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Drum Mic Help

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Drum Mic Help

Postby scarrold1 » Mon Jul 08, 2019 5:31 pm

Hi there,

New to this, so hopefully I'm in the right place.

I'm looking to buy my first set of drum mics and need a bit of advice please. These will be primarily used for studio recordings and not likely to be used in any live situations. I've also currently got a pair of Rode M5 matched pair which I am going to use for overheads for the time being - I've done a bit of recording with these before and I actually don't mind how they sound for the price.

So my original thought was to get the Audix PD5a pack (D6, D4, D2x2, and i5) but after having a listen about I think I can get more versatile mics for a similar budget - the D6 scooped mids maybe makes it a little bit of a one trick pony?

After doing a bit of research I thought about getting the Beyerdynamic M201 as a snare top - seemed like a bit of a step up from an SM57?
I then found the T-Bone MB75 as a cheap alternative to the SM57 for the snare bottom - from what I've read and heard it does a pretty good job for a third of the price and if I feel like having a "57" on the top I have that option.
In terms of tom mics, I'm not sure what the best option is. I've seen a lot of good things said about the Sen e604s which I'm open to. I was also maybe thinking of getting a Sen e904 for the rack tom and a Sen e902 for the floor tom (my thought being that this can be used for kick as well?). Any thoughts on this? The 421s are a out of my budget but are there any other recommendations people have?
When it comes to the kick as well I'm really not sure what to do here. Should I be looking to get two mics here one for inside and outside or can I get by with one well placed mic and let the overheads do the rest? For my interface I'll either have the choice of two kick mics or hi-hat, which I think I prefer the latter. I like the sound of the AKG D12 VR but I'm not sure if it's false economy spending so much (£300) on a kick mic when my overheads are worth less haha and if I should go for a kick drum mic such as Shure Beta 52A or AKG D 112 MKII which is drastically cheaper?

I know a lot of this comes down to personal preference but any advice or thoughts on the above would be much appreciated.

Thanks all
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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby Ramirez » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:38 pm

What style, what budget, and are you likely to want to record different instruments apart from drums?

I'd keep the M5 as overheads for now.

I very rarely use a bottom snare mic or a hi-hat mic, and its almost always only one mic on the bass drum. It can be style-dependent though, so you might feel that these are crucial. I also often don't use close mics on the toms either.

You mention the Audix D6 - it is perhaps a one-trick pony, but it's a hell of a good trick, and I've liked the D6 even on more 'natural' sounding recordings - when the overheads are contributing a lot/most of the bass drum, the D6 can often supply just the kind of larger than life bloom that's needed.

I also used a D12VR for the first time last week. I didn't spend much time trying out the different settings as time was tight, but I'm very happy with the recordings. Looking forward to using more of this one.

However, these 'specialist' mics are usually only good in one role. Something like the Beyerdynamic M88, on the other hand, is a great kick drum mic (with a windshield), as well as being a great tom mic, a great snare mic, a great vocal mic, a great guitar mic, a great brass mic.... (I could go on, I love it!). So if you're looking for a mic that will forever prove useful on a variety of sources as well as being great around a drum kit, it would be a wise choice I think. Same goes for the Beyerdynamic M201, which is what I usually put on snare top and toms (if I'm close micing them).

Regarding the Sennheiser 604/904. They are good, useful mics, but in a studio situation I'd rather have mics on stands than clipped on the drums themselves (of course you could always put the 604/904 on a stand I suppose)


So... without knowing more about your specific situation, I don't think you'd go wrong with as many Beyer M201 as you have drums, and perhaps an M88 or a specialist mic for the kick drum. That way, along with with your Rode M5 pair, you'd have a fairly decent mic collection suitable for a variety of recording scenarios.



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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:49 pm

From a 'managing the budget' perspective, I'd put the money to one really good snare mic (say an M201) and one really good kick mic rather than trying to get two for each of those roles.
Makes the mixing much easier too. :)
But as Ramirez says, a bit more info about styles/genres would help, as would any info about your likely recording spaces.
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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:35 pm

Ramirez wrote:Regarding the Sennheiser 604/904. They are good, useful mics, but in a studio situation I'd rather have mics on stands than clipped on the drums themselves (of course you could always put the 604/904 on a stand I suppose)

I often use mine on short stands with round bases for drums. I find that the Sennheiser clips don't put the mics in the best position unless you mount the mic on the wrong side of the clip and have it facing around the side of the clip.
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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:44 pm

You’ll get lots of options, so good luck in making a decision!

Personally, I like the e602 on kick, having tried and sold e902, m88 and D6 - I found it got me close for most styles, though maybe for jazz I’d opt for an SM7b. Toms I favour D2s with maybe a D4 on floor tom. I prefer M201 on snare and it’s such a good mic to have in the cupboard for lots of sources.

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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:56 pm

I use K&M clips for drum mics live but for recording even close mics need room to breathe and the clips I have don't do it. I guess a short gooseneck would probably work but I don't record much and it's mostly lowish volume styles so a kick and one or two overheads on the drums works best for me.

FWIW I did use my super cheap "Silver Bullets" omni's for the toms on a jazz kit a couple of years ago as the cardioid dynamics were just not getting there and the desk recording sounded pretty good to me. It was a lady singer/songwriter gig with a superb band and one of the more enjoyable I have done.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UouTxmW8S3E (not my recording I hasten to add......
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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon Jul 08, 2019 10:19 pm

I second the idea of getting something like a Beyer M88 that can be a kick mic when required but also a vocal / snare / guitar cab mic as needed. Something like a D6 is really only useful on kick drums (and maybe floor toms or bass cabs at a pinch).

The M201 is a decent snare mic but has a lot of proximity effect so can sound a bit tubby. It's actually not a bad overhead mic though -- in fact in your position I'd think about using the M3s as tom mics and getting a different pair of overheads instead.

In my experience it doesn't matter much what you use for snare bottom if (like me) you're basically going to gate the crap out of it and just use it to add a bit of crispness on top of the main snare mic.
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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby Ramirez » Mon Jul 08, 2019 10:31 pm

Sam Inglis wrote:in your position I'd think about using the M3s as tom mics and getting a different pair of overheads instead.


The OP mentioned the M5, which don't have pads, but still could be worth trying.

Actually having said all that in my post above, if you're on a budget, the M3 is a great value all rounder that would do a decent job anywhere around a kit... I even stuck one in a kick drum once!

I agree with Sam regarding the bottom snare mic!

I very recently tried a "side of snare"/shell mic for the first time - a Shure Beta 181 figure 8. I'm going to explore it some more I think - very crisp, much brighter than the M201 I had on top, but picked up more useful stuff than I usually get from an under snare. It certainly offered a good option.
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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby shufflebeat » Mon Jul 08, 2019 11:14 pm

You might consider the f-series Audix-s (Audices?) for a "bigger than the Sennheiser" sound. Lots of them show up second hand and they sound (to my cloth ear) pretty good, particularly the f-10 on floor tom and f-9 on hats.
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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby DC-Choppah » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:29 am

Stay away from the F-series Audix mics. These are truly junk. They sound terrible. I have no idea how Audix puts their name on these. I had the whole pack. They are so easy to find on the market because nobody wants them. They sound terrible, and whimpy, and splatty, and have an unflattering cheap sound. The overhead mics that came with that pack were interesting mics though.

I tried lots and lots of drum mics.

The e604's were my favorite on toms, so I use those. These mics give you all the deep sound you could want when mixing. Push up on any low frequency and it will be there. These are like MD421's that way. They pull all the good deep sound out of the drums.

SM57 on the snare sounds right to me. It adds the right snap.

I like an MD 421 for the kick drum. Specialty kick drum mics all sound too much like heavy metal to me. I do contemporary jazz and pop and the MD421 is perfect. I can shape the bass drum sound anyway I want and it maintains the punch and beat of the drum.

I also have M5s for overhead in an XY pattern and they make for a nice mixable sound.

But the most important mic for drums IMHO is the room mic. My Blue Bluebird picks up a nice overall picture of the kit that I find essential for mixing in with the close mics. I don't think this needs to be stereo since it is far enough away that there is no real stereo spread. But I think you want a sensitive large cap mic for this job. For some reason the Bluebird is very well matched to drums.

And then, the 'talk back' mic is good too. This mic also picks up the whole kit, but instead is closer to the kit than the room mic, and has a different tone. You want something complementary to your room mic, so instead of a large cap mic, use an omni dynamic mic. I like this old EV PL9 omni mic since it complements the sound of the Blue mic.

Even a few more room mics would be good that give you different complimentary sounds.
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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:40 am

Correction to previous post: it was the Beyer M99 I had tried on kick, but preferred e602.

Yes, I’ve heard the M88 makes a good kick mic, but I’ve also heard they can be damaged in that role, so I kept mine purely for vocals.

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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby shufflebeat » Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:16 am

DC-Choppah wrote:Stay away from the F-series Audix mics. These are truly junk. They sound terrible. I have no idea how Audix puts their name on these. I had the whole pack. They are so easy to find on the market because nobody wants them. They sound terrible, and whimpy, and splatty, and have an unflattering cheap sound. The overhead mics that came with that pack were interesting mics though.

I tried lots and lots of drum mics.

Oops, not sure what I'm doing wrong but mine sound great. I'll try again.
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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:58 am

It's a good point made by Bob about keeping the kick-mic solely for that task.

I heard many years ago that if it's being used a lot for kick work then it does get 'flabby' due to the large travel the diaphragm is subjected to. This opinion was subsequently endorsed by Hugh in these annals.

FWIW I, too, like the 602 as a kick-mic. Good sound which is not overly hyped and, to me, makes a kick sound like a kick!
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Re: Drum Mic Help

Postby The Elf » Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:23 am

As ever, it's always about what sound you're trying to achieve, and this is often genre dependent...

Overheads: Neumann KM184, Rode NT55, MXL 603, Neumann U87 (mono), AKG C414B-ULS (mono).
The 184s and NT55s both give me a clean, sweet top end for the cymbals. The 603s are very cymbal-hungry, and slightly more edgy, but for some shouty rock/pop styles I find they are perfect. Pretty much always a stereo pair for me, but I'll go mono for some trad styles, and the U87/C414 become 80% of the sound of the kit.

Kick: AKG D112, Audix D6, ADK S7, Shure SM91.
When I need click it's the D6 every time. If not, the D112 is one of those 'just sounds right' mic's. I have used an MD421 for kick, but I just don't get on with it in that role - it has too much middle 'honk' for me. The S7 is a great mic for outside the shell, and often precludes me needing the sub-kick. The SM91 adds the extra 'click' I often need, not only for metal/rock, but to add a bit of support for any style of music - without that click I feel that the kick can get lost, especially on small speakers.

Sub-kick: An old, old speaker...

Snare top: Beyer M201, Shure SM57, Audix i5, Beyer MCE86.
Very much enamoured of the M201, since I finally took the plunge, but the SM57 still sounds OK, and the i5 is my middle ground, having the mids of the SM57, and some of the crisper top end of the 201. The MCE86 is my 'dice throw' shotgun mic - when it works, it works; perfect for a drummer who can't stop hitting a close snare mic, since you can place it above his flailing range. Great as a shell mic too.

Snare bottom: Sennheiser MD441, Electrovoice E635A, MXL 603.
The 441 gets the job done, adding those 'papery' rustles of snares that I can sneak in to brighten the snare. The MD441 is good at supporting a heavy back-beat. The 635 is similar, but sounds a bit more relaxed and less peaky - great for brush, jazz or country.

Hat/Cymbal spots: NT55, MXL 603.
Adding just a smudge of the top end of these mic's can help to push the rhythm. If the hat gets lost in the mush it can affect the whole feel of the song. The same can be said for the ride cymbal, so I'll aim for the stick point and lift it into the mix.

Toms: MD421, SM57, MXL V6, VTL CR-3A, U87.
For the higher toms the MD421 just sounds 'right', and gives me the option to EQ the honky mids out without leaving the toms sounding anaemic. The SM57s are often as good as the 421s on toms. With larger toms I need some of the boom, so I'll go for an LDC. The V6 and CR3A are a good mics for this, and I'll try to avoid having to use my U87 if possible!

Room: MXL V67G, Karma K-Micro 'Silver Bullet', Tandy PZM, U87 (mono).
Not much to say other than I got the V67s cheaply, and I've never looked back. They're great for this role. The Silver Bullets are astonishingly good (wish I'd bought more of them), and will allow me to get in closer to also add a bit of trashiness to the kit without losing the feeling of space. Often I'll just plug one Bullet into the wall box and record it to see what happens - it gets used often enough to make it worthwhile. The Tandy PZMs don't get much use these days, but taped to the wall they can really define the space the drums are being recorded in - an option for a better sounding room.

Hope something here helps.
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