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Recording drums with one mic

Recording drums with one mic

Have you ever wondered how to mic up drums with only one mic?  Or, have you wanted to mic up drums only to realize you don't have that many mic?  Or, are you just looking for that classic 60's drum sound to add into your songs?  It's extremely easy with the right mindset and minimal tools.

Recording drums with one mic

Here is a list of what is needed.

Room (should sound awesome)
Drums (make sure they are tuned for the appropriate sound)
Drummer (one of the most important things needed in the process)
Microphone (make sure the frequency range can pic up at least 40Hz through 8Khz)
Preamp (tube is good for classic sounds but any preamp should do the job)
Interface (something to convert your analog to digital signal. not important if using a tape machine)Computer/DAW/Tape (a way to capture the audio)

One mic drum recording

First set your drums up in your room.  Make sure to pick the spot where the drums sound best to your actual ears.  You might have to try a couple of locations.  I like to walk around the room with a snare and see where it has the "fatter" sound.

Second make sure your drums are tuned for the song.  Obviously you don't want your drums to sound like a metal band if you are trying to record a Beatles type song.  This is where a good knowledge of tuning helps.

Third is to make sure you have a drummer who is balanced.  "Balanced" you say?  Yes.  Think of this scenario. You mic up the drums with one mic and record them. Later when you are listening you realize the cymbals are too loud.  Guess what?  You can't do ANYTHING to bring them down.  So, make sure you have a drummer who knows (or can take direction on) how to balance their own playing.  Back off those CYMBALS!

Four, is microphone and placement.  All mice sound different and have different frequencies that they pic up or accentuate.  Try many different types (or just what you have) and make sure it pics up the lows of the kick drum!  I use a placement over the shoulder of the drummer facing down to the kick.  The snare and cymbals are naturally going to get picked up with this mic as well.  But, just make sure that kick is thumping in there!

Fifth is a microphone preamp.  There are many discussion on types of preamps.  I will not get into that here.  Just get a good one and go.  Many interfaces theses days have preamps built into them.  Try it and see if it works for you.

Sixth is to make sure you have someway to capture the audio.  That can be tape, DAW (digital audio workstation), or a standalone recorder.  If you are using a DAW make sure that you have audio to digital converters (or A/D) to get your analog signal into your computer.  Again many interfaces today have these built in.

Well, there are many more aspects of recording drums with one mic i could talk about , but this should help you get started. Good luck and experiment!

          JP Talley

See more examples and help at jptalley.com