Recording acoustic drums

Discussion in 'Recording 101' started by Rustypig71, Mar 25, 2019.

  1. Rustypig71

    Rustypig71 New Member

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    Just wondering if anyone has any advice regarding the recording of acoustic drums on my dp32. I’d like to record each drum mic on separate tracks to give me more freedom to mix or bounce the tracks. I had a quick go with 4 drum mics and 2 overheads with very disappointing results. The signal from the mics was very high and some peaked even with the inputs turned completely down. The recorded drums sound very dull and messy with the bass drum sounding awful. Any advice would be appreciated.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
  2. David Porter

    David Porter Well-Known Member

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    It's possible that someone here might have some advice for you. However, I recommend that you take a more general recording question like this to www.homerecording.com. There's a lot more activity over there for this type of support.
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  3. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards Well-Known Member

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    Rustypig71 you could also try posting your question in the Recording 101 Forum on this site (scroll down the home page to the Rock N Roll Section).
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  4. Rustypig71

    Rustypig71 New Member

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    Thank you David. I’ve registered and posted my question. I just didn’t know where to start!
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  5. Rustypig71

    Rustypig71 New Member

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    Thanks Mark.
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  6. Mike Lozano

    Mike Lozano New Member

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    I recorded my acoustic drums recently with my dp32sd and they came out great. My advice would be to first lower your master fader if your levels are too loud. Next, I would tweak up your EQ on each of your individual drum mics. Hope that helps.
  7. snappy

    snappy New Member

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    Dont use mics that clip on to the drum rims: buy stands. Those clips kill the resonance.
    Two overhead mics equally spaced from the center of the snare head (literally use a tape measure) and facing the snare drum.
    Close mics should be as close to the head as possible without getting slapped by the vibrating drum head or a wobbling tom.
    Point the bass drum mic thru the hole on the reso head (front) side at the center of the head where the beater strikes the batter head.
    Tune. Your. Drums.
    Blend the overheads with the close mics while mixing.
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  8. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    Are you trying to cancel the snare in the overheads?
  9. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards Well-Known Member

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    Rusty, There are as many ways to mic/record drums as there are audio engineers. In fact, many audio engineers strive for a signature snare sound they can call their own.

    The secret to an excellent drum sound is to listen, listen, listen; use the mic that best captures the sound of the drum; place the mic where it captures the sound you hear; and pay overall close attention to phase induced anomalies once all the mics are live. I've gotten excellent results with as few as 3 or 4 well placed mics.

    As to your DP-32 specifically, start with all the Trim Knobs at the Mic position (full right). Place your mics, then fine-tune the mic distance, Trim Knobs, Dynamic Compression as needed to control any overload. There's a thread on using the Trim Knobs in the Tips stickies that has additional information that may be helpful. I also prefer to keep EQ, Effects, and Compression decisions for the Mixdown process, and so usually record the drums completely dry. In the Tips stickies you'll find an excellent thread on submixing and mastering drum tracks.

    Always keep your stereo master fader at 0dBFS. The stereo master fader is your only objective reference to 0dBFS at the specified dBu voltage output for the DP-24/32 and thus for the blended drum sound. More on that in the Tips stickies also.
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
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  10. snappy

    snappy New Member

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    Mjk you seem like a great resource and thoughtfully answer many questions here.
    1.) Is there a way to pull up the waveform on the dp32sd to see if the overheads are phasing the acoustic snare? I imagine a trained ear can detect it. I am new here and new to the machine.
    2.) Do you find yourself engaging the "phase" option when you record a full acoustic drum set? 3.) If so when you record a full acoustic drum set which drum/drums seem most likely to need it?
    Thanks for your thoughts in advance.
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  11. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    @snappy Thanks for the compliment, but there are many great people on the forum who help new users. We are fortunate to have those people who are not only very experienced on the machine, but very experienced with recording and engineering in general.

    There is a way to pull up a waveform and that is by pressing the jog button. That waveform won't tell you anything useful regarding phase. When you have your snare track up in the mix, and you add the overhead tracks to the mix and it sounds good, you have nothing to worry about. I have never had to reverse the polarity on a set of overhead drum mics.

    In my personal experience, it only becomes a problem if microphones are close to being diametrically opposed to each other, such as a snare drum mic facing down on the top and one on the bottom facing up. But that being said, it's not an absolute hard and fast rule. What matters is how it sounds. And I have had occasion to leave the microphones out of phase and it sounded better ("phase" is really an incorrect term in this situation because phase is time based and this is really polarity +/- 180°). Indiscriminately reversing the polarity on microphones can introduce problems at mixdown time. Of course, you can always reverse the polarity on the channel, but unless you've taken really good notes you may not remember which microphones you pressed the magic button on.

    FWIW, I never centered my overhead mics on the snare - I centered the overhead mics on the cymbals. But I also had mics on the snare too.

    The bottom line is, if it sounds good then it's okay. And to this day, I've never seen the waveforms of any of that stuff I did in the old days on 24 tracks - even my own records. Unless I were to import the mixdown track into a DAW and look at it, I would have no reason to see it. Trust your ears.
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  12. Arjan P

    Arjan P Veteran

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    When setting up for acoustic drum recording I check the 'phase' of each mic against the complete picture - by ear. If things start sounding more or less 'hollow' you can tell you're on to something. I prefer to change mic position rather than keep the polarity reversed. An exception is, like mjk said, the snare top and bottom mics, which are perfectly out of phase with each hit, so the lower snare mic will be the one where I keep polarity reversed.
  13. snappy

    snappy New Member

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    Thanks. That info helped a lot. I edited my original post regarding the "phase" option.
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  14. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    @snappy I'm glad to hear that my reply helped you. Thanks.
  15. Rectifier

    Rectifier New Member

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    This is a great topic. I just received my dp-32 today and job 1 is to record acoustic drums....I’ve recorded acoustic drums many times, but am still learning and not an expert. As mentioned by the experts above, and I’m learning this...there is no 1 way to get the job done.

    I am a keep it simple guy so my approach always starts with the Glyn Johns method and always adds a snare top mic....no snare bottom. This time around, I’m going to expand a little more on the great GJ method. It will be the first time using the DP-32 in any fashion so it should be interesting.

    What I mean by expanding really is that i will use one kick mic set somewhere in the port...a PL33 in the port somewhere pointed at the beater which I just love and then an AKG Perception 420 LDC on the resonant head slightly angled down and 6 to 12 inches off....that guy adds some beef. I have a Beta 52A and i dont like it...but my subjective preference was based on a lot of 70s drum tones. Top and side OHs will be Neumann KM184 and a 57 or i5 on snare top...im going to augment those 5 mics with 2 more placed outside OH L &R facing inward sorta or maybe an xy ....no clue what will sound good in the mix yet or if the 2 last mics will be any good or useful

    Everyone has their own methods....i prefer to use some minimal compression during tracking since drums are transient devices and i aim to retain the attack but control the peak to average relationship for a full and punchy sound and to allow hard hitting...to my ears. I use a variety of preamps to add what I think is the color I want to hear and some dbx 160s sparingly. I dont print any time effects during tracking and, again, subjectively prefer a controlled, somewhat deadened room so I can use a single send effect in varying amounts on the kit during mix.

    I dont do anything fancy...no fancy or clever processing.....my personal goal is to glue the kit together as one big, punchy coherent instrument with conservative pans.

    I will be happy to share my experience using the dp on acoustic drums over the next few weeks. There will be a lot of trial and error....i will also try the onboard compression on the inputs to see how that fares.
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
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  16. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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  17. Rectifier

    Rectifier New Member

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    Now...this might not have been such a bad idea on the St Anger snare sound....;):).
  18. BazzBass

    BazzBass Well-Known Member

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    the best method I have seen for eliminating phase issues with overheads involves setting up the first mic somewhere above the snare and the kick.
    Now get someone to hold one end of a cable or rope where the beater hits the kick drum. run the cable to the overhead mic, holding it there, then running the cable to the snare drum. By holding the cable at the overhead mic,you can move the cable,whilst keeping both lengths taught, to another position,(over the drummer's right shoulder is one method). As long as the cable is taught, both mics are EXACTLY the same distance from the kick AND the same distance to the snare as each other and thus will always be in phase.
  19. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    Your environment is isotropic?
  20. BazzBass

    BazzBass Well-Known Member

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    the environment doesn't come into play.I am talking about the sound reaching the mics at exactly the same time, thus eliminating out of phase issues. The soundwave from the kick hits both mics at the same time because they are exactly the same distance from the kick. Same with the snare.
    I wish I could find the article explaining it better than I can....

    here it is
    The Recorder Man Drum Miking Technique — Jon Stinson