Our engineer records a rock trio while trying also to offer sufficient options to create a drum sample library!
The audio files available on this page accompany my Session Notes article in SOS April 2019 about recording a rock band comprising Marcus Boeltz (www.marcusboeltz.net), Christian Bolz (www.christianbolz.info), and Tobias Knecht (www.tobiasknecht.de) at Munich's Mastermix Studios (www.mastermix.de).
If you'd like to check out the drum sample library that came out of this session, it's called 'Real World Session Files 1', and can be purchased from www.wavepowerblog.com.
If you'd like to try remixing this full project for yourself, you can import all the 'RawTracks' audio files to the same starting time in your DAW of choice. The filenames of these 24 audio examples should be fairly self-explanatory, but here are some additional notes to describe exactly what you're hearing in each case.
This is the first mic pair I set up on the drum kit. The mics are vintage AKG C414EBs, with their polar pattern switches set to cardioid and the 10dB pad engaged. Their internal high-pass filter was left out of circuit, however, because I wanted to capture a natural tone for the whole drum kit with these microphones, not just the cymbals. The mics were positioned either side of the drummer's head a little above head height, spaced a couple of feet apart, and angled downwards towards the snare drum. These mic signals were recorded through a Schoeps VSR5 preamp feeding directly into my Ferrofish A32 A-D converter without any processing.
This is the close mic for the crash cymbal on the drummer's left, which was a Shure KSM141 small-diaphragm condenser in cardioid mode placed around a foot above the instrument. The mic had its 80Hz 18dB/octave high-pass filter engaged to reduce low-frequency spill. This mic, along with all the drum close mics were recorded through a Millennia HV3D mic preamp, directly into my Ferrofish A32 A-D converter without further processing.
For the crash cymbal on the drummer's right, I used the same miking technique and signal chain as for the left-hand crash cymbal -- see my caption for the 02_RawTracks_Cymbal1 audio file.
The ride cymbal was captured using a Neumann KM84 small-diaphragm condenser positioned about a foot above the cymbal's outer edge.
For the hi-hat, I chose a Neumann KM85 small-diaphragm condenser (a version of the more well-known KM84 that features a built-in 200Hz 6dB/octave high-pass filter) in order to reduce low-frequency spill, and positioned it about a foot above the outer edge of the top cymbal.
I used an Avantone CK1 small-diaphragm condenser microphone (with its cardioid capsule) for the rack tom, and engaged its 10dB pad. The mic is a good three to four inches from the drum head, roughly over the drum's rim, pointing a little towards the centre of the drum.
For the floor tom, I used the same miking technique and signal chain as for the rack tom -- see my caption for the 06_RawTracks_Tom1 audio file.
Inside the kick drum I placed an Electrovoice RE20 cardioid dynamic mic with its internal high-pass filter disengaged.
A few inches outside of the kick drum, off-axis from the resonant-head hole, I placed a Neumann U47 FET supercardioid large-diaphragm condenser microphone with its 6dB pad switch engaged.
The over-snare mic was a Shure Beta 56 supercardioid dynamic mic, placed about three inches above the drum's rim, pointing slightly inwards towards the centre of the batter head.
Underneath the snare drum I placed a Shure KSM132 small-diaphragm cardioid condenser mic with its 15dB pad switch engaged. This was initially pointed straight at the snare wires, but we angled it slightly away from these to give a smoother tone.
An ADK S7 large-diarphragm condenser mic (with its 15dB pad engaged) was placed in the gap between the kick and snare drums, and this not only delivered lots of useful snare shell tone, but also supplementary timbral components of the kick-drum sound.
In order to retain more of the snare's tonal richness when creating tighter-sounding mixes with this microphone setup, I added a more distant snare mic at around the drummer's head height. After trying out a hypercardioid Avantone CK1 small-diaphragm condenser and a Sennheiser MD441 cardioid dynamic, it was a Shure SM7B cardioid dynamic microphone we ended up using. Its high-pass filter switch was engaged to reduce kick-drum spill, and its presence boost switched was disengaged to avoid overemphasising cymbal spill.
About an inch from the bass-guitar cabinet's grille I set up an Electrovoice RE20 cardioid dynamic mic with its high-pass switch disengaged. Like all the bass and guitar close mics, this signal was passed through an Audient ASP880 preamp and directly to my Ferrofish A32 A-D converter for recording.
Alongside the Electrovoice RE20 you heard in the 14_RawTracks_BassDynamic audio file, I also set up a Neumann U47 FET supercardioid large-diaphragm condenser mic.
There were three different close mics on the guitar amp cabinet, all placed an inch or two from the grill cloth. The first was a Shure SM57 cardioid dynamic mic, which was high-pass filtered at around 90Hz to reduce proximity-effect bass boost, using the Audient ASP880 preamp's built-in variable high-pass filter.
The second mic on the electric guitar cabinet was a Neumann U87 large-diaphragm condenser mic operating in cardioid mode and with its internal 200Hz high-pass filter engaged to combat proximity-effect bass boost.
The third mic was Bash Audio's RM BIV1 figure-eight ribbon mic, used in conjunction with a pop shield to prevent air blasts from the speaker cone damaging the ribbon element. It was high-pass filtered at at 180Hz using the the Audient ASP880 preamp's built-in variable high-pass filter.
I set up three sets of room microphones. The first was a pair of small-diaphragm DPA omnidirectional condensers about ten feet behind the drummer, with a spacing of around two feet and pointed upwards. These mics were recorded through a Millennia HV3D mic preamp, directly into my Ferrofish A32 A-D converter without further processing.
The second set of room-mic signals were also recorded through a Millennia HV3D mic preamp into my Ferrofish A32 A-D converter without processing. In this case, though, both signals came from a vintage valve Schoeps CMTS501 coincident stereo microphone. The mic capsules were set up as figure-eight polar patterns at a 90-degree mutual angle (in other words in a classic Blumlein stereo array) in front of the drum kit about 12 feet from the kick drum.
The third set of room mics were my own Superlux R102 ribbon mics set up in a spaced pair roughly 12 feet in front of the kick drum and about 18 inches either side of the Schoeps stereo mic that can be heard in the 20_RawTracks_RoomPair2 audio file. However, the mics were each rotated 90 degrees to aim their rejection nulls towards the drummer, thereby decreasing the ratio of direct-to-reflected sound and effectively making the recording room seem larger and more reverberant than it was. These mics were recorded through an Audient ASP880 preamp directly to my Ferrofish A32 A-D converter with any processing.
To demonstrate the range of drum mixes that can be created from the RawTracks audio files with minimal processing, I've done three different basic mixes. For the first, I've aimed for a tight, dry presentation by using only 14 of the 25 recorded mic signals and focusing on the close-mic signals. The total mix processing comprises eight filters; two equalisers; four gates; and three compressors.
For my second demonstration mix, I've gone for a more natural-sounding kit ambience, using 18 of the 25 available mic signals. The sound is more based on the overall kit-pickup mic pair (as heard in the 01_RawTracks_OverallPair audio file) with support and definition added by mixing in the close mics. Only one room-mic set has been used (the Schoeps stereo mic heard in the 20_RawTracks_RoomPair2 audio file), and at a fairly low level. The total mix processing comprises: ten filters; two equalisers; one gate; and three compressors.
My third demonstration mix showcases a much roomier presentation, using 22 of the 25 available mic signals and blending in all three of the stereo room-mic pairs. The total mix processing comprises: thirteen filters; two equalisers; and three compressors.