Questions: Do you have any tips for festival miking? (Part 2, Drums)
Answer: When you are the Front of House engineer (whether a professional or a volunteer) at a festival, you are most likely dealing with multiple bands. Usually, drummers bring their own drum sets to the festival, and we all know setting up a drum set takes a long time. On top of that, you need to mike and mix the entire band in a short amount of time. Doing all that can be stressful, so you must have a plan before you walk into an event. We will give you some tips on how to mike drums more quickly at a festival.
First Tip: Use minimal mics
Do not mike every single drum, mike only what you need. Since you have a very short amount of time to set things up, you want to keep things simple by using a minimal number of mics on drums. Steve Savanyu, who owns and operates Hedgehog Productions, likes using the three-mic setup for drums at a festival. He often uses the ATM250 for the kick drum, the ATM650 or ATM230 for snare and ATM450 for overhead. Using three-mic setup can reduce the amount of time you spend miking drums. It also reduces the number of mic stands on stage. Again, you want to keep things simple.
Second Tip: Label your mics
An easy way to help you set up mics faster is to label your mics and/or XLR cables. It’s as simple as using a small piece of white tape and a permanent marker to write what the mic is for. For example, if you are using an ATM650 for snare, then write “Snare” on the tape and place it on the XLR cable and/or mic. Do this for all the mics and it will not only help you put the mics back into position faster when transitioning between bands, but it will also help you troubleshoot when microphones are in the wrong place.
Third Tip: Get help
Find volunteers or friends to help you. (Feed them with pizzas!) The more people you have working on a stage, the faster the work will get done. However, make sure the volunteers know what their tasks are and how to perform them because you do not want to fix their problems when you have limited time between sets.
Time is the key at a festival; you want things to be as simple as possible. Labeling and keeping things clear can save you time, as can asking for help when you need it. As always, if you have additional questions, please contact our Audio-Solutions Department for assistance.
Read the next installment in this series: Part 3: Tips for Miking Guitar and Bass Amps at a Music Festival