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Here's what I have . . . please some guidance on recording my son's drums?

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Here's what I have . . . please some guidance on recording my son's drums?

Postby noblestone » Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:22 pm

I'm a home studio hobbyist with mild and, likely, unwarranted pretensions. My son is really a pretty good drummer, has a band with a bunch of older kids, and-most importantly-absolutely loves it. He's 8 years-old, but way more accomplished than the drummer I had through high school and even some of the guys I played with in college and after. The little guy just can't get enough of Steely Dan and Rush, which is kind of an oddity for his age. I took him to see Rush a few months ago, and he was kind of dozing off in his chair during the break between the second set and the encore, but when the first synth in 2112 Overture hit, he almost jumped into the next row with excitement.

Sorry for that. Paternal pride.

Here's the deal: I will list the mics I have available. Any guidance as to how I could use them would be greatly appreciated. I have plenty of pres and plenty of I/O via an Aurora Lynx 16 to a Pro Tools system with a C24 controller.

The room is pretty big, has a 14 foot ceiling, and a hard wood floor. The acoustics are great for acoustic instruments (guitar, banjo, dobro, mandolin) and for electric guitars/basses, but it is a fairly live environment.

He has a newer Yamaha Stage Custom kit, birch, with the standard two rack tom, one floor tom, two crash, one ride, and an additional splash. Obviously, snare and hat.

I have:

2 Shure KSM 32's
1 Shure KSM 27
2 Shure SM 57's
1 Neumann TLM 103
1 Neumann U87 Ai
and
a matched pair of AKG C414 XL II's
I also have one of the new Zoom H6's with the supplied M/S and 90/120 paired mics.

Yes, this is for an 8 year-old, but I don't see any reason why I can't make it into a learning process for me. Any job worth doing . . . .

Sadly, I use Superior Drummer for everything that I do, so I'm coming at this with a broad and humbling ignorance.

As an aside, on Monday, I'm starting a six-month program at Blackbird Studio, here in Nashville, to focus on studio engineering. How exciting is that?

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Re: Here's what I have . . . please some guidance on recording my son's drums?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:48 am

Capture his drum sound - and then take care not to let it escape :-)

Seriously - what's this FOR? What combo is he playing with - there's not much call for recording solo drum kits! (I assume you're not expecting a kids band to track separately?)

Are you looking for an analytical close-miced recording with maximum separation, or for the sound of the kit in that room?
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Re: Here's what I have . . . please some guidance on recording my son's drums?

Postby Beat Poet » Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:10 pm

Try and get his hat up and away from the snare, to reduce bleed into the snare mic. The same thing with the crashes and ride, try and keep them away from the toms.
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Re: Here's what I have . . . please some guidance on recording my son's drums?

Postby noblestone » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:43 pm

Re: Separate tracking, he's actually used to playing with a click. As well, this is as much for me as it is for him. As an exercise, I'd like to see what I can do with the stuff I have available.

Re: Separation and vibe, I'd like to get some separation, but I'm not at all opposed to bleed; in fact, I'm very much for it. I'd like to get the sound of the drums in this room. I've gotten kind of attached to the sound of a real instrument playing in a real room.

Getting the hats away from the snare is tough, just because of his size.

I'm really interested in what mics might work in what spots. Most of these are fairly general, all purpose type mics. I mean, which would you use on the kick? And where would you place it to start? I'm a total drums novice.


As an aside, I just had my first, sort of preliminary, classroom time at Blackbird. Talk about access. They tell me I'll have the ability to request any mic, of which there are thousands, and any other kit I want, assuming it's not being used elsewhere. I am fibrillating, somewhat.
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Re: Here's what I have . . . please some guidance on recording my son's drums?

Postby Dave Rowles » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:24 pm

I'd suggest reading the following:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb03/a ... miking.asp

and

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul99/a ... gdrums.htm

Then come back to us with any specific questions!

Just looking at your mic list, I'd probably go.

KSM32 & KSM27 - toms
SM57 - snare top and bottom
TLM103 - kick
C414s - overheads
U87 - room mic

Be very careful to take time tuning the kit before hand.
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Re: Here's what I have . . . please some guidance on recording my son's drums?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:52 pm

noblestone wrote:Re: Separate tracking, he's actually used to playing with a click. As well, this is as much for me as it is for him.

What he should REALLY be getting used to is keeping good time, and interacting dynamically with the rest of the band. Otherwise, why not just program a drum machine?
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Re: Here's what I have . . . please some guidance on recording my son's drums?

Postby Dave Rowles » Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:42 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:
What he should REALLY be getting used to is keeping good time, and interacting dynamically with the rest of the band. Otherwise, why not just program a drum machine?


A huge amount of paid work as a drummer requires you to be able to play to a click. Think musicals, depping, studio work, live work where you need to sync to video playback. Being able to play to a click accurately is an essential part of any drummers development if they ever hope to make a living out of it.

Of course you should learn to play dynamically with a band, but part of a drummer's job should be keeping the band in time. So having a solid grounding in what solid time is, is invaluable.

A lot of the paid work I do as a sound engineer has some element where the band are playing to a click. I hardly think this is a bad thing that he can keep time with a click at an early age.
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Re: Here's what I have . . . please some guidance on recording my son's drums?

Postby turbodave » Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:39 am

Jeez! Can we answer the question? If you are determined to learn from your experience then learn by experience....experiment!! There are better mics for each job, but given we don't know much about your recording environment, just try a few variations and you should start to get a feel for what works....and I hope your son retains his enthusiasm into adulthood! Dave ps. post your recordings here!!
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Re: Here's what I have . . . please some guidance on recording my son's drums?

Postby Guy Johnson » Sun Sep 29, 2013 9:21 am

Hypercardioid and fig 8s can be good for snare/hat separation.

Experiment with overheads ... distance above, separation, pickup patterns, and whether they are mixed with a high pass filter.

and have lots of fun, guys!
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Re: Here's what I have . . . please some guidance on recording my son's drums?

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Sep 29, 2013 3:38 pm

WOW you're doing a course at Blackbird! That is AWESOME. I'm seriously jealous.

It sounds like you have a pretty amazing recording space...a high ceiling and wood floors. It sounds like it has amazing potential, AND you have a drummer on tap to help you experiment!

You've got some great mics there, and it's really a question of what sort of sound you're after, how much ambience you want, and how hard your son hits the drums.

There are all sorts of things you could do. It really does depend whether you want a really minimal setup or something with loads of options and control. The less is more approach is popular at the moment and since you're just starting to experiment I'd maybe look at that to start with. Try one mic over the kit, one on the kick and one back in the room. Lets say...414 over the kit, and on the kick, and the 87 in the room....See what you think of it. Try putting the 87 on the kick and one of the KSM's up as the overhead...It's a question of finding which of your mics flatters your kit and your room. You can then add a 57 close on the snare and experiment with the phase relationship between that and the overhead. The close mic will have a fairly obvious position, but the height of the overhead will greatly affect the bottom end response of the snare when combined together. Obviously you can go for a stereo pair on the overheads or in the room, or both. Many of those mics work well on toms too, but I'd focus my energy on the rooms, overheads and kick just to start with. If those are really right then you're on your way to getting a great sound. Try the 414's in omni as room mics, but really quite close to the kit, and then just add a close kick and snare.

The hole in your setup is really a close kick drum mic. There are many options. When you go to blackbird try a D25 or original D12. They're great mics for kick, but there are lots of affordable options.

The tuning of the kit is absolutely crucial to a good recorded sound. The heads and the tuning. We can talk a bit more about that, but in general a good, simple starting point would be a 2 ply on the tops of the toms, like an emperor, and a single ply on the resonant sides, like an ambassador. You need to get them evenly tensioned on all lugs and working well between the two heads. Thats a whole other essay of course. Snare...coated ambassador top. Get those drums sounding right...no wads of tissue paper and gaffer tape etc until the drum sounds good...then you can damp it if it's a little ringy. But don't damp it because it's ugly sounding. If you don't have the kit singing, then you'll find it very hard to judge if your mic positions are nice or not.

Leave loads of headroom...no need for anything to peak above -10dB.

The intensity and accuracy with which your son hits his drums and cymbals, and drums vs cymbals is really important. Teach him to self balance. No time like the present. It's GREAT that he can play on the click at this age. Encourage it but don't insist upon it always.

Have great fun with all this. It's a cool thing to do, especially with your son.

J
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