Thursday, March 15, 2007


Audio Arts : Percussion Recording

Examples : Click on the desription to hear the recording.
All sound recordings copyright Shivna Kaun @ 2007

Mallets ,
Hot Rods ,
Sticks(1) ,
Sticks(2) ,

Getting a good sound from an acoustic dum kit has always been a challenge. I cant express how much a good sounding kit can contribute to a track.I believe one of the reasons for musicians using sequenced drum tracks is the lack of quality acheived from acoustic kit especially in a low budget or in home studios. Follow some of these measures and get most out of your beautiful drums.
To start with, make sure your skins are fairly new and are tuned accordingly.All the nuts are tight and are not in contact with any another drum as this will produce undesirable noise.There are various techniques which one can apply depending on style/genre/skill of the player.When recording a rock or metal band the focus lies on giving as much detail whereas a jazz player would like more acoustic properties of the space blended with the sound of his kit.The same applies to classical players or world musicians.

Close Miking: This is a very common practise for live situations in larger venues and is very often used in recording studios. Each drum of the kit is closely and separately miked giving you every possible detail.
Always follow the 2 finger rule I.e place the microphone nearly 2 fingers above the top skin.

Note : Always follow one standard order of patching the cables in the platchbay.Here is the orer that I like to follow
1- Kick , 2 - Snare Top, 3 - Snare bottom , 4 - High tom . 5 - MidTom . 6 - Low Tom , 7 - Hi Hats , 8 - Left Overheads . 9 - Right Overheads , 10 - Room Microphone.

Kick: Hole mounted, not touching; 15-20 cms from the skin.Applying correct padding is very important as this will contribute largely on the thickness and punch of your bassdrum.Make sure you pedal is not making any unnecesssary noise.
Microphone choice: Beta 52 is ideal choice, alternately you can use AKG's or Sen MD421 if thats not available.

Snare: Snare requires a mic that can handle very high SPL so a dynamic microphone is usually chosen. To avoid picking up the hi-hat in the snare mic, aim the null of the snare mic towards the hi-hat.We applied another microphone at the bottoom of the snare to capture the vibrations produced by bottom skin from the snares.This can give you interesting results as the gros notes would be more audible. But, remember the phasing issue caused by microphones facing each other.Inverting this track would correct it .A combination sound of both the microphones would give you a desirable result.
Microphone choice: Shure Sm57, 58 , Sen 825

Toms: Having individual microphones for both your toms will give you more flexibility,again, apply 2 finger rule.
Or you can use(depending on the genre of music) one microphone with a wider polar pattern between 1st and 2nd Tom, close to the head (approx 5-10cms depending on how it is sounding). Alternately one can use NT4, as it would give each mono channel for both the toms.
Have an individual microphone for your floor tom and apply similar techniques.
Microphone choice : Beta 57A, I applied Beta 52 to the low tom for a more thicker sound.

Overheads : Cymbals (ride, crash, splash, china, hi hats): The brilliance and high frequencies of cymbals are picked up best by a flat response condenser mic. Two condenser microphones panned hard left and right at a reasonable height above the toms.
Microphone choice: NT5, Newman K57i.

This would give the stereo image of the recording source. Also, a pair of microphones at a distance captures instrument timbres more accurately than close up mics. Close-miked instruments sometimes sound too bright, edgy, and detailed.This is what the player has to decide depending on the genre of music he is playing and the sound he is after.

Choice of Microphones: Omni, condenser with a large diaphragm about 1.5-3 meters from each other. Microphones like NT5's capture the high ends really well.Also you can use U87/89; AKG C414

Room Microphone : Always have a room microphone placed at the sweet sounding spot in the room.This will capture the reverbrations and the fullness of the room.. For away from the kit,listen to the room and place it ,where it sounds best. Newmans U87/89 are usually the best room microphones.

Panning the Drums : Panning will help you in projecting the correct image of the kit.Imagine the kit from the perspective of the listner and pan it accordingly. Remember , its the other way round of how the player will perceive it. For e.g. Hi tom is panned to approx 80 % right and Low toom approx 70% left.Whereas your overheads are panned hard left and right.Imagine the placements of each drum and pan it,as it exists in the physical world.

Drum kit is what drives the music together with the bass player.Spend as much possible time on getting just the right sound you are after.
Apply correct microphone placement techniques with "just" the right gain structure.
{Good Luck..!}

References :
(1)Grice, David.2007.Tutorials on Sound Engeneering (3).13 March'07.University Of Adelaide.
(2)Readings on My Uni.Music Technology(3)2007.

Creative Computing :
* Server Architecture,
* Open sound control ,
* Interconnected musical networks

Forum : David Harris and his orchestra : Quite a lot of fun actually ..

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