This is the third installment in guest blogger Steve Lagudi’s series on miking drums – today, Part 2 of a two-part post about kick drums. If you missed Part 1, read it here.
I almost never use a “sub” kick mic, however, when I do, it serves more as a back-up in case the main one goes down and I have yet to encounter that in my career. Plus, when you have the sub mic going, it’s a pain to get the phase right. Flipping it 180 degrees might improve it, but it never gets it right. However, dealing with digital consoles with channel delay is a whole other topic for discussion that I will go into at a later point. Another tid bit: high pass filters. I will use them if I can select the frequency and will sometimes roll off to 45-50Hz. Personally, I don’t think anyone needs anything down that low. I know speaker design is greatly improving, boasting how great they are at reproducing everything down that low and that’s great, but that does nothing for me with this style of music other than add mud to the mix.
Left to Right: Kick Gate Settings: side chain filter set to only react to the low frequencies of the kick to prevent misstriggers. Kick EQ showing frequencies being removed and added, giving the visual representation of the ‘scooped out’ sound. High & low pass filters are also in use. Kick Compression showing settings I use for subtle compression
Compression: I don’t use it, but when I do, there is almost next to nothing on it, that if I were to take it out you would barely notice. When I have a compressor on the kick, I tend to just use a 2:1-3:1 ratio, nothing more. I will get maybe, at most, 2Db of gain reduction using fast attack and release times. I use compression more to just help smooth things out, not to crush it. As I previously stated, I like natural sounding drums and if you over compress it starts to sound unnatural.
Reverb: Yes, I will add reverb to my kicks, however it’s a negligible amount. I’ll just use the room verb to help put it in the space with the rest of the kit. One very important thing to remember when using the reverbs is to make sure to roll off the low end. I will roll off between 100-200Hz and you will be amazed by doing this how much it will clean up the reverb.
Decay times for the reverbs I use are generally, for rooms, a 1 second – 1.2 second decay. Plates will be 1.2 second – 1.5 second decay. I don’t use pre-delay very much, if I do, it’s very little, under 15ms. Any other parameters I just leave as is. I load up factory presets from reverb units I am familiar with, and in a lot of cases, those factory presets sound great and are a great place to start.
Want to keep learning more about miking a drum set from Steve? Look for his next post on Wednesday, February 12!– he’ll be discussing the snare!