Quick overview of how one band met the challenge of miking drums
My new band just wrapped up recording drum tracks for our new cd. On this recording we really wanted to try new things. One problem facing most home studios is that people let the fact that they are "home" studios hold them back. The fact is, you really don't need to, we didn't, and let me tell you what, and we got some really awesome sounding drums recorded. I have to tell you guys I'm psyched to finish this recording. For once, instead of having to tell people it was recorded in my house, I can just let them listen to the music without making excuses for the quality. Here's how we got the kick drum sound, which I think is awesome.
Getting the Sound:
First things first: In order to get a good sound recorded from ANY INSTRUMENT it must and I mean must sound good at the source. Ever hear the saying "you can't get squeeze water from a stone"? Well, that's sort of what it's like. Even if you have the most expensive mics/pre-amps/outboard gear money can buy, I assure you that if the source you are recording sounds like garbage (e.g. cheap - poorly tuned drums, disgusting sounding guitar...etc..etc.) Than all you would have recorded is really warm, full sounding, TRASH. After-all, part of the reason home-studios are so convenient is because it saves you from spending your hard-earned cash at studios where you spend a bazillion dollars an hour to get a sound you really don't like. So do yourself a favor and do your music justice...take the time to get a great sound, tune those-drums till they sound immaculate, hunt-out any buzzing or ringing that may come from loose bolts or nuts, or grease up your kick drum pedal so it doesn't! squeak. So in summary...for those of you who like to skim read...maybe this list might catch your eye.
I really wanted a fully sounding kick that really cut through the mix. I had the body (read: BOOM!!) right from the get-go by placing my AKG-D112 just about anywhere in the drum. The problem I ran into was that the BOOM! was all I had. We started noticing the further we moved the mic away from the head...the closer the sound became to what we had been looking For (p.s. it doesn't hurt to have a general idea before-hand of the kind of sound you are going to be looking for)...problem was, we ended up having the mic outside the drum completely at one point...but...gosh-dang - it was getting better - I pulled it out further and I loved it more and more the further I pulled it out. But because the mic was no longer inside the drum being "protected" by the wooden shell of the kick drum, I started to get concerned about leakage. So to alleviate this problem, I grabbed another bass drum from the back room of my basement and placed it in front of the other one to create a sort of of !
"tunnel" and placed the mic in there (the extra drum was used to extend the "protection" from leakage while allowing me to move the mic completely outside of the original kick altogether) By the time I was done the mic was sitting only about 3 inches inside of the SECOND kick drum...so I draped a heavy sleeping bag over this "tunnel" to extend the amount of isolation and it sounded awesome...
The first step I took in mixing the kick was to setup my compressor. Try to follow me through this process as precisely as possible (p.s. I am using CUBASE SX and the plug-ins within it) First I open up the compressor and turn Ratio, Threshold, Attack and Release to the highest they can go, so essentially nothing is happening to the kick drum track right now. Then I pick out a ratio of 3:1, but you can really use anything from 3:1 to 5:1 that all depends on taste (but you can mess with that later) So, my ratio is at 3:1...I slowly lower the threshold till I see it's actually working (I can visually see it working by how the nice little blue light on the meter moves up and down a couple two or tree notches every time the drum is hit). Next, I turn the attack down all the way...then I slowly let it up, you'll hear it working...go with a fast attack...5-15 milliseconds...then I turn the release down all the way...and let it up slowly...(you'll also want a rather fast speed for !
this) you'll hear it really start to add PUNCH to your track...try it...I swear this step by step process works...the paragraph follows is going to explain why I chose the ratio and attack/release settings that I did...
.... Many people believe that compressors are used to control the peaks and valleys of an instrument, or to "baby-sit" them and make sure the peaks don't jump too high and that the valleys don't sink too far and become inaudible in a mix (dada, dada, dada, blah, blah, blah) While this is true, compressors are also used to improve the over-all sound qualities of instruments as well. Particularly on kick drums/snare drums, compressors can be used to add punch, that's right...it ADDS PUNCH. Generally you can always just mess around with thresholds and ratios. I always start at 3:1 and just go from there after I have dialed in my attack and release. As far as attack and release settings, you just need to understand that for most percussive instruments with a lot of attack...a fast attack setting is key (because it starts the compressor working "fast") The release should also be moderately fast...this is due to the fact that percussive instruments are inherently fast themselves..!
.in and out real quick, and if you keep the setting slow...it won't "let-go" fast enough and it'll carry onto the next "hit" or percussive note. These settings increase the punch by letting only the strongest part through and essentially cutting out the after-tones of the drum. It's kind of hard to describe, so for all intensive purposes, why don't you try it?
se both) The reason why I emphasize "MAY" is because I've never needed to boost here because I've always had enough bottom end...but I'd be cheating you if didn't at least suggest it. (p.s. always try to cut "problem" frequencies before boosting others - cuts sound more natural to the human-ear than boosts in frequency bands)
Related Forum Topics:
No member-submitted comments currently available for this story.
If you would like to leave comments to the articles you read, feel free to register for your free membership.