It’s simple: a great sounding drum kit will sound better and need less mixing than an out-of-tune, worn out drum kit. Getting a great drum recording is so much easier if you devote the time to getting the drum kit sounding its best.
Drums Need Tuning Too
I was recording drums recently at Allusion Studios and we spent a long time making sure each drum was tuned correctly. We used a drum dial to get each drum sounding its best. Just like you would tune a guitar or bass you should make sure each of your drums are tuned as well.
A few quick tips on drum tuning
- Stretch the heads out. The heads will go out of tune fast if the heads aren’t stretched out.
- In order to choke the tom sound tune the bottom head a little higher than the top head.
- On the floor tom, tune the bottom head lower than the top head to get that “falling” floor tom sound.
- Use the drum dial to get the drum sounding good all around, but use your ears for the final fine-tune.
A Great Sound With a Great Instrument
Once we had the drum sounding as good as possible we proceeded to mic things up. To get a more natural drum recording we used large condensers on all of the toms. The condensers were much more sensitive to everything around them but the bleed actually created a very natural, earthy sound. We were looking for an “old-school” but modern sounding drum sound so I think with the condensers we added an extra element dynamic microphones wouldn’t have had.
Finally, by taking the time to get the instrument sounding as good as possible, using great microphones into pristine sounding pre-amps we were able to get a kick ass drum recording. It just makes you feel better that you have a great sound recorded; a drum sound that doesn’t need every mixing trick in the book to sound great because it’s already 80% there.
Listen to a sample of the drum sound in the audio file below. No mixing or editing has be done to it. It’s just a great sounding kit with a professional performance through some awesome equipment. A big thanks to Allusion Studios for a great drum recording!
For a killer guide on recording drums, or anything else for that matter, check out Recording Strategies.
Image by: kamalaboulhosn