bass drum mic - front or back?

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Studiodawg
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bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by Studiodawg » Sat Jan 02, 2021 4:28 pm

First of all, let's skip "both" front AND back mic placement and choose front OR back bass drum mic placement. I've had better sounds with placement on the front positioned toward the beater. How about you?

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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by vvv » Sat Jan 02, 2021 5:33 pm

Too many variables not addressed in yer query:

Assuming acoustic drums:

Type and size of kick...

Damped?

Front head, no front head, hole in the head ...

Type of beater ...

Type of mic ...

Type of music ...

Type of player ...

Type of recording space ...

Recording chain ...

What about inside? Crotch mic? GJ? OH's or room mics?
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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by kslight » Sat Jan 02, 2021 6:36 pm

As always...it depends.

Especially if bleed into the kick mic is a concern. But yeah I’ve done both, I usually will go in the bass drum unless the head is on / no hole.

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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Sat Jan 02, 2021 7:08 pm

While were at it, is "front" from drummer's perspective or the audience perspective? Front head to me is the reso head but to further muddy the waters I'd never think of a back head on kick. It's front (reso) or beater.

Beyond that, as others have said, it depends. On the drums, player, room, song, style, mic in question, tracks available, etc, etc, etc. What's right for a song on Tuesday can be wrong for a different song on Wednesday.

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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by Studiodawg » Sat Jan 02, 2021 7:21 pm

I just wanted to bullshit about recording with like minded souls. I know "the variables" really dictate the decision. Side note, I have one of those Shure flat rectangle mics and have put it in the drum, but never liked the results. The drummer I record with really got stuck on the "mic at the beater" positioning, so I have been running a mic placed there plus a mic on in the sound hole for most sessions. Any tips for inside the bass drum would be appreciated.

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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by vvv » Sat Jan 02, 2021 9:13 pm

"Shure flat rectangle mics" = boundary mic, I reckon.

I have a couple, haven't really found a use I like.

FWIW, I ask the drummer to have the front (vs. beater) head on for faster stuff.

If there's a hole, or no front head, I typically put a mic onna pillow in the drum, pointing on an angle at the beater contact point from mebbe 6" away, plus a mic out front, usually a LDC, often slightly above the kick and/or a few feet back. Even just feeding a 57 in thru the hole (if time is short) can help get some beater click/whack/smack. Sometimes a LDC a cuppla inches and at an angle to the hole works.

Kick mics by the drummer, IME, get ... kicked.

Crotch mics, for me, are an effect.

Sometimes I like the OH's to get a lotta kick, but usually not; same with the room.

Then there's M/S ...

I don't think I've recorded live drums in over a year. :(
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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by drumsound » Sun Jan 03, 2021 12:03 am

I prefer inside and front, or just front. I've done the batter head thing, and sometimes it's OK, but I don't usually like what happens in with the snare bleed. Even though there can be a lot of bleed in the front mics, I often prefer the sound of that bleed compared to bleed on a batter side mic. Or I'll tent the mics on the front. This week I cut 3 different BDs with the same two mics, even though none of them had holes. I had the mics still routed and ready for the demos I cut the week before on a drum with a hole, so I recorded both the e602 and the X1d that were there.

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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Sun Jan 03, 2021 4:34 am

For me:

1. Mic placement facing the "back" of the kick, usually coming from the snare position, trying to cancel out as much of the snare itself as possible. A cardioid or even supercardioid dynamic mic. Aimed first right at where the beater strikes, and then moved around a bit until I get the best possible sound. Typically ends up not aimed directly at the strike point. Here, the sound wave travels very fast, in a vector only a few degrees out from the head itself, less so at a large angle from the head, due to the beater basically choking everything except the "sides" of the strike point. How much choking happens is entirely due to the drummer's technique, some like to accidentally double strike, some a single big strike, and also the song style dictates the strength of the strikes as well. Almost never used in heavy rock / metal and similar techniques. Better on softer Jazz or soft music in general, where you need more of the beater strike transient, which you cannot get as easily from the "front" of the kick drum.

2. Mic placement facing the "front" of the drum. Most times, I'll do this. Again, dependent on the drummer's technique, how hard / soft the attack of the strike is, etc. Whether or not the mic goes into the shell also, depends on where that optimal mic position will end up being. Issues here will revolve around the amount of feedback generated by the front drum head (closed / open?), tuning, and the general shape of the initial sound wave. Some kicks "poof" like a cloud, some are like a damned jet engine exhaust shape. Get a clue as to this wave shape, and where to put your mic accordingly, inside the strike or outside the strike wave.

Things to consider regardless:

Drummer technique + Song style + Bleed + Room ambient tones + Beater material + Singer's hairstyle.
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by Studiodawg » Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:28 am

Thanks. I apologize for my incorrect terminology. This is spot on regarding my drummer, "Jazz or soft music in general, where you need more of the beater strike transient, which you cannot get as easily from the "front" of the kick drum." I seem to get a woofy mess from the reso-side/sound hole mic compared to the transient capturing beater-side mic with his playing style.

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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by digitaldrummer » Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:55 am

for my drums (which I tune) I always use a dynamic inside (or very close to the reso head outside if there is no port) and then typically will use a condenser on the outside (maybe 6" from the head and up a bit higher). Sometimes I will use a homemade "subkick" mic but generally find they don't get used at mix time as the other mics cover what is needed.

my typical dynamics -- Telefunken M82, Audix D6, Miktek PM11 (for more natural bass drum sounds)
my typical "outside kick condenser -- SE x1D (so far). AKG C214 was not bad and sometimes I used a Mojave M201fet but sometimes I think it was not handling the high SPL quite as well.
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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:02 am

If you haven’t explored it you should really try taking the reso head off. If your default is micing inside near the beater then taking the reso head off can really focus the sound and take a lot of the woofyness out of the equation. It also opens up your placement options because you’re not working around the front head.
You’ll still get lots of low end punch. Once you start digging you’d be amazed at how many classic songs were tracked with no front head.

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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by Studiodawg » Sun Jan 03, 2021 8:07 am

My default is miking outside the beater drum 45 degrees at the beater 4"-8"...second mic is generally inside the reso-skin port aimed just to the right or left of the spot where the beater hits...almost always will have phase inverted when mixed.

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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by Zacharia Matilda » Sun Jan 03, 2021 12:18 pm

If it couldn’t be both it would have to be the beater side for me. And the drum needs to be as dead as possible. Not resonance. Just need that that attack and “thud”. No “boom”. IMHO
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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by losthighway » Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:43 pm

I almost always start with a dynamic peeking in to the hole in the reso head. Sometimes the LDC outside. I'm down to try absolutely anything if the drummer involved is searching for something or has an idea. I've done beater side maybe 2 times in my decades. Both were because of a kick with no hole in the front head.

Also as a side note, can everyone who's using the term "woofy" try and define it for me. I used to have a couple regular clients who used the term frequently when critiquing a mix, and I'm not sure I totally know what they mean. Just that we got it to go away.

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Re: bass drum mic - front or back?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Sun Jan 03, 2021 4:20 pm

losthighway wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:43 pm
Also as a side note, can everyone who's using the term "woofy" try and define it for me. I used to have a couple regular clients who used the term frequently when critiquing a mix, and I'm not sure I totally know what they mean. Just that we got it to go away.
Woofy, to me, and how I've heard it used, is too much mid low end, think 150-360 Hz. It is the "exhale" of the kick drum through the port,and
if you have a mic there, it will pick that up. The larger the kick drum, the lower that frequency is.

Usually, if I have nearly the sound of the kick, I scoop out around that frequency range, listening for when the kick starts getting too thin sounding,
and backing off a bit until there is enough Woof. A clean, variable Q equalizer is best for this. You can easily take out 6-8 dB from there without really making the kick sound shitty.

Now, if you're talking TOMS, well they need some of those, as they are smaller usually than the kick, and need that energy of the Woof to make the drum toms sound big and pumping the mix when they get hit. but not the kick, usually, 99% of music styles require it to be more of a transient time keeper, and not too much sustain and decay afterwards. Unless it is the 808 kick sound, but you would not need a mic for that, wouldya. LOL.

If you do it right, you can hear both a kick AND a tom being played at the same time. They should not overlap much.
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

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