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Mics for live band

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Mics for live band

Postby TommyHoward » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:40 pm

I am new to this forum and new to recording. I have a band I'm going to record and I dont know much about which mics are best for which instruments. There is a lead guitar, backing guitar, bass guitar, drums, vocals and keyboard. I'm thinking of doing two mics for the drums, one overhead and one kick. Any suggestions on what types of mics work best for the different instruments?
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:22 pm

I use just two mics for drums (and I play in a similar band to yours). My chosen setup is to use a dynamic kick mic (in my case an AT Pro25 though I have a couple of others including an MXL Cube capacitor mic) and a small diaphragm capacitor for overhead (AKG SE5 or C451/CK1). I use my other MXR Cube on my guitar speaker but the standard is an SM57. When I have another guitarist with us he plays acoustic so I use a DI (Orchid micro DI) for acoustic guitar. Bass is always DI (another Orchid, either Classic or Micro) and if we have a keys player another Micro DI.

Guide vocals are with whatever the singer prefers (either Beta 58 or, my preference SE-H1) as they will probably be replaced later.

Do you plan to record 'live'? In a studio environment or at a gig?.

I do mostly live PA (though I'm now, mostly, retired) and the band you are recording will require 6 recording channels plus vocals (how many?) if you want to be able to mix later though you might be able to premix the drums and/or backing vocals..... A live mix can work but, on a gig the backline usually adds it's own contribution to the FOH sound and, thus, records lower than the vocals. How do you plan to record?
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby Dave B » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:19 pm

There are a lot of opinions on this one, so let's stay with some simple, bog standard choices :

1. Kick drum - typically, this would be an AKG D112 which is a dynamic mic which is geared towards bass frequencies.
2. Snare drum - Shure SM57.
3. Overheards - small condenser mics - there are so many to choose from. Rode NT5s are a popular choice and not too expensive, plus can be used for many other tasks.
4. Bass - DI. If the bass amp doesn't aleady have a DI output (most do these days), then an active DI box is a good idea. Standard is a BSS133 which is a cracking good DI. Orchid electronic do excellent - and surprisingly cheap - DI boxes as well.
5. Guitars - SM57 is an old standard for this as well. Also, the Sennheiser e609 is basically designed for guitar cabs and a favourite of mine
6. Keys - passive stereo DI box so that you have a nice, simple isolated signal feeding through to the desk. I use a Palmer stereo DI and it's been rock solid for years now. And quite cheap.
7. Vocals - standard is a Shure SM58 but there are so many different mics and each has different pros/cons. Usually you try and find a mic which works best for the voice.

These are all standards for live PA / recording. If you were to go into a studio, I'd be looking at different mics altogether.
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby Wonks » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:42 pm

Unless you are going to go and spend £1k+ on mics for a single recording, you may be better telling us what mics you have or have access to and we can tell you where they are best used. Dave B's suggestions are all good for a live set-up, (especially the DI bit ) but don't help you if you haven't got those mics.

Yes, you'd pick some different mics for studio recording, especially for the vocals, but if you are very new, then even having access to a cupboard full of vintage Neumanns wouldn't do you much use until you learn how to use them

How many channels can you record at once, or are you doing a straight to stereo type mix?

Your most precious commodity is time. Time to set up the kit in the best way that stops too much bleed from one mic to another. Time to position the microphones in positions that get a good representation of the instruments but minimise bleed from one to another. Time to get the band to balance their volume levels. Time to get a good sound from the guitars and to get the drums tuned and any excess ringing deadened (garbage in, garbage out). Time to run through tracks a few times first and get relaxed.

If everything is at the same level, then obvious bleed is minimised. Get one guitar playing a lot louder than anything else and you'll hear that in all the other mic tracks. You can boost solo levels when mixing (if there are solos), so any extra drive shouldn't boost the volume level much, if at all (unless you are recording all the instruments separately) . Don't forget to set your gains with the loudest part of the track in mind. Use 24 bit depth and keep plenty of overhead (say peaking at -12dBFS). You don't want to miss a moment of magic because it all got too loud and you just got nasty digital clipping.

Don't expect wonders for your first recordings. Listen back to the tracks
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby blinddrew » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:46 pm

As well as Sam and Dave's questions, it would probably help if you let us know if you're looking at hiring the mics, buying them, or if you have access to a few already - and if so what.
Also what are you recording into? How many channels do you have?
And whilst we're at it, what's the room you'll be recording in like?

Edit - Wonks has beaten me to a lot of it.
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:03 am

This was recorded in a small pub (in 2004). The band were/are mates of mine and the line up was vox, 2 x guitars (electric and acoustic with a humbucker, both through guitar amps and miked) and drums (miked with kick and overhead) and no bass. I can't remember what all the mics were but there will have been an AT Pro25 and AKG C451/CK1 on the drums for sure and probably assorted dynamics on guitars and vocals. I love the band and songs and am pleased with the (warts and all) result. To me it really captures the live performance which is what it's all about.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/mkev44rbnvg03gy/06%20Nice%20As%20Pie.m4a?dl=0
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby ef37a » Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:57 am

Hi Sam, totally numpty question here!
That file fetched up as M4A and even the mighty Samplitude Pro x 3 would not open it. Neither will AA1.5 nor Audacity.

Finally got to hear it with Reaper but I never use that and cannot FTLOM work out how to Export it or convert it to .wav or MP3?

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Re: Mics for live band

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:50 am

Ah, sorry, it was late and I simply copied the file from my iTunes library into dropbox. I didn't even look at the format (most of my library is higher rate .mp3s, m4a is iTunes native format). iTunes can convert though I usually use that if i imported the CD as .wavs and need to email a copy.......
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby ef37a » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:51 am

'Sok Sam, this lazy article has worked out how to RENDER M4a to .wav!

Bit of a faff in Reaper? The process in Sam' is much simpler (or I am very familiar?) "File>Export>select type(mp3,.wav...)> where to send it and 'my' Sams default to desktop, job's a good'un.

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Re: Mics for live band

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:51 am

:thumbup:

Incidentally, Reaper needs a download of an mp3 encoder (LAME) before you can render to .mp3 but most of the others are built in.
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby ReedySteadyGo » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:20 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:...and drums (miked with kick and overhead) and no bass. I can't remember what all the mics were but there will have been an AT Pro25 and AKG C451/CK1 on the drums for sure ....

https://www.dropbox.com/s/mkev44rbnvg03gy/06%20Nice%20As%20Pie.m4a?dl=0

Was it really a single overhead on those drums? I'm impressed how well the snare, cymbals and toms all get picked up.
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby ef37a » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:50 pm

Sam Spoons wrote::thumbup:

Incidentally, Reaper needs a download of an mp3 encoder (LAME) before you can render to .mp3 but most of the others are built in.

Does it? I know Audacity does and I could not get it to work years ago. Fortunately the totally free Samplitude Pro X Silver does almost all file conversion types off the bat.

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Re: Mics for live band

Postby James Perrett » Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:23 pm

ReedySteadyGo wrote:Was it really a single overhead on those drums? I'm impressed how well the snare, cymbals and toms all get picked up.

A good drummer with a decent kit will sound great with just a single overhead. Problem is that these days most drummers (including me) tune their kit for close miking so the balance isn't so good with just a single overhead.
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby James Perrett » Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:30 pm

ef37a wrote:Finally got to hear it with Reaper but I never use that and cannot FTLOM work out how to Export it or convert it to .wav or MP3?

File->Render and then choose the format you want. The render dialogue might look a bit daunting at first but just accept the defaults and it will work well enough.

However, I just clicked on the link and then played it straight from the web browser (Chrome) which was much simpler than messing around with a DAW.
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:37 pm

James Perrett wrote:
ReedySteadyGo wrote:Was it really a single overhead on those drums? I'm impressed how well the snare, cymbals and toms all get picked up.

A good drummer with a decent kit will sound great with just a single overhead. Problem is that these days most drummers (including me) tune their kit for close miking so the balance isn't so good with just a single overhead.

He was definitely a very good drummer and percussionist. The kit was tuned to sound good in the room, miking, in this case, was just for the recording. The kit was, incidentally, an unusual mix of mismatched drums and stuff and included a large red school type fire bell.......
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby ef37a » Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:42 pm

"DAUNTING" ! Yes that's a good word to describe it James!

Ok, I could get it to play in VLC but I wanted to stuff it into my shiny new Pro X!

And I just remembered, I have a recording of a band done yeeeonks ago with a Sony 'Pro' cassette machine . Bit bluesy, one track is Buddy Can you Spare a Dime but I can't find the bloody tape! I am also sure I have it on a hard drive somewhere and I have bought a SATA to IED converter to search them. IIRC correctly, has much the same "rough as ......." quality!

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Re: Mics for live band

Postby ReedySteadyGo » Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:57 pm

James Perrett wrote:
A good drummer with a decent kit will sound great with just a single overhead. Problem is that these days most drummers (including me) tune their kit for close miking so the balance isn't so good with just a single overhead.

It's interesting how a reply can go off in a completely different direction from what I was expecting. I thought I might get a reply about a type of microphone, mic position, eq and dynamics, not how good the drummer is or how the drums are tuned. :)
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:12 pm

TBF you did get lots of replies regarding which mics to use and certain amount of advice on where to put them. But tuning of the drums is highly relevant WRT which mics (model and application) you choose so it's not exactly off topic :)

And thanks to the OP for kicking off what has proved a very interesting discussion, as a non-drummer I hadn't considered tuning drums differently to suit close or distant (ish) miking.

Less sure about the 'sub-discussion' regarding compression codec conversion........ But 'forum creep' is a well known phenomenon (and not a reference to an unpopular, sycophantic member).
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:20 pm

So, slightly back on topic, I recall miking a live band a few years ago, slightly jazzy flavoured drum kit and drummer, I was close miking the kit and ended up using my Karma Silver Bullets on the toms as the 'proper' drum mics (Superlux PRK228As) just weren't hacking it. Combined with a slightly more distant position about 6-8" above the head the Silver Bullets sounded great. I think I have a desk recording of that gig somewhere too......

I wonder if that was down to how the drums were tuned?
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Re: Mics for live band

Postby James Perrett » Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:50 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:I wonder if that was down to how the drums were tuned?

Even though I've been playing drums for nearly 40 years I still find tuning to be a bit of a black art. Our band supported the Selecter when John Bradbury (from The Specials) was playing with them. For some reason his snare drum wasn't working so he borrowed mine and re-tuned it for me. It sounded far better than I had ever got it to sound so I refused to touch the tuning for ages afterwards.

The important thing to take away from this for the original poster is that preparing instruments for recording makes a big difference to the end result. The other big factor is to play appropriately and really listen to what you are doing. I've done so many sessions where the one musician will say to another "I've never heard you do that before" only to find that they've been playing it that way for years.

Microphone choice is well down the list of importance - in fact I've just been mixing a track where parts of the vocals were done with an unknown dynamic vocal mic and others with a U87. The U87 parts have more definition but we're keeping the bits done with other mic as the performance has so much feel and spirit.
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