Anyone recording live drums? Tell us about how you do it!

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  • @guatecoop  Jan 18

    I always record live drums and percussion and am also always interested in how others record them.
    I have varied between a 4 and 5 piece kit. This year is a traditional 5 piece. I have also done everything from Glynn Johns, xy, and recorderman (by suggestion from @w1n), along with close mics on the kick and snare at least.
    This year, Iโ€™m thinking about using a different overhead approach with ribbon mics, but to do so I needed some sound treatment, which I did. I like recorderman, but wish the crash cymbals had a little more punch. We shall see.
    What do you guys use? Placement? Mics? Preamps? Plugins? Drum buss?
    I donโ€™t even have any notion of how many people record live drums, but I know that there a some. It should be interesting to see.

  • @stevenwesleyguiles  Jan 18

    I'm a Glynn Johns man by necessity.
    And I JUST did it last night with a friend playing live guitar pretty loud and it still came out pretty great I think.

    I have two overheads (Oktavas from the 90s that I got at Guitar Center for some cheap deal of some sort), a kick mic, and a 57 on the snare.

    Here's the track we did.

    I AM also running all my drum tracks the the UA 4-710. That's new this past year.

  • @steffan  Jan 18

    I've been digging Kick/Snare/MonoOH recently and then a room mic way down the hall for funsies. My space has dumb low ceilings, though, so I shoot for vibey lo-fish drums as opposed to crisp clean Steve Albini drums...
    That's the last drum sound I got in my space.

  • @steffan  Jan 18

    @stevenwesleyguiles that's solid. What kick mic are you using?

  • @stevenwesleyguiles  Jan 18

    Kick- e602
    Snare - 57
    Overheads - Oktava MK-219s

  • @guatecoop  Jan 18

    Iโ€™ve got a pair of 219s, but never used them as overheads...hmmm.
    I use a 112 on kick, 635a on snare, and either audix f15s or isk little gems for overheads. I sometimes put a 57 beta on the top snare or for the bottom snare.

  • @zecoop  Jan 18

    @guatecoop already knows this, lol, but for the thread...
    I have everything mic'd up, just because I have an interface for my drums. Typically I use all the mics. Audix f15 for overheads, although i have a couple Sterling ST170 ribbon mics I want to try. SM57 on snare top. Audix on everything else: i5 under the snare, D2 on the rack toms, D4 on the floor tom, D6 on the kick.

    I have used overheads above, Glynn Johns and Recorderman. I think i'm going Recorderman this time, unless I switch to the ribbons, which would be out front X-Y. I am a hack on drums anyway, so it doesn't matter, lol. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • @stevenwesleyguiles  Jan 18

    @steffan p.s. I love that groove on the video you showed on Insta. Solid.

  • @standup  Jan 18

    I have a basement space that's for band practice and recording. @Pfoo's drums are set up and always mic'd up.

    I guess it's a "recorderman" setup these days: EV868 on kick, EV408 on snare (it's a really small mic with a tight pattern, tucks in under the high hat). Overheads are a Sony c38 on the floor tom side and a ribbon on the snare side. Mic preamps are Focusrite ISA428 on overheads and API on kick and snare.

    I've been accumulating this junk for over 20 years. The API pre's were the first nice ones ever, probably 25 years ago and still going stong. I've got things set up so I can record a whole band at once, I really value having that capability.

    For FAWM I mostly use EZ Drummer, because I feel guilty taking away from pfoo's time to come downstairs and play on one of my songs.

    And finally, I want to mess around with some lo-fi 2 mic drum recordings this FAWM if I can get pfoo to help out.

  • @lvgd09  Jan 18

    @stevenwesleyguiles Sounds great! I just have the laptop speakers right now but I can tell. Ready to rock n roll! Nice job on that. Yeah, maybe the guitar is a little loud but that's can hear the drums too.

  • @guatecoop  Jan 19

    Speaking of 2 mic recordings, the guy who records at Daptone Records (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings for example) only uses 2 mics, but says that he often just takes a lot of time on placement, of course. I always have that in my mind, but am not blessed with the time that he has. I think that they recorded in a house, so itโ€™s not like he used a $1M room.

  • @paulhenry  Jan 19

    Could someone elucidate for the ignorant: recorderman, and Glynn John's?

  • @standup  Jan 19

    recorderman and Glyn Johns are famous internet-talked-about methods of placing the drum overheads. They both have two other mics, one on the kick and one on the snare. Total of 4. In "recorderman" they are both above the kit, and depending on who you listen to, maybe in front or behind the kit...

    (Edited to ad: That sent me down a rabbit hole. First point: Glyn Johns is a 3-mic technique, no snare mic. And here's a video showing Eric "Mixerman" Serafin explaining how this all started. "Recorderman" is an engineer named Eric Greedy.

    Glynn Johns had an overhead directly over the snare and an "overhead" peeking over the edge of the floor tom, at a bit of distance.

    Use a tape measure to get the same distance between the center of the snare and each overhead.

    in "recorderman" move the mics until the snare appears in the center of the stereo image.

    That's what I remember about these.

  • @stevenwesleyguiles  Jan 19

    I made a little video about my set up and posted on Instagram. swguiles

  • @guatecoop  Jan 19

    @paulhenry , I didnโ€™t know until I stumbled on the Glynn Johns method and went down that rabbit hole. Welcome to our hole.

  • @bootlegger Jan 19

    I'm doing live drums this year.
    We record them at the studio my friend owns. He's got a big live room we use. Typically we use a kit with kick snare high and low toms, a floor Tom, a high hat, crash and ride.

    I like dynamic mics on overheads. Usually RE20. 57 on top and bottom of snare. For kick I like md421. Beta 98's go on all the toms. Then there's usually a warm audio 251 out in the room.

    Kick, top and bottom snare and room mics are tracked through an API 3124. Overheads through a neve 1073 and the toms go through the stock pres on our C24 control surface.

    I used to do a modified Glyn johns technique but had less spot mics so now I guess I'm doing something similar to the recorderman technique because the focus of the overheads is on snare and it just happens to grab everything else.

  • @aflinner  Jan 19

    My kit used to be a 5 piece, but long ago I sold the bass drum and converted the floor tom into a 16โ€ kick, so now itโ€™s an apartment-friendly 4 piece. I prefer to mic both toms, snare top and bottom (gotta watch the phase inversion), kick, and overhead condensers (gonna try approximate ortf on a bar for those this year just to eliminate a mic stand). All that goes into the digital mixer.

  • @aflinner  Jan 19

    ...when I first got rid of the original bass drum, I had originally set it up as a cocktail kit, inverting the kick pedal and playing both sides of the floor tom, tuned carefully. Since all the heads where facing up and down, I was actually able to get some pretty balance results with one overhead mic at that time.

  • @standup  Jan 19

    I usually don't bother with bottom snare, but it does give a bit more dimension to the sound if you have 2 mics on the snare. But I'm lazy, and these are usually demos.

  • @ustaknow Jan 19

    I've used from a 4 piece, to 5 or more with various cymbals, an old Sonor kit, with nice (imo) cymbals as they come along, some off brand one-offs that came out well. (I always wanted to get into rehammering, -- just not yet; I'll have to have nothing to do for that to happen ๐Ÿ˜€ )

    I went from one mic, to nearly full kit mic'd with two overheads for Cymbals.

    I am thinking, the (what i call) "john b" method, two overheads and just adjust the kit to them, and ones dynamics, and then mix may be the way to go, -- if redo it again.

    -- It's, for me, so much work, to a self contained Powered Mixer, to USB, to Laptop DAW where I record to the demo that may or may not have had a Click to go by. But, I don't have to explain that "here". To then bring to the other DAW and mix in... demo's just don't get that treatment.

    On occasion, I've played to a leadsheet that had guitar chords to frame it then, redid the song to that track, drums first. That usually results in doing both again, -- lots of work for a first pass demo not even a year old, (if a keeper?).

    This year, I think, I am breaking out my Cajon again and using various beaters, brush configs to go with the 1v1g I tend to like for lyrics. If done carefully enough, one can "fool" a demo ๐Ÿ˜€ into it not sounding like a Cajon, maybe ๐Ÿ˜€

  • @guatecoop  Jan 19

    I mic the bottom snare because I want to hear an absolute snare drum, rather than anything tom-like. It also helps my get ghost notes to come out in the mix a little better. I do gate the snare and it annoys me when the smaller details are not coming through.
    Anyone mic the side of the snare or the beater side of the kick?

  • @aflinner  Jan 19

    @guatecoop Iโ€™ve micโ€™d the beater side of the kick before, might do it again this year, depending. If the mic on the resonant side is picking up all boom with too little attack, blending the two can help balance things out. Again, have to be careful of phase cancellation. Since I only have one proper kick mic, Iโ€˜m really only likely to get attack and presence out of the beater side anyway, since my kick mic goes at the front.

  • @standup  Jan 19

    I also want to try a "heart of kit" mic, an omni dynamic between the kick, snare, and rack tom. Sometime in February.

  • @aflinner  Jan 19

    Helpful crash course in drum mic techniques from the Audio-Technica blog:

    If you click on the headings going down the page, theyโ€™re all videos.

  • @aflinner  Jan 19

    @standup Check it out:


  • @phlex Jan 19

    I've been enjoying the process of recording (and learn to play) drums! I started with 4 preamps (kick + snare + stereo room), but felt the hihat needed focus as well, and so recently sourced another 4 pres. And so now i have 8 (kick + snare + stereo room + stereo kit (toms) + hihat) which feels pretty good.

    Kick mic is Heil PR40 in the kick facing the beater.
    Snare is Senn MD421 facing down at the top skin. I've been trying to mic the bottom of the snare, but I find it hard as it rattles too much. I play pretty quietly, and so have the wire tension quite loose. I will try both top and bottom at some point.
    Stereo kit is Cascade ribbons on a Blumlein bar. They sound great on cymbals - nice hi freq roll off/slow attack.
    Stereo room is Neumann km130, which are really great! Got a beaten up pair unseen for cheap, and they work fine.
    Hihat I have an AKG 414 XL - the mic's buttons are busted (got it cheap), so it's stuck in whatever polar pattern it boots up in. Brittle sounding mic, but good on hats.

  • @phlex Jan 19

    I haven't been too careful with phase, but will bust out a correlation meter for FAWM to see if I can minimise phase issues. Anyone play around with correlation meters when setting up mics? Voxengo have a good free one.

    I've been exploring the free AirWindows plugins, and there's a lot there for drums - worth checking out! Golem looks good for double micing the kick or snare.

  • @guatecoop  Jan 19

    @phlex I LOVE airwindows! I use the buss4colors for drum buss often. That guy is so casually brilliant.

  • @paulhenry  Jan 19

    @standup, thanks for the background. I do very simple percussion, if at all. But I worked at a studio years ago in the analog days, and I remember how involved the drum setups we're.

  • @alamous Jan 20

    I've done it a few times for FAWM. Mostly it's been:
    Glyn Johns OH with SD+BD
    AB OH:s with SD+BD

    OHs any nice pair of mics (Neumann U89 or Mojave M301 or Voodoo VR1 ribbons)
    BD (Telefunken M82)
    SD (SM57)

    Preamps and EQ have mostly been my Concoles own preamps (soundcraft ghost 32) and usually there isn't any compression going in.

    Sometimes I might add either Tom mics, or a pair of room mics or a Hihat+snare bottom, depending on the music. For folk/country stuff, the room mics are nice to have and for more intensive arrangements with a lot of instruments either the toms or the hihat+sd bottom is a nice option.

    I don't play the drums, so If I'm recording drums I also need to get somebody else to play them for me ๐Ÿ˜ So during FAWM I mostly stick to samples

  • @ustaknow Jan 20

    It's interesting to read what others do and why and think about my own experience. I left out the "room" mic, which I like. Anyway, why I post is, -- no matter what, how, or why, I find I have to alter the tuning in some way, maybe not drastically, but altered. And, per what I may use. So for example, I have (as most do) several Snare Drums, the original Sonor, Yamaha, various shell depths and dimensions and "Snares" across the bottom along with skins.

    So, e.g., if I did mic the bottom on one, I may not another only because I get a very unpleasant sound when mic'd (no matter what), that "Live" just is not there, -- sounds great otherwise and may even push what causes the issue (tighter/looser snare, as e.g.).

    Also, buzzes and rattles show up that I just don't otherwise hear.

    So, that's the "work", -- not lazy, but I don't have half a day to track down stuff. However, the last time I did, -- that's the way it is set up now. And that's how it got a dup'd setup, finally, -- from mixer, to DAW to then save to USB Thumbdrive and take it to the more comfortable "mixing station" ๐Ÿ˜€ hahhh where anything else would get demo'd, voice, bass, guitar... .

    (The cajon thing came from a number of Live acoustic video versions of Top-40 "hits" that had cajon only, and if didn't look, just listened, -- passed as a kit, but, were using beaters of some kind, not "hands".)

  • @dasbinky  Jan 22

    Interesting seeing all of the cool setups!

    I just use a cheap drum mic set I picked up off Amazon (Pyle): snare, three toms, kick, two overheads. Nothing fancy, but it captues the sound well enough. 7 mics for $100 fit the budget!

    My interface can handle 8 inputs, so I'll either do a snare bottom or a more distant room mic, depending on the effect I'm going for. Generally I keep the kit miked full-time, so I don't have to worry about adjustments once I'm dialed in, and I've got DAW templates with my preferred EQ / effects for given styles / genres. It's streamlined enough that I can record decent sounding live drums for a skirmish demo and still have time to spare. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • @kanttila Jan 22


    I mic my drums with a blue snowball upwards pointed towards the snare. My drums don't sound amazing but it's an easy way to do things without thinking about it too much. I used to put my Rock Band mic on a chair a few feet away. The key is to just turn the recording sensitivity down to like 20-30 range.

  • @stevenwesleyguiles  Jan 23

    @dasbinky Yeah! Having everything set up AND having the templates is so cool because you're up and running with a good sound out of the gate. Then it all comes down to the songwriting and creativity minus the frustration of trying to get the technical issues worked out. Though sometimes working out tech issues can lead you in a cool different direction as well. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • @dasbinky  Jan 23

    @stevenwesleyguiles I have a deep and unabiding love for working out tech issues, but I prefer breaking it *on purpose* and then trying to fix it rather than having it break mid-song. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I got some cool sounds not too long ago when the screw in my overhead mic stand gave out and it slowly lowered itself just barely onto the ride. Interesting sizzle on the ride and funky mix on that side of the kit. That said, I didn't use that take...

  • @aeye Jan 23

    Someone should just attach SM57s ( they are like indestructible) to drum sticks and just have at it lol

  • @dasbinky  Jan 24

    @aeye it should come as no surprise that someone tried this. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • @eargoggle  Jan 24

    OMG you guys just sent me down such a hole watching these Glyn Johns and Recorderman videos....! I guess I've been using the "Recorderman" technique without knowing it, two overheads (Octavas), kick mic (602) and snare (57, of course). Although I have not measured out the distance from kick and snare like they do, just usually lazily eyeball it and hit record...but now I want to try that

  • @fulanin Jan 24

    I was going to try live drums this year, but my room has exactly zero treatment.
    I'm thinking about taking the drums to the backyard to avoid the reflections from my room. Dos anyone have experience recording drums in an open space?

    Regarding the gear, I have very few mics and, even if I had more mics, my interface has only 4 inputs. Currently I'm experimenting with a Rode mic as a mono overhead and a SM58 copy (that's the only other mic a have) as a kick mic.

  • @scottlake Jan 24

    Recorderman is the only method I have tried at home.

  • @standup  Jan 24

    @fulanin One overhead and one kick mic is a perfectly fine way to start. If I'm trying to keep it super-basic, that's what I use.

    Use the biggest room in your living space, and maybe walk around the room banging on a tom until you find a place that sounds better than other places. Set the drums up there.

    And just for the hell of it, try to Rode mic at shoulder height 6' or 2 meters in front of the kit and the 58 copy as on overhead. Just, why not? How does that sound?

  • @aeye Jan 24

    @dasbinky this is fantastic hahahahaha

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