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Session Notes: Magician's Nephew | Big Drum Sound

The Practical Craft Of Recording
Published January 2019
By Mike Senior

The task this month was to record rock drums in a tiny live room — so small, in fact, that Mike couldn't even stand up straight in it! Finding a good position for the main stereo pair of Rode NT2As was hard work, but here you can see their final position.The task this month was to record rock drums in a tiny live room — so small, in fact, that Mike couldn't even stand up straight in it! Finding a good position for the main stereo pair of Rode NT2As was hard work, but here you can see their final position.Photo: Richard Ecclestone

Getting a big‑sounding drum recording in a small space is never easy — but it can be done...

Capturing a big rock drum sound is never easy, but it's even harder in a small space, and they don't get much tinier than the basement room in which I was invited to help young riff‑rock band Magician's Nephew record their drummer, Noah. With a floor area of about 10x12 feet, when the drums and mics were set up it was a challenge just getting from one side to the other. The live and control rooms were less than six feet tall below the joists and connected by a four-feet high passageway, making it even more 'cosy' given my height of six foot four!

The kit was fairly conventional, with kick, snare, three toms, hi‑hat, ride, and three crash cymbals. The band's normal tracking setup was based around a set of Audix dynamic mics (an i5 for snare, a D6 for kick, a D4 for floor tom, and D2s for the rack toms), an AKG C451 small‑diaphragm condenser for the hi‑hat, and an overhead pair of Rode NT2A large‑diaphragm condensers. Despite the respectable mic line‑up and having spent considerable time and effort experimenting with mic positions, the band weren't entirely satisfied with their recordings, which were slightly hollow and abrasive. They'd even tried replacing the Rode...

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Published January 2019