can now start to hear a stereo image of the kit as you will want
to hear it in the mix. If you were to put the mikes together in
a stereo pair but aimed each side of the dividing line you would
get a stereo image but a narrow one. The width increases as you
move the two mikes away from each other. The placement in the drawings
above are about normal with enough spread to make the kit have some
width. With practice and careful placement of these two mikes you
should be able to get a good balance of the kit. If you added a
kick drum you would have a real, open sound of the kit.
next step is to mike the individual components so that their position
and individual sound can be emphasised.
are three ways of setting up a kick drum
and rear skins on.
skin with rear skin with hole in it
three set-ups create three differing sounds. First you must tune
the kick as per the directions in the tuning
first setup with both skins is a thick, solid, round sound with
a decay as the drum decays. I believe the best way to mike up this
setup is to use two mikes. One over the pedal and one at the other
end like this.
setup allows you to balance the attack sound of the beater with
the decay of the front skin. This miking setup also brings up and
important factor in recording:
which mike should you phase reverse??. If you look at the microphone
over the beater it is pointing downwards like all the other microphones
on the kit will do whereas the microphone on the front skin of the
kick drum is facing the opposite way. Therefore the front skin mike
should have the phase reversal. As you can see it is a good idea
to reverse the phase of your kick mike even when you are not using
two of them as the normal kick mike setup places the kick mike out
of phase to the rest of the kit mikes.
when we get into miking toms and snares top and bottom the bottom
mike will require a phase reversal.
next setup is where the kick drum has a front skin on with a hole
in it. Because of the hole you can access the front skin - thus
the attack sound - without having to use a beater mike.
the mike is placed inside the drum pointing to where the beater
hits so as to get the full impact of the beater. Note that the mike
is still out of phase to all the downward facing mikes on the kit
so a phase reversal is preferred. The mike is also placed off centre
within the shell.
factor effecting the kick sound is the beater the drummer uses.
Beaters vary from soft to hard. Hard beaters (usually wood) have
more impact sound than the softer beaters. Experiment with each
and you will hear the difference. How close to the centre of the
skin the beater is placed also varies the sound. Similarly the size
of the drum sticks the drummer uses will also effect the sound -
thin sticks aren't going to go boof! no matter how much you EQ them.
should be noted here that the SPL (Sound Pressure Level) created
by drums is extreme so you must select
a microphone that can handle high SPL and even then it will
output a high voltage into the console. Therefore a Microphone PAD
should be inserted in the console to prevent the front end of the
microphone preamplifier distorting. If your console doesn't have
a mike pad switch you should insert one in the microphone lead.
Like the phase reversal plug you can purchase mike pad plugs from
your local dealer. A pad of anywhere from 10db - 20db will be required.
note here about mike pads.
toms are similar to the full kick drum miking in that there is a
mike on the impact skin that gets the full attack of the stick when
it hits the drum plus you can also add another optional bottom mike
to get the hang of the the drum. You must again remember the phase
relationships here. If you wish to add a bottom mike to the toms
you must reverse it's phase.
your drummer doesn't have a bottom skin on the toms you can use
either a top mike or both mikes or you can opt for just one under
mike with a phase reversal naturally. The advantage here is
that the under mike is inside the tom which isolates the mike from
the other drum sounds and improves separation.
are basically covered by the overheads but you might find that the
ride cymbal needs a mike of it's own if the drummer rides it a lot
through the chorus. Basically you want the crash cymbals to have
a loose sound yet the ride often is the main drive as it replaces
the hihat for the 8 a 16 feels. You must consider this factor when
setting up the overheads. Drummers also accent using the bell of
the ride cymbal that can be extremely loud so beware of miking too
close to the bell of the ride cymbal or it will dominate the sound
field. Some engineers mike the ride from underneath. In a complex
drum setup with lots of splash and crash cymbals you might like
to spot mike certain cymbals but I reckon that if you've setup your
overheads correctly they should cover the full cymbal range.
the overheads the hihat also requires a mike with a clean top end
so it's usually a condensor mike. I like to hide the hihat mike
from the snare by placing it in a position that is pointed at where
the drummer impacts it with his stick but the hihat is physically
between the hihat mike and the snare.
separation between the hihat and the snare is desirable so consider
the snare when you place the the hihat mike. Another factor of the
hihat is the sound made when they are snapped together. I like to
aim the mike so it is pointing at a point that gets the stick impact
as well as the pointing at the edge of the hats as that is where
the closing sound emanates. N.B. If you get too close you will get
wind distortion from the hats as they close.
of the problems you can get is where the drummer has the hihat low
to the snare and the toms also low to the snare. This creates separation
problems as well as making it hard to isolate the snare from the
tom. There's not much you can do other than ask the drummer to change.
This is not as awesome as it sounds, some drummers have never considered
this aspect of their kit layout and on making the change actually
say it's OK and find they easily got used to it and now prefer it.
The same problem can occur with the ride cymbal - some drummers
have their ride cymbal almost touching the floor tom which makes
separation hard - I recently had a drummer like that and when I
mentioned it he agreed to change. After the session he remarked
that he actually liked the change and would do it in future. Moral
of this story? - don't be afraid to ask!!
again, the snare can be miked from the top and the bottom, in fact
it is one most often double miked. The bottom mike on a snare can
give the snare more depth but it also gives you control over how
much snare crack sound is in the overall sound. (The snare
is actually the stretched wires across the bottom skin and gives
the snare it's sound - otherwise it's just another tom). The snare
mike is normally squeezed in between the hihat and the first rack
tom and like the tom mikes is aimed at the main impact area in the
centre of the snare.
Stick: Often you have a drummer playing a lot of side stick.
I have used a separate mike specifically for the side stick. The
side stick action is for the drum stick to hit the rim of the snare
drum and the main impact is on the right side of the snare. As your
normal snare mike is placed on the left side it doesn't always pick
up the side stick clearly. Not only does this give you a mike closer
to the side stick action it also allows for different EQ and effects
for the side stick sound. You
can either track it to a different recording track or you can watch
the drummer and switch mikes during record.
miked close-up don't actually sound very real as their real sound
is a combination of various factors. You actually have to get away
from them to get the full sound. A close mike on a snare doesn't
really sound like a snare drum (thus the importance of the overheads)
so some engineers add Ambience mikes to allow the freedom to add
the distance sound of the kit when mixing. Naturally the drums must
be in their own room for this system to be used or the ambience
mikes will pick up everyone else in the room. Basically ambience
mikes are a stereo pair of mikes placed at a distance (room size
limited) from the kit. They can be setup as a crossed pair or moved
apart to gain a more ambient spread. You might like to try using
a MS Stereo mike
setup. Ambience mikes can also be Gated
- so they only open when the snare is hit for example- and you must
have plenty of recording tracks to allow for another stereo pair.
Ambience mikes effect all the kit and push the drum kit back in
the sound field so if you want a round tight kick sound and an ambient
snare sound you have to gate them so they are closed for the kick
and open for the snare. An engineer I know used to hang a very directional
shotgun mike high above the kit aimed at the snare and use the under
snare mike to trigger a gate that opened it whenever the snare was
hit. He would then mix it in with the snare sound and it gave the
snare a natural ambience and was extremely effective.
now we have set up all the mikes we are ready to start
balancing and equalising
Kick. What are we looking for in a kick drum mike? Firstly
and most importantly it must be capable of withstanding high
sound pressure levels!! When a mike is only inches away from
a kick drum beater the sound pressure levels are extremely high
at low frequencies. The kick drum mike must be capable of handling
the extreme transients involved. Secondly it must be capable
of reproducing very low frequencies.
two most popular kick mikes are - The AKG D12 and the Beyer
M88. The M88 is my favourite. Both these mikes have an extended
bottom end response and can handle the high sound pressure levels
associated with kick drums. On the other hand if the drummer
is not hitting too hard you can't beat the Neuman U87 or 49,
which are high quality condenser and have large diaphragms (good
for low frequencies) and smooth low end response. Other mikes
are the Shure SM57/58 and the old RE20 which are both capable
of withstanding the load.
Snare. Here we are looking for a mike that will withstand
extreme high end transients and has a tight pattern so as to
keep out the high hats and the adjacent toms. The most common
snare mikes would have to be the Shure SM57 and the Sennheiser
MD421, followed by the Neuman U87/89 and the AKG 414EB. Others
are the Sennheiser MD441 or the Neuman KM84. I'm always amazed
at how many engineers still use the Shure SM57 even though there
are lots of other mikes around. The main advantage of the SM57
is that it's a tight mike with a tight pattern that keeps out
the spill from the hi/hat and the toms. They are also extremely
reliable and don't mind being hit by a wayward drummer. I should
note here that the difference between the SM57 and the SM 58
is that the SM58 has a permanent wind shield - the microphone
section is identical. You can buy a wind shield for the SM57
(Note the two microphones next time you see a press conference
from the White House.)
Toms. The two main mikes used for toms are the Sennheiser
421 and the Shure SM57. In the studio I like to use Neuman U87's
as they have a beautiful warm bottom end. The Shure SM 57's
don't have a lot of bottoms but if you're tight miked the proximity
effect compensates for it and as with the snare their tight
Good condensor mikes make the best overheads. There are three
main overhead mikes, the Neuman U87 for warmth, the AKG 414EB
and the AKG 451 for crystal clarity. The AKG C1000 and the Roden
are also a good budget condensor overhead mike except I find
that both have a slightly tinny top end compared with the more
expensive models. I would say the AKG 451 with a CK1 capsule
and 10db pad is the most popular overhead mike.
Condensor mikes with a tight pattern make the best Hihat mikes
like the AKG 451 or the Neuman KM84. Both have a 10db pad option
which is handy as the high end transients from a hihat are extreme.
Usually high quality condensor mikes are used here.