Questions About Recording

tao

Member
Messages
4
Hi Everyone. I have some questions about recording. I hope to get some good counsel here too :) So. Thanks in advance.


1. How many microphones are standard for recording acoustic drums?
2. I do not understand what a MIDI is, and why it would plug into a computer interface machine. [I am a little unclear on this concept so please forgive my ignorance]
3. I have not ever tried to home record before, and am excited to learn, yet where is the best place to begin? I have been reading what interests me, is there a more structured way to study this?
4. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
 

stevel

Member
Messages
15,085



1. How many microphones are standard for recording acoustic drums?


1 to 50.

Seriously, it depends on the kit and what you need to do. Generally speaking, at bare minimum, for a typical drum kit, you would have one mic on the kick, one mic on the snare, and a pair of overhead mics to get everything else.

What you do after that is mic individual items as necessary - next would be a separate mic for the hi-hat, then separate mics for each pair of toms (one on the floor tom if an odd number) to, more preferably, one on each tom. Using overheads for the cymbals and "whole kit" sound is commonplace. So after the first 4 mentioned above, everything after that is sort of "spot miking" special things.

If a drummer has two kick drums, you need to do both, if a drummer uses a bell tree, you might need a separate mic for that. Do they do a lot of ride cymbal work? that will dictate if a separate mic is needed, or the position of an overhead, etc.

IOW, no standard, depends on the kit.

I found at that for some Police songs, they actually recorded every single drum separately (i.e., not even at the same time). I once was in a studio where we had a roto tom part and the engineer didn't have enough mics so we recorded the regular kit and then went back and overdubbed the roto toms.

Sometimes, if time, money, etc. allows, and engineer will do things like put two mics on some drums - one to get the "thump" of the kick drum and another to get the "thwack" of the beater hitting the head. Sometimes they'll put mics on the bottom head of a drum. Sometimes they'll put one on top, and one up inside (of drums without a bottom head).

If you're talking smaller things, like Congas, or Bongos, or Timbales, etc. you're going to mic those differently (and with fewer mics typically).

2. I do not understand what a MIDI is, and why it would plug into a computer interface machine. [I am a little unclear on this concept so please forgive my ignorance]
It's not "a" MIDI. Unfortunately, no one under 40 seems to know that.

MIDI is Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It provides a way for two or more devices to talk to each other. If you have a keyboard with a MIDI OUT jack, you can plug that into a Synthesizer Sound Module with a MIDI IN jack. This will allow the keyboard to "tell" the sound module to play a note. In a sense, MIDI is like "instructions" or "request" - when you press a key on a keyboard, you are "asking" or "telling" the synthesizer to play that note.

Nowadays, MIDI cables have been replaced by USB (and Firewire, and wireless MIDI, or WIDI) cables but the concept is still the same.

When you plug a MIDI device such as a keyboard, into an interface connected to your computer, it allows your keyboard to communicate with the computer - or more precisely - the software in your computer. That software could be a Sequencing Program (Logic, Cubase, Digital Performer, Garageband, etc.) that records the MIDI messages being sent to it, or it could be a "Soft Synth" or "Virtual Synth", also called "VST Instruments" and other similar branded names. In the latter case, those MIDI messages would tell the software synths to play sounds, just like an old time hardware synthesizer.

When people say "a MIDI" as they unfortunately do today, they often mean "a MIDI Sequence" or "a MIDI File". A Sequence is like a "recording". A MIDI file is a computer file you open into a sequencer to play back.

Your computer actually plays MIDI files through Quicktime (Apple) or Windows Media Player (PC). If you download a ".mid" file from the internet, and try to play it, one of those apps will open and actually send the sounds to your soundcard, which has a little MIDI synthesizer built in. But that synth sounds like crap. So people generally use a more professional level software and synths (hardware, software, or a combination).

You can do amazing things with MIDI - it not only tells instruments to play notes, but it can actually send any kind of message that the devices that are connected together are able to support. One common one is Patch Change messages where you can tell a synthesizer - or a Guitar Pedalboard - to change patches (sounds on a synth, or a pre-set bunch of pedals on a guitar pedaboard). And that just scratches the surface.

MIDI is nothing but messages - it is not sound itself. Which makes it very powerful. You can mess with MIDI messages at any point in their transmission and make them do anything the devices are designed to do. You can play notes, change patches, change the sound of the patches - adjust the volume, panning, resonance, reverb depth, etc., make a button act like a sustain pedal, make a key on the keyboard act like a mute button, etc. etc. MIDI is even used to control motorized lights in light shows, tell recording software to start and stop, sync up devices so they operate together, and capture physical motion to convert to computer data for animation.



3. I have not ever tried to home record before, and am excited to learn, yet where is the best place to begin? I have been reading what interests me, is there a more structured way to study this?
Find whatever software your computer has, or download something like Audacity (free) from the internet, and simply start experimenting. Press record and play. It would be helpful if you could learn a standardized recording software (so that things you learn in one program are relevant in another) but anything will do. When many of us started all we had were cheap reel-to-reel tape players and cassette recorders.

Ultimately, to get good recordings, you need experience. Time spent doing it. A lot of people fall into the trap of buying all kinds of expensive gear thinking it will make them sound better. But it's like buying a $4000 guitar versus a $400 guitar - sure, one may have better tone quality and be more playable, but you still have to learn to play! If you have a $4000 microphone (and yes, they make those) it won't do you any good if you don't know how to use it.

 

tao

Member
Messages
4
One reply - and it answers my questions perfectly. You're very kind for taking the time to respond. Thank you. I copy/pasted that into a document....hate to lose it.
 






Trending Topics

Top