This week is part 1 in a three part series of recording drums. This blog focuses on different microphone techniques. This blog coincides with the new podcast where you can hear the difference in various mic configurations and placements, and how they affect they overall sound. You can subscribe to the Podcast here. The next two blogs and podcasts will focus on mixing techniques including EQ, compression, reverb, and other tricks.
As with any acoustic recording, mic placement is the second most important ingredient to a great sound, second only to having a good source. If you have seen ads for Millenia Media's preamps, then you're familiar with their slogan "Their is no undo on your preamp". I like to go a couple steps before that and say, there is no undo on your mic placement, even more, there is no undo on the sound coming out of the instrument in the first place. This means that basically, what you hear is what you get. Of course, the whole recording studio industry, software, hardware, gadgets and gizmos aplenty, is built around trying to make people believe that they can polish the proverbial turd and make things sound better than the original source, but always remember, it starts at the source and mic placement.
Some of my favorite mics for recording drums, and what you will hear on the podcast, are listed below.
Kick - Audix D6
Snare Top - Shure SM57
Snare Bottom - Shure SM57
High Tom - Audix D2
Low Tom - Audix D4
Overheads - Rode NT5's
HiHats - Nady Starpower SP-9
Now, some of you may not know that the Nady Starpower is basically a $15 radioshack mic, but hey, if it works, why not use it? Most of the other mics are standard studio fare. You can find them in any professional setting. Perhaps soon, Grammy winners will be judged on how many Nady Starpowers were used on their album, instead of how many millions of records were sold to their aging, rich, grandmother.
Back on the topic now. No matter what mic you use, or what kind of mic placement you have, there is one thing that all the best recording engineers have. Good ears! No piece of equipment or gear even comes close to having as much impact and persuasion on a recording than using your ears. It's the one thing you can't buy on eBay, Guitar Center, or any store. So listen to the podcast, and do some experimenting yourself. Use your best equipment that is always with you. Here's to your ears!