CHAPTER 4 :
How to record in your home studio
Brass & Reed Instruments
Recording a full drum kit in a home studio poses
numerous challenges. Employing multiple
mics requires owning numerous microphones,
stands, and cables — not to mention utilizing
the proper placement and techniques to avoid
phase problems, room anomalies, and acoustic
issues. Recording stellar drum kit tracks requires
skill, patience, and the right room. But that doesn’t mean you can’t record drums at home.
One consideration is to use fewer microphones.
Sometimes just a kick microphone, and a stereo pair — either overhead, in front of, or behind the drummer — can provide functional tonality and stereo image. Adding another mic for snare is also an option, and taking the time to be creative with your mic placement and source monitoring to ensure you’re capturing a well-balanced mix is key.
Tuning the drums before a session is also of
huge importance. “I sometimes work with drummers for hours to get their drums tuned to where I think they’re going to reproduce correctly to tape,” says Weiss. “It’s not uncommon for a drummer to have their kit tuned to where they practice and gig with it, and it sounds great.
Then you put a mic on the tom in a studio setting
and it’s ringing like mad. Getting the drums
ready for recording is an important step.”
Another consideration, not specific to tone, but
rather to performance, is to use a click track. If
it’s a jazz track, or something more organic that
needs room to ebb and flow with regard to tempo, you can forego this, but a click track not only promotes a solid tempo for the entire song, it enables you to edit and add to the track after
the tracks have been recorded. The potential for
rearranging parts, swapping sections, adding
rhythmic elements, altering arrangements — for
the drum tracks and any other — is made possible with the use of a click track.
Start by listening to the drum with no muffling.
Ideally, the drummer has a hole in the front head
(or has removed it) to facilitate the removing
and adding of muffling material. Make sure the
beater head is evenly tuned before adding muffling.
Thin sandbags work very well as a muffling
agent in a kick drum. Pillows, sweatshirts, foam,
and blankets can also be used, though be aware
that some of these materials can absorb some of
the high frequency energy of the drum’s tone.
Mic techniques can run a gamut of possibilities,
but placing one microphone inside the middle
of the drum, pointed at the beater at a 45-degree angle, is a standard place to start. For a
more “tappy” sound, push the mic closer to the
head. Using a disc or even taping a coin to the beater side of the drum will also increase that slapping sound of the beater striking the drum.
Adding a second mic, placed a foot or more in
front of the front head, is an option, as is isolating that mic with a heavy blanket or pad.
“I’ll make a teepee,” says Weiss. “I’ll take a boom
mic stand at a 90-degree angle, and place the
arm of the boom on top of the kick drum — making sure there’s foam or something between the stand and the drum so I don’t scratch the drum.
Then I take a heavy blanket, like a moving blanket, and make a tent out of it. At the end of the tent, I put a shotgun microphone, and that’s where I get the extended low end. You can use any mic, but I prefer the sound of the shotgun. If you have the mics and the inclination, you can even add an additional mic on the beater side of the drum.”
How to record Snare Drums, Toms, Overheads
HOW TO MAKE HOME