Stupid, freakin', drum mic setup question

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Snarl 12/8
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Stupid, freakin', drum mic setup question

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:51 pm


I got an OK deal on a second MXL 2001. I'd tried Glyn Johns with a xml2001 over the snare and my Rode NT1a over the floor tom and vastly preferred it over my AT Pro 37r's in XY over the kit. So, I've got the other 2001 over the floor tom now. I decided to try the NT1a on the kick drum. Now, I'm recording DIY Subkick, D112 in the hole and NT1a about a foot out from the reso head about level with the top rim, angled down at a 45 degree angle.

The problem is, that I'm a one man shop, all in one room, recording myself. I've tried several placements of the Rode and I think I prefer it, mixed with a phase flipped subkick over the D112, but I'm not sure. It's hard and time consuming for me to try different placements. Can anyone suggest, either a method for auditioning these different mics and comparing them (volumes are different, etc.) or which combo of mics would you go for? How would you position them?

It's a big, Yamaha recording custom kit (24" kick), I play rock/funk, but I'm after the biggest, hugest drum sound I can get. Attack and boom. The kick is only muffled with 2 felt strips across each head. The room is basement, low ceilings, superchunks in 2 corners, mid/high absorbtion 32 square feet of mid/high absorbtion and 32 sq ft of high absorbtion on the walls. Some 2" thick rigid fiberglass clouds over the drums. I'm running the two overheads through a bit of dbx166 on the way in. Recording digitally. Would any other details help?

God, I know this is an idiotic question, but I'd love to hear a few spitballed ideas of where to start dialing this in.

Here's a quick sample of me just fucking around on the kit...
Carl Keil

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Post by decocco » Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:17 am

Man, the Glyn John's/Overhead mics are real squashed!

What don't you like about the sound? It's really hard to judge the sound when it's just drums alone, and no other instruments.

Anyway, here's how I would approach this:

For bass drums, I try to get as much attack as possible from the batter head and all the boom from the resonant head. I always have some kind of muffling, anything from a towel to a small sleeping bag. I usually end up muffling the batter head more, basically having more of the blanket touching the batter, and less of it touching the reso.

Muffling with felt strips is different, and I don't think it works as well for inside the kick mic'ing. The felt really only muffles the heads. The blanket serves two purposes:

1)to muffle the heads
2)to muffle the resonance of the drum shell.

So not only do you get less head ringing, but the inside mic sounds less like basketballs.

I get the inside mic, which in your case is the D112, really close to the batter head, like maybe 3" and pointing right at the beater. This mic should sound silly when soloed. It'll be mostly attack, with a beefy low end, and almost no actual drum tone.

Whenever I've used a subkick, it's been in addition to another outside mic. Just get the subkick really close to the reso head, perhaps off center a little bit (maybe even in front of the hole) and then get that rode a couple of feet back, looking at the reso head dead on.

Make sure everyone is in phase (this might take a little while, since it's just you) but it will sound beefy.

The attack and low end will come from the D112 and subkick. You'll get some depth and tone from the Rode.

If you prefer the felt strip approach, keep the same setup, but put the D112 on the batter side, kind of under the snare drum, very close and pointing right at where the beater strikes the head.

Good luck!
-Chris D.

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Post by losthighway » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:13 am

It sounds to me like you might be throwing too many mics at the kick drum. There's no reason why a three mic bass drum setup couldn't work. but if your options are confusing you right now dumb em down.

Try getting a good kick sound with just a d112. Use that for a while in different spots, then maybe think about throwing up an LDC outside with the d112 inside. When I do this it's usually a guarantee I will need both sounds for the kick drum to work right in a mix. It's just as likely that in blending the two mics one will be turned down a lot lower than the other.

The other thing is a lot of times you can't really tell what's good or bad a kick sound until there are some other instruments around, challenging the drums real estate.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:29 am

just listening on a laptop but those drums sound fine. kick has a nice midrange to it. as has already been said, it's tough to say what sounds 'right' without any other instruments around it.

i'm a one man operation too, i usually will just put up more mics than i probably need, record 'em all and sort it out later.

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Post by The Gibbon » Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:26 pm

My room kind of sucks, but with the Rode NT1 I've found that I kind of like using it hung right over the drummers head to get a snapshot of what the drummer hears. I hate my D112 so I've gone to using a C1000 on the kick, a couple of the Oktava MK-012 overhead and a stupid 57 on the snare and seriously, I tend to choose the NT1 as the most prominate sound in the whole deal. I don't know, maybe I just like to keep it real simple but....I like it.

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Snarl 12/8
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:02 pm

Yeah, wow. Thanks for the replies. I guess I didn't ask that question very goodly.

It boils down to, I think I'm getting OK sounds, maybe the best I've ever gotten, I was wondering if any of you more experienced people could think of any techniques I could use with my existing gear/room to take it to the next level.

I've already done years of recording the D112, I've tried it everywhere from deep inside, to right by the beater (next to the pedal) to about 2' outside the resonant head. I've used it by the beater with an TO-Omni by the reso, etc. I'm excited to go all LDC (with maybe the Subkick, but maybe it's superfluous with the LDC). I like the concept, and my initial listen was promising, but I'm just starting out with it and looking for things to try given my many limitations (experience, single room, etc.)

I'll keep moving things around and trying things out. My 10 year old daughter was giving me a hand the other day. She's good at moving the mics around, not so good at telling me which sounds better. I guess I need to take a few promising tracks and layer 'em up with bass/guit/vox too and see how that goes.

Thanks again. Any other suggestions are more than welcome.
Carl Keil

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Re: Stupid, freakin', drum mic setup question

Post by Nick Sevilla » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:17 am

Snarl 12/8 wrote:I'm after the biggest, hugest drum sound I can get. Attack and boom.
ONE MIC on the kick.

The D112 is familiar to you and you have one. Good.

Stick it in the shell, point it ALMOST at the beater, BUT NOT DIRECTLY AT IT, for f&*^'s sake.

Distance from inner skin to mic should be about 4" or so.

Then. You will need the following things in the signal path for this mic :

ONE 4 BAND SWEEPABLE EQ WITH ADJUSTABLE Q. Preferably a Q that is also a knob, and not a switch. But, whatever you have will work too. Set it so you allow the NOTE of the kick through. Yes, I said NOTE. You do tune your drums, I hope? The rest of the sound, like unwanted resonances etc, KILL THEM with the other three bands of EQ.

ONE COMPRESSOR, SET TO LIMIT. Adjust the attack so that the INITIAL TRANSIENT passes through, and then the limiter snaps in, reducing the level only a bit. You want to thing to clamp down for a while, longer than the drum sound, so it creates a new tone envelope... which you can then alter the level of with the MAKEUP GAIN knob on your compressor. this will make it go boom. and allow the snap or hit through as well.

Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

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