Five Techniques for Stereo Miking Drums Davida Rochman June 23, By Matt McGlynn A single pair of multipattern condenser microphones can provide at least five distinct overhead drum miking choices with surprisingly different sonic characteristics. To demonstrate these different sounds, we recorded a drum kit with a pair of KSM44A overhead microphones five different ways. The drums, the room, the preamps, cables, and composition remained the same. The only variable was the position of the microphones and in one case, the polar pattern. How different can a single pair of microphones, in the same room with the same drums, really sound?
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Five Techniques for Stereo Miking Drums Davida Rochman June 23, By Matt McGlynn A single pair of multipattern condenser microphones can provide at least five distinct overhead drum miking choices with surprisingly different sonic characteristics. To demonstrate these different sounds, we recorded a drum kit with a pair of KSM44A overhead microphones five different ways.
The drums, the room, the preamps, cables, and composition remained the same. The only variable was the position of the microphones and in one case, the polar pattern. How different can a single pair of microphones, in the same room with the same drums, really sound?
This is a good choice for arrangements in which the drums play a supporting role, or when mono compatibility is critical. Overhead microphone height is an important consideration in this and every technique. If the mics are very high, the capsules will point straight over the sides of the of the kit, essentially putting the entire instrument off-axis. This will result in an overly roomy sound. Lowering the microphones, or using an angle less than 90o can result in a more direct sound, although the kick and snare will always be off-axis.
Regardless of height, I recommend mounting the XY array directly above the snare drum, to ensure that the snare is centered in the stereo image. And like XY, it produces a relatively narrow stereo spread.
A primary benefit is that the perceived size of the space can be changed at mix time, by varying the amount of "side" channel in the mix. The room gets bigger, but the drums sound less direct. The challenge of M-S is that one of the two microphones is not pointed at the drum kit. If you are recording drums in a small or untreated room, chances are this reflected sound is not what you want on your record.
But if the room does sound good, M-S is a great way to combine a dry, direct sound -- the Mid mic -- with as much room ambience as suits the rest of the production. It requires two Cardioid microphones. This technique requires that the kick drum is also equidistant from both microphones. This can be checked by taping the two ends of a length of string to the center of the snare and kick drums, respectively.
Pinch the string together at the point where it touches the mic above the snare, so that both legs of the string are taut. Extreme panning of Recorderman overhead tracks can leave a hole in the middle of the stereo field. Mono compatibility is not guaranteed, except for the kick and snare. Because the microphones are relatively low, they will hear primarily the drums themselves.
Cymbals will be understated, as will the sound of the room. Once the two microphones are locked into position -- with capsules 17cm apart, at o-- the single stand can easily be raised, lowered, or angled to tune the array to best suit the size of the kit, the sound of the room, and the desired amount of ambience in the recorded track.
Due to the wide spread of the microphones, it is likely that most of the drum kit will be between them, off-axis. This approach, like mid-side, is less likely to succeed in a small or untreated space, because the microphones will mostly hear reflected sounds. Moving the array closer to the drum kit, whether from behind or over the top, will result in a drier sound.
Perhaps because the microphone position simulates human ear position, the resulting stereo field seems very natural and realistic, and generally collapses to mono without significant problems. Because the microphones are far apart, AB arrays are susceptible to comb filtering.
The risk can be mitigated somewhat by keeping the two microphone capsules equidistant from the center of the snare drum -- but even then, the mic placement should be auditioned in mono to reveal possible problems with the kick, toms, or cymbals. Aside from phase-coherency challenges, AB is a powerful technique, with a large palette of sonic colors. By lowering the array, or angling the microphones in toward the center of the kit, room sound can be minimized.
Conversely, there are numerous ways to use an AB pair to capture a roomier, indirect sound: by raising the microphones, moving them further out toward the sides of the kit, angling them to point straight down, or changing from Cardioid to a wider polar pattern. AB arrays can produce a wide stereo image, simply because drums or cymbals very near one of the two microphones will be perceived to come from only that side of the stereo field.
To maximize room sound, raise the OH microphones, angle them away from the drums, or use wider polar patterns. To minimize cymbal sound, try Recorderman. To ensure mono compatibility, use XY or MS. For the widest possible stereo spread, use AB.
Avoid phase coherency problems with kick and snare by keeping them centered between the OH mics. Dry overhead tracks can be optionally supplemented with room mics. A pair of cardioid mics provides several distinct, viable OH sounds.
Multipattern LDCs provide even more options. The site contains a searchable archive of specifications and insider information for over microphones, both contemporary and vintage, as well as in-depth reviews, a microphone sale-price finder, and a frequency-graph overlay comparison tool. Davida Rochman A Shure associate since , Davida Rochman graduated with a degree in Speech Communications and never imagined that her first post-college job would result in a lifelong career that had her marketing microphones rather than speaking into them.
Today, Davida is a Corporate Public Relations Manager, responsible for public relations activities, sponsorships, and donation programs that intersect with Shure at the corporate and industry level. Further Reading.
11 Techniques for Miking Drums at Home
I was fading fast, isolating my loved ones, all to stop the bleed. Every quarter-inch went to more microphones, and I was one Neumann away from becoming homeless, hanging by an XLR. With the four-track recorder as the standard medium of the time, it limited engineers to very few microphones on the drums. The engineer on that track, Andy Johns, brother of Engineer Glyn Johns, is greatly responsible for this definitive Bonham sound.
Minimalist Drum Miking Techniques
Perhaps more than any other method tested, the spaced pair approach requires care to avoid phasing problems. The wavelength of a Hz tone is about 33 inches. If one of a pair of haphazardly-placed OH mics is The easiest way to avoid screwing up the snare sound with phasing problems is to put the two capsules of the spaced pair at equal distances from the center of the snare head. This has the added benefit of centering the snare in the stereo image, which is most likely where you want it anyway. To be fair, this arrangement may well introduce phasing problems with the kick or toms, which is why the OH mic position should always be tested before recording. The rule suggests that the mics should be three times farther apart than their height above the drum kit.
4 Common Stereo Microphone Techniques
Dynamic mics 1. Choose the right mic: dynamic First is the dynamic mic , which will often be used on the snare, bass drum and sometimes on the toms. A dynamic mic functions just like a speaker, only in reverse, with the movement of the diaphragm in turn moving a coil in relation to a magnet, creating an electrical signal. This mic is good for picking up mid-range and is sturdy enough to take the occasional miss-hit. Most dynamic mics use a cardioid pattern, which means they reject sounds coming from behind them while also boosting bottom-end when placed close to the subject. Condenser 2. Choose the right mic: condenser The other type of mic that is frequently used is a condenser mic which, unlike the dynamic mic, needs power sent to it from the desk or pre-amp.