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Whether one is producing music, podcasts, game sounds, or film sound effects, Digital Audio Principles provides the tips and techniques that will make the project a success. Author Dave Schroeder explains the basics of digital audio production techniques and covers the essential hardware and software. He also discusses sound theory, frequency response, the range of human hearing, and dynamic range.
Okay, so now we are going to talking about miking up a drum set, and we've got kind of a basic setup. We are not using a lot of mics just four mics on this setup. If you have more, you can mic everything in the whole piece, but if you only have four, if you are only getting started, or you just have a few inputs on your interface. This is a good starting place, this kind of mic selection and placement. And again, it's a starting place, feel free to move things around and kind of get the sound you are looking for. So we have got an overhead microphone, a kick drum microphone, down here, and a snare drum microphone, and then we will setup a room microphone as well, to kind of get the overall sound.
So let's start by talking about the overhead microphone. We have got a small Diaphragm Condenser microphone up above, and the reason we want that up there is to try and pick up some of the high frequencies and sibilance of the cymbals of the set. So we have got up, and the first thing you want to do is kind of, A: get it as high as you can above the set. If you can get up 4 feet, that's great. About 4 feet, that's a good thing to shoot for. Usually you can't you are in a basement, you have a low ceiling or something like that. So when you are placing drums, and generally, you are figuring out, hey what room are we going to record drums in, try and look for one with a higher ceiling.
It really helps because you can get the overheads up above the set quite a bit. So if you are using one overhead, you can place it at any height. Sometimes, you will do this with two overhead microphones, and if you do that, you want them both at the same height, the same plane up above the drum set. And then you want to aim this microphone over a cymbal as opposed to having it directly over like a snare drum, because if you put it over the snare, you are going to pick up a lot more of that. Your goal is to pick up more of the cymbals and kind of the brightness of the set. It also gives you kind of a general mix sense from a distance of things going on there.
So I have got it set up, I am kind of over the cymbals here. If you know what, in different songs you are going to use different cymbals more than others, like if you are not using the ride, you are just doing a lot of crashes, move it and favor those cymbals based on what kind of things you are going to be hitting during the song. So that's the idea for the overhead mic. Let's move down to the kick drum and look over the mic down here. So we have got a dynamic directional microphone. This kick drum has a front head on it, and a sound hole, which is there so that we can actually put a mic in there.
We want to use a microphone that's dynamic because the kick drum is really loud, and it gives you a lot of loud impacts, boom, boom, boom, right? The first placement you should go for just to get started is kind of right about here at the sound hole, and you want to aim this so that if there was a laser on there, it would be hitting where the beater on the backside or the drum pedal, where that head hits the head, usually about here, but on the other head. So you want to aim for that. That's going to give you kind of the brightest and most attacky sound you can get.
You are going to hear that whack, whack, whack, and if you start there, you will get kind of crisper kick drum sound. From there you can start to move the mic if you want different sounds. If you want a real kind of boomy sound, you can bring it to the center of the outside head, you can actually drop it down to the edges to pick up different kind of tones. There is just kind of overtones on the rim sometimes that can be interesting or it can be very frustrating. And you can also point the microphone in different directions inside the drum itself. You can even move it inside and out too.
A lot of people will put the microphone in a little bit and point as opposed to having it right here at the front of the hole. With kick drums, they make a lot of microphones that are specially designed to work with kick drums that pick up bass frequencies very well, and you will know these because they are kind of bigger, heavier, chunkier microphones. If you have the budget or you can borrow one, do it because they really help you pick up kick drum sounds a lot, they are one of those. The drum set has a lot of microphones that are kind of tailored just for specific drums and the kick drum microphone helps a lot in getting good sounds. Okay.
Let's look at the snare. Okay, now let's look at miking up a snare drum. Again, we have got a dynamic cardioid microphone which we are going to use, because we have got such a loud sound source. This handles that pretty well. Also, before in the other section, where I was talking about body types to pick this one, because it's got kind of a narrow profile. Miking a snare drum is, it's a battle, because you want to put the microphone in the same place where the drummer wants to hit the drum, right? You kind of want to pick up the sound that comes from here, but that's where he has got to hit it with the sticks.
So you have to kind of--because the drumming is more important than the miking-- you have to get out of his way, and you want to make sure you put your mics somewhere where the drummer, he or she is not going to hit your microphone and destroy it, which is another good reason to use kind of really durable microphones, because inevitably they do get hit once in a while. So what I like to do is come in on an angle, and I usually like to come from the front of the drum like this so that I am pointing this way so that whatever else is in the path is actually the drummer's body as oppose to pointing in.
If you come in with a microphone kind of like this, then you can pick up some of the tom sound, which you really don't want to do. You want to kind of separate, you just want to get as much snare as you can and not other things. This also does a good job of kind of rejecting some of the hi-hat sound. So you want to come in at about a 45-degree angle and start with it pointed towards the center of the snare about like that, but you are going to have to back it off a little bit because the drummer is going to want more than just the dead center. He or she is going to be hitting kind of this whole area, and if they are really wild, move it away so that you protect your microphone. You can also come in and kind of come down.
As you move away from the center, in the center you will get quite a bit of attack and flack as you move out to the edges, you will notice a little bit more ring and a little bit more warmth. But it's the snare, so it's not really-- warmth as it necessarily a quality you are going to find that much in the whole drum. The other thing you can do is you can actually put a microphone on the bottom but that would only be if you have a second microphone usually, unless you are doing kind of a--you want some special effect where you want that real kind of ratchety snappy sound that the snare itself makes, that sound, then you can put a microphone underneath kind of at the same pointing of, like a 45 degree pointing towards the center of the drum, but that's really if you have two mics.
With just one mic, try and address it from the top and pick up the center of the area. And again, different drummers play at different dynamics, try and get them to hit the drums as hard as they are going to, do big fills, fill everything up, and set levels against that really loud moment and also pay attention to where they hit. Live drummers tend to be more animated, and so they will move around more and hit the drum in a lot more places. In the studio, if people are concentrating a little bit more, trying to keep their tempo, they might be better focused to hitting kind of in the center of the drum.
And let them know that hitting in the center of the drum actually which they should know, produces a good sound, but they might be playing off to the side to get different sounds on purpose. So kind of talk to the drummer and find out what they need, what kind of space they want. You can also use more or less the same technique on toms where you would kind of come up over an angle. Again, you can't put it really where you want to because it has to be hit there. So about a 45-degree angle, coming in on the edge. The problem here is you tend to be pointing right at the snare.
So try an angle at even a little bit more and kind of little bit about here. You can also come in an angles, but it would be better to pick up some of the snare than to pick up some of that cymbal I think. Also, if there are other cymbals around you or above it, you want to kind of place it where it will reject those of the cardioid pattern cymbals above, get rejected more than if they are kind of off to the side like this. Finally, let's look at microphones in the room to pick up the whole drum sound. Okay, now let's look at setting up a room microphone to capture the overall sound of the drums, and this is a nice situation where you can use a large diaphragm condenser microphone.
What's nice about this is that microphone can pick up all consonants transients, give you can overall picture of the drum set, and by placing it farther away from the drum set-- in this case, we are about 6 feet away--you get to kind of let the drums mix themselves, which is nice because sometimes if you just close mic and set with just a few microphones, your mix makes it feel like you are kind of always too close to those drums. And this is a way of getting a sense of kind of how all the drums go out into a room, kind of mix themselves and live together. So a room mic is a nice thing if you have it, and you have a nice vocal mic sitting around, this is a great application to add another track to kind of beef up your drum tracks.
So what I like to do is place it at about the head of the drummer or the plane of the cymbals, and that tends to get you kind of the best overall sound. If you place it too low, it gets a little boomy, and if you place it up high in a room, you will notice that it gets a little bit brighter. This is kind of like if you were standing in the room as well where your head would be when you are kind of hear, that height about. I like to use the cardioid pattern and put the microphone in the middle of the room picking up the front. You can also use an omni-directional pattern, put it in the middle of the room.
It's also possible to kind of move it off to one side but what you want to try and avoid is putting it right against any walls. You want it to be kind of at least 3 or 4 feet away from any one wall, a back wall, or a side wall. The other thing with the microphone placement on this room mic is that you want to make sure you have observed the 3:1 rule to avoid phase cancellation, which in this case, you pick the farthest microphone in this case is going to be the overhead mic. So we are going to want to make this mic at least three times as far away from the sound source as that overhead mic, and we will talk about that in a different movie.
All right, so we have looked at how to mic a drum set. It's fairly well with just four mics. If you have more microphones, you can certainly add more. You can mic things like all the toms, you can mic the hi-hats, or certain cymbals if they are important. You can also set up two room mics and get a stereo room sound. So there are lots more things you can do with the miking drums. But hopefully, this is a good place to start. If you only have four inputs or four microphones or even two inputs, and you need to kind of bounce things down, this will work in terms of getting things started and getting a good sound going.
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