Since its debut in late 2013, the Audio-Technica Blog has been your destination for everything audio. From recording tutorials to guest blogs from industry titans, we strive to bring you the best content we can muster up.
This is the 18th installment in guest blogger Frank Klepacki’s series on music production. Today Frank shares more of his preferences for recording drums. If you missed Frank’s previous post on this topic, you can read it here.
TOMS: AE3000 and ATM350. I use AE3000s on my 10″, 12″, and 14″ toms (as well as larger toms when called for) and an ATM350 on my 8″ tom. Because I have a tight kit configuration, I have to consider placement carefully, amount of bleed and tone. When using typical dynamic mics, it’s easy to compromise the rest of the kit’s tone by tweaking the tom EQs too much in the mix. For that reason alone, the AE3000 condenser is such a breath of fresh air – it picks up the round natural tone of the tom, with high-end attack, and I don’t have to tweak it to death after the fact. I even had one tom give me some overtone issues and I was able to control it with this mic by slightly adjusting the mic’s position. My ideal positioning for these mics is approximately a few inches above the tom and pointed straight along the drumhead.
This is the 17th installment in guest blogger Frank Klepacki’s series on music production. Today Frank provides tips for recording drums. If you missed Frank’s previous post, you can read it here.
As a producer/engineer who also happens to be a professional drummer, one of my pet peeves is hearing album recordings that have had the acoustic drum tracks replaced by acoustic drum samples. I often wonder, was it laziness? Could they just not get a good sound out of the live kit? Is it that a new generation of producers/engineers is being taught to just do that from the start, rather than taught how to make the best of the live instrument? The value of learning how to do this the right way is important. How do you think those replacement samples got recorded in the first place? I understand that sample replacement is a nice option to have if you absolutely cannot make the track work, but in my mind it should be a last resort, rather than being automatically abused, such as the whole auto-tune thing.
There are a wide variety of Latin percussion instruments with different tonal qualities. Incorporating the right ones on the right tracks will provide tasteful accents that make your song really pop. Audio-Technica is here to help you with mic selection and placement for the most common Latin percussion instruments.
Try a pair of AT4050 multi-pattern condensers set to cardioid on the congas. Position the mics about 9″ above the outside edge of each conga. This position maximizes isolation for the widest possible stereo image.
Our accomplished touring FOH and studio engineer friend, Steve Lagudi, is also an occasional A-T guest blogger. He’s tackled several topics, including miking cymbals and channel delay. At this year’s NAMM Show, Steve took some time to talk with us about some of his favorite A-T mics.
The Artist Elite® AE2500 dual-element microphone features cardioid condenser and dynamic capsules together in one housing. Traditionally, this mic is used for recording a balanced kick drum, but Steve uses it for miking the guitar as well.
“It just gives you everything that you want out of the guitar – everything from a tight low-end all the way to the top… hearing all the strings on the instrument. … This is definitely my go-to mic for guitars.”
The snare drum is the focal point of any drum set. You really have to nail the snare sound, though it may be the trickiest drum to record. In four quick tips, we’ll show you the basics for capturing a quality snare sound. You can take it from there to find the sound that’s right for you.
Hand percussion can provide just the accent you need to fill out and drive your song. It provides spice and momentum.
In many of the greatest rock songs, a good piece of hand percussion provides the perfect addition (look no further than “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones to see what we’re talking about). Here are four basic tips for recording hand percussion properly, so it sits just right in your mix, regardless of the effect you’re looking for.
1. Position Head-On
We’ll start with a shaker and an ATM450 cardioid condenser microphone. Placing the mic directly in front of the shaker will emphasize the accents and capture a full and defined sound. The closer the shaker is to the mic, the louder the accents will be relative to the rest of the sound.
The hi-hat is the glue that connects all the parts of your drum kit, but it’s often overlooked. Miking and recording the hi-hat properly will do wonders for your mix, nicely filling out the space in your drum track.
Follow these tips to capture the hi-hat’s complex sound.
This is the tenth and final installment in guest blogger Steve Lagudi’s series on miking drums – today, Part 2 of a two-part post about channel delay. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.
For drums, I like to take it even further than that. Without question, the snare is the loudest part of the drums. With the snare mics picking up the signal before any of the other mics, you are obviously having phase and timing issues. After I adjust the timing to all the snare mics, one trick that I like to do is to delay the snare to all the cymbal mics. Having the tracks recorded in the computer really helps to get this as accurate as possible, but like I said, you can just use your ears. Once you do it, you will be amazed at how incredible the drums sound now that they are time aligned. When I first started messing with it, I was blown away. You can also do this if you run two mics on kicks by delaying the inside mic to the sub kick mic.
As with everything I am interested in, I like to dive in deep. Once I was finished toying around with the drums I thought, “Why stop there?” Another really amazing way to use channel delay is with vocals. Vocals on the stage are usually sitting a few feet out in front of the drum kit. If you stage left and stage right vocals, these are usually in front of screaming guitar amps. Since the vocals are sitting on top of all the music, you’re obviously raising up the noise floor and causing all that stage bleed to be brought of out of the mics. There are time and phase issues with that. The vocal mics are getting the guitar/bass and drums arriving at a later point, so why not delay those instruments to arrive at the same time as the vocal mics?
Channel Delay – in the bottom right hand corner, the snare is being delayed. This feature can be found on almost every digital console.
The first time I did this, it was as if I had a whole new mix going on. The clarity and depth was just so unbelievable to me. Once you have the chance to do this to your mix, you won’t ever want to not be able to do it ever again. Why go back to the old way of mixing? Now just for the record, I am not the one who discovered this – like everything else, it was handed down to me from other engineers. I just applied it to use with my own projects.
Now for you studio folks, you can do the same thing by moving the tracks around in your DAW. I use Protools, but this works in any recording program. The best way to do it is find a single snare drum hit. Go to all your other tracks, zoom in as close as possible and drag all the drum tracks so that they line up with the hit. This will pretty much work most of the time, but for tracks like room mics that are far away, it’s best to keep them where they are. You might need to nudge the tracks here and there to be slightly behind the snare hit, so just spend a few minutes adjusting things ‘til it sounds best to your ears.
A little while ago, a major manufacturer of plug-ins came out with a phase and time adjusting plug-in that works amazingly for aligning tracks. It can also be used on live consoles or with laptops to run plug-ins with consoles. So the technology is out there and for those of you who do not have that technology, you’re not alone, you can still achieve the same results.
Thank you for reading this, I hope you can walk away with a few new tips and tricks that you can apply to your mixes. Just keep in mind, all these techniques are what works for me. You might find they do not work for you, and that is ok. It is all about what works for your project. There is no right or wrong way, it all boils down to what sounds best for you, the artist & most of all, the listeners!
Toms can be the most difficult drums in your kit to capture successfully. Details like clear tom sound will really ramp up the quality of your drum mix. The finer points can be the crucial difference between a good track and a great track.
Use these drum-recording tips to get those details just right in your recording!
3 Steps for Recording Toms