Micing a drum set … with an array of odd mics??

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2018/01/04 05:36:17 (permalink)

Micing a drum set … with an array of odd mics??

I’m going to be micing up my church’s kit for the studio in the coming months, but I’ve only access to a somewhat odd mixture of condensors and a couple of dynamics, none of which are “specially engineered” by any stretch to be used for this kind of thing.
Here’s what I’ve got:

  • a pair of MXL Tempos, very low-end condensers but with reasonably clear, bright sound. Assuming they're nice overhead/room mics
  • an MXL 990, cheap-but-good condenser, might not use this as it’d be too sibilant/bright for cymbals and probably snare as well. Probably really nice for toms or more mid-ranges
  • an AT4040, most expensive and best-sounding condensor I’ve got. Not sure I WANT to use this on the kit but if anywhere, but suggestions are open. Likely great for snare or toms, I’d think.
  • an EV Co9, basically an SM58 dynamic, probably good for a lot of things! I’d be inclined to use this one on snare when using sticks. probably something a bit nicer when using brushes
  • an SM48, low-end dynamic, I think this would be useful for kick as it doesn’t have too much detail and doesn’t capture so great quality in the mids or highs 

    This altogether makes up 6 different mics that can be used for different purposes … 2 dynamics, 4 condensers.
    Any recommendations on what could go where? I think I have a little bit of an idea from working with these mics and getting a sense for their sounds, but I can imagine you guys who have mic’d drum sets before could come with some better, more useful knowledge for me based on what I've got to work with.

    Mics: MXL 990, MXL R80, 2 x MXL Tempo XLRs, Cobalt Co9, SM48, iSK Starlight
    Cans: Hifiman HE4XX, AKG M220
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      Re: Micing a drum set … with an array of odd mics?? 2018/01/05 06:25:31 (permalink)
      I'm by no means an expert on drum micing, but I've recorded a few and am of the opinion that use what you have, as long as you take care on setting up each one in order to capture the best sound you can from it. So, experiment and placement is the key.
      Use your condensers for overheads and your dynamics for individual drums. As long as you record clean strong signals you can use these to trigger your samples in Addictive Drums or whatever your favourite drum plugin is, if you don't like the sound of your mics. Or, use the samples to reinforce your original tracking.
      It's very nice to have all these great mics if your pockets are deep, but sadly mine aren't so I make do with what I have on hand. As long as you obey a few rules, as making sure your gain structure is correct and your mics are in phase, you should be good. Oh, and a great drummer helps.

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      Re: Micing a drum set … with an array of odd mics?? 2018/01/10 19:37:23 (permalink)
      It might be worth trying Glyn Johns’ three mic trchnique. After all, it worked for Led Zepplin and a lot of others as well.



      Or even just one or two overheads and a mic for the bass drum.

      Sometimes simple means easier to set up, easier to reproduce the next time you need to track the drums and fewer phasing problems as well.

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      Re: Micing a drum set … with an array of odd mics?? 2018/01/14 18:46:26 (permalink)
      I was going to suggest a 3 or 4 microphone solution too, but before you read my advice follow the links above - Glyn has a slightly better track record than I!

      And I'm afraid I can't comment directly on your microphone locker, I don't own any of those. So the best I can do it provide a model agnostic description of my approach, and you can see if you can use it as a starting point.

      First decision point - how does the room sound, or more important, how does the kit sound in the room?

      Second decision point - do you need a stereo image or will a mono image work for the track in question. In fairness I almost always record in stereo simply because I can always collapse to mono later if that sounds better.

      So, having made those choices...

      The first microphone I set up is the overhead, one for mono, two for stereo. I play around with microphone selection, configuration, and distance until I get a sound I like. Having worked in my room for a while now I have a pretty good starting point:
      I use either a pair of small capsule condenser microphones in an X/Y pattern, or a ribbon in a Blumlein pattern (the later a feature of the microphone, although it will also do X/Y.) I've tried non-coincident configurations but I've never gotten them to sound the way I thought they should. Bruce Sweiden can do it, I can't.

      The first thing you will probably notice is that the kit sounds pretty darned good, with the weakest point probably being the bass drum. Well it is the furthest, so that probably makes sense.
      So I add a bass drum microphone. I always start with a large diaphragm moving coil dynamic microphone. And I can't remember the last time I felt the need to change to something else, but never rule it out.

      Now I'll listen to the mix of the overheads and the bass drum. I seldom need to add a lot of bass drum, but it really does fill things out. And the neat part is phase errors seldom raise a problem.

      So, that leaves the snare and hat. 99 times out of 100 there is plenty of snare and hat in the overheads. But I still add a microphone to pick them up. Usually I use another small capsule condenser but sometimes I'll use a dynamic microphone, depends on the sound I'm after. And this track almost always gets processed with both EQ and compression, part of the whole plan as it were. I try to position the microphone so that (a) the snare is predominant (how much hat do you really need?) and (b) the drummer can't hit it.

      That's it, four microphones (three if I use a single overhead) and darned few challenges at mixdown time.

      Give it a try.

      -- Bill
      Audio Enterprise
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