Drum Recording Revisited: 2 mics vs. many

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by AshlandBump, Aug 10, 2005.


  1. AshlandBump

    AshlandBump Member

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    The country I come from is called the Midwest.
    Like most, we're trying to get the most bang for the buck out of a limited recording budget. Option A is to just use two mics to record drums, i.e., one decent kick drum mic and one decent overhead condensor that would also be used for recording vocals after the drums are done? As a variation, Option A1, we could use a SM57 type dynamic mic underneath the snare, making it a three mic set up. We can afford a decent condensor with a tube pre thrown in but that, with the kick drum mic, would probably exhaust our budget.

    We're debating using a set up like that vs. Option B: getting drum-mounted condensors/dynamics - one for each tom and for the snare, plus the kick drum mic plus one or two overhead condensors - probably not of the same quality as Option A and not with a tube mic pre.

    The benefit of the Option A, in my mind, is that we get a little bit better equipment and the set up is a little easier to manage. The benefit of Option B is that it *may* make it easier to go back and fix the balance in the drums during mixing if there's a problem.

    Thanks for any insights or opinions.
     
  2. t0neg0d

    t0neg0d Member

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    This solution is not the cheapest... but if you have a decent room to record in... go check out the Earthworks DrumKit System.... 2 overheads and a kick mic. I was TOTALLY blown away by the comparison tracks. Not to mention the applications that the mics can be used for over and above recording drums. You will not be disappointed with the purchase.

    Here is a link out to their site:

    http://www.earthworksaudio.com/
     
  3. AshlandBump

    AshlandBump Member

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    That would be ideal but it's just not practical for our budget.
     
  4. Kiwi

    Kiwi Silver Supporting Member

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    Arrangements I've used successfully:

    1) One kick, plus an SM57 midway between the snare-top and the hi-hat, and the other SM57 over by the toms and cymbal(s).

    2) I went on to get one of those pre-packed drum mic kits from MF (three rim-mount drum mics plus a kick for like $130), and an SM57 between the snare and the hi-hat.

    Ran the five signals into a small cheap Behringer mixer, then sent a stereo two-channel signal out to the 16-track recorder via a cheap two-channel rack compressor to deal with the drum mics' signals. (WHOMP-bang! WHOMP-bang!)

    The kick mic can also be used as a second or third mic on (or near) a guitar cab, to get some of the lows that many "normal" mics miss. Can also use it for a bass amp mic, and blend it in with the direct bass signal.

    The drum mics do surprisingly well as guitar mics, too. You can get a lot of use out of those inexpensive drum-mic kits.

    = K
     
  5. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    I don't know if I'd be happy with a 2-mic drum sound, but I've recorded drums with 3 mics and been very pleased. Similar to the Earthworks package concept.

    Two overheads and a distance mic placed to pick up the kick & thump of the other drums works pretty good but it takes a LOT of patience and experimentation!

    For ease of recording, and if the tracks & mics are available, I like to use a mic for each drum, 2 on the snare, 1 for the ride, a pair of overheads, and another mic as far away as possible from the kit as a room mic. But that much gear & that many tracks aren't always available!

    --chiba
     
  6. Orren

    Orren Member

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    One of the songs with the best drum recordings I ever mixed was a local band that just had two mics, actually at ear level, in a stereo spread. And here's the rub--it wasn't the mics or the room, it was the fact that the drummer was absolutely spectacular.

    I think you can make the 2 mic work (especially if you have nice mic preamps and a good engineer/mixer) if you have a well rehearsed, nuanced drummer, who can not just nail the take, but already play the part with the right balance, feel, sound, etc. But if your drummer isn't up to the job, you can often "finesse" it if you have a lot of mics to choose from (not just for balance, but DAW editing); with stereo mics, well...

    My .02,
    Orren
     
  7. wilder

    wilder Member

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    Because I can't keep the drummer from fussing with the mics and moving them to get "his" mix...it's usually easier to just have fewer mics. I use two overheads pointed roughly at the snare and a kick mic. This sounds much better than the phasey amateurish mess I ended up with before. Now I get a nicely phased fat sounding amateurish mess.

    Chris
     
  8. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    Can I ask a few questions?

    What is the purpose of your recording? Is this a demo or an album?

    Do you have a good sounding room to record in? The quality of your room has a lot to do with the final recorded sound.

    Do you have a lot of time and energy to put into experimenting with microphone placement, drum tuning, compression, gating, EQ, etc.?

    Personally, if I were making an album with a band I would book a studio with a good sounding room, a good sounding drum kit, and a good engineer. Then you'll be well on your way to a good drum sound. I've tried doing it myself in a bad room with decent equipment and a decent drum kit. We spent countless hours experiementing with microphone placement, drum heads, drum tuning, etc. and the results were not even close to what we wanted. I'd think hard about putting the money towards a few days of studio time.

    Prior to going into the studio I would have the band practice the songs over and over so that the drummer could play them in his sleep.

    Bryan
     
  9. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    For the record, that's not the classic 3 mic setup. The 3rd mic would be for close miking the kick.

    A good rule of thumb is, the fewer the mics, the better the kit, room, and drummer have to be. You might throw the engineer into this equation, too.
     

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