I’m excited to be transitioning into the fun part of better sounding drums: Playing and Recording. Over the next 11 days, I’ll be posting short but sweet tips regarding recording, editing and mixing the drum kit. And with a little help from my friends, I have asked some special guest authors to provide their best practices in the studio as well!
First Things First
Let’s face it: Tuning, seating, adjusting and tweaking the drum kit isn’t very glamorous OR fun. Us drummers like to play! And when it’s time to record – we just want to set everything up, throw microphones around the kit quick and hit record. Not so fast, my friend. Before we get ahead of ourselves, mic placement around the drum kit requires patience and a little trial and error.
There are a pile of resources on the inter-webs that explain how you should place mics around the drum set. For example, there are overhead placement techniques out there that can result in a very different sound. There are snare drum miking techniques that claim to give you the “best” snare drum sound. Here’s the thing: At some point, ALL of these techniques were discovered by someone just experimenting! Yes, there are plenty of great mic placement choices that have been tried and true for a very long time. There is a reason that the Recorder Man and Glyn Johns methods are so popular – they work! But do they work for you?
Consider coming up with the insert your name here method.
Use Your Ears, Listen Back
Before just setting up the mics around the kit and going to town, think about why you’re placing that mic there. Eq’ing drum tracks in your favorite DAW can be actually kind of fun. However, mic placement is EQ! For example, think about the very first thing that you always do when you EQ your toms. Perhaps there’s too much low end? If this sounds like you, consider adjusting the tom mics further away from the head. Once you do, hit record again and listen back. The absolute best mic placement for the drum kit is one that sounds great to your ears. There is a reason that the “big boys” in the recording business prefer the drummer to get to the session way earlier (or the day before) to get good drum sounds.
Take your time. Adjust the mics. Hit Record. Listen Back. Rinse and Repeat.