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Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 17 of 29

Kick Drum Microphone Choice and Placement Part I

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

17. Kick Drum Microphone Choice and Placement Part I

Lesson Info

Kick Drum Microphone Choice and Placement Part I

Now that we've kind of willet down on dh shown you how drums can change and drums and drums and cymbals could change the sound I'm gonna show you howto take the sounds that you pick and pick the right tools to translate those from the acoustic space on your computer or your tape machine I'm guessing most you guys were working on a computer so if I happen to say to tape or something I just I mean the same thing just basically getting from there in the real world into the box or on a piece of tape and that's just a sport an important of apart as it is to choose the right drums obviously the best mikes in the world if you put him uh on bad drums they're still going to sound like bad drums you gotta have good drums on and you could make good drum sound cool with cheap mike's I'm going to talk about some mikes that air super affordable you know I'm gonna talk about adam like a kit for you know around five hundred books I have something really cool cooler than you would get with uh um more e...

xpensive mid range mike's also going to talk about mike choices and mike styles for each part of the drum the kick the snare overheads and the toms and then we'll get in the room mikes and affect mikes and stuff like that other cool things you can do so I want to go back to the kick because like I've said, I've said a million times the kick is the heartbeat the kick is the soul of the song for me and when I'm mixing or when I'm tracking the first tone are really wanted dial in is the kick trump so I'm going to show you guys ah, a few different picture of mike's I think I've got five or six years that I'm going to go through and I'm going to show you how they sound basically in the same spot in the same drum and I'm going to show you how you can really change the sound of your track by just switching out the mike and kicked her mikes are really cool because by nature a lot of the companies have kind of pre accused them because is most mikes are made to pick up frequencies that arm or, you know, a little higher above eighty hertz is kind of it's kind of the low end of a lot of microphones for something that can handle highest feels like a kick drum so kicked her mikes are are kind of their own thing they're usually kind of bright and kind of booming at the same time, but I'm going to show you some that air that air that and some that are more mid focused and why I like what I like and why other people would choose other things, and within that you can kind of decide what kick drum likes you really like because you'll have them in the session that you'll be able to reference on dh this will give you a good idea of for one how I'm getting my kick drum sound and to what you you would like for your kick drum sound based out of the options that we have here. So we've done we've had the a k g d one twelve going this whole time, but when I got here this morning, I just looked at the kick drum and said I might this a million times I think I know where it goes put it in there didn't even listen to it. It sounded great throughout the day, but I can tell myself that it's not the perfect place, and I've been waiting for this segment to show you how little increments and you heard it a little bit before with sixteen inch kick drum. The sixteen is death kicked room, but I want to show you how little increments on little changes with same mike can really make a big difference in your sound and honestly how what I do to get the sound where I want it now in a lot of situations. Um in my studio in portland, I have two rooms, so the drums air in the live room and I'm in the control room and that's a pretty standard studio set up I had a studio for like eight years that was just one room and I made a lot of records that you guys probably heard in that room that was just one room my computer was in there, you know? It was like a room in the garage off in my parentshouse and it was a cool room, but I didn't have the luxury of being able to sit in front of the monitors and here the mike being moved around like I do today, so well, not today today, but this point in time at my current studio today we're back in the one room scenario just because of the tv studio type of environment, so what I'm going to show you is a really good way to adjust the kick mike when you're in the same room now, if you have two rooms, I think the best thing to do is get headphones for each person and have an assistant go in and move the mic around while you're listening on the monitor because that's really the best way the most sterile way to really hear the kick drum mike placing, but today I've got these isolation headphones on there's a lot of brands that make these um and they're just really handy these air by extreme isolation and they're really handy too block out the rial sound and of course they don't block it out one hundred percent they're about the same as earplugs, but aiken, turn up the direct sound and what I'll be doing and people at home will be hearing while I'm doing it. You guys won't be able to hear quite a cz much because obviously I can't play it through the monitors while we're doing it, but I'm going to move the kick mike around and you'll hear how the different places uh, making a huge impact on the sound of the drum itself translating onto the record you're recording, but what I will do is record myself moving it around so I can play it back so you can hear it and so I can hear it and go, oh, well, maybe I shouldn't moved it from there, you know, and make a decision, but my main decision will be made by me wearing headphones and moving the mike around while he's playing kick drum and I use isolation headphones and not just regular headphones because you're hearing super important when you're an engineer it's like you're it's the number one thing it's your fried in butter so you don't want to put on regular headphones and crank the volume of the of the mike and then he's playing allowed drum because then you're just doing a lot of damage two years so you want to use isolation bones and be able to block out the sound same with you notice he was playing isolation headphones earlier when he was playing a symbol as anybody not even just engineers that your protection is really important so if you're around allowed kit where earplugs if you're playing loud symbols where your plugs we use isolation headphones because you know when you're younger you think out whatever doesn't matter but you know when you're in your mid thirties or forties and there's a constant ringing in your ears that you can't get out that every a lot of people end up eventually having anyways you'll wish you ward it plugs and stuff so as as a drum class of field that is my duty to remind you to wear your protection is really important and even like mowing the lawn anything allowed it's not just about drums um definitely protect those years because you want them to last so the first thing I'm going to do to make a marker here this is the e k g do you want twelve that we've been listening to all day and this is going to be the position finding track weird way to word it but it works meet my monitors going arm this and I'm gonna throw in the headphones do you want us to play the kick for me real quick so I could get a headphone volume all right, so now I can hear the kick drum in my headphones but I can barely hear you guys I kind of feel like I'm in a vacuum can hear my own head more than anything and go out and play that drum for me here the difference second and then I'm going to just do one where you can hear with just in front of the mic right inside thank you. Give me a couple of it, sir. All right, now let's, listen back to that I haven't found the exact position yet, but I just want to show you this's me moving the mic back and forth um starting in the middle going back and then going towards the front and then back again you can kind of hear it go back and forth and again, if you're wearing headphones, you'll hear that a little clear that the closer it gets to the beater, the brighter it's getting a little less tone we get and then here's what the mike sounds like just right outside also a cool place to be because you get a little bit of that boom from the other head but for my example today it's a little too slow of a sound and part of the goal of the inside mike that I'm going to show you today is also paired with an outside mike's I'm going to get that boom anyways, so keep that in mind when I'm going through the inside mike's I'm planning on supplementing that sustained in that low mid boom with a second mike on the outside, so doing something like this where it's where it is right now, just like just poking right into the hole of the drum could be cool if you only have one, mike, and you're kind of recording a slower song, but for me, it's not defined enough, so now I need to find the perfect position of it, and for that I'm gonna have him play a little bit lighter taps in between, um, not light, but in between, give me one second to get this back and said, and you're going to see me there's going to look a little goofy, I'm going to move it and listen, and I'm just gonna walk away for a second because when my head is like two feet from the drum, I can't really hear the headphones clear enough on dh, and I'm also feeling the drum, which is a really easy way to get confused about the sound of the drum, because when you feel the air pressure it's going to fool you and make you think that there's more base than there is so I'm going to make a movement I'm gonna walk away listen and then come back so do this and go ahead and give me getting hard hits again that's fine, no that's not the spot gonna raise it up just a hair I'm gonna go in a little further that's just barely inside a little more. We're going to send her a little bit more because it's a little hollow sounding give it to me again that there's still a little too much of this head kind of coming through in a weird way I don't have enough a focused enough sound yet so I'm gonna put it in a little bit further make sure everything's tight on the stand that's very important. Looks like it's going a little bit more here and I'm also going toe since I have a clear head on this attic an eyeball it a little better um and my angle isn't quite right. It's a little hard to tell through the whole of the drum and again you don't really want to use your eyes you want to use your ears but at the same time you do want to check where it's that so you have a mental picture to go along with the mental sound so when you're moving it if you need to get back somewhere you know how to get back good input for me again yeah it's getting closer to what I want to try just, um going to see where I'm at I'm going try just just a hair closer further in the drum I mean huh no, I went to far now, so I'll bring it back how's my angle didn't tell too much did tilt so it's good to look in there and see we're mat double check this angle a little too much so I want a much more straight forward a little off centered that's good so let's hear that one more time? I'm gonna pull it back with this once just because I don't quite hear the sound I want one more time move it forward one more time that double check now I'm going to record that and listen back on the monitors because that's isolation headphones or a little mid mid range they're not full range, so he gets me close and then I could just listen back to see where matt so g d one twelve position one go ahead, cool, I'm gonna listen back so that's pretty close to where how I would want the deal in twelve this sound um I just want to listen because I get obsessive about stuff well, listen what we did earlier turnings probably dropped a little bit yeah see that's a little pokey for me it's a little cliquey so I'm happier with where we're at now get a little more full bodied tight sound to it it's actually not quite as tight there's a little bit of residence but click isn't as annoying because that would take you on that is with the yuan and I can play it without and it's a little deceiving because the d one twelve is a pretty um upper mid rangy mike has a very like focused uh sound I would describe is kind of pokey like the sound pokes out, but I like that because the very hard and consistent sound andi I'll show you the difference between what I'm calling hard and soft as we go through the mikes with the d one twelve has a really like punch you in the gut sort of sound that I can do anything I want with the q and it still sounds good and that's why I really like it so you here without the queue and you think I asked a little mid range inaki but I can get really crazy with it it's a little drastic just like it like I'm losing twelve d b of seventy five hurts right now on git still stays together and that's why I like this mike is you know honestly when I'm mixing my cue my kick tommy he was pretty drastic so I like a mike that I can really dig into with the q and shape but I'm gonna do so I'm just going toe a little more moderate and then we'll start listening without the e q on we'll start switching out mike's but for this I am happy with the starting sound and again you might think it sounds a little knocke but that's the that's just the demon twelve so we're going to move on now in the first thing I'm going to do so I have everything positioned and I can see here where I've put this mike but have to take the stand out obviously to get the mike out so I'm gonna grab my blue tape which I like blue tapes a lot because it almost never leaves a residue on anything and it doesn't just fall off like masking tape this is painter's tape by the way and it is your best friend in the studio for marking everything in anything and so what I'm doing here is marking exactly where this stand is sitting so when I pull it out um I can get the next mike in as close to the same position as possible which as you heard earlier, will make a big difference on the sound, and the whole goal here is to compare the microphones a scientifically as possible. So do that, and another thing you'll have to prepare for, um, let's see is just I'm trying not to affect the angle here and use the foot footprint thiss isn't very much kind of employed this, and I'm gonna plug in a telephone in m eighty two next trying to move the standards little is possible. This will be the next kick, mike, but what I was going to say earlier is something that you want to be prepared for is that in any miking scenario and any comparison scenario, the output of every microphone is going to be quite a bit different. So I want to write down the setting of my mic pre for that mike, and in case that I have to change it for this one, let me see the d one told one more time. Another thing you need to look out for is if the mt puts the mike in the same place, so this is really going to be about the same. Actually, when you look at it, how this was and how that is, they're really freaking close as faras distance with amount on it in height, so it's gonna plug this back in and this microphone has a few options here, but I will try to show you without actually, I'll show you want to take it off, but it has some e q options that I'm going to turn off because I just want to hear it flat, because, again, I don't like super cute microphones. We'll get this back in here in about the same spot stands in the same place I was one of rafic cable around, so you don't get cable hitting the mike. Are the cable hitting the bass drum head or the like? Of course, um, good here. Yeah, well, come this side totally off. So, um, issue, but this one is that I can't angle mike and the exact same way, so I'm gonna put it on the side and angle it like that. Now I have to raise this little, but I'll get it as close as possible will still be the same distance inside the bureau. I just want it facing the same way, no beyond being already designated to kicked her, mike, something that is really important with kick drum mikes. For me, for the inside is to make sure that they have a cargo door, hyper car towed pattern, and that means that it only picks up things in front of the mike and the more hypercar droid or supercar died there are the less you get on the sides a normal car towed pattern will get a little bit on the side which is nice because you get the full size of the drum a really hyper card card and mike will really just focus on the beater so I like to have something with a little bit of a normal cardio and pattern but not um not so wide that you're getting the back head to on like other weird bleed issues so this is tell a function me too and like I said, I'm going to write down my settings um my input is plus one and my output is negative for on the mic pre so I'll write that in the comments here just so I don't forget tomorrow that this is the mike pre which is called the b twenty eight and mike pries the mic pre amplifier that amplifies the microphone on and some people that might just be the input on their interface if you're in a more pro studio that mike the mike presently separate or they might be part of the console but that's how you get the correct volume and adjust the volume before your microphones cool so let's do this and just on a whim see that's the same volume could give me some hard hits cool so this one's actually quieter which works out because we can just clip ended up unclip gain is a feature on pro tools and I think most dpw's that lets you change the volume in the way form window you know, last tour a couple will be hard and I'm just gonna eyeball these for now and I'll do a riel peak measurement before I give out this session so here's the m eighty two and here's the deal on twelve pretty drastic difference it almost sounds like a different kick drum and you're going to find that throughout all the mikes so choosing the right mike is really important on this is no ink you here's a q clearly the doesn't work for the m eighty two because I based it around a completely different sound based around basic around that dollar sound. So for this I'm just going to roll without thank you and then you're free to mess with that on your own. So that's the m eighty two pretty big difference also very cool sounding like I like it a lot. The other features this mike has which will show you right now is you can get it even brighter, which I feel like it's plenty bright for a kick drum but if you use this on a bass guitar cab or something um having that extra brightness is really cool so I'm just going to remove this mike it also has a low scoop, a low mid scoop which I don't find necessary for kick drum. But again, it's. Excellent for base or speech for using it like a radio station. Type. Mike c there's switches on it right there. But even though it looks cool, like a condenser, something it's, actually, and address. But you can see written right. There means the sound comes in that way.

Class Description

Drums are one of the hardest instruments to record, because in reality, a drum kit can be upwards of 20 or 30 instruments being played by a performer at one consistent time. Each drum head plays a huge role in determining the overall tone. The range of frequencies is broader than any other recorded instrument, with sub-kicks extending down below 60 Hz and hihats and cymbals with presence and ring above 16kHz. The dynamic range can include subtle ghost hits and flutters to pounding snares that fill a room, and yet somehow all of this is supposed to fit inside a mix without getting lost in a sea of guitars.

Kris Crummett has over a decade and a half of experience recording bands like Sleeping with Sirens, Issues, Alesana, Further Seems Forever and Emarosa. Kris will walk you through every step of the process to capturing killer drum sounds.

Which Drums to Use?

  • The size and type of the kick drum is a good place to start, and will largely dictate what kind of tone you end up with when you get the final mix. Do you want a modern sounding kit with a big low end and a bright punch or a more vintage tone with a rounder, softer low end punch?
  • Snare sounds can often define the tone of an entire record with a range of sizes, head choices and tuning options. How much ring is left in the resonant head can be deceiving when listening to an drum kit on its own, but can often be lost when blended in with the rest of the band. From maple and birch full bodied and nuanced tones to aluminum or even brass bodies, the snare drum can have one of the biggest impacts on your final track.
  • Drum heads can also have a huge impact on the transients that you capture when recording. Coated heads can offer a punchier, thicker sound while clear heads are a bit brighter. Tuning the top head and the bottom head to resonant together is an essential art that takes practice and expertise.

Which mics to Use?

  • There’s no right or wrong way to mic a drum kit, from the famous ‘When the Levee Breaks” 2 microphone room tone to modern metal drum production with 30+ mics in place.
  • Deciding when to use a condenser and when to use a dynamic mic is dependent upon the style, the drummer’s playing style and even the room in which you’re tracking. What sort of room mic techniques can give you that big open kit sound? What about a tight, small room trap kit sound?
  • Kris is prepared to walk you through all of these choices, with examples from his storied career and tips and tricks that only years in the studio can earn you. With legendary guest drummer KJ Sawka, you’ll have an experienced team to guide you through how to overcome the biggest challenge for a home studio engineer, the drum kit.


Kevin Howard

Kris is methodical and goes over everything related to drum recording in great detail. He covers heads and even how much moon gel he uses for damping the heads, Mic placement, shell choice( size, wood etc ). Listen to Dance Gavin Dance to hear some of his work. I found this class to be super informative and very practical in it's approach. Thank you Kris !


this is a great class! i play drums personally, and i love percussion! he also teaches well


This is an amazing class! Kris is a very scientific instructor. This really opened my eyes to the drum recording process. Take Notes!!!! There are about a thousand unique facts and techniques that you should know. This will help you to record drums correctly at the source so that you can minimize the amount of digital destruction you will do later and thus get a "Professional" sound.