Minimal drum mic setup

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Carpalstunna, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. Carpalstunna

    Carpalstunna Member

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    Ok so I need a fairly easy to setup and minimal drum micing solution, for live purposes. We currently just mic the kick but the issue is the room we often play in is very live, so we get alot of natural cymbal reverb. Also the room being large sometimes the lower frequency drums get lost as they arent micd, Toms, closed hat.

    The other issue is that our board is nearly full, I think we have 2 inputs left. So here is my question, would it be better to use the two remaining inputs to put some clip on drum mics on 2 toms or should we do two overhead mics in an X pattern? I have one SM81 laying around, I have heard people mention those as a good overhead option.

    Ideas? What would you do?
     
  2. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    I'd go with snare and floor tom, if you've only got 2 channels left.
     
  3. shawntp

    shawntp Member

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    There is the popular method discussed on the gearsluts forum known as the "Steve/Remote" knee position. It involves a single omni mic placed at the drummers knee and was contributed by a member there named Remoteness (Steve). He apparently is a professional recording engineer (and mod on that forum) with loads of real world production cred.

    Here is one of the threads that discusses it:
    http://www.gearslutz.com/board/remote-possibilities-acoustic-music-location-recording/97013-question-steve-remoteness-re-drum-mic.html


     
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  4. Carpalstunna

    Carpalstunna Member

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    ya thats awesome info. Taking it all in.

    I love the idea of one mic even more, now I just need a good omni or maybe try to make a cardoid mic I have work.

    I may be able to get my hands on a rode NT5 with the omni head too, thats probably a good omni option.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
  5. buddaman71

    buddaman71 Student of Life Silver Supporting Member

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    i'm a huge fan of minimal drum mic'ing in the studio, but a single omni in a large, live room sounds like a sound reinforcement nightmare...there's no possible way to keep stage/FOH bleed out of that mic in that situation...low-end stage resonance feedback is also a potential HUGE problem...please let me know how this works out though, as i'm always interested in new techniques! :)

    i've had EXCELLENT results using just Kick/Snare/Stereo Pair overheads outside, but if you're getting lots of wash in a large reverberant space, the closer mic'ing techniques will give you the most control...the farther you move any mic from its source in a reverberant space, the less intelligibility you'll have in the direct signal, as the mic is also picking up the reverberant field...

    have you considered just purchasing a nice, compact 4/6-channel mini mixer and then sending a single mono or stereo feed to the FOH mixer? that's pretty inexpensive and faster setup, as you're not pulling a bunch of XLR cables all the way from each drum to the FOR board/snake. like Kick, Snare and 2-3 toms on clip mics right into a little 1403VLZ Mackie or something like that and then just it's XLR outs to a stereo pair on the FOH mixer...using XLR-F to 1/4" TRS cables even saves you from using XLR channels at all on the main board...just a thought :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
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  6. Carpalstunna

    Carpalstunna Member

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    yes actually using a small mixer to feed the main board was an idea I had, the only issue is the inability to tweak without coming up to the kit. Its an option and would be better than nothing. I will try the mics I have now in a few different positions to see if I can get something workable, either cardoid or supercardoid.
     
  7. Somniferous

    Somniferous Member

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    If the cymbals are washing out the rest of the kit, your drummer needs to hit the skins harder and the cymbals lighter. No way around this if you really want a balanced sound.

    Other than that I'd mic up anything that needs help getting through in the mix.
     
  8. rickenbackerkid

    rickenbackerkid Member

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    This. I’d go kick and snare to start with.
     
  9. Carpalstunna

    Carpalstunna Member

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    Well its not the initial hit, like I said its the fact that the room reverberates higher frequencies more than low, so while he hits the cymbal we have 3-4 second echo of that.

    What do you think about putting a mic with a supercardoid pattern above the kick pointed at the floor tom, would that pic up any of the tom directly behind the mic as well as the one its pointed at?
     
  10. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    Steve's an old friend who I've learned a helluva lot from while assisting on his gigs from time to time. One disclaimer I'd put on any of it is that he's looking at things from the perspective of recording, not live sound reinforcement. Reminds me that I need to call him...

    Anyway, in a reverberant space you want traditional close miking for the definition it supplies. If the cymbals are splatty and loud to begin with adding overheads is only going to exaggerate the issues.
     
  11. Carpalstunna

    Carpalstunna Member

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    Ya the Toms are really what gets lost, that and closed hat. The drummer has a smaller kit, just one small tom and the floor tom. If I could get both of those with one mic and then one on the hat I think we could really balance the kit better.

    I would love more attack on the cymbals but I dont think there is anyway to do that without adding to the problem, unless I had them on a compressor, but now we are really getting un-minimal.
     
  12. bigroy

    bigroy Member

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    I use a D6 on the kick, and a single SM81 overhead, pointed straight down in the middle of the drum kit. I first heard it used live at the House of Blues with Keb Mo's band. It's simple, sounds nice and ambient, and works well for me. YMMV. It takes just a bit of adjustment on the SM81 in regard to height and centering, but we get good results.

    I have tried it also with cheap SDC's, and it's not so good.
     
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  13. Carpalstunna

    Carpalstunna Member

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    I have an sm81 so this could be a good option. I will have to experiment this weekend.
     
  14. buddaman71

    buddaman71 Student of Life Silver Supporting Member

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    Absolutely, especially since it's pretty common to be pushing the vocal mics pretty hard in a loud band, and they will pick up cymbal splash like crazy in some rooms/stages.
     
  15. bigroy

    bigroy Member

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    How did it go?
     
  16. Carpalstunna

    Carpalstunna Member

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    It actually worked well, You just have to really tweak the placement especially in relation to the cymbals. I found that if I drifted too far forward in the kit all I got was cymbal noise. I also added some compression.

    Unfortunately I need to send my sm81 in for repairs now as it is not working correctly. :(
     
  17. phillygtr

    phillygtr Member

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    Tweak what exactly? Wouldn't the small sub mixer be right next to the large mixer?
     
  18. phazersonstun

    phazersonstun Member

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    Depends on how it gets setup.
    If the drums mics go directly into submixer then the submixers output goes into the stage snake then adjustments would need to be done by the kit.

    Alternately, the drum mics could go to their own snake feeding the submixer next to the main board. Easier to adjust for who ever is running sound and makes aux sends for monitoring to the main board possible if you need to give say, the bassist some kick in the monitor. The trade off for that control & convenience is needing another snake.
     
  19. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    I have never seen this work.
     
  20. Remoteness

    Remoteness Member

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    It has come to my attention some folks think I'm just a recording engineer...

    That being said, although the body of my work has been mobile and location recording, I actually started out as a musician and live sound engineer. I also do a fair amount of studio work.

    FYI, I've been using the (righty) 'Drummer's Right Knee' mic technique since the early 80s. This single mic technique came out of necessity. I came up with the idea because the band I was mixing live sound for had a lot of musicians and singers, and the venues we performed in rarely had consoles with enough working channels. As many of us know, you'd be lucky to have a complete set of 16 working inputs because those dead channels seem to never get fixed. It's pretty wild that a broken console in a cheesy club motivated me to come up with this technique.

    Sometimes I had two channels available for drums, but most of the time it was only one. If I had a second available channel for the kit it ended up on the hi-hat because of the way the drummer played his kit. Now-a-days I rarely use a hi-hat mic.

    Now, what about that Drummer's Right Knee Mic Technique?

    I like that concept the best, but rarely get a chance to use it because most folks want to use plenty of inputs for drums. IMHO, it's the ultimate single mic position for drums. Placing an omni microphone near the (righty) drummer’s right knee captures everything I'm looking for. I usually have the drummer play while we move the mic a bit until I hear every piece of the kit equally or at the proper balance I'm going for.

    Those that haven't tried this technique would be pleasantly surprised on how awesome that single mic at the drummer’s right knee sounds.

    For me, keeping it simple and extremely efficient is the way to go. I mean, you can always add mics (when necessary) as long as you have that one perfectly placed mic in the mix. Keep in mind, it does work well if the drummer mounts a cowbell in that same area.

    My Drummer's Right Knee Mic technique has been used on most of my sessions since my live sound days.

    And, I rarely use a mic stand for its placement. I usually use a LP Claw, Ultra Clamp or Rowi clamp on the top (beater side) of the bass drum. When no stand or clamp is available, I have placed some foam on top of the bass drum and positioned the mic right on top of the foam. As you can imagine, I prefer using a clamp or Claw because I can focus the mic exactly where I want it to go.

    Believe it or not, back in the early 80s I used an EV 635A as my single drum mic. I happened to use that same mic for a live sound gig I did last Saturday. It was an outdoor gig, and the possibility of rain was strong, so I grabbed my funky 635A and made it work. Complements about the drum sound were coming from everyone. I have used a variety of LD and SD microphones for this task… Neumann M149, TLM50 and KM86 come to mind. I have also used a Sennheiser MD211 for this job. As long as it sounds right, any omni mic will do.

    Another big part of my drum sound is my choice of overhead mics and their positioning. Whether I use multiple mics or not, focusing the overheads and "Right Knee" mic is the key to my drum sound. Finding that right balance between the overheads and the right knee mic is paramount. My go to overhead mics are Beyer M160s. I don't leave home without them!

    When balancing the drum mics, it’s really up to what I’m going for; at times the ‘knee mic’ takes precedence, but I usually let my M160s overheads take the lead. As a rule I set up the 'knee mic' and OHs at the same time. I listen to the OHs to make sure I capture the right stereo sound from the kit, then I listen to the 'knee mic' to make sure I’m getting the proper blend from the individual drums and cymbals. Once I know I got what I’m looking for I put up and balance the OHs and then add in the “kit mic” for the right balance between the mics.
     
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