Whether you’re on stage or in the studio, the approach you take to mic your drums will vary greatly.
The one thing that will remain is that your drum kit should be in best possible condition and tuned correctly to the room it is in. Any rattles or ringing heads should be damped to prevent the mics picking them up, because there is no easy way to fix this later on in the mix.
There are many different ways to mic up a drum kit with various techniques that have been tried and tested since the advent of multi-track recording in the 60's. For reinforcement at gigs and recording in the studio the multi-mic approach is favoured by many engineers. It allows greater control over levels and means each drum can be processed individually. The main issue with a multi-mic approach is unwanted spill from other sources and phase.
Below we'll talk you through how to get a great drum sound using our favourite Audix mics and you can find out how to win all 5 at the end.
The heartbeat of the drum kit, it is vital that the kick drum is not lost in the mix. Contemporary rock and pop music is usually full of synths and guitars that mask a lot of the audible space.
If you place the Audix D6 inside the kick drum about 6 inches away from the head and pointed towards the beater, you will get a solid sound with the right amount of click to cut through a busy mix. The D6 has a tailored EQ response to gently boost the low and the high mids. Move the mic closer to the beater for more attack and less boom and further away from the beater for a fuller sound of the whole kick drum.
The next most important element of the drum kit is the snare drum. Falling on the back beat, the snare is the powerhouse of the drum kit. It's recommended to close mic the snare so that the engineer can process the sound for mix purposes. This could be compression, reverb, slap back delay or further EQ. The close mic can also be used as the gate input for room mics, allowing the gate to open on the down beat, giving a sense of movement to the overall drum mix.
Using the Audix i5 on the top skin, pointing towards the center of the drum where the stick hits, will give you the fattest snare sound by accenting the impact. Place the mic underneath the hi hats to minimise the amount of spill from them.
For more overtones and less spill, point the mic down towards the edge of the snare. This will make the snare sound brighter and a little thinner.
Some engineers also mic the underneath of the snare drum to capture the snares vibrating. If you decide to do this then we'd advise using a small diaphragm condenser and remember to flip the phase of this mic so it doesn't cause issues with the top snare mic.
The Audix D2 has tailored response for rack toms and should be pointed towards the center of the drum to pick up the impact and attack of the drum. This will produce a full tom sound but is more likely to pick up spill from around the kit. Angle the mic down slightly to minimize spill and balance the mix of overtones picked up.
The Audix D4 is specifically used for the floor toms as the wide frequency response makes it perfect for large toms. The hyper cardioid pick up pattern means you can point it at the center of the drum and spill should be minimised.
Finally, overhead mics can be set up to capture the whole kit and be used to tie all of the close mics together. Condenser mics are usually chosen for overheads due to their ability to capture the transient response of the kit and the brightness of the cymbals.
The Audix F9's are suited for overhead work due to its wide cardioid pickup pattern. Place the F9s equidistant away from the snare drum so that it isn't out of phase when mixed. Lower the mics for a more direct sound or higher for more ambiance and room sound.
- Use Moon Gel to dampen any heads that ring too much
- Always use the same drummer to be recorded whilst sound checking, as different drummers have different styles
- Ensure that all mics and stands are out of the way of the drummer
- Don't let any mic stand touch any part of the drum kit to ensure no unwanted vibrations are picked up by the mics
Head over to our Facebook page to find out how you can win an Audix DP5A
Competition ends: 11.59pm, Thursday 31st July 2014