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  #1  
Old 01-27-2004, 11:16 PM
John Shryock John Shryock is offline
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Default 4 or 8 tracks for drums? drum mic theory

I'm working on ProTools LE 6.1.1 and a Digi 002r.

I've been recording drums for a while using only:

2 SM81 overheads
1 beta57a Snare
1 beta52a Kick

I've been really happy with the drum sounds. I was only using 4 mics because the 002r only has 4 preamps. It has the other 4 inputs, but without an external preamp, I was unable to control the level for additional mics on my drum set.

For this last band I was recording, I used an sm57 on the kick beater, to get the attack, and I had the beta52a pulled out a foot or so away from the hole on the kick drum, with a big blanket overtop of it (blanket held up by chairs and stuff). I've also tried using room mics. I haven't really used much of any of these signals in the final mix.

So....... Since, I wanted more control and flexibility over tracking, I bought a Mackie 1604-VLZ. I can aux out 4 channels (or maybe it's "bussing" them out), so it's like 4 additional preamps for those other 4 channels on the 002r.

Tonight I had this drum setup:
The 4 preamps on the 002r were my usual 81's, 52a, and beta57a.
I had some other mics going into the Mackie, and then into the 002r. Beta57a on high tom, SM57 on middle tom, SM57 on low tom, and SM58 on hi-hat (don't ask me why, just trying it).

Anyways, I HATED it. I was trying a new overhead position, and I moved the beta52a closer to the sound hole, but in general it was really dead. The tracks were depressing!

Since I was playing around with new positions and stuff, maybe I would have loved it had I done all the positions correctly. I think this is leading me to a larger question.

Questions: Do you need mics on every tom? Do they just get in the way? Should you get the best overhead position and rely on that for the toms? Is a seperate hi-hat mic worth it (I've been reading a number of different theories on this)? Is it worth it to mic the kick beater?

Also, given the following mics and a 5 piece pearl export drum kit, how might you go about miking it up:

* (1) Studio Projects C-1
* (2) Shure SM81
* (2) Shure SM57
* (2) Shure Beta57A
* (1) Shure Beta52A
* (1) Shure SM58

Do you think SM57 or beta57a is better for snare?

The music I do is mainly for alternative rock music like Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead.

I'm getting the room sound-proofed soon, so I'll have more freedom with room noise, by putting up things to control reverb, etc.

Please comment! I've been reading about these things, and also a lot about minimalist recording techniques ("back in the day we only had 2 mics for a 10 piece band, and gosh darn it, we liked it!!"), but I wanted to start the discussion again. THANKS!!!!!!

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  #2  
Old 01-28-2004, 04:28 AM
gYs gYs is offline
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Default Re: 4 or 8 tracks for drums? drum mic theory

My opinion: First of all, get a drumkit that sounds the way you want it to sound on the recording. That means it is well tuned and high quality. If the kick sounds dull, it will sound dull on the recording too, no matter how many mic's you place in front of it. Next, the room should sound *very* good too. Bad acoustics can make a good drumkit sound crappy I think!! I like a room that is not too 'dead' when it comes to recording drums.

I usually mic out the toms, but I don't always use it in the mix. To me the OH mics and the room mics are the most important factor. They create the main sound, the rest is there for support, to get a more 'in your face' sound for example. It depends on the style of music if you want that or not of course and how you want your drums to sound (close - distant - whatever).

I did a recording a few weeks ago with a band and we had some Tubetech pre-amps. We used some MD421's and these tubetechs to record the toms. We turned up the gain all the way and used the pad-switch to get it back to a level suitable to feed the recorder. This way the tube added a lot of character to the sound and because of that the sound of these tom-mics was very usable in the mix!

For kickdrum I usually prefer just one microphone, but that's just me. For snare I like two sm57's (not beta), one to mic the top of the snare and the other one pointed at the shell of the snare somewhere. This usually gives me a better sound than when I use the second mic for the bottom of the snare. But sometimes the second mic isn't really adding something extra anyway and I like to leave it out. But of course, this all depends on the sound you are looking for and the way the snare sounds in the first place.
I usually record HH as well, but again I don't always use it in the mix. It just depends on what the sound of the OH/room mics is like and what the HH-mic is adding to the sound.

By the way, I would very much like to hear what the more experienced engineers out here have to say about recording drums....it is an interesting subject!
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  #3  
Old 01-28-2004, 06:31 AM
where02190 where02190 is offline
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Default Re: 4 or 8 tracks for drums? drum mic theory

As you have already learned, a great drum sound can be had with a minimum of mics.

FYI, use the mackie direct outs to get single mics to your line inputs 5-8, whcih are nto at all designed for mic level signal, only +4/-10 line level. IOf it douesn't have direct outs, you can go 1/2 way into the insert point and accomplish the same thing. this gets signal directly from the rpeamp with a minimum of electronic involved...less is more, cleaner path, better signal.

As far as are additional mics necessary, again I think you've learned they are not, but can be useful depending on the sound you are going for. Key factors are a great sounding kit in a great sounding room.

For your typical 5 pc kit I generally use 10 tracks as follows:
room mic
hat
2xOH
3xtoms
snare
2xkick


The room mic adds depth, and give an overall live feel to the kit. Usually I set one mic (a Rode NTK or AKG C4000B in omni mode) approx 2/3 way across the room from the kit and about chest high to the drummer, run through a Distressor.(all my pre's are outboard)

The hat is the first to go if I need add'l tracks for other things.typically I use an AKG414 or AT4041, but I've used a 57 and had good results as well.

OH's are the key, and my goal is a powerful full sounding kit from jsut these, getting this by mic position, choice and room position of the kit, not in post. My mic of choice is a Shure VP-88 stereo mic. I also run this through a compressor, typically a TL Audio C-1

Often I end up mixing not using the tom mics, otherwise I audtomate them to keep bleed down, keeping them a good 6db down unless they are being played. I prefer this to gates, as it allows me to tailor the attack/release for each fill uniquely. My personal choices for mics are AKG 414's, sennheiser e609's or shure SM-98's.

Snare is either an sm57 or an Audio technica 4041 if i need a bit faster response. 1 mic on the top or edge of the top of the shell. My preference here is a DBX 1086 preamp/compressor.

Kicks are typically an in and an out, with a ShureMS91 in and a Beta52 or Audio Technica 4033A out.Both are run through TL Audio C-1's. These tracks get time aligned befor mixing as there will be a ms or two difference in their timing.

Nothing gets a ton of compression, 2:1 ratios, maybe a max of 3db of compression, jsut to gain a bit of dynamic headroom. I typically compress again when mixing.

Now, I may use all fo these tracks, or aI may use only a few of them. It is totally dependant on what the particular song warrants, and that decision is made by whomever is producing.
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  #4  
Old 01-28-2004, 12:46 PM
John Shryock John Shryock is offline
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Default Re: 4 or 8 tracks for drums? drum mic theory

Interesting responsese, good feedback/discussion. I've got a general question: what's the major difference between the SM57 and the beta57a? It's my understanding that the beta just gets more of the highs. It seems to have a hotter signal sometimes as well. A friend of mine told me that the beta57a "blows away" (or some similar term of being "better than") the SM57, and that he would use a beta57 instead of an SM57 on both snare and guitar amps. I'm going to challenge that now a little bit. He's been recorded for way longer than I have and he has a successful studio and such, but I still want to push that idea some.

I'm getting my studio remodeled soon, and I'll have to make sure it's got some reverb in it. I don't like rooms that are entirely dead. I'm thinking of getting some of the Auralex Roominators or some similar stuff for movable, adjustable room control. Thoughts on that? I'm on an extremely limited budget, so I can't go all out with the space. I'm thinking that in October I should have enough finances to expand studio size.
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  #5  
Old 01-28-2004, 12:50 PM
John Shryock John Shryock is offline
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Default Re: 4 or 8 tracks for drums? drum mic theory

where02190 and others - how do you go about positioning drum mics, specifically overheads? Do you go in the control room to listen, or bring headphones in with you? Do you try and monitor with the headphones while moving the mics around with your hands? Or is it more placing the mic, going and listening in the control room, evaluating the sound, and then going back to the room and make adjustments based on what you want to change?

It also amazes me the degree of separation found in certain recordings, like the mics have very little bleed. either that, or they are solo tracking a single piece (hi-hat, toms) for a section of the song, but I don't know how common that would be. I have trouble with drum parts bleeding into other mics, specifically snare on toms, hi hat on snare, etc.

Thanks for the time and responses!!!
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  #6  
Old 01-28-2004, 01:49 PM
where02190 where02190 is offline
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Default Re: 4 or 8 tracks for drums? drum mic theory

the Beta57A is an entirely differnt microphone than the SM57 in both styling and components. It has a hotter output and a more extended frequency response.

I position the VP-88, whcih is a single point stero mic, directly over the drummer, about even with their forehead, and jsut out fo stick range, usualy about 6-7 feet off the floor. I center it on the center of the drumkit. I can eyeball it 955 fo the way there, give a quick listen, and adjsut if necessary. This position gives me an incredibly accurate reperesentation fo how the player hears the kit. However, I typically pan from the audience perspective.
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  #7  
Old 01-28-2004, 02:53 PM
bassmac bassmac is offline
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Default Re: 4 or 8 tracks for drums? drum mic theory

This may help.
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  #8  
Old 01-28-2004, 05:36 PM
punker punker is offline
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Default Re: 4 or 8 tracks for drums? drum mic theory

hey, i usally mic my toms (each with an sm57) to get a fuller sound out of them otherwise they sound dull just through my overheads (i use samson co2s they are really good for the price but i've heard a lot better) and i use an sm57 on both the top of my snare and the bottom, and if you have 2 sm57s and a small diaphragm condenser you can tape the sm57 and the condenser together and put that on the top and an sm57 on the bottom this sounds really good, and if i don't mic my toms with sm57s i use a condenser behind the drummer (like another overhead but not as high as the other overheads) and this helps out the toms and snare a bit, i usally go for a full and rich drum kit sound and the tom mics help a lot.
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  #9  
Old 01-28-2004, 06:56 PM
mersisblue mersisblue is offline
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Default Re: 4 or 8 tracks for drums? drum mic theory

beta versions on shure mics are better.......... for live performances giving less feedback and hotter signsl

for recording go with the origional
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  #10  
Old 01-28-2004, 10:09 PM
where02190 where02190 is offline
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Default Re: 4 or 8 tracks for drums? drum mic theory

Quote:
beta versions on shure mics are better.......... for live performances giving less feedback and hotter signsl

for recording go with the origional
The Beta57a has a hot spot in the upper mids that encourages hi-hat bleed that the SM57 does not. There's also a certain warmth from the SM57 that the beta version doesn't capture as well. As far as a hot signal, that is rarely a problem on a snare drum.

I do like the betas on guitars a bit better, the extended top making them a bit crispier without the aid of eq, but I still prefer a Sennheiser e609, which is actually lower in cost ($99). I also prefr them on toms to 57's or betas.

The Beta57a is an excellent vocal mic live though......as long as the mic isn't held rapper style, then all bets are off.
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