Drum Recording Techniques From FocusriteOct 22, 2012
As you may well know, there are countless ways to record an acoustic drum kit well. That’s part of the fun and challenge of drum recording. The people at Focusrite put together a video earlier this summer featuring a few different drum mic techniques that I thought might be interesting and helpful to you all. Take a look at the video and then I’ll sum up some take away points below.
Don’t Be Afraid
I think my biggest takeaway was an awesome quote at the beginning of this video where Nikolaj sums up all of audio recording and mixing well:
You shouldn’t be afraid of experimenting. Sometimes you just have to do it the wrong way, because that’s the way it sounds best. – Nikolaj Bjerre Drummer/Producer
Brilliant advice. Don’t be afraid when recording drums (or any other audio task for that matter). Be creative. Be inventive. Try some crazy mic placement and see if it works. The worst thing that can happen is your track doesn’t sound good. No big deal. Move on to something else.
Compression Can Help
When it comes to drums and percussion, compression can really help create a big sound. They touch on this in the video regarding compression on the way in (via the OctoPre Mk II) both on the close mics and more heavily on the two room mics. I do this a lot in the mixing phase to bring out the fatness and energy of the kit.
If you don’t have outboard compressors, no worries. Just track things as clean as you can and compress after the fact in your DAW. This is a great way to learn and work. If you don’t have a room mic when you record (or a bad sounding room) try a parallel compression technique after the fact and you can achieve some great results.
Try A Mono Overhead
I know that in this video they implemented both a stereo pair of overheads and a single mono overhead, but notice how much attention was placed on the mono overhead. Why is this? Simply put, a mono drum overhead gives you a punchy, drum centric sound, all with no fuss. There is no phase issues to worry about, no measuring, etc. Simply throw it up and move it around until you get the sound you like.
I suggest to many engineers starting out to go with a mono overhead on the drums. Grab your best mic and put it up top. You can always pan close tom mics out or run your drums through a stereo room reverb for some width later. Just something to think about on your next session.
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