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The Simple Method of Recording Drums in your Living Room


Two weeks ago I talked about recording drums for a demo I was going to make. Well that recording session fell through since we were invited to play at the Tucson Folk Festival.

Now, two weeks later we’re resuming our regularly scheduled recording session. I wanted to let you in on a few ways to make the most of recording drums in a living room or a rehearsal space.

First, make sure your drums sound good. Well tuned drums are easier to record since they sound awesome to begin with.

Studio rooms usually sound better but there’s no reason your living room couldn’t work for you.

The “Correct” Microphone Technique

I’ll only be working with 5 inputs, so I can only mike the set with 5 microphones. For the type of music I’m doing(folk rock) this is more than enough. However, I want to make the most of it.

I’m going to use the “Recorderman” technique with the overheads. I’ve never tried this before so it’ll be interesting to hear how it turns out. I want to maximize the usefulness of each microphone and minimize the room sound for the overheads. Therefore, I think the recorderman will come in handy.

Maximizing Your Equipment

I’ll be using budget equipment for all of this. Contrary to what you might believe I don’t have a lot of mics and gear to throw around.

I try to maximize the usefulness of whatever I’ve got to work with. I’ll be using two AT2020 microphones for the Recorderman technique, large diaphragm condensers for a (hopefully) bigger sound.

I’ll also be spot miking the kick and snare with an Audix i5 on the snare and Audix D6 on the kick. Both are exceptional dynamic mics that will suit my purposes nicely.

The drum kit is in the corner of the room on top of a big rug. Since this might give me a dull the floor will magnify the sound of the kick drum.

One Good Room Microphone

Now, I’ve used up four of my five microphone inputs available so what should I do for the fifth one? Even though I said I wanted to minimize the room sound for the overheads I still want to find a great spot in the room to pick up an overall room sound.

I’ll be placing this microphone at a little over waist level. Basically in line with the top of the kick drum or in line with the toms. I want it picking up the whole drum equally, not just cymbals splashing around.

I’m recording drums in a living room that fortunately has fairly high ceilings. This is without bouncing off the walls.

Higher ceilings and a bigger room will give you a bigger sound so the combination of closer overheads and a room microphone might give me the exact combination of “live” and “tight” that I need.

Results Soon…

So this is basically what I’ll be doing. In theory I think these methods will work for my needs, but the drum recording session tomorrow will definitely tell me if I’m wrong or not.

Stay posted for future posts about the results. I’ll try to be thorough in my documentation so that you can use my advice and learn from my mistakes the next time you are recording drums.

P.S.

For practical and easy-to-use recording tips for any instrument, check out Recording Strategies.

Image by: Mxi


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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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LEAVE A COMMENT

  • Michael

    how did the AT2020’s work as overheads?

    i might record my son’s band soon and have only recorded guitar for myself….
    now i’m going to try the recorderman setup with the 2020’s…just wondering how yours turned out.

    -G

    • Hi Michael. They actually turned out pretty good. I definitely recommend trying it out, you can do the recorderman like I (kinda) did, or you can do A/B spaced pair as well.

      Good luck!

  • Michael

    how did the AT2020’s work as overheads?

    i might record my son’s band soon and have only recorded guitar for myself….
    now i’m going to try the recorderman setup with the 2020’s…just wondering how yours turned out.

    -G

    • Hi Michael. They actually turned out pretty good. I definitely recommend trying it out, you can do the recorderman like I (kinda) did, or you can do A/B spaced pair as well.

      Good luck!

  • Hi Björgvin, good call on the RM configuration. It does minimize the room sound, because (a) it puts the snare drum directly on-axis, and (b) it calls for lower positioning (closer to the drums) than most other configurations. For more room sound, raise the mic height.

    But the AT2020 is not a large-diaphragm mic. FWIW:
    http://recordinghacks.com/microphones/Audio-Technica/AT2020

    RM is probably especially good for the AT2020 because it tends to be thin and bright. Getting it closer to the drums, and putting the cymbals off-axis, works in its favor.

    Anyone looking for fun, inexpensive OH mics, consider the Studio Projects LSM. They were one of my picks in a roundup of sub-$200 condensers:
    http://recordinghacks.com/2012/02/19/best-inexpensive-drum-overhead-mic/

  • Hi Björgvin, good call on the RM configuration. It does minimize the room sound, because (a) it puts the snare drum directly on-axis, and (b) it calls for lower positioning (closer to the drums) than most other configurations. For more room sound, raise the mic height.

    But the AT2020 is not a large-diaphragm mic. FWIW:
    http://recordinghacks.com/microphones/Audio-Technica/AT2020

    RM is probably especially good for the AT2020 because it tends to be thin and bright. Getting it closer to the drums, and putting the cymbals off-axis, works in its favor.

    Anyone looking for fun, inexpensive OH mics, consider the Studio Projects LSM. They were one of my picks in a roundup of sub-$200 condensers:
    http://recordinghacks.com/2012/02/19/best-inexpensive-drum-overhead-mic/

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