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What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby delgadoboy » Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:24 am

I'm totally new to recording drums. I feel like I have everything I need to record though.
I have all the mics, a nice program and drums. How should I go about connecting the cables to the computer. I have a nice mixer but it's not USB compatible. If I plug my mixer output to a USB audio interface will that work?
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby The Elf » Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:32 am

delgadoboy wrote:I'm totally new to recording drums. I feel like I have everything I need to record though.
I have all the mics, a nice program and drums. How should I go about connecting the cables to the computer. I have a nice mixer but it's not USB compatible. If I plug my mixer output to a USB audio interface will that work?
You need an audio interface with sufficient mic inputs.

As I often advise newbies here - a mixer is not really very helpful to you. A mixer *mixes*, and that's the last thing you need when you are trying to record multiple sources; you ideally want to keep the sources separate so you can process them separately later.

There are ways of pressing a mixer into use, ideally using direct outputs, or insert points, but it can be a bit of a faff and you're still going to need an audio interface with sufficient inputs to handle it. You could do a simple stereo recording of all your drum mic's, but that's not really going to carry you very far.
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby CS70 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:26 pm

A quick and good solution I've found is to use the Alesis Multimix USB2.0. It looks like a mixer but it's also a computer interface (there's also a firewire version I think). Its 8 channels of mono recording are enough for multi-micking a drum kit and have ok preamps and it brings all the tracks, separately, to the computer. And especially if you find it used, it's very inexpensive.
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby delgadoboy » Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:39 pm

CS70 wrote:A quick and good solution I've found is to use the Alesis Multimix USB2.0. It looks like a mixer but it's also a computer interface (there's also a firewire version I think). Its 8 channels of mono recording are enough for multi-micking a drum kit and have ok preamps and it brings all the tracks, separately, to the computer. And especially if you find it used, it's very inexpensive.

Ok. So this is what you're talking about? http://alesis.com/multimix8usb20fx
I'm a totally newbie to mixers so this is why I'm asking this question. How will I be able to mic all the drums if there is only 4 microphone inputs? Do I have to get XLR to 1/4 inch adapters for the rest of the mics?
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby MarkOne » Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:48 pm

You are right… It's the multi mix 16 that has 8 mic inputs. I had the (now discontinued) Multimix Firewire, and I have to agree, for what it is it's a darn good little mixer. I recorded drums on it quite happily, with all 8 mic channels showing up in Logic (and the line inputs too)

Though I think you'd be better off ditching the mixer altogether and getting an 8 input interface like the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 which will give you a big step up in preamp quality for around the same money.
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby The Elf » Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:03 pm

delgadoboy wrote:How will I be able to mic all the drums if there is only 4 microphone inputs?
Quite simply - you won't.

delgadoboy wrote:Do I have to get XLR to 1/4 inch adapters for the rest of the mics?
No - that won't work.

The advice to look at a multi-input audio interface with built-in mic pre's is sound. Ditch the mixer.
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby Urthlupe » Tue Jun 24, 2014 7:13 am

It's not really possible to offer clear advice Delgado without understanding the equipment you already have.

Exactly what make and model is your mixer? Do you already own an audio interface? If so, again what make and model is it?

If you don't already own an audio interface with sufficient inputs for each of your drum mics then Elf is correct, you should consider not using a mixer and simply purchase an audio Interface with enough mic preamps for your drums - this would be the cheapest and easiest route to multi-tracking each individual drum mic, particularly as a beginner and not least because, in any event you will have to purchase or source in some way an audio interface of that type.

If you already own or have access to an appropriate interface, or your desk is of a certain type or quality then your available choices might be greater, but, if you are a beginner, will involve a much greater learning curve with many more potential pitfalls and not necessarily for any particular gain.

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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby delgadoboy » Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:25 am

Urthlupe wrote:It's not really possible to offer clear advice Delgado without understanding the equipment you already have.

Exactly what make and model is your mixer? Do you already own an audio interface? If so, again what make and model is it?

If you don't already own an audio interface with sufficient inputs for each of your drum mics then Elf is correct, you should consider not using a mixer and simply purchase an audio Interface with enough mic preamps for your drums - this would be the cheapest and easiest route to multi-tracking each individual drum mic, particularly as a beginner and not least because, in any event you will have to purchase or source in some way an audio interface of that type.

If you already own or have access to an appropriate interface, or your desk is of a certain type or quality then your available choices might be greater, but, if you are a beginner, will involve a much greater learning curve with many more potential pitfalls and not necessarily for any particular gain.

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I have this Yamaha mixer. And I have this cheap little audio interface.

I know I'll probably have to end up buying something extra but I would just like to real drums recorded as inexpensive as possible-ish...
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby Richard Graham » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:05 am

Ok, you can do it with the gear you have already, assuming the microphones are up to the job, and you know how to tune a drumkit.

Bass drum: Ideally you want a dynamic mike (not the fella who posts here, something like an SM57 or 58 would do if you don't have a specialist kick mike) in front of or inside the kick drum, running into your mixer. You will probably need to add a lot of EQ to this, from the mixer (which should be up to the job). Look at boosting the lows a lot and scooping out some of the lower mids "to taste".

Overheads. Ideally a pair of condensers, but dynamics can do the job if they have a decent HF response. Look up Glynn Johns or Recprderman methods for positioning, or use as a conventional stereo pair in an X/Y configuration, over the drumkit. Plug these into the mixer, and pan to taste or just hard left and right, you can narrow the stereo image later in your DAW. You probably won't need much EQ on these, and you can add it in your DAW later anyway (though this would also affect your kick sound). You might benefit from applying some LF (bass) cut to these mikes, through the mixer, and maybe a little treble boost (be careful!) *if* your mikes aren't giving you enough. Definitely try using the little buttons on your mixer that take out the sub 80 Hz on these mic inputs.

Take the mixer line out and plug into the line ins on your interface, and record, making sure you leave plenty of headroom.

Listen back to a test recording, Balance the kick with the overheads on the mixer, until the kick is prominent but not too overpowering. You'd be surprised at how much kick you can mix in: when the other instruments are going, you won't notice it as much. Better to have a little too much kick than not enough when tracking, you can use EQ when mixing to reduce the kick when mixing.

That's your starting point. Experiment! If the snare is too quiet or you want to add a load of reverb to it or something, you could add your fourth mic into the mixer, on the snare. But a separate snare mic may be superfluous, and is likely to need a fair bit of EQ too. Try it without, first.

Source: years of (amateurish) recording of drums without many microphones/tracks/inputs!
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:52 am

delgadoboy wrote:I have this Yamaha mixer. And I have this cheap little audio interface.

I know I'll probably have to end up buying something extra but I would just like to real drums recorded as inexpensive as possible-ish...

OK, so you'll have to balance the drums in the mixer (just as you would on a live gig) and record the stereo mix.

But what about the other instruments? In particular, bass and drums work musically so closely together that it seems foolish to record them separately?
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby delgadoboy » Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:04 pm

Ok cool. So I can do what I need with what I have. Thanks!

But what if somewhere down the road I want to be able to record live performances with each instrument going to the computer on it's own separate track? That way I can edit each individual instrument on the computer. What would I need?
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:10 pm

delgadoboy wrote:Ok cool. So I can do what I need with what I have. Thanks!

But what if somewhere down the road I want to be able to record live performances with each instrument going to the computer on it's own separate track? That way I can edit each individual instrument on the computer. What would I need?

The Elf told you in the first reply in this thread. An audio interface with sufficient mic inputs.
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby delgadoboy » Thu Jun 26, 2014 12:58 am

Exalted Wombat wrote:
delgadoboy wrote:Ok cool. So I can do what I need with what I have. Thanks!

But what if somewhere down the road I want to be able to record live performances with each instrument going to the computer on it's own separate track? That way I can edit each individual instrument on the computer. What would I need?


The Elf told you in the first reply in this thread. An audio interface with sufficient mic inputs.


Alright. I guess there's nothing stopping me from using two small audio interfaces? Use the one I have now and buy a small one to have all the inputs I want?

Also I found this mixer and it says it's USB compatible. Does that mean it acts as an audio interface with each channel being a separate track once it goes onto the computer? Or does it just send one big stereo mix to the computer?
Yamaha MG166CUSB 16 Input 6 Bus USB Rack Mountable Mixer
Mixer
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby MarkOne » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:43 am

Using multiple interfaces rarely works well. Some manufacturers drivers allow this and in apple land you can create an Agrigate device in OSX but generally in PC land ASIO drivers see only one device.

Not all USB mixers send discrete channels to the computer. Some just send a stereo mix. You'd need to check the specs. And as I said earlier if you spend the equivilant money on a dedicated multichannel interface you are likely to be getting much better preamps, etc.
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:46 am

Just to clarify, for the Alesis kit:

- there are two versions of the 2.0, one with 4 XLR channels, one with 8. Obviously you need the one with 8. The "Multimix 8" has 4 XLR channels and 4 stereo with RCA inputs; the "Multimix 16", has 8+8. So you want the Multimix 16.
- it *looks* (and acts) like a mixer, but it is a USB interface, with reasonably good preamps. The plus is that if you want you can also use it as a mixer for a live gig.
- many "mixers with USB output" will bring to USB only the two channel stereo mix, which is not much use if you want to record for mixing afterwards. The Multimix outputs *all* the 16 tracks individually, which is why it's suitable to record drums or individual mic-ed instruments.

When I looked for this stuff, about a year ago, the Multimix was the only one I found which sent individual tracks to USB - for a very reasonable price. Now there's quite a few actual mixers who do that, but far from all.

The additional benefit for me is that, if we gig the occasional place where the mix doesn't cut it, I can bring it with me and use also as a live mixer. Did that once recently where the venue's mixer, a good Midas, didn't have built-in effects, so I just used the multimix to get my vocals a little reverb.

But the main thing about the Alesis is that it's inexpensive, sounds good, and as an interface brings the individual tracks to the USB, which allows me to record multimic-ed drums easily.
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby Urthlupe » Thu Jun 26, 2014 12:41 pm

Hi Delgado

Your mixer only offers two audio streams to the computer - stereo if you will. From what I can see it is the output of the main stereo bus from the mixer which will appear in your software. The desk is therefore acting as a two-channel audio interface derived from the mixer two-bus.

A quick look at the Tascam site tells me that your audio interface supplies four audio streams to the computer (and so into your software).

You therefore already have two audio interfaces. Unfortunately, as described above, in Windows you will not be able to run more than one at once. If you're on Mac then you might consider creating an agregate device, but this is a problematic route.

If you are happy to commit to a mix on the Yamaha and subsequently record your drums as a single stereo output to your software then you are good to go. If you wish to mic the kit with more than two mics and then record them to seperate channels in a software DAW like Cubase, Sonar, Logic or PT et al then you need to consider (as Elf outlines above) an audio interface with sufficient mic inputs for your needs. Like this for instance
http://uk.focusrite.com/firewire-audio-interfaces/saffire-pr... . If you use a device of this nature then all recording and monitoring tasks can be performed onboard, making your mixer redundant. You could however attach your mixer to it if you wish and use it for a number of functions, but each of these would simply be replicating what the audio interface is already capable of and for no real gain (given the quality of your mixer).

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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby delgadoboy » Sun Jun 29, 2014 2:06 am

Ok thanks guys. I think I have all my questions answered except one.

So obviously it's better to get an audio interface to record drums that way I can individual tweak each track on the computer. Since I'm also interested in recording the whole band including guitars and vocals, I've got a question.

If we plug all of our instruments into the audio interface, how are we going to be able to hear ourselves/let the audience hear us? Is there an audio out on the interface or maybe multiple audio outs that go into the mixer where I can mix our instruments for the live sound?
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby The Elf » Sun Jun 29, 2014 6:00 am

delgadoboy wrote:If we plug all of our instruments into the audio interface, how are we going to be able to hear ourselves/let the audience hear us? Is there an audio out on the interface or maybe multiple audio outs that go into the mixer where I can mix our instruments for the live sound?

I really wouldn't recommend trying to do this live as yet. It's hard enough for an experienced engineer, but trying to do this when you are struggling to get a basic understanding is a recipe for disaster, especially if you are one of the band too.

But to answer the question... most multi-input audio interfaces will include some sort of mixer software where you can set up in/out/monitor routing. RME's TotalMix is a good (actually very good) example of the way to do it. Don't forget that you are going to need amps for every output you want to use. A multi-in/out headphone amp like a Samson S-Phone will be a good investment.
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby BigAl » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:30 am

Don't get too hung up about mic-ing all drums. Try more simpler methods first.

Some of my most successful drum recordings have been very basic, but you need a couple of things like a good drummer and a well tuned kit. It helps no ends.

I did a really nice recording with a decent kick mic on the bass drum and a LDC just above the drummer's head (slightly past his head). Great recording.
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby BigAl » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:32 am

Also meant to add...

Watch out if you are using a few mics, particularly the stereo image.

I tend to stick with drums in mono quite a lot these days as it makes things sound a bit more cohesive and punchy. Spread them too wide and you lose that.
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby stewartjames008 » Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:03 pm

Drums can be difficult to master. Well placed mic or two to capture a perfectly usable drum recording.
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby permanent_daylight » Sun Jul 13, 2014 1:33 am

It is possible to use any number of mics. Search the articles and there are various techniques from a single mic (well two would be realistic unless its jazz, either for stereo or for kick) up to every single drum plus ambient mics and one on each lower baffle.. stereo overheads+kick+snare i always thought as the basic setup. Try with techniques you've got, whether that's using a mixer to mix properly during tracking only or only a couple of mics, then think about expanding perhaps to fill the holes in your recording. Or maybe the drum sound you want before doing all this, whether thats jazz or completely separated, compressed and unnatural(in a good way).
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Re: What equipment needed to record drums?

Postby geefunk » Sun Jul 13, 2014 8:03 am

Technology has undoubtedly revolutionised the recording process, but sometimes not always for the better when it comes to those starting out.

I feel for you Delgadoboy - my first experience of recording drums was to hang a mic from the ceiling of the garage we rehearsed in, and hit record on a 4 track. It sounded exactly how we wanted it to.
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