The Specifics of Drum Miking...(what am I doing wrong?!)

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Member Since: Jun 04, 2004

I`ve been constantly playing around with recording drums recently. And it really is so hard to get it to have that "professional" sound! I really can`t figure out how they make it sound so damn good! The mics I`m using aren`t exactly the worst, but they ain`t exactly the best either!
Here`s what I`m doing at the moment...

> AKG D112 on Kick (front drum head off with mic halfway inside, pointing just away from the beater.)
> 2 AKG C1000`s for the overheads (not in X-Y...just on either side of the kit)
> Shure SM57 on Snare (usual position!)
> 2 Sennheiser E604`s...(1 on the rack tom and 1 on the floor tom)
> And this is where I don`t know quite what to do!...I have 2 LD Condensors left, (an S.E M1C and a Studio Projects B-1)...I`ve tried using the M1C to close mic the hi-hat and I`ve also tried it for the underside of the snare!...what would you do with it?!

Anyway, I`m really sorry for the long post but I`m getting so frustrated not being able to get that "pro" sound! I just can`t get the kick drum to not sound muddy!

Any input/advice is very welcome!
Thanks alot guys,
Take care,
Alex :)

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crazy canuck
Since: Nov 25, 2004

Jan 31, 2006 11:52 am

drums are tricky, no doubt about it.

First off, how does your room sound? dead? Lively? Boxy? In my experience this will have the most impact on your drum "recording".

Second, I have never really been too happy with C1000's for overheads, but you could do worse. I would try them in x/y to get rid of any phase issues you might have, then experiment with spaced pair later...but x/y is the easiest to get right.

The SM57 is a "standard" snare mic but this doesn't mean it's gonna give you a "pro" sound time after really need to work on the sound of the snare itself, and literally spend a couple of hours finding the golden spot for that 57, it's off axis coloration can be evil.

I have never used the 604's but I have heard good things. If you don't like the sound they are giving you, the SP B-1 that you have can sound great on toms, but you need to place it correctly so that it is rejecting as much of the rest of the kit as possible. The SP B-1 also makes a fine room/ambience mic for drums, providing the ambience in your room sounds good to begin with. Try it about 10 ft away from the kit or even in the next room behind a slightly open door...this is a really cool trick for natural reverb.

Without hearing your kick sounds, It's hard to know what you mean by muddy sounding. Do you have blankets in there or a pillow? This will dampen the kick dramatically and may be giving you the mud you speak of. You should also check the tuning of the resonant head since your mic is very close to it.

crazy canuck
Since: Nov 25, 2004

Jan 31, 2006 12:08 pm

I will also add that during mixing, check each drum mic in solo first. Stick your favourite parametric plug on the channel or use your DAW's native one. Now, make about a 12dB, tight boost anywhere in the spectrum. Move that boost through the frequncies VERY slowly until you find a spot that just sounds like crap. Now, change the boost into a cut, and adjust the depth of cut to taste. Now do it again for the same drum. Once you've removed the crap from the drum, move on to the next. This is the most important thing to do before boosting any frequencies, GET RID OF THE CRAP! There will always be some offending frequencies in drum recordings, once you eliminate them you will have a much better sounding kit on tape. Once you've killed them all, then you can work on boosting the "good" frequencies on each drum. You find the good frequencies the same way as the bad, but don't do it in solo mode, listen to all drum mics at the same time while boosting the good frequencies. This way, you will hear how your boosting is impacting the other mics (because you will have some bleed of course). Mixing drums is no easier than tracking them so take your time and don't get too frustrated.

Since: Apr 27, 2002

Jan 31, 2006 01:04 pm

honestly...if you can...replace the C1000s with some RODE NT1-A...we just recorded our new record with those...they sound so good...i promise you, everyone who hears them in our studio loves them...

JR Productions
Since: Mar 03, 2005

Jan 31, 2006 02:53 pm

What kind of SET do you have? Are you happy with the sound that you get playing it live not though your monitors?

Not trying to slam your engineering skills, but pros are pros for a reason, they know what they are doing, not to mention they have a near endless list of gear to pick from (2,000$ compressors, mic pres ect.) Also, it could even be the person playing the drums that make it sound unprofessional. If you take some 5th grade kid (again, just a comparason for an example, not trying to slam you or whoever you are recording) whose timing is all over the place and place him in a world class studio, you wont end up with a professional recording. Ive learned that by taking as much time as necessary to get a near perfect sound onto tape, it not only makes a better product but you save time during mixing.


Since: Jun 04, 2004

Jan 31, 2006 05:08 pm

Hi, thanks for all the quick replies! I`m trying every bit of advise that there is online about tracking drums!
As for what kit I have...I`ve just managed to acquire my dream kit...DW Collectors Series!
Ive been playing drums and pretty much every instrument since I was 5 years old so musicianship isn`t really an issue. And engineering wise, drums is a very new thing for me. I`ve recorded 5 albums and have become pretty competant and experimental production wise. But as I say, drums is a whole new recording concept for me really. So any advise I can get is very helpful indeed! If anyone feels like posting their favourite drum miking techniques then that`d be much appreciated!
Thanks again guys,
Take care,
Alex :)

crazy canuck
Since: Nov 25, 2004

Feb 01, 2006 09:12 am

Josh Rose is right about the amount of gear the pros are using to record the drum sounds that you love so much, but really it still boils down to a good room (and I can't stress this part enough) and good mic placement. If you don't have that, NO amount of gear will save you.

Most of the common mic placements are readily available by google search, but honestly, spend a lot of time tweaking these placements with isolation headphones...a 1/4" can make a world of difference! Take your time and keep at it, you'll get better every time you try.


I am not a crook's head
Since: Mar 14, 2003

Feb 01, 2006 12:19 pm

The thing that made the biggest difference for me was using a noise gate on the kick and snare, then some pretty hefty compression on each.

Check out the FishFillets series of free VSTs. I can't remember if its BlockFish or FloorFish that's the noise gate, but its really a great plugin. You can set the "detect" frequency so the snare doesn't open the kick's gate and vice versa. Once these sounds are isolated from all others, you can really start to play with compression and limiting to get a good "pop".

Since: Nov 25, 2004

Feb 02, 2006 12:46 pm


Well! If you want your drums to sound good there are many things you have to look after as writen before! But they will never sound quite as how you'd like them to. There are just to many things to look after. I don't know in what kind of music you are, but to produce, for example, a metal drums, well, that's something you can not achive with your mics. Why? Because they don't use any either!

Here is what you should try! Get a program called "drumagog". tha's a program, plug-in that triggers drums. You record drums as usual. the good thing is, that you dont have to tune your drums before sessiion, because it doesn't matter how they sound. All you have to do is to download a good drumsample and import it to the plug in! And that's it! End of story! At that time, they will sound more like a computer, but you can arange the dynamics an humanize it. The good thing with drumagog and similar programs is, that drums are played by human, so there is no need to wory that they will sound like computer!

BY, ufo

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