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The Drum Kit

Setting up The drum kit must be free from unwanted squeaks, rattles, buzzes etc before recording. Dont forget to oil the squeaky bass drum pedal and stool. If possible set the drums up in a live room so as to produce an exciting sound. The easiest kit to record is one that has single headed toms and a bass drum with a hole cut in the front head. On the whole a wooden bass beater gives a better sound than cork or felt and a patch of hard plastic taped to the head where the beater hits will add more click to the sound. If the toms are double headed remove the bottom skin. Make sure all the skins are in good condition and the snare skin is the correct tension. Damping A kit with no damping will sound boomy and the individual drums will sustain too long. Too much damping will leave a kit sounding lifeless and dull and it must be remembered that ringing and sustained drum kit will sound less pronounced in the final mix where other instruments are playing. Toms can be damped by taping tissue or cloth to the heads near the edges away from the microphone and not in the drummers way. Drums are sometimes fitted with internal dampers but these are not usually very effective. Snares are never usually damped. Bass drums are best damped by placing a folded woollen blanket inside the drum so it rests on the bottom of the shell and touches the lower part of the rear head. Further damping is unnecessary as gates are used to shorten the sound. Stereo Pair The simplest way to Mic a drum kit is to position a stereo pair of mics around 5 ft from the ground and between 5 and 15ft in front of the kit. The mics will capture the live sound and the stereo image of the kit but also leakage from other instruments. The stereo pair is best suited to jazz work but even here the snare and bass drum may need a little help. To achieve this the snare and bass drum are close-miked and the stereo pair positioned several feet above the kit as spaced omnis. The overhead mics are always identical capacitor microphones, the snare either dynamic or capacitor cardioid and bass drum dynamic cardioid. The Snare The mic should be placed a couple of inches from the drum head and positioned to one side where the drummer is unlikely to hit it. The mic may be tilted so as to point to the centre of the head. Make sure that the mic is not pointing towards an adjacent drum. The Bass Drum The mic can be positioned inside the drum shell. The exact position of the mic will influence the tonal character of the sound and a good starting point is with the mic pointing directly at where the beater hits, at about 2-8 inches away. Moving the mic to one side or another or angling will emphasis the overtones produced by the drum shell. Large diaphragm mics tend to be favoured and either figure of eight or cardioid mic with a good bass response are used.

The Drum Kit


Fully Miked Kit In most pop/rock recordings the drums are miked individually enabling the engineer to have control over the balance of drums within the kit. Furthermore close miking gives a more immediate and powerful sound which is usually called for in pop/rock. The method of miking the bass drum, snare and overhead is same as before except now the toms are now close miked. An additional mic for the hi-hat may be needed. Toms The tom mics are set up like the snare mics, use dynamic or capacitor mics and use cardioid for best separation, omnis for a truer all round sound. Hi-hat Position the capacitor mic a few inches from the edge of hi-hat and angled from slightly above or below.