Drum micing techniques with 6 mics or less.

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Drum micing techniques with 6 mics or less.

Post by skiltrip » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:28 pm

I'm thinking of getting a ProFire 610 to use with Pro Tools (I have PTMP8 with an older M-Audio interface), because I'm not quite sure I can justify purchasing the 2626. 99% of what I record is my own stuff, project studio style, one or two tracks at a time. All of my drums are drum sampler stuff like EZdrummer.

That said, I'd like to be able to record a drum kit, should I need to. I might possibly have some drums to record over the summer. Nothing mission critical, mostly just for fun. But I can't see buying the 2626 just for kicks, ya know.

So, what drum micing techniques are there for micing a kit with 6 mics or less? We're talking a basic kit with Kick, Snare, Ride, Crash, HiHat, 1 Floor Tom, 1 Rack Tom.

I realize I can up my mic count if I use a mixer to sum a few channels, but for sake of this post, I want to stick to what techniques there are for 6 mics or less that are feasible.

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Post by nordberg » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:29 pm

oh gee.... there are a ton of things you can do with six or fewer mics! glyn johns (three or four), one mic, two mic (stereo!, mid/side, kick/mono overhead) kick snare tom tom overheads as ortf, xy, spaced pair... mono overhead with all drums mic'd and a room mic.....i could go on all night.

i guess all i'm saying is there are a million things you can do with six mics.

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Post by skiltrip » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:31 pm

That's very comforting. The 2626 is overkill for what I need kind of. And the 610 is much more affordable. So having options for drums is a good thing. But like I said, I really don't expect to be doing much drum micing at all, just don't want to limit myself when I do have to (cause we all know stuff happens in our studio we never originally planned on).
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Post by roygbiv » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:53 pm

Based on my own amateur/hack experience, I would agree with the above suggestions about using the Glyn Johns setup.

Or maybe an (augmented) recorderman/glyn johns setup: kick, snare, overhead-over-the-snare and overhead-over-drummers-right-shoulder. You could also add another one in front for 5 mics total.

Or, if it was me, I'd use the two remaining channels to track the bass and rhythm guitar at the same time as you record the drums. That let's you capture a lot more feel, which is (to me) as important (or even more so) than the sound.

At least try to get the drums and bass recorded at the same time - always seems to feel better that way. Even if you have to go back and re-do some bass parts.

[Even though I can do 16 tracks at once, we still end up only doing 4 mics on the drums, as it sounds pretty great if you get them aligned right].
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Post by JWL » Fri Feb 06, 2009 6:14 pm

Glyn Johns + Kick + Snare + Crotch mic. Give you plenty of options at mix down.

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Post by Corey Y » Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:32 pm

Yeah, plenty of options with 6 mics or less. Last session I did on drums we used 5 mics. Kick, snare, stereo OH and a room mic. There are lots of different possible configurations, depending on what suits the project.

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Post by farview » Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:25 pm

1. kick
2. Snare
3. tom 1
4. tom 2
5. overhead left
6. overhead right

That should cover you pretty well. If I had two more, I would mic the hat and under the snare (maybe).

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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:46 pm

I'm primarily a drummer, so I've spent a long time trying to figure out how to get "that sound" out of my drums. I have a MOTU 24i, so inputs are no problem, but I'm down to almost always using 5 mics on my kit. I used to use 10 or more on a regular basis.

2 Cardioid SDC's as "underheads", kick, snare an LDC on the concrete floor out in the other room for reverb.

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Post by majortom » Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:59 pm

Yeah, experiment. I just sent a friend some scratch tracks to go with his finished songs that need drums (he put down just a basic beat while recording).

I used 2 mics and then spent a lot of time (just for fun) seeing how good a mix i could get. I had Tony in my ear screaming "don't solo the track!" he's right I got some nice mixes with only a minimal setup...very fun.

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Post by Nick Sevilla » Sat Feb 07, 2009 7:24 pm

Try this :

One OMNI microphone, over the drummer's head, placed by using headphones to get the whole kit balanced in the mic position.

Then, ONE dynamic mic, either outside the kick drum, or inside. this is to get more of the kick (duh).

Do not mix down the mics, just record them separately, and blend in the kick to taste.

It can work very well, and you have 4 mics left over, in case you have a weak drummer that hits the toms like a pansy, THEN mic the tom that sounds like it was hit with a feather duster, and cannot get to the omni mic too good. Blend that into the overhead.

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Post by bigtexasthriller » Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:10 pm

I usually track with 6....Often similar to this:

Snare top
Snare bottom
Floor tom
OH/Room (behind the drummer, to his hi hat side, high up)
Room....(maybe 12ft away in front of kit)

I usually get plenty of rack from the OH and Room....
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Post by drumsound » Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:56 pm

majortom wrote:Yeah, experiment. I just sent a friend some scratch tracks to go with his finished songs that need drums (he put down just a basic beat while recording).

I used 2 mics and then spent a lot of time (just for fun) seeing how good a mix i could get. I had Tony in my ear screaming "don't solo the track!" he's right I got some nice mixes with only a minimal setup...very fun.
I'm glad to have had a positive influence!

Try getting a good sound with one or two mics. It a fun exercise, though in the 'modern world' not always appropriate. I'd say BD, SD, OH can be a really cool way to get a good drum sound. The production will often dictate the technique.

Once you start doing this is as good time to also learn about phase relationships, which seems to be the theme around here lately!

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Post by MegaMutt » Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:06 am

Best drum sound I ever got was with one ribbon mic out 2-3 ft from the kit about chest high. Glyn Johns style has never failed me either.

I've gotten some great sounds with the following setup:

OH x2 (glyn johns config)
Room or mic out front of kit

also, watch lanois' 'here is what is' dvd if you can get your hands on it. (I think you can download the additional footage from his dvd off the website...)

there are some great scenes of brian blade playing the kit mic'd up essentially g/j style with a 47 over head, a kick mic out front and another mic over Brian's shoulder or over the floor tom.

Mind you, he is using some killer mics going into and even killer neve pres/console, but I've managed to recreate this setup using my frankensteined chinese 47 copy, a fathead ribbon and a sennheiser kick mic... (I usually add a 57 on sn)

Key thing to remember at the end of it all, you want it to sound like a drummer playing a kit; not someone playing a bunch of different drums.

and seriously learn and listen for phasing. I know a lot of folks say, just use your ears, but the validity of the mathematical approach goes a long way. Especially if you're starting out. once you figure this out, your sounds will improve by light years...

good luck,


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Post by chris harris » Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:48 am

kick, snare, rack, floor, mono OH, mono room.

This seems the most obvious arrangement. Unfortunately, it's not named after anyone cool.... so, if someone asks you how you recorded the drums, you won't have any cool name for it.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:43 am

it will henceforth be called The Subatomic.

when i'm recording me playing drums i limit myself to 8 mics for various reasons. usually its:

kick, snare, stereo oh, stereo room, mono front of kit, and then either a distortion mic or a floor tom mic. i generally find that there's plenty of rack tom in the overheads, room and front of kit mic so i don't bother micing it (for me, if i'm recording other people i usually do).

if i had to cut that down to 6, i'd lose the floor tom mic and make the overhead mono. or lose the room mics and mic the toms. unlikely i would ever do that as room mics, to me, are crucial for making drums sound like drums, but yunno in theory you could do that.

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