Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tips for Recording Drums

Recording acoustic drums can be extremely tricky. This is made even more difficult when recorded in a non-professional space. I found some articles which provide some decent insight into recording drums at home. Check them out:

For the lazy buggers like me, I've prepared an 'In a Nutshell' summary of these documents. I do, however, encourage you to check them out.

In a nutshell:
  • Home recorded kits sound bad because studios use far bigger rooms with better acoustics. Bigger rooms = bigger sound.
  • It is vitally important that your drum room has good acoustics (Many ways of doing this, I will write an entry on this in the future). But a rule of thumb, is that if your drums sound bad in your ear, they would sound bad in a recording.
  • Always play your bass into a giant soft thing like a matress. It stops reflections which cause resonance, bass sound be a fairly clean sound.
  • Different floor surfaces affect your sound dramatically (a hard surface provides more definition and sharpness where as a soft surface produces a dampened, warmer sound)
  • The key is a good set of overhead mics (these should be condensers as they have a far better frequency response). Also be very careful of phase cancellation.
  • Stay away from EQ!! This is a major pitfall. Focus your attention on getting a good room sound and using decent mics to record this good sound. EQ will probably hurt you more than help you. The only time I would condone the use of EQ is for compensation of lower quality mics' frequency responses.
  • You can use mics placed far away (in another room) from the kit to make the room sound bigger.
  • There are two useful effects for drums: gating and compression
  • Gating allows one to eliminate the effects of bleed in the close mics by removing any sounds below a certain volume. i.e. your hi-hat will no longer be heard in your snare mic. More info
  • Compression gives your drums power and resonance by reducing loud peaks and loudening quiet decays. Check out my post on compression.
Other posts you might find interesting:
Hydrogen Drumbeat Templates - A Non-drummer's Best Friend
Hydrogen Drumkits
My Attempt at a Hydrogen Drumkit
Pimp my Hydrogen Beats
Making a Roll Sound Realistic
Sunday Bloody Sunday Hydrogen Beat

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