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Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

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Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby metomyoujane » Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:22 am

Hi all,

So I want to record my 4 piece drum kit, (kick, snare, rack tom x1, floor tom x1) as well as of course hats, ride, and 2x crashes.

I have 1x sm57 which I will use for snare. My problem is I am on a budget and am trying to select between 2x options. I have narrowed it down to wanting to buy Audio Technica mics, so not really interested in other mic suggestions, but just wanting opinions on which of the following setups to choose.

OPTION 1: This is a 4 mic setup...
2x AT2020, overheads ($240)
1x ATM250, kick drum ($219)
1x sm57, snare ($0 already have it)

total cost $460

OPTION 2: Single AT2035 to capture kit, extra mic on snare...
1x AT2035, Set in centre of kit above kick drum to try capturing everything ($220)
1x sm57, snare ($0 already have it)

total cost $220

I guess it really comes down to budget as always, but do you think I could get a decent drum sound with just an AT2035 tucked in above kick and next to rack tom (you know the spot)? And of course the sm57 on the snare?

Cheers all.
Tom
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:25 am

Welcome! :thumbup:

You'll find that you'll get numerous answers to this... none of which will be wrong!

As far as the kick is concerned then it depends on what sort of kick-sound you want. The AT you mention is perfectly respectable, but for different 'flavors' there are contenders from Shure, AKG, Audix, Sennheiser and others.

My general-purpose kick is the Sennhesier e602/902.... suits the way I mix and the sort of music I'm usually working with.

As for OHs, I'd favour SDCs, but others will have different views. I'd probably be looking at Rode NT5s - not least for their versatility for other uses. But the AT2020s have a lot of fans - me included. I've used them a lot in the past, but no longer have any.

Now stand-by for all the other 'What You Really Need' posts - most of which, as I say, will not be wrong! :-)
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby The Elf » Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:38 am

As Mike has said, there are as many options as there are engineers, but why have you fixed on AT mic's as a starting point?

I ask this because you have instantly killed off many options that would be well worth considering.
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby metomyoujane » Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:35 am

Hi guys,

Thanks for your responses. The reason that I have narrowed things down to the Audio Technica mics is purely based on budget. AT seem to be one of the 'go to' brands for decent quality audio on a budget. I know there are a massive range of mics from all sorts of manufacturers out there.

However, in the end I am just going to be recording myself play 3 piece style rock songs in the vein of 90's bands like Dinosaur Jr, Swervedriver etc. I am not investing with a view to record other people in a commercial studio environment or anything like that. I will be recording riffs, playing beats and trying to build up song demos for personal satisfaction.

I will look into some of the mics you suggested though, thanks Mike!

What kind of 'flavor' would you say the ATM250 is as a kick drum mic? Would it suit indie rock type drum sounds?

Cheers
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:10 am

I understand why you are focused on buying AT mics, but like others here it seems to me you are putting the cart before the horse -- and in more ways than one.

I sense that you have an interest in achieving the best quality you can for a limited budget, and if that's the case I think you would be better served by a more thoughtful approach than simply, 'what can I get for this wad of cash?'

Its not that hard to get a fantastic drum sound with just three or four mics in a great sounding room where you can rely on the overheads to do a lot of the work. But recording drums in a small room is a really big challenge, and has to be approached slightly differently.

In most cases you have to exclude as much room sound as you can -- which means aggressively treating the room acoustics (albeit in a temporary way), using individual close mics on everything --including the individual toms -- and adopting a different approach to 'overheads' which have to be a lot closer. You can then add a desirable room character back with artificial reverb... And that way with a bit of effort and fine tuning you will get a very usable drum track.

As it happens, I spent yesterday making a video with Paul White specifically about recording drums in a small room. It will be online here in a couple of weeks.

For that video we, again, just happened to use a bunch of AT mics on the drums, including the ATM250 on the kick and a couple of inexpensive ATM230 clip-ons on the floor- and hi-Tom (both for consistent positioning and to minimise stand clutter).

The snare mic was an old Electrovoice N46 (I think) dynamic that Paul likes because it is small and easy to position (but there's nothing wrong with the SM57 in that role), and we used a couple of Aston Starlight small diaphragm cardioid capacitor mics as overheads set quite low and positioned to achieve a fair balance of everything with minimal room pick-up (which had already been curtailed with lots of absorbers around and above the kit). We also took care to make sure both overheads were the same distance from the snare to lock it in the middle of the stereo image and avoid mono compatibility phase issues.

The kick drum mic required a fair bit of EQ (the usual M shape, boosting at 80Hz and 4kHz, dipping at 500Hz) to find the required character, and the Tom mics needed some corrective EQ dipping to tame their fundamental resonances which are emphasised by the close miking -- but they delivered a very usable sound for little expense, really.

Anyway, you can hear and judge for yourself in a couple of weeks... In the meantime, I'd urge caution against a minimalist miking approach if working in an acoustically challenging space and would advise consideration of clip-ons for the individual toms.

H
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby metomyoujane » Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:34 am

Hi Hugh,

Thanks for the tips. I'll look out for your video. What should I search on youtube to find it in a few weeks when it's edited?

As it happens I am recording in a very small drum room! It even has a low ceiling so it will definitely be challenged trying to deaden the room and cut down on those super fast reflections! That's the route I'll be going for sure. I have some sound panels up on the walls already, but will probably need to invest in some extra's!

I also currently only have a small 4 channel desk, so I am restricted to kick, snare, and overheads for now. To make matters even more challenging the desk is just a plain old analogue one that I'll be using the basic RCA outs from , and into a usb soundcard, then into computer as 1 track, so I'll have to try and mix the drums on the desk!

Gota start somewhere!

Maybe I'll just get a senheisser e602 for kick, and a pair of Rode M5's for overheads....

Can't seem to find much about Rode M5's though.... Maybe they are too cheap and nasty to bother with... Even for me!

Cheers


might need to start out with
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:46 am

metomyoujane wrote:I'll look out for your video. What should I search on youtube to find it in a few weeks when it's edited?

Our latest videos are always highlighted in the side-bar on the right hand side on all of the SOS site's pages.

As it happens I am recording in a very small drum room!

;-) Most of us have to...

I also currently only have a small 4 channel desk, so I am restricted to kick, snare, and overheads for now. To make matters even more challenging the desk is just a plain old analogue one that I'll be using the basic RCA outs from , and into a usb soundcard, then into computer as 1 track, so I'll have to try and mix the drums on the desk!

I appreciate the problem... But rather than prolong the cycle of inadequacy, why not sell the desk and interface and invest in a better USB interface with more channels so that you can process the individual mics much more easily and effectively? Anything else will just be a disappointing and frustrating compromise.

H
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:45 pm

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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby The Elf » Sat Jul 08, 2017 7:46 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
I also currently only have a small 4 channel desk, so I am restricted to kick, snare, and overheads for now. To make matters even more challenging the desk is just a plain old analogue one that I'll be using the basic RCA outs from , and into a usb soundcard, then into computer as 1 track, so I'll have to try and mix the drums on the desk!
I appreciate the problem... But rather than prolong the cycle of inadequacy, why not sell the desk and interface and invest in a better USB interface with more channels so that you can process the individual mics much more easily and effectively? Anything else will just be a disappointing and frustrating compromise.
+1! In fact +99!

The effort and expense you are going to will be compromised greatly by the mixer. A four (mic) input minimum USB audio interface is where I would be looking to start, with three or four 'OK' mic's in tow and see how you go from there.

I'll echo Mike's suggestion of the NT5s for overheads. They are great mic's in that role - you will probably need to buy a couple of cheap in-line attenuators (-20dB would do) for them, but they would be a great start. Beyond that I'd look at SM57s for kick and snare for starters and work up from there. Those four mic's will almost certainly stay with you, no matter what you choose later.

But if you aren't going to separate them at recording then it's pretty much all going to be for nothing.
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby Dave B » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:56 pm

I'd like to throw something into the mix here - I'm sure wiser minds will have something to say about this, but I'll fling it out there anyway :

If I were you, I'd look to spend your money on the best overheads that you can, and then use pretty much anything that you can get hold of for the kick, snare and toms. I'd also make sure that I have an interface which can take all of the channels.

Why?

For 2 reasons :

1. probably about 80-90% of your drum sound can come off the overheads anyway. As mentioned above, spend time getting a good balance from those and you are home and briskly towelling yourself off. Any other mics are really just enforcement for that main pair - so get those right.

2. but why not bother too much about the others? Simple. You are talking about recording into a computer / DAW. As long as your main pair sound ok, you can simply treat the drum close mics as a source for triggering drum samples. The odds are, those samples will be better recorded than you can manage and you can simply pick and choose until you get everything sounding consistent. At which point, those original channels are basically disposable - you can mute / disable / bin them (keeping a copy somewhere lol). As long as the close mics are cleanly recorded, don't overload, are positioned as well as possible to reduce unwanted spill, etc they are fine and you don't worry about the tone.

I know that Logic has great inbuilt triggering capabilities and drum hit libraries. IIRC, most others do also and if not, there are cheap / free solutions that should do a reasonable job without breaking the bank.

Once you have worked on a few recordings this way, you should start to get an ear for how you want your drums to sound - so you can then invest in good mics to capture the close mics on drums.

Just a thought.
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby metomyoujane » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:37 am

Thanks for all these responses. All valid points! I will just have to upgrade stuff as I go so gota start somewhere. I don't really mind if it's drums on 1 channel to start out with. Obviously as was said by The Elf, this is going to make a massive difference to end result in editing capabilities.

Dave B, I had never heard of triggering samples from individual mic tracks before!!!! That idea sounds amazing!

It is really the feeling of playing drums physically, and the intonation and feel that comes across directly in the recording that makes live drums so much more appealing to play and record. Especially when comparing to just doing something with MIDI to trigger drum samples. (if that makes sense)

So I have 1x Shure SM58, 1x Maruni (old Japanese thing), and one old Audio Technica vocal mic.

My latest thoughts were of getting some RodeM5 pencil condensers for overheads, and a Senheisser e602 for kick. Both from Store DJ for a total of $345. Then I would just use SM58 on the snare, and that would do as a start...All into a shitty 1 channel. I was just going to try to EQ it on the desk as best I could.

Maybe I should try buying a 4 channel USB interface instead and the Rode NT5's. It's just the money though. Those NT5's are expensive and $465, but I'm sure it's for good reason. And a Focusrite 18i8 would be awesome too!!!! (at $509) ...I'll have to wait for christmas!!!

Wish my birthday was in Middle of the year!

Cheers
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby ore_terra » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:43 am

Maybe I should try buying a 4 channel USB interface instead and the Rode NT5's

I'd do that. M5's are not bad, and you definitively need an interface!
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby Dave B » Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:39 pm

metomyoujane wrote:Dave B, I had never heard of triggering samples from individual mic tracks before!!!! That idea sounds amazing!

LOL - that actually started in the old days of analogue tape. I think the AMS delay in the early 80s was the first box to be used for that. Nowadays, it's basically free with most DAWs - it's a relatively simple thing to implement as long as the recording is clean. And you have the choice of either using the samples to 100% replace, or just to 'beef up' the hits. It's a very useful technique!

:D
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby metomyoujane » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:37 pm

Hi again guys.

Well I found a 4 channel interface used for $175 so I have purchased that.

Will pick it up Wednesday this week, so that's a start!

It's an M BOX Fast Track c600 by AVID. That should do the trick for me! 4 inputs with phantom power, low latency etc. I plan on using Reaper as DAW which works fine with M BOX I think.

So now it's back onto Mics....

Because I am poor (as a single income earner in family of 4), I can't justify spending much on this hobby. I just want to write songs and record basic demos of them. So I keep coming back to articles of people using AT2020's and AT2035's as overheads.

I know I could do better, like NT5's or something, but saving for better mics just isn't going to happen and I want to start recording some stuff soon, rather than at Christmas.

So I'm back to thinking I think I'm better off just buying new drum heads, and either 1x AT2035 or 2x AT2020's.

If you were in my position (and budget) would you go for 2x AT2020's to get a stereo image, or start with a single AT2035 (which has better frequency response in the low end and less pronounced high end)....

If I got 2x AT2020's couldn't I just spend some time to EQ them to take out some high frequencies and add in a bit extra in the lows?

I can basically get 2x 2020's for similar price as 1x 2035.

Thanks again.
Tom
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Re: Help me choose mic(s) for recording drums

Postby Dave B » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:55 pm

Very cheap solution : get a couple of mics (2020s if that's your bag) then nip down to Radio Shack / Maplins / (electronics supplier) and get a couple of piezo transducers. Solder the ends of the transducer cables to some longer leads. Gaffer / duct tape them to the kick and the snare - hey presto, instant drum triggers. Plug into interface and adjust gain accordingly.

If you google 'piezo drum triggers' you should find some helpful sites on doing the above.

(EDIT) or have a quick skim of : http://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/making-your-own-drum-triggers
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