never to mix all the distant mics equally with the closest room mics; they were just for ambiance, with their ultimate relative levels (and pans) to be decided during a submix.

Because, yeah. We had 8 tracks, and we were using them ALL for drums...and then there were these other two extraneous band members who played bass and guitar (like who cares). So the drill was that Sam would play the drum tracks to all the songs all the way through, then later we'd bump the 8 tracks down to 2 (maybe 3 or 4, maybe Tub remembers) tracks, then fly those back onto a fresh reel to leave room for those extra instruments, and maybe some vocal exercises.

That's pretty much the way it all happened. It seemed like a glorious drum sound at the time, huger than huge - but I haven't heard it for years. I hope it didn't suck. I don't remember ever getting more satisfaction in just listening to drums than when recording and hearing playback through the cans. The trio were really way-better-than-competent forgers of high-tensile-strength metal, and the guitar and bass parts were musically interesting and satisfying. But when the project was finished, it didn't have quite the punch of the drums alone.

It's a rule: the more stuff you add to a recording, the less each part matters. It's a rule I regularly break, because too much is never enough. Still, I have to admit a recording never sounds stronger than when the minimal rhythm tracks are done. Each additional part, crucial as it is to what the concept of "song" means to most listeners, can't help but dilute what's already there.

I've been listening with greater than usual interest and attention to classic Phil Spector wall-o-sound productions and y'know...while the overall effect is certainly "bigness" - or at least you get the clear impression the songs were intended to sound big - when you focus on any particular part or instrument, they just sound tiny. Even insignificant and trivial. I know Hal Blaine was thought to have been laying down truly thundering, majestic parts. But in the final mixes, they're practically lost.

19

In my little studio, I went simple: 2 overheads, snare and kick. SM57s for all but the kick and a 58 on the kick.

As a roadie for a graffiti band in the mid-80's, at the band's direction, we miked every drum plus the hi-hat and added two overheads for the cymbals and "ambience".

That was 8 channels just for the drummer. Didn't sound all that different from 4, and setup plus tuning took an entire hour out of the afternoon, but they were paying for it. But it also allowed the drummer to ask for things like "can I have a little more of the left mounted tom in my monitors, please?"

I like the 4 mike idea best for live drums, even today.

However, mostly my drums these days are digital, and that's an entirely different tin of wigglers, be it in the studio or on the stage.

20

Tub and I had an epic drum recording adventure in...1988?

The project was his current metal band's album, and it had to have a monster drum sound. A band member's parents' durn big historical-district house (or it might have belonged to friends of the band) was either temporarily empty during a move process, or in the midst of remodel.

In any case, we had the run of the downstairs for a few days to record drums. There were three rooms on the main floor which interconnected via double French doors, so they could be opened into one long gallery, probably 20' x 60' or so altogether. Hardwood floors, high ceilings. Assortment of window treatments over high casement windows.

We dragged my Tascam 80-8 reel-to-reel multitrack to the house and set it up at one end; Sam's kit went at the other end. As I recall (and it's all bathed in the golden fog of old-man memory and those-were-the-days), we used a pair of overheads, a snare mic and a kick mic, and then a pair of mics about halfway down the gallery and another pair at my recording location. Thus we filled all eight tracks of the 80-8 with drum mics. It was a point of honor to record the drums completely flat, without eq, and to get the intended sound as "naturally" as possible. I think I also defeated the dBX noise reduction in order to get crisper high end, with the intention of keeping the meters as near the red as possible anyway.

It wasn't going to be whisper-to-roar dynamics. More like roar-to-Armageddon.

We spent the better part of a day recording, listening, moving mics minutely, listening again. I'd been worried about phasing issues, but that really only applied to the room mics closest to the kit, and were vanquished early on. With most drummers, recording wide open and raw would have presented dynamic and transient challenges you'd naturally reach for compressors to fix - but Sam is extraordinarily consistent in whammage, and well able to calibrate his performance. Also, as long as we set levels to accommodate as loud as the drums could possibly get (which is more or less what the performance called for), we were good. Not only was Sam not going to exceed those peaks...the set simply couldn't. So I don't recall that any compression was used during tracking.

The intent was never to mix all the distant mics equally with the closest room mics; they were just for ambiance, with their ultimate relative levels (and pans) to be decided during a submix.

Because, yeah. We had 8 tracks, and we were using them ALL for drums...and then there were these other two extraneous band members who played bass and guitar (like who cares). So the drill was that Sam would play the drum tracks to all the songs all the way through, then later we'd bump the 8 tracks down to 2 (maybe 3 or 4, maybe Tub remembers) tracks, then fly those back onto a fresh reel to leave room for those extra instruments, and maybe some vocal exercises.

That's pretty much the way it all happened. It seemed like a glorious drum sound at the time, huger than huge - but I haven't heard it for years. I hope it didn't suck. I don't remember ever getting more satisfaction in just listening to drums than when recording and hearing playback through the cans. The trio were really way-better-than-competent forgers of high-tensile-strength metal, and the guitar and bass parts were musically interesting and satisfying. But when the project was finished, it didn't have quite the punch of the drums alone.

It's a rule: the more stuff you add to a recording, the less each part matters. It's a rule I regularly break, because too much is never enough. Still, I have to admit a recording never sounds stronger than when the minimal rhythm tracks are done. Each additional part, crucial as it is to what the concept of "song" means to most listeners, can't help but dilute what's already there.

I've been listening with greater than usual interest and attention to classic Phil Spector wall-o-sound productions and y'know...while the overall effect is certainly "bigness" - or at least you get the clear impression the songs were intended to sound big - when you focus on any particular part or instrument, they just sound tiny. Even insignificant and trivial. I know Hal Blaine was thought to have been laying down truly thundering, majestic parts. But in the final mixes, they're practically lost.

– Proteus

Ahh...my ol’ bud, thems was the days. I remember those sessions very well. Going for the Eddie Kramer/J. Bonham thing with my ‘46 Radio King kit with the open 26” bass drum. Big fun and a fascinating experiment. You shined in your capacity, as always.

Unless my memory’s deteriorating at the same rate as my carcass, there WAS one cut where the snare was kinda buried once the gitfiddles were mixed to the right volume. You were able to sample the snare and I had to fly in the 1/4 note snare part in real time by pressing a key on your sampler. I remember the big joke when I did it where we were all striking grandiose heavy metal poses between keystrokes and pretending I was twirling a stick.

Big fun!!!!

21

i like a variation on the Glyn Johns setup with one overhead fairly high up and equidistant to the ride/crash cymbals on either side and one cardioid aimed at a spot between the bottom of the snare and the top rim of the kick from about 16" away so it picks up the snare and kick in roughly equal measure. painstaking mic placement is critical. i'm very much into ambience rather than direct WHAM; my ideal drum sounds are Billy Kreutzmann, Pierre Moerlen from Gong, and Dannie Richmond who played with Charles Mingus. i've also used a similar technique on live violin that worked a treat: two cardioids on booms flown above the violinist on either side aimed at the f-holes from about 18-24" away on the diagonal.

22

i don't pan drums all the way across the soundfield, either...i keep them placed within about 15° of center roughly in the space they'd occupy in a stereo live recording from the audience a la Grateful Dead tapers. this is even the case when i use programmed drums, which i do a lot cos it's simpler to get exactly what i want.


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