Category Archives for "How To"

8 Ways To Record Your Drum Kit (With One, Two, Or Three Mics)

If you are recording drums in your studio and only have a few mics to work with you might be thinking "How am I going to get a great sound without having a huge mic locker?"

Well I'm here to tell you that you don't actually need many mics to get a really cool drum sound. In fact there are even some benefits to using only a few mics at a time on drums.

  • Each mic can be relied on for a fuller picture of the drum kit and big tone.
  • You will have only a few mics to get the phase right, and therefore probably end up with a focused phase coherent sound.
  • Your drum mixing process will be soooo much simpler, because you wont have to sort through so many elements and mics to get the right balance.
  • As a result you can rely on the skills of the drummer to get the sound right, and not be the one to blame if the hi hat is too loud!

So here are 8 ways that you can record your drums with one, two, or three mics.

1 - SINGLE MIC SOUL METHOD

This is really simple and involves taking only one mic to record your drum kit. Essentially there are as many ways as you can think of since you can move the mic around to different spots and listen to see which sound best.

One cool way to start is to plug your ears and walk around the kit while the drummer is playing. When you hear a particularly good sound try placing the mic right there, and see how it works out. If that doesn't work listen to see what exactly you don't like about the sound and adjust accordingly. For example, if you don't hear enough hi hat move the mic closer to it. Or if you hear too much crash cymbal then either move the crash cymbal away from the mic, or move the mic further away from the crash cymbal. Easy right?

The single mic soul technique Is one that I heard about the Dap Kings using for their records (credit goes to Goffrey Moore for hipping me to this). Place the mic between the kick and snare drum so that it's hearing both pretty closely. If you add some compression at 2:1 or 4:1 You can get a really cool "In your face" kick and snare sound. Hopefully you can hear just the right amount of high hat as well. If not then again just move things around slightly till you find a sweet spot and balance for what you need. Remember that each groove might require different elements to be heard.

2 - SINGLE OVERHEAD

And another great way to mic the drums with a single mic is to use a single overhead looking down at the drums. Just put the mic above the kit Looking down so that it sees a little bit of each drum if possible. (If the mic doesn't see a drum then it may not hear it well)

If you find that the drums sound too far away or too roomy then just move the mic down closer to the drum kit. Make sure that the mic itself doesn't get in the way of the drummers ability to play or do fills, and you should be good to go! If you have any other mics and want to hear more kick or snare then you can always add close mics to those drums as needed.

3 - SPACED PAIR

If you have a pair of mics then you can start to get into some really cool stereo miking tricks. The simplest one to start Is the spaced pair method. This can be done with cardiod or omni mics.

When I first learned about different stereo miking techniques I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. So I raced home to meet up with my friend Meghan, and we started miking everything we could find using different stereo methods. One of the instruments that lends itself very well to stereo miking is of course the drum kit.

For the spaced pair method all you need to do is take one mic and put it above the high hat and snare looking down, and the other mic above the ride and floor tom side looking down. You should be able to pan these two mics hard left and right to get a cool stereo drum sound. Make sure to check the sound in mono too to see that the polarity between the two mics is correct so that you don't accidentally cancel out the lower frequencies.

Also be sure to listen to each individual drum in the drum set to make sure that you're hearing a decent balance of all the elements of the kit. If something is not right start moving mics around, or start moving the drums around till you hear what you want for the song.

4 - ORTF STEREO PAIR

This comes from the standard set by France, which stands for Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française. It involves setting up a stereo pair of cardiod mics above the drums at a 110° angle between the two mics looking down. The mics should be a matched pair and 17 cm apart from capsule to capsule. This gives a stereo image from the pickup patterns of the cardioid mics and the time difference between the arrival of sound at the capsules, but still maintains a good mono compatibility. Plus it's easy to mount to a single mic stand with a stereo mic clip above the drum kit out of the way of the drummer.

5 - XY COINCIDENT PAIR

Mono compatibility is important in stereo miking if you want your drums to retain their sound whether in stereo speakers or on a mono playback device. Mono playback happens more often than you might think. 

When you are rocking out in the car you might get more of a mono sound then true stereo. When you listen back on built in computer speakers, and iPhone, or your laptop you might get more of a mono experience. Or even when you have stereo speakers but hear them from across the room or in a separate room the sound will converge into mono as it fills the space.

So if you want to get a stereo drums sound that is nearly mono already you can try using the XY coincident pair. This involves a matched pair of cardioid mics that are set at a 90º angle with the capsule as close as possible. So that a sound arriving from in front of the mics will arrive at both mics at the same time. This way there is a stereo image formed from the pickup patterns of the cardioid mics, but not from the time difference between them.

You will get a very focused image out of this, and typically more mono sounding with a subtle stereo effect. This can be great if you want the drums to have lots of focus and punch and don't really need a wide stereo image.

6 - Recorderman 

This is such a cool method for recording drums! If you have a matched pair of cardioid mics, Then you can get a great stereo sound while keeping the kick drum and the snare drum in the center of your mix.

Take the first mic and place it above the rack tom and near the snare pointing down at the drum kit. And then measure from the center of the snare drum up to the capsule of the mic and back down to the kick drum beater. While holding the string on the snare and the kick drum beater rotate the apex of the triangle that you just created, with the string, over towards your right shoulder, and floor tom. When you feel you've found a good spot for the second Mike Place the second mic at the point of the triangle. 

Take both microphones and pan them hard left and right in your mix. This will give you a great stereo image. However it will also keep the kick and snare dead center in your mix, and totally focused, because they are the same distance from each microphone.

(Its a little hard to see the equidistant mic placement in the image, but it gives you the general idea of what the mics might look like when you look at it from the front of the kit.)

7 - THE GLYN JOHNS TECHNIQUE

Glyn Johns is one of the greats! He recorded bands like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and the Who. And it was during a Led Zeppelin session that he famously discovered his mic technique.

Normally Glyn he would record the drum kit with a single overhead mic. But one day during a recording session with Led Zeppelin, the assistant unintentionally moved a second microphone out of the way of a guitar amp, and randomly placed it looking over the floor tom. The second mic was also panned over to the side because thats where the guitar amp had been panned. And when they heard both microphones in the control room with the drums in stereo, everyone flipped out at how awesome it sounded!

The technique is often explained as taking the first mic and setting it above the drums looking down exactly two drumsticks length from the center of the snare drum. But Glyn basically glossed over this detail essentially saying that his technique is pretty loose in general,  and that the overhead mic can be placed pretty much where ever you like it. 

Then take the second mic and come over the floor tom looking toward the snare, and kick beater. If you can manage to have both mics the same distance from the snare drum all the better! Because then as you pan the two mics out left and right, you're likely to hear the snare stay in the center image.

However the Glenn Johns technique does not typically hard pan left and right very well. In fact I find myself panning the overhead mic just slightly to the left, and the floor tom mic further to the right. That always seems to make for a pretty good stereo drum mix. Also a complete Glyn Johns technique would probably include a kick drum mic and a snare drum mic to bring those drums forward in the final mix.

7 - SPACED TRIPLE METHOD

Basically if you're room doesn't sound great in your studio, and you feel like you get too much of it in your overheads when you try to set the mics up high. Then you can use this method to get a little closer to the drums, and still cover the full drum kit.

This is a way of recording the drums that I use sometimes when I start with a mono overhead like my Coles 4038, and then discover that I still need more detail on the high hat and ride. So I will add another pair of condenser mics to the outside of the drum kit looking in. I have also seen Graham Cochran of the Recording Revolution using this method with great success, to accommodate the less than fabulous sound of a home studio drum room. 

Simply take one mic and put it above the drums pointing down in the center. Then take the other two mics and put them on the left side and the right side of the kit. Pan the three mics accordingly so that the high hat is panned over on the left side, the center mic is right up the middle, and the ride mic is panned over to the right side (if you want drummer perspective). This should give you a nice stereo spread with a focused center as well.

Each of these methods above will potentially give you a very cool drum sound. And you can also get a pretty great stereo image for some of these. But you might find that you still need to add close mics to the drums to really bring out the kick snare in toms. 

So don't be afraid to add a mic wherever you think you might need it if you just want to hear more of a particular drum in the final mix. Just remember to check the phase polarity on each mic as you add it to the overheads to make sure that it's not killing the punch of your drum sound, but enhancing instead.

 Lij Shaw 

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Host of the #1 iTunes podcast - Recording Studio Rockstars

 

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As always remember that this is MUSIC that you are making, not science. So whatever you do have fun first, and if it sounds good to you then it is good, Cheers!


Try these 8 drum miking methods for recording drums in your home studio, and you should see some awesome results. I can only cover so much in a single blog article. So if you are interested in getting much deeper into recording, editing, and mixing drums in your home studio you should check out Rockstars Of Drums.

Are you ready to take your drum recording, editing, and mixing to the next level? 

Check out my pro drum course:

 Rockstars Of Drums.

Learn how to record, edit, and mix pro sounding drums with Nashville session drummer Mike Radovsky and Grammy studio owner Lij Shaw. 

How To Choose The Best Drum Mics (For Your Home Studio)

How To Choose Drum mics 

(FOR YOUR HOME STUDIO)​​​​​

There are a lot of microphone available today. I mean really A LOT! But we want to get some for miking up our drum kit in our studio. So let's jump in and get started.

Let's search for "Microphone"  in Google and figure out which ones we want right?

283,000,000 microphones? 

Holy crap. I can't even count that high!

Hmm... Why don't we search for "Microphone" in Amazon and see what we get 

331,058 results!!

Um. Well how about we narrow it down even further?

Let's search for "Home Studio Microphone" in Amazon, and see what that looks like...

Ahhh. There we go. Now we can narrow it down to a mere 5,935 results... Hahaha!! So if you want to make a great choice for buying drum mics for your home studio all you need to do is search through 5,935 microphones???

Yeah I don't think so. 🙂

In fact when I started out in recording the best way to learn about which mics to use was either through trial and error (if you could get ahold of a mic) or ask someone else what to use.

So here are some of my favorite mics for recording drums (and a few recommended on the podcast too). Now bear in mind that there are no rules for this stuff since what we are creating here is art. So feel free to try anything and see what you think of the sound.

And what I will list here are the mics I might choose for a multi miking of the drum kit. More of a modern sound. Minimal miking is an awesome choice too: things like the Glyn Johns technique, the Recorderman, or the single mic Dap Kings method. But for now Ill talk about mics on each drum with overheads, ambient mics, and room mics.

KICK DRUM 

(BEATER INSIDE)


  • My favorite go to mic for capturing the inside of a kick drum is the AKG D112. I have tried many others (and like most all of them) but whenever I do an A/B comparison I always seems to come back to the D112. I just like the way it has a built in eq curve to boost some low end and add a little snap on the top without sounding too boxy.
  • I like to put it inside the drum going in through the hole in the front head if there is one. Ill point it at where the beater makes contact with the center of the drum head. My mentor Brad Jones also taught me to scoot it over toward the side of the drum shell to "Capture some of the wood" unless I really want more of a modern kick sound in which case I will leave it dead center.
  • And if the kick drum has a full front head with no hole then you can sometimes drop a mic cable through the small breather hole in the top of the kick drum and clip the inside mic to that leaving it dangling (but pointed at the beater). This will give you a rather "basket ball" sound but it works in a pinch to give you more definition to the final kick drum sound. Otherwise you would only have the outside mic to use.

EQ curve of D112, Beta 52, Audix D6 from DrumChat.com

  • Sennheiser MD421 -  Dynamic mic with an unusual mic clip and sounds really punchy. Make sure to check the low rolloff rotary switch near the clip to select the correct bass response.
  • Shure SM7 Dynamic mic great for vocals and also for bass and kick drum. Again make sure to check the low roll off eq selection in the back as well as the mid boost. Select to taste (though I often bypass the eq)
  • Electro Voice RE20 - This is another great microphone that always sounds like a really flat response to me. Whether that is true or not it sound to me like a focused midrange without too much hype in the lows or highs. Also a great vocal mic and classic radio mic like the Shure SM7. I love using this on the bass amp too.

Kick Drum MICS (Outside Front Head)

This is where the condenser comes in handy for recording the kick drum. You are likely to want a mic that captures a little more "air" and picks up on the full natural sound of the drum rather than just the focused attack that the inside mic gets. You can blend the outside mic with the inside mic for your complete kick sound. I usually favor the inside mic with just a hint of the outside mic to soften the focus of the inside mic.

  • Neumann FET47 - This is a classic go to mic for the kick. It actually works great on the inside of a kick too. But thats because it has both a capsule pad and output pad that will let you select the level the mic puts out to the mic pre. Thats why is is so useful as a kick mic, bass mic, or super loud guitar cab mic. Plus it picks up beautiful low freq and has a great tone all around. But of course it is not an inexpensive mic though.
  • AKG 414 - This is another great choice for the outside of a kick (or many other things for that matter). It has a pad selection that will let you knock off 20db of output from the mic. I have the AKG414 BULS and love it for it's dark full quality. It's also a great choice for recording vocals that need to soften a resonant midrange presence. I have had great luck with this mic for both male and female vocals.
  • Audio Technica 4033I also use this awesome affordable mic with its -10db pad to capture the front head of a kick drum sometimes. I like the extra midrange presence that it offers too. It has wonderful detail. When I recorded with Steve Albini we used it to record the bass amp cabinet too.


Snare MICS

DYNAMICS

  • Shure SM57 - Of course the classic mic of choice for snare drum is the Shure SM57. I use it all the time for both the top and bottom mics of my snare. I think it has a certain "whack" to the sound and eq response that is familiar and just sounds like a snare drum to me. Granted, I will always eq a lot more high frequency to the sound. I might add a shelf at 4kHz with my Calrec PQ1161s. And I will certainly add a little more in mixing too. But overall these mics just sound familiar. Plus if the drummer hits the mic by accident it wont break!
  • EV RE10 - This is an older dynamic mic that I use occasionally for the snare. It has a bit more upper mid boost than the 57, and can also sound great on the snare bottom.
  • Lewitt MTP 440 DM - This mic came to me as part of the Lewitt drum pack. I thought it sounded pretty awesome, and could be a great substitute for the SM57 without needing quite as much hi shelf eq boost.

CONDENSERS

  • Neumann KM84 - This is a condenser mic that can sound great on a snare. I have done interviews with some producers like George Massenburg and William Wittman who would much rather hear a snare recorded with a great condener mic and never have to hear a Shure SM57. But its always a matter of taste. So go with what sounds best to you!
  • AKG 451If you have an older model you might need to get a screw on -10db pad. But if you get the newer model this should be built in as a switch. You will get a brighter crisper sound out of this mic. But you might prefer a dynamic like the SM57 if the drummer is really hitting hard. Steve Albini prefered the AKG 451 for toms mics.
  • Sony C37I remember when the band, Autumn Defense, came to record with me. We used the Sony C37 for the snare on a bunch of tracks. It sounded killer! But the drummer was also gentle with the snare. If you are recording quieter songs then a condenser might work out great for your snare. It had a full soft dark tone.

TOM MICS

A four piece drum kit will usually consist of a kick, snare, rack tom, and floor tom. However you might find yourself dealing with a five piece kit having two rack toms or two floor toms. Or you might find youself recording Neil Peart and have a LOT of toms. Either way you will need something that sounds focused,  and great, and hopefully doesn't rip your head off with cymbal bleed.


DYNAMICS

  • Miktek PM11 - These are my go to mics for toms at The Toy Box Studio. They sound great. They are tough. And the mic clips go right onto the rims of the toms easily. When space is a premium a simple thing like avoiding mic stands is a huge deal!
  • Lewitt DTP 340 TT - The Lewitts are my other go to mic for toms. They also sound great, reject enough cymbals for most needs, and clip right onto the sides of the toms. So that I dont need extra mic stands around the kit.
  • Sennheiser 421 - Like the kick drum the 421 is a classic tom mic. It has an angled clip which makes it easier to come over the edge of the tom for positioning. If you can afford a couple of these then you wont be sorry.

CONDENSERS

  • Oktava MK12These are awesome little microphones! I bought four of these things years ago and use them everywhere. They sound great on toms if you set them off the drum a little to capture the full tone. Don't go way in close. Plus if they get damaged they are not that expensive to replace (they might be more now than when I first got them at $100/ea though)
  • Josephson e22SThese are hands down the best sounding tom mics I have ever heard! Designed with Steve Albini they are modeled after the AKG 451 but are side address for easily miking the toms. They are not the cheapest price but if you can get a pair of these for your drums you will probably get the best tom sounds in the neighborhood! 🙂


Overhead Mics

There a many ways to set your overhead mics on a drum kit. A very common way is a stereo pair over the drums. You might try a spaced pair, XY, ORTF, or anything else you think of. They can all sound great!

CONDENSERS

  • Miktek CV3These are my go to mics at The Toy Box Studio. I love the way these sound. With the large diaphragm I can capture more of a full sound of the kit than just the cymbals, and the tubes just bring out the richness of the drum shells. Plus they have a -10db pad that helps when the drums get loud.
  • Roswell Mini K47 - This is also a killer 47 style capsule that works great for capturing drum overheads. I would describe these as sounding less harmonically enhanced and more of a natural drum tone. Great for rock drums where you want a straight forward sound. I am really digging these mics!
  • Oktava MK12 - Again the MK12 is a very affordable mic and the small capsule condenser as an overhead gives you lots of bright focus to the drums. You may not need to sculpt the lower mids or cut lows with these mics like you would a large diaphragm condenser. 
  • Miktek C5 - Another small capsule mic these have a particularly smooth tone that you might love on drums! They don't have a pad though so maybe not the best choice for rocking out.
  • AKG 451 - Again a small capsule mic that can sounds pretty bright in a good way for the right music, but could rip your head off for a rock track or if the cymbals are already really bright (been there done that!)
  • AKG 414 - These are classic overhead mics that can work in many different situations. If you get the BULS versions or the ones with the C12 capsules then will have great luck with darkening the brightness of the cymbals. The C414 XLII pair will probably sound great but might be a bit brighter and hyped.
  • The Neumann U67, U87, and Gefell UMT 70S FET are all great choices for overhead mics too if you have the budget for them. They will sound rich and smooth and awesome!

There are too many vintage condenser mics that sound great on drums to cover here but I was able to mention a few that have worked great for me.

RIBBONS

  • Coles 4038The Coles ribbon mic is something to experience. I remember the first time I heard it it was so different from anything else I was used to. It will give you incredible detail while being totally dark at the same time. You can add lots of top end eq and it sounds great when you do. But be VERY VERY careful when you handle these mics or move them around. The ribbon is so fragile inside that to see it move is like watch a slight breeze make a spider web glide through the air. So they can't handle any burst of air from a voice or kick drum. This will destroy the ribbon inside. Also don't send phantom power to these mics by accident!
  • Royer 121Royer makes beautiful microphones. These ribbons are wonderful sounding and unlike the Coles they can handle a lot more volume without distortion. They wont blow out with a slight gust of air. So you can put them right in front of guitar amps or mic the drums more closely with them. Royer recommends that you angle the mic 45 degrees in front of loud sources though to avoid overload and distortion. It can be a little confusing but Royer also makes the active 122 ribbon mic. So DON'T send phantom power to the 121 but DO send phantom power to the 122. Got it? Oh lord....
  • Fat Head Ribbons - Ive been hearing a lot of great things about the Fat Head ribbon mics. If you want something at a very affordable value then check out the Fat Head mics.

Room Mics 

Room mics are a great way to put some real excitement and energy into your drum sound. When I worked with Steve Albini we asked all sorts of questions about recording In Utero with Nirvana at Pachyderm studio (of course we did!). And what we learned is that a huge part of Dave Grohl's awesome drum sound came from the room mics (with his great playing of course). In fact Steve favored the room mics over the overhead mics when it came time to mix. 

Now of course the opposite could be true for certain records. An classic Eagles or Steely Dan record probably wouldn't sound right if you heard tons of room mic in the mix. So decide for yourself what you are going for and mix accordingly. Meanwhile here are some cool choices for room mics.

  • Miktek C7 - These are my go to room mics at The Toy Box Studio. In fact I leave them set up all the time above the loft railing. That way I can just patch them in any time and add room mics to anything that I record. They sound great and have a selectable pattern. I have ben using them in cardiod a lot but am going to start using them in omni more often to avoid any off axis coloration of the cymbals in the room.
  • Roswell Delphos or Mini K47 - These sound great on just about everything! Room mics included. Plus they have very low noise which is great when using them as a room mic since you may need lots of gain which can bring up the noise floor in the mic signal to your DAW.
  • Marshall 2001 (MXL mics) - These were actually my first stereo pair of large diphragm condenser mics back in 2000. I still break them out for recording and they work and sound great! I don't think my particular model is manufactured any longer but MXL makes all sorts of other models that could be a great choice too.
  • Lewitt LCT 640 - Lewitt is a Swedish mic company that makes this model very similar to the AKG 414. This is a very versatile and great sounding microphone! I use everywhere from drums to guitars, and piano. Its just a great all around mic.
  • Altec M20 - This is a mic I learned about from Steve Albini. He always did a really cool trick where he put a pair of mics on the ground in front of the drum kit with a slight delay between them so that one mic was delayed 20 miliseconds  and the other perhaps 24 miliseconds. This gave a cool stereo widening effect to the fairly close close ambient mics in front of the drums. He used Altec coke bottle 150s but these are very similar. A Pair of PZM mics on the floor would work great too. 

And then finally any of the great overhead choices would make a perfect choice for room mics as well. What you really need are a pair of mics that will allow you to bring up the gain without added noise. Also I find that darker mics are preferable so that you don't emphasize too much cymbals brightness in the room sound. Really they are great to adding body and power to the drum shells rather than cymbals.


Check out some of these mics in your home studio if you can get ahold of them, and you should see some awesome results. There are many more to choose from and many that I have not mentioned that would be totally fantastic for you!

If you know anyone locally that would let you rent or borrow some mics to try out that is really the best way to see what you think. Sometimes the local music store will let you take home a pair to test them or give you a return policy for a week or two. That way you can really find out whether they are the right mics for you.

But don't get too caught up in the choice though. Any of these mics listed would be good enough for you to make a great record. And remember its all about the drummer anyway! You're just there to capture what they do with great mic placement!

I can only cover so much in a single blog article. So if you are interested in getting much deeper into recording, editing, and mixing drums in your home studio you should check out Rockstars Of Drums.

Are you ready to take your drum recording, editing, and mixing to the next level? 

Check out my pro drum course:

 Rockstars Of Drums.

Learn how to record, edit, and mix pro sounding drums with Nashville session drummer Mike Radovsky and Grammy studio owner Lij Shaw. 

What are your favorite mics from drums in your studio? Leave a comment below and let me know...

5TipsForAwesomeDrums

5 Tips For Awesome Drums In Your Home Studio

Recording drums in your home studio can be one of the most complex and tricky instruments you will ever get to record.

With so many drums that make up a complete kit and so many mics and mic choices it can be a bit overwhelming at first. But fear not! You can capture a great drum recording in your home studio if you follow these simple guidelines:

1 - Start with a great drummer. Duh!

There is really is no substitute for starting with a great musician. There are infinite possibilities in how a drummer can hit the drums creating a variety of sounds and tones. And if the drummer has a great touch and tone when playing the kit it will make the whole drum kit sound better. When the drum kit sounds better your mics sound better, no matter what mic you choose.

And of course there are also an endless number of drum grooves to choose from too. You can take a group of drummers all playing the same exact groove, but each will have a different flavor and style to the way they play that groove. So choose someone that plays with great feel and makes it fun for you to play guitar and sing (if you are playing along).

Now of course some of us like to play drums ourselves, and that’s just fine. If you are a great drummer yourself then you’ve already got that covered and can get right down to recording. However if you are a wanna be drummer (like me) then you might really want to consider bringing in a ‘real’ drummer for the session. I don’t want to discourage you from playing drums if you really enjoy it. But if you decide to bring in someone really good then you may discover that the groove feels better, the fills are more solid, and the tones are far more consistent.

At the end of the recording  journey you may find that its far easier to mix a pro drummer than it is to mix your own drumming. Plus when you engineer a pro drummer you can hear what the results are a you set the mic positions and levels. When you record yourself its more of a guessing game to get the mics just right.

2. Start with a well selected, tuned, or treated drum kit.

Drums are like guitars and need to be in tune to sound their best. When a drum is well tuned it can have a great tone and really sing. In fact the whole kit can sound better if you have chosen the best drum shells, heads, and cymbals as a group. No this doesn’t mean that you have to have an expensive or fancy kit. In fact I have a motley collection of drums in my studio that I have gathered over the years, but they are mostly drums that I really like the sound of when I first found them.

I have a collection of snares (around 6?) and they all sound a little different from each other. Some are student snares with only 6 lugs, some are wooden, and the others are metal. There are two snares that have consistently proven to be great choices for rock songs (or just about any song for that matter), The Ludwig Supraphonic, and the Ludwig Acrolite snare drums are both excellent affordable choices for an all around rock snare that can be tuned up or down depending on the song.

Ludwig Supraphonic Snare

Ludwig Acrolite Snare

3. Start with one mic and work your way up from there.

We all get excited about having a great mic closet full of amazing mics, and of course a drum kit can be the one instrument that we record where we use the most mics in the studio. But it’s best to start out simple and really get to know and understand what each mic is doing.

I started out with the Marshall 2001s which later became MXL. This a large diaphragm condenser mic that sounded pretty great (back then at only at only $100 each). And you would be surprised just how good a single mic on the drums can sound.

If you're ready to get something really well built an excellent and affordable large diaphragm mic for drums is the Roswell Pro Audio Mini K47. You can find these brand new with a shock mount and case for only $299 each. They sound killer and are modeled after the vintage U47 capsule. So you get a sweet boost in the upper mids that is smooth for recording exciting drums without getting harsh when you mix.

Roswell Mini K47

There are many ways you can mic a drum kit with one mic:

  • Try placing a mic above the kit looking down so that it can see all the drums and cymbals.
  • Try placing the mic near the drummer’s head so that it looks at the kit like the drummer does.
  • Try placing the mic on the floor in front of the kit.
  • Try placing the mic above the kick pointing toward the side of snare and top of the kick so that it can hear both the kick drum and the snare in a balanced way while picking up the rest of the kit at the same time.

Listen for the balance of the drums coming out of the speakers. If you need more of a particular drum simply move the mic closer and if you need less of something move it away. Once you feel like you understand what’s going on with the single mic then you can better understand what’s missing and start to add close mics on the drums to help bring out what the single mic lacks.

4. Try The Recorderman Setup For A Simple Mic Configuration.

If you have a pair of mics you can try the Recorderman setup. Basically you take one mic above the drum kit pointing down at the rack tom and snare and measure the distance to the center of the snare drum and also the kick beater.

Then you take the second mic and place it near the drummer’s shoulder on the floor tom side (the image below is a right handed drummer). Measure the shoulder mic so that it is also the same distance away from the center of the snare and the kick beater.

Then you can pan both mics stereo all the way to the left and right and the snare and kick sound will stay in the center image since they both reach the two mics at the same time through the air.

If you want to take the Recorderman to the next level you can try what I’ve loosely been calling the “Lijman” technique where you add a third mic out in front of the kick, but measure it to be the same distance to the kick beater as the other two mics. That way you can get a little more impact, focus, and body out of the kick drum. And because it is the same distance from the beater as the other two mics the attack will stay focused right in the center image.

5. Be Aware Of The Sound Of Your Room.

If you are lucky to have a great sounding room for the drums in your house then congrats, and go ahead and start recording! But if you are like most of us the room might sound a little funny. Perhaps the walls are all hard dry wall and the space sounds like an boxy empty office space. Or maybe you are in a basement with a lot of splashy sound coming back off the concrete walls.

The best way to treat the bad sound is to start adding elements that are the opposite of the bad sound. So if the space is too boxy and the echo in the room doesn’t sound good then go ahead and start adding elements to the walls and space that soak up the junky reverb. For example if you add blanket and soft artwork to the walls then it will soften the reflection of the mids and high frequencies bouncing back off the walls toward the drums.

But beware that the easiest frequencies to deaden are the upper frequencies which can often leave the low frequencies still bouncing around in an uncontrolled way. Undesirable room modes are usually the cause for this. One effective way to treat bad room modes is to start filling up the space with overstuffed furniture. If you can find an old couch and put it in the corner or add huge stacks of cushions to the corners then you might find it tightens up bass response of the drums.

Use careful mic placement to help alleviate the room problem too. You might rely on close mics a little more. Or bring your overhead mics down a little closer to the drums so that they hear the direct drums more, and reflections off the walls and ceiling less.

In fact you can even add a third overhead mic in the center to balance out the stereo image better. So one mic near the hihat, another near the ride, and a third one above the center of the kit with the hi hat and ride mics panned out to the sides in the mix.

Try these 5 tips for recording drums in your home studio, and you should see some awesome results. I can only cover so much in a single blog article. So if you are interested in getting much deeper into recording, editing, and mixing drums in your home studio you should check out Rockstars Of Drums.

Are you ready to take your drum recording, editing, and mixing to the next level? 

Check out my pro drum course:

 Rockstars Of Drums.

Learn how to record, edit, and mix pro sounding drums with Nashville session drummer Mike Radovsky and Grammy studio owner Lij Shaw. 

Fab Filter Pro-Q 2

Fab Filter Pro-Q 2 – Interview with Grammy winning Mixer Chad Brown & Lij Shaw

One of the tools that you simply must have for mixing has been around since the earliest days of recording. The equalizer. It sounds like a super hero name because it is!

You might need to fix something that just didn’t quite work well enough during the recording stage, or reshape the timbre of a sound, or want to fit all the elements of a mix together to make it great.

The first tools you should always reach for are the mute button, and the fader. But when those don’t do what you need grab yourself an eq.

I got a call from my friend Chad Brown recently who was mixing a record for the Zuni Mountain Boys. He was really fired up about a plugin he was trying out, Fab Filter Pro-Q 2.

“Dude, This thing is totally awesome!” he cried over the phone.

So I did what anyone would do… I went over to his studio to shoot a video interview while he walked us through the coolest features of Fab Filter Pro-Q 2.

Cool stuff you will learn from Chad in this video:

  • How to eq a kick drum
  • How to eq a snare
  • Low and high cut filtering
  • Mixing vocals and helping with bleed
  • One simple EQ trick to blend a vocal into a mix
  • Why Fab Filter can sound like an old record player
  • Many more cool features of Fab Filter Pro Q that you can use right away
  • Try it free with the 30 day demo.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as we did making it!

Cheers,

Lij

Watch it here or click the video below…

Fab Filter Pro-Q 2

 

Stereo Master Bus Proccessing using Stock and FREE plugins in Pro Tools

Stereo Master Bus Proccessing using Stock and FREE plugins in Pro Tools

by Lij Shaw - RecordingStudioRockstars.com​

How would you like to make your mixes sound louder and more exciting?

Using only FREE plugins!!!

In a previous video I showed you how to make your mix sound waaayy better using only a handful of awesome plugins on the master mix bus. And this is a super simple way to make your mix sound punchier, louder, and just plain more exciting.

But…

The plugins I showed you don’t come with your Pro Tools and cost you hard earned money to buy them. They might not be in your budget yet.

What if you could make your mixes sound waaayy better using only free and stock plugins that already come with your Pro Tools? Wouldn’t that be cool?

No need to get your wallet out or fret over which new plugin is going to give you that “finished record professional sound.”

In this video I show you how to use some of the stock plugins that come with your Pro Tools, and a couple of FREE plugins that you can go download right now at no charge (and no gimmicks to buy later. these are NOT demos).

If you have Pro Tools installed then you have most of the plugins you need for this great mixing trick.​ And the others you can get free at these links...

I hope you Rockstars enjoy this. It will help your mixes sound killer!

To learn more about recording sign up for the email list. So I can send you articles, videos, and podcasts to help you become a "Rockstar of the recording studio"

And Ill send you the Free Master Mix Bundle (when I finish and release it soon)

It will include:

  • Video walkthrough for mixing American Winter (instrumental track)
  • Pro Tools template for stock plugins
  • All the multitrack files for you to mix on your own!
  • You can you use it as your own mix example! (You just cant sell it please)

Cheers! Lij

Stereo Master Bus Processing in Protools with Lij Shaw

Stereo Master Bus Processing in Protools

by Lij Shaw - RecordingStudioRockstars.com​

Are you looking for an easy way to make your mixes sound louder and more exciting?

Putting a lot of energy into carefully building a mix, with attention to getting all the instrument and track balances just right, is always going to be the best and longest path to a great mix. And having a killer song arrangement and performance will always be the first step.

However sometimes you need to get something to sound better in a hurry. Or maybe you have already worked hard on getting your mix to sounds good but it still not great yet or where you want it to be.

Fortunately there is a faster way to get your mixes to pop!

Using EQ, saturation, and dynamics processing on the master stereo bus is the secret sauce to getting an exciting mix with only a few plugins. It’s the quickest way to make your mixes sound “like a finished record” or “like they are on the radio”.

By using a series of master bus plugins and making small adjustments to each one you can make your mix go a long way.

In this video I show you how to quickly make a mix punchier and more exciting (and wider) with only four plugins. I use some of my favorite third party plugins, but you could also use stock plugins to get most of these same benefits.

​Ill follow this with another video using only stock Pro Tools plugins next time, and show you how to take your mix to the next level. So you can be a rockstar of the recording studio even with what you've already got in your DAW.

To learn more about recording sign up for the email list. So I can send you articles, videos, and podcasts to help you become a "Rockstar of the recording studio"

Cheers! Lij

Protools 11 New Track Hack!

Protools 11 New Custom Track Hack!

by Lij Shaw - RecordingStudioRockstars.com​

In this video Lij covers a cool hack for creating your own custom tracks in Pro Tools 11.

Benjamin Benekos and Tyler Schaefer, two of the awesome interns at The Toy Box Studio, walk you through how to create your own custom track setup whether for an instrument or audio track.

You can easily call it up just the way you want anytime you make a new track in Pro Tools.

You can even use this hack to create a whole group of new tracks like drum groups for example!

To learn more about recording sign up for the email list. So I can send you articles, videos, and podcasts to help you become a "Rockstar of the recording studio"

Cheers! Lij

What is parallel loop compression?

What is parallel loop compression?

by Lij Shaw - RecordingStudioRockstars.com​

In this video Lij walks you through using parallel compression to beef up your loops, and add more crunch.

Using a simple loop and the built in BF 1176 that comes stock with Pro Tools you can make your drum loops sound huge! This trick is so easy and will give your mixes that "In Your Face" sound!

To learn more about recording sign up for the email list. So I can send you articles, videos, and podcasts to help you become a "Rockstar of the recording studio"

Cheers! Lij

Pro Tools EQ 3 7-Band

How To EQ – Pro Tools EQ3 7-Band

Pro Tools EQ 3 7-Band

​By Lij Shaw - RecordingStudioRockstars.com

This is a continuation of How to EQ part 1 where I explained some of the basics of EQ and Frequency. But now its time to get to the real stuff. What do we do with this EQ?

Ok Ok thats all nice and wonderful, but what do we do with these crazy colorful buttons and lines on our computer screen??
Eq 7-Band Knobs

Eq 7-Band Knobs

Most EQ plugins have a combination of knobs and graphs for managing the EQ curve. This means that you can often adjust the settings in a couple of different places. However they are controlling the same thing in the end. The EQ graph is usually low freq to the left and high freq to the right.

EQs often have frequency “bands” or points that you can move up or down or side to side to boost, cut, or move the center point of a frequency.

In Protools the stock EQ plugin is called the 7 band EQ. It has seven different frequency areas that represent the most common and useful areas to add or subtract EQ.

There a few different types of EQ curves to use:

  • Hi Pass and Low Pass filters - These are useful to remove frequencies above or below a certain point. You may find yourself using hi pass filters often to remove the unwanted bass, rumble, or boominess from some instruments.
  • Bell curves - These are the most typical EQ curve and boost or cut at the center frequency while tapering off to either side. This creates a bell shape. If the Q or quality of the bell curve is set high then the bell shape is very narrow and sharp. If the Q is low then the curve is wide and softer sounding.
  • Shelf EQ - This curve boosts or cuts the audio at the selected frequency point and then stays that way for the rest of the spectrum. A low shelf boosts everything below the target frequency, and a high shelf boost everything above. So If you boost with a low shelf at 100Hz then the frequencies below 100 will stay boosted all the way down to 0Hz. Or if you boost with a high shelf at 10kHz then the frequencies above 10kHz will stay boosted all the way up to infinity.

Here’s a breakdown of the Protools 7band EQ:


  • Low Cut

    • Cuts everything below the selected freq

    • The Q selects different dB/octave settings. 6dB is a gentle slope. And 24 dB is a sharp cut

  • LF - Low Frequency

    • This defaults to a low shelf but can be changed to a bell curve

    • The default freq is 100Hz

    • You can boost or cut by 12dB

    • 100 Hz and below is where the bass instruments live. Kick drums, bass guitar, and sub are living down below 100Hz

    • You won’t hear any of this on your iPhone speaker output! 

  • LMF - Low Mid Frequency

    • This is a bell curve

    • The default freq is 200 Hz (an octave up from the LF selection).

    • You can boost or cut by 18dB. More than the shelf EQ. A lot really!

    • 200 Hz and below is where the body of your tone lives. It’s also the area referred to as muddiness. Hearing the note of your bass guitar, the body of an acoustic guitar, the body of a snare drum, and the lower tone of a human voice all live in this area

    • 100-200 Hz This may sound a little more like the bass area on your iPhone speaker. I can hear 80 Hz if I hold the speaker up to my ear!

    • Despite the fact that too much info at 200-300 Hz will make your mix sound muddy humans actually find these frequencies comforting. 200-500 Hz is what we heard for 9 months growing inside our mothers wombs! So we feel safe and secure hearing this stuff. If you remove too much LMF to clear up your mix then it can lose its appeal.

  • MF - Mid Frequency

    • This is a bell curve

    • The default freq is 1000 Hz

    • You can boost or cut by 18dB. Thats a lot, by the way!

    • 1kHz is the tone used to test audio levels and studio equipment. Because it is right in the middle range of human hearing. The reason it is so easy to hear is because that matches the size of our ear canal. The hole in the side of your head resonates at 1 kHz! You ear is an instrument similar to a wind instrument.

    • This is the frequency area of voice. It is where we get most of our useful information in the audio world because our ears and hearing have developed through evolution to accommodate the human voice.

    • a 1000 Hz (or 1KHz) sounds pretty loud on your iPhone speaker. It is that midrange frequency that can start to get painful if it’s too loud.

    • You my want to add a little 1-2 KHz to your mix or to the guitars if you want them to sound a little louder. Music turned up loud needs some solid midrange to be crankable.

  • HMF - High Mid Frequency

    • This is a bell curve.

    • The default freq is 2000 Hz (or 2kHz).

    • You can boost or cut by 18dB. Be careful!

    • 2kHz and above is the upper range of the midrange and gets into what is called presence. This is the area where we get a sense of clarity in sound. Without proper presense a voice or instrument can sound cloudy or muffled.

    • Watch out that you don’t boost too much here or you will start to hurt your ears. Too much 2KHz can make my jaw tighten and ears cringe!

  • HF - High Frequency

    • This defaults to a shelf but can be changed to a bell curve.

    • The default freq is 6000 Hz (or 6 kHz).

    • You can boost or cut by 12dB.

    • This is where the treble and air in your music lives. This will affect the sound of a pick on an acoustic guitar, cymbals on the drums, tape hiss and general hiss noise from equipment. These are your brightness frequencies.

    • If you boost with a shelf above 6-10 kHz you can get a sense of hi fidelity and clarity. This can sound like you are adding more air to the mix.

    • However watch that dont add too much as it will make your mix sound brittle and very “un-crankable!”

And of course, boosting is not the only direction to go with EQ. There are many who swear that cutting EQ sounds better than boosting. So if you find a problem area in your music you can use the cut feature to remove it rather than trying to add more of the frequency that you like.

Another consideration is that the more that you boost or cut EQ the more it creates phase shift in the audio. When you add up the phase shift of different tracks together it can make the final result sound unfocused and you may not like the results.

A smart practice is to only EQ when you really want it, and avoid EQ if you don’t really need it.



A great way to get more familiar with EQ and what the different frequency areas are like is to use a signal generator plugin to sweep through and hear the different frequencies. Protools has a stock plugin called Signal Generator. You can sweep the signal frequency up and down to hear the change in pitch and what parts of the low bass you can hear, or where the top-most frequency is for your speakers and your ears, for example. Play with this until you become familiar with all the frequencies. another great resource is the app listed below!

But be very careful that your speakers are not turned up loud while you sweep the Signal Generator or you could damage them!

I hope this helps explain some of what an EQ is all about and gives you a little more insight into how to use the stock EQ in your audio app. Most all audio apps come with some sort of free eq plugin and they are generally similar to the one I described here.

If you want to get more practice understanding EQ then I highly recommend you get a cool little app called Quiztones. This app lets you practice identifying various tones and EQ selections.

Quiztones puts the fun into learning EQ!


Good luck!


















how To EQ In Logic Pro X

How To EQ In Logic Pro X

by Lij Shaw - RecordingStudioRockstars.com​

In this video I cover how to use EQ in Logic. This is a basic walkthrough to show you what the different frequencies are and how you can use them to EQ a drum loop.

Ill be making more videos that go much deeper into EQ and drum loops soon for sure!

To learn more about recording visit recordingstudiorockstars.com and sign up for the email list. So I can send you articles, videos, and podcasts to help you become a "Rockstar of the recording studio"

Cheers! Lij