Engineering: Drum Mic Recap

Here is a brief run-down of the microphone setup that we used to record drums for inmoments at Vogville.

The 602 inside the kick drum provides the point and the punch. I used the API 312 preamp, followed by the 1176 compressor on 8:1 ratio. I touched up the API 550b EQ a bit to get ride of the mush around 300-600hz.

The RE20 outside the kick drum gives me a bit more body and note definition. Not too long ago, I started placing the RE20 on a downward 45-60 degree angle (90 being straight down) to get more snap. It provides a bit of the edge to the sound in the mid range, and a bit less woof. I’ll stop doing it when I get tired of it… which could be pretty soon, you know?

The sub kick is sent to the Avalon 737, where it gets a fair dose of compression so the pumping effect is just noticeable, and some EQ to roll off all the trebles and over-accentuate the bottom. I like the Avalon for its roundness and consistency, and in this case, I feel more confident about using the less bassy mic placement on the RE20.

The snare top mic is an SM57, going to the LA2A compressor and PE1C EQ. I used an API 550A EQ for the snare bottom, and I mostly dialled the snare tone without soloing the separate snare mics. I accept how some mics sound less-than-ideal on their own when they are genuinely ‘pocketized’ with the mics around them.

The SM7 is my go-to hat mic if the drummer is a little heavy on the hardware. I sent it to the old school API compressor to turn the mashiness into more of a vibe thing. I EQ’d it on the way in using the corresponding SSL channel strip.

I use foams to guard some of the mic capsules from unwanted high frequency leakage. Usually the ride, toms, and snare-top mics get the foam treatment.

I had fun with the overheads: They are placed about 2 feet above the cymbals, a little higher on the hat side to compensate for the snare image. The KM184s  go into the Vintech 4073 preamps, and the built-in EQ allows me to boost below 220hz, ensuring it sounds heavy. I crosspatch the overheads into the SSL board’s bus compressor, hitting up to 4 dB of reduction, with a release time of 0.6 seconds.

The TLM103s in the chamber point to opposite corners of the room, so the stereo aspect is prominent, but the punch they capture is more noticeably mono, because the microphone capsules are only a foot apart. That means that the initial transients from the drum hits will arrive at both microphones within 1ms of one another. I opted for multi-band compression, using the Tubetech SMC2B to coax some bottom end power and add ‘glue’.

The hanging U87 is my unprocessed mono chamber mic. I intend to side chain the U87 to the snare drum when it comes time to do the final mixes.

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