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Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

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Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby Lophophora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:24 pm

Hi,

I am probably going to have to equip a jamming studio with drums recording gear soon. I somewhat trust my ears and theoretical know-how as to mic placement and settings, but am a little dry on what mics to choose.

Because the room isn't a good drum room (low ceiling, relatively small), I am planning on focusing on close miking with only a pair of overheads for stereo width. For space considerations and convenience, I'd like to favor clamps over mic stands as much as possible.

Budget isn't formally set yet, but I'm roughly aiming at mid-range prices. I am starting from scratch so I also have to purchase stands, cables and whatnot.

In addition I have an old Motu 896 AI with 8 mic inputs. I'm going to try to work with that but if things were not to turn good, do you have any recommandation for an AI that is suited to this particular task? Still aiming at mid-range.

Thanks a million!
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:55 pm

Most clamps won't allow you as much flexibility in mic placement unless you have a gooseneck and I prefer the mics a little further from the drums than the clamps I use live allow (for recording that is). My room has a very low ceiling and is very small but I get usable results with a kick mic and single overhead. I will probably experiment with close mics though.

Regarding mics, I have a Superlux drum mic kit that I use live and they are decent budget drum mics, if the money is there I would choose AKG or Audix though.

Your MOTU AI should be fine.
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby The Elf » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:18 pm

Clamps will have mic's moving when a drum is hit, and that's bad news.

This is budget and application dependent. What I'd spec for a 12-tom, two-kick, two snare set for 500 quid is very different to what I'd spec for a one-tom kit for 2 thousand. In other words, you are going to have to narrow it down a bit for us to make sensible suggestions that will get you where you want to be.
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby James Perrett » Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:20 pm

I find short stands with round bases to be really useful on drums - they fit almost anywhere and don't take up too much space. As others have said, many of the clamps don't really place the mics where you want them although MarkPAMan came up with a great method of fixing the mic to the back of a Sennheiser clamp which is better than the standard position.

The budget drum mic sets that I've seen are amazingly good for the price but, once you get up to the middle of the market, I'd prefer to mix and match rather than stick with mics from one manufacturer. Most manufacturers have good and not so good mics in their range eg: with AKG I'd choose the kick drum mic but not the tom mics while with Sennheiser I'd choose their MD604's on toms but they're probably not so hot on snare (though I've often used them on snare). A Shure SM57 or two would be handy to have although they're not as rugged as the Sennheisers if they're hit by an errant stick.

The biggest problem I've found with the preamps on audio interfaces is that they can be too sensitive for drums - I'm not sure whether MOTU suffer from this issue but some products from other manufacturers do.
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby Lophophora » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:30 am

Thanks for the tip on mic placement vs clamps.

Budget wise I was thinking $600-1000 for all mics. I don't know if it's more interesting to use a bundled set (which I expect to be a better deal) or separate purchases (which I expect would allow better OH mics). I'm also willing to look into used items but not sure I'll actually have enough time to find what I need.
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby The Elf » Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:05 am

Only if you are on the tightest of budgets would I even consider those 'all in' drum mic kits - they are invariably mediocre at best.

For your money you should be able to drum up this little lot as one example...
Overheads: Rode NT5/55 matched pair
Kick: Audix D6
Snare Top: Audix i5 (or Beyer M201)
Toms: Shure SM57 x n

That would be my starter kit, from which you can grow. The NT5 will probably require some attenuation, so you may need to get hold of a couple of in-line attenuators: -10/-15dB would do. If you get the NT55s then they have their own pad switch.

Down the line I would add a snare under-mic (which the M201 would be good for), spot mic's for hat/ride, room mic's... dependent on what you feel you are lacking.
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby Dave B » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:30 am

This is a bit of a minefield subject as there is no real wrong answer for it. It all depends on various factors. The most important question is : what is this going to be used for? If it's for full commercial release then if the room and kit isn't good, then the mics and preamp are irrelevant - you'll never get a great sound. Even when you close mic, you are still getting the room in there somewhere and unless that room is dead (and few rehearsal spaces are dead) you'll be limited somewhat in what you can do. My new moto is : work _with_ the sound of the room and not against it...

But let's assume you aren't making your next magnus opus platinum selling album ;)

If you are using a modern DAW to mix, then things do get a little more interesting. I'm a big advocate of getting as good a sound as you can and then using sample triggering to get the sound you are after. This works very well on kick and snare and, with a little gating and editing, ok on toms. I've used cheap clip on tom mics so that I can catch the hit and then trigger later so I wouldn't be too fussy on the tom mics. I've paid more attention to the kick and snare as they are more important. A standard SM57 is fine for the snare. A good kick mic like the D112 or Audix D6 is worth the money as an investment, but I've just got an se1d condenser for kick as it was a cheap impulse buy and it seems ok. I'd heartily agree on Rode NT5s for overheads. Depending on the drummer and tracks, I'd also consider a hi-hat mic. I tend to bring the overheads close (both live and in rehearsal room recordings) and find that the hi-hat is picked up just fine, but I'm lucky enough to play with really good drummers who have excellent control.

My concern with your interface is the number of channels. If you have 3 toms, then you have potentially maxed out the channels - kick, snare, hats, 3 toms and overheads. So nothing else would be recorded at the same time as the drums. Add another tom in and now you've blown the channel count. I'd be thinking of at least recording a couple of scratch tracks so that the drummer would be playing along to real people. Likewise the bass player - even if you DI and re-process / reamp his sound, he can lock into the drummer as they are playing better than in isolation. I've also done drums and guitars at the same time because of the style of music. So you might want to consider picking up another pre / interface. There are loads out there that don't break the bank.

I did the above earlier this year - youtube link below - and I used cheap (but still ok sounding) Red RV4s for close overheads (very close - check out how low the ceiling is above the drummer), 57 on snare, sE1D on kick (which was a solid skin so I had to trigger to get any kind of attack), and cheap clip ons for the toms. It helped that the room kit was a great sounding kit (owner is a drummer and refuses to compromise - which is nice). I'd have preferred less reverb overall, but it did help glue everything together better. I have nicer mics in my collection, but, given the limitations of the space, I didn't think it was worth going the extra mile.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8jXQXUOzkc

HTH
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby Lophophora » Fri Apr 20, 2018 11:19 am

Thank you so much, you've given me food for thought. I'm going to sleep on it and I'll be more confident when it comes to purchasing.
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby resistorman » Fri Apr 20, 2018 11:50 am

Personally, I prefer a stereo mic for overhead. I often use a RØDE NT4 which is in your range. I’ve gotten great results with that, an AKG kick mic, and various mics on snare. Sometimes I add a Royer SF 12 or 121 between the floor tom and kick for body, though there are many cheaper ribbons to choose from these days.
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:55 pm

The best close miked tom sound I've ever managed was using my "Karma Silver Bullets". It was a love gig not studio and a jazz style kit but the cheap dynamic (cardioid) close mics were not cutting it, the even cheaper "Silver bullets" sounded great (and on the stereo desk recording too). Wouldn't have worked for Rock or Metal but for the genre it was perfect.
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby Lophophora » Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:17 am

Well... turns out I hadn't heard the kit when I first wrote my question and now I have. The room isn't as bad as I was expecting but the kit is really average and the cymbals don't sound good. I'm hoping the customers would bring their own cymbals anyway but overall I feel like buying good mics on this kit would be somewhat an overkill. Moreover, the MOTU AI isn't gonna be usable, it's just too old and unreliable through a firewire/USB adapter. I'm gonna have to purchase another AI (I'm actually thinking of using the Roland Octa-Capture I have in my home studio and upgrading it at the same time).

Bottom line: I'm scaling down the budget to 500 USD and here's what I'm considering:
Kick : Superlux Pro 218A
Snare : SM57
OH : Rode M5 matched pair (would have picked NT5s if I could)
Toms : 3-piece kit Samson DK703

There is a number of crappy mics in the room, I'll probably find one to use as a mono room, it'll have to do.

I'm just unsure about one thing: the Glyn John method seems to work nicely too, and is budget-friendly... But I find having individual tom mics very convenient at mix stage. I'm expecting to be recording mostly pop/rock stuff.

Anyway thanks for your help!
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Apr 22, 2018 12:32 pm

No reason not to do both, do the Glyn Johns thing and add tom mics.
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby Lophophora » Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:03 am

I will definitely try that too!
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby Matt Houghton » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:25 am

If the ceiling is really low and you want to get distance from the cymbals, you could try PZM mis on the ceiling above the kit (or omnis with the capsules placed against the ceiling). Or just one as a mono overhead or room mic on the furthest wall from the kit. That cuts out the ceiling reflections... though of course it's not going to make a poor kit sound great.

[url+https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/ambient-miking-room-improvement]This article[/url] might be worth a read too — techniques for ambient miking in smaller spaces.
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Re: Seeking advice on drum kit recording gear

Postby Lophophora » Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:59 pm

Thanks, read the article and listened to the audio files. Very educational indeed!
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