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Welcome to the second in a four-part series that will provide real-world advice for setting up your home recording studio to record a full drum kit, co-presented by Performer Magazine and Audio-Technica.
In this installment, we’ll take a closer look at the best techniques for recording snare drums and kick (or bass) drums during your sessions. In upcoming installments, we’ll go into more detail about specific drum recording and miking techniques for cymbals, hi-hats, overheads and even adding effects like reverb, delay, room ambience and gating to your mix.▼ Article continues below ▼
As we mentioned in part one of our series on recording drums, the snare is all about attack, and capturing that attack is the key to a (traditional) snare sound. We recommend good quality dynamic instrument microphones, or condenser microphones with high SPL ratings to really get the “thwack” attack that will form the rhythmic punch of your track. The better the mic is at handling the initial loud hit of the snare, the less likely you’ll be pushing your preamps into the red and causing non-musical, unwanted distortion or clipping in your drum mix. If you’re recording to tape, though, you can always try experimenting with a slight push into tape saturation; you may find that rock drums benefit greatly being “pushed” a tad, using the analog tape medium as a musical “glue” to hold a slightly hotter drum mix together in an aurally pleasing way.
Here are some tips from our friends at Audio-Technica on snare drum recording techniques:
We called the snare the rhythmic punch of your drum track; conversely, the kick drum is the heart beat of your track. As stated in part one of this series, kick drums can be deceptively tricky to record properly in the studio. If possible, we recommend using a large dynamic instrument mic inside the shell, for two specific reasons. First, it aids in capturing the organic “thump” and pound of the kick drum, plus it keeps the microphone from picking up other parts of the kit. Bleed is not something you want in a tight bass drum sound, so do everything you can to isolate the inside mic, and you’ll help avoid that issue when it comes time to mix. You’ll also likely want to place a close mic outside, in front of the head, to help round out the sound and get the fullest kick possible for mixing.
Here are some additional tips from our friends at Audio-Technica on kick drum recording techniques:
Now, keep in mind this is simply a primer to get you thinking about how to record drums in your studio. We hope this installment provides some helpful tips when it comes to miking up your snare and kick drums for your next session. In future installments, we’ll tackle the rest of the kit plus effects, so stay tuned (no pun intended).
Until then, be sure to check out the entire range of Audio-Technica instrument microphones here and follow Audio-Technica on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.