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Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 23 of 29

Room Microphone Selection and Placement

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

23. Room Microphone Selection and Placement

Lesson Info

Room Microphone Selection and Placement

Now we have the close mikes for the kit all done symbols or miked up kicks snare tom's everything's good we move on to get that that space the air around the drums and the sound that makes the drums really sound big we've gotta close sound soundings biggest they can but obviously they're fairly short sounds and we want some decay and for me I like drums to sound like I'm playing in a big room not like a gymnasium or church or something because that's a little overboard but I just liked the idea of drums being in like a big wooden room or just, um being a nice size, you know, some some sessions I will keep keep it kind of small and keep the drums sounding type but I still want the option of having a big room mike sound so this works perfectly for that and keeping things type and well, I'll show you is how I said it mike's to get a nice big room mike sound to supplement to the close mikes and the thing about room likes is that this is really where you get to get creative and you khun bas...

ically do whatever you want with whatever you want there's not really any rules and it's just it's what you hear in your head and figuring out how to get that out so for me I know that I like my room mike's about as far back in the room as they can get, at least when I'm in a room this size um, I've been in rooms this size before and I know that where I have the mike's right now is a good spot, but normally when you're tracking drums and you're working in a new room that you don't know that well, just have the drummer play and walk around the room and use your ears and listen to where a good spot is just put your mike's because they're just like your ears being printed the tape or being printed into the computer um, I've already done that, so I have my mike set up and this is my favorite spot in this room, and what I'm doing with these mike's is I have um two three different types of two mikes for a space pair stereo set up and it's the same as overheads, I have one set of large condensers which air sony c forty eight's that I really like on rue mikes one set of small condensers which are klaus hein uh modified km eighty force originally by norman but rebuilt by class hein and I have the royal are one, twenty ones which are ribbon mikes for this first test that I'm going to show you the c forty eight's are going to be in car droid came eighty four they're going to be in cargo because they only have one pattern and the reuters will be in figure eight because that's just how the ribbon mike's work so I have these all set up to record at the same time and of course I'm going to record my overheads and my close mike's along with it here protection and go ahead cool so we will hear these back way can hear how the room mikes make the drum sound bigger and give a lot more life so we'll start with c forty eight's and again I've recorded these in pretty quiet compared to the other drums just like I said before because I don't want him to catch when I'm editing just like this which they are because I'm on that track but if they were louder this peak would catch this peak would catch and I just don't want to deal with that so that's why they're coming in a little quieter so we can listen back to the c forty eight's with the rest of the drums both mike sears just see forty eight and that's not just a c forty eight sits the c forty it's with all the other mike and uh then I'll show you the ribbon mike's which were the r one twenty ones nice and thick sounding very cool a little less detailed and then we have came eighty force which were the small condensers now real quick I'll just play a little clip of what the room mike's only see forty eight one twenty ones by writer and notice that the ribbon mikes are a lot darker and they have a lot more mids and that's what's cool about ribbon mike's is they sound a little funky on their own, but if you want to focus on the shells and not have a lot of washing symbol sound in your room mike's then ribbon's could be a really good option because if you listen with just the ribbons and the and the other tracks we have including the overheads you hear a lot of the k on the kick and snare but the symbols sound pretty close still and if we listen to the large condensers, the whole kit sounds further back because you're getting just a cz much symbol as you're getting shell on dh the rooms or just a little bit brighter which is cool sounding but it could also be perceived as too much information or a little muddy and it depends on how much room might how much room mike you really want in your mix as far as how bright you want the room mikes and of course you can e q them to be darker too but the ribbons naturally keep the decay sounding further back and a little bit lower down in frequency and then listen to the cam eighty four's by themselves and notice that the cam eighty four's you're hearing a lot less kick drum because they're smaller dia fram hearing the higher ends and the kick drum less bhumi sounds in general, which is really cool it's one reason that I like to use committee for sometimes is because this room has a little bit of a low end residents so that kind of naturally gets rid of that because it's really only picking up the faster sounds and we go back to the reuters c forty eight now the c forty eight sir just a naturally brighter mike but they're also a lot gloomier and a lot more scooped so to me there's a lot of high in detail but there's not a lot of overall kit image so with the eighty four's I'm getting the best of both worlds. So for me that's that's really one of my favorite room mikes and the c forty eight's air great if I want to drop the room like sit down that's really where they shine let me show you when they're in the mix and I bring the volume down and slowly bring it up thie drums still sound close but you kind of have that crispy high end and a little bit gloomier of a kick now in all of them the kick is just a little bit to bhumi for me, so I'm going to show you really simple way to deal with that so room likes less kick meet this arm these all again in a good way to kill this at the source because of course you could think well, aiken scoop out all the low in but then you're losing all the lohan and symbols you're living all the low and in the snare and tom's um and right now my room likes or just to kick focused so what I need to do is take the blanket that I brought and this is about the simplest on the most home baked trick in the book I'm just going toe double over yeah and then I wrap it around kj and that's what happens and he plays the kicklighter because he's warm what we do is we're literally just going to drape this on over the kick drum trying not to hit the tom it seems silly but it really can make a big difference and you can take this a step further he wanted to use more kick mike's you couldn't build a tunnel out of a blanket, but that's not really my game and I'm not gonna get into why I don't do that on a regular basis but I will show you how much this will improve the room like sound go ahead and I'll just play back the eighty four's but the session has all of the mikes in case you want to hear them then I'll play the one that doesn't have the blanket on the kick it's a lot boom here and a lot more out of control sounding blanket on the kick it's subtle but you can hear how much less bhumi on dh maurine phase the kick is so I wouldn't do this all the time it's not necessarily something I do every time my track drums but if I'm in a room just like this room where there's a lot of low frequency resonating around the kid can get a little out of control so don't be afraid to do something like that instead of trying to fix that in the mix the next thing I want to talk about real quick is how big of an improved our how big of a difference you can make by changing the polar pattern on your room mike's right now the mikes aaron card would I'm going to show you exactly how they're pointing and the only mike I have here is the sony c forty eight that has multiple patterns but right now it's pointing just like this and it's on ly getting this side of the room but if I want to make a room like this that's medium size or a smaller sized room sound bigger, all I have to do is just flip it toe omni which means the mike is going to pick up sounds in every direction so I'm going to get more than twice as many reflections hitting the mike and I'll show you how cool that is and how much that can um enlarge the room that you're in are the sound of the room that you're in so this test on the session will only be the c forty eight and I'm just gonna type that out and I'm only going to record those room mikes and then I'm just going to seoul the room likes and playing back for you so you can hear the difference you could actually see the difference in the way form the volume changes when you put him a nominee right here as opposed to car died here and here because obviously you're picking up way more sound because it's picking up the hole spectrum of the room around them like so we can listen of course that's the room mike's a nominee and here's the room mikes and card with the room mikes and card later a lot punch here they're clear you can hear the symbols better but the mike's an omni uh make the room sound bigger it's a little bit more full of a sound too which which is really cool and a lot of times I find myself using the c forty eight's a nominee because of that that's carter and here's on me again with all the mike's going theo borderline like led zeppelin e type of sound um and that is ah that's basically everything I would do with spaced pair mike's, the other thing that I really like to do is called an m s set up, and a lot of times I'll have this in a different part of the room for the drums, but for today, I have it kind of on par with the other room mikes, and the whole idea behind an m s set up is to get for one, you get the option of blending two different types of microphones to get one sound, and the other thing is that you have perfect phase and the way you're doing this is that you're actually taking umm a car towed microphone pointing it forward, so I'd be pointing it at the drum set, and then you're taking a figure eight microphone and facing it ninety degrees toe where the car droids pointing so it's going this way and this way, then you reverse the phase on one side, which there's plug ins that do that for you, which is called m s decoding on m s matrix, which stands for mono side and and so you're taking two channels, turning him into three and then won again her and then to again, and I'll show you, but what's cool about this is that the mikes are perfectly in phase no matter what, and like I said, aiken blend two different microphones sounds together and the way I like to do is take the ribbon let's figure eight and then take a nice tube condenser that's card oid so I get the mano the center image is bright and really clear sounding but then the stereo sides are really thick and I'm to demonstrate that right now bye moving the royer thea writes royer right under this microphone which is a telephone can feelem to fifty one and doesn't have to be this mike it can be any carded microphone this is the one that I just like to use in this setting and I'm just going to set the cardinal one right on top of the figure eight on the car doing mike is facing right at the drum set totally centered and then this mike is picking up these sides so we're really creating a pattern that's kind of like this so it doesn't have a lot of side rejection, so you want to make sure that all the reflections around you sound really good? Like I wouldn't put this next to like to glass windows because it's going to pick up a very wide space? I just have to make sure these air perfect you know what I'm completely touching cause vibrations might make them rattle together oh go on a pro tools and make a new track this is going to be um m s room nyc's which you're going to sound really goofy before I put the matrix the m s matrix on it but I'm going to leave him alone for a second and I want these to be three and four now with most emmis matrix uh matrixes and decoders your car towed mike should be the left channel and your figure eight mike should be the right channel though some have the option of foot that but the one I'm using that's how it works on this is important because what the decoder does is it creates a stereo image out of the two different polar patterns in the two mikes so if you're trying to if you have them reversed its going to think that the car droid pattern is figure eight and it's going to take that dead space behind and try to make that one of the channels on the right or the left so you don't want to mess that up and we'll just uh make sure we're coming through here give me a nice near hit and one thing you also want to do just to make it easier since you're using two different mike's is toe level them out one more time for me one more one more that's close enough for me because if one's quieter it's either going to be two stereo or to monitor and I'm going to record in all the other close mike's but not the other rooms m s room mikes cool so now take the record arm off and I have to put the decoding plugging on and I'm using the s one actually no don't use that one as much is the that's one imager and put the input mode on the m s because we're doing m s and I don't really mess with with stuff that much on this and I want meters and m s as well otherwise it is not accurate what you're looking at so we'll play this you can hear we have a fixed sound but it's got a cool top into it it's got a cooler top and then the reuters alone but it's got a thicker sound than any of the car droids alone and if you really want to mess with getting the center um louder the car died louder or the ribbon louder you just raise or lower the with but I find that leaving it even works the best and you can hear how well it works with the drums rest of mike's so makes a really cool solid room like sound completely different than what we were hearing before. Um totally it's wide and it's big but it's totally different than like when we were listening to the army's there's a little chunkier and thicker but it's not it doesn't have as much depth so those are both really cool options now what I was talking about before certain ways to make a small or mid sized room sound bigger there's, actually, something that I like to do a lot that can make the like you could record drums in a closet and make it sound like you're in a church, and the way to do that is to take one or two mikes, which I'm just going to do in mono today because just logistics in this room, but if you take one or two mikes outside of the room you're in and put them either in a hallway or whatever the next room is in the next room. After that, you can get a really huge sound that doesn't have a lot of symbols and has a really unique reflection that has almost no attack and the cool thing about that. But having a reflection with no attack is that it really doesn't fight. Um, any of the drums, any of the close drums and this isn't necessarily a always a way to make of small room sound bigger. You can also do this outside of a big room and make it sound smaller, depending on where the room is to the drums, but having a very little attack on the source of the room, mike is a lot like having a river that doesn't have a lot of close reflections mixed into it. So if you've ever printed a reverb or looked at a reverb on a screen, it kind of looks like this where there's not a lot of attack and there's like a peak in the decay and that's exactly what happens when you do a room like because all you're getting is that last reflection, and then you're getting the group of reflections that air in the other room. You're not getting any direct signal, as there were all these mikes, we're getting a completely direct signal. So what I'm going to show you right now, which is super cool, is the room might or the hallway. Mike is what it's called a lot of times, but it doesn't have to be a hallway jury is going to show me out here because it's tired of me see you later and on top of putting the mike out in the hallway, I also want to make sure that it's out of a direct sight of the drum set, so say you've got a hallway where the ceiling is taller than the doorway just put the mic up in in the ceiling well or kind of behind the door, but you don't want to close the door all the way it's a cool effect, but at that point we're really just getting weird, like rumbly next door neighbor type sounds and that's not what I want I want to let the sound into where the mic is but I don't want the mike to see the drum set so I'm going to raise this up I'll bring it back out here so you can see it I have a feeling that this might not go high enough so it might actually need drew to be part of this demonstrable it up if you just want to be the micro totaled and yep hold that up so you know this is going to be some slack there yes I can just pull it right out it's about as much as I can give you right that's good yeah that's perfect so right now even though you can't see it the microphone is up here um out of line of sight of the drum set I'm going to show you what that sounds like thank you drew for being our mobile mike stand create one new track and I actually prefer this in er stereo it's a great stereo effect but if you only have one extra mike to do this with its cool and this is even great you can just do this with an sm fifty seven and it will still sound killer it's it's just a great effect tohave or you could do it with a really nice mike so hallway mike going to make these drums sound massive this is coming in links for I'm going to record that mess at the same time just so if you're using the session you can flip back and forth with same drum taken here the difference all right hallway my groups it's not plural because there's only one cool and keep in mind that right now this hallway hallway mike's a nominee which I like but you can also do it in car going to get a different kind of effect and of course the further out of the room the mike is the bigger the sound will be so the on ly room mike I'm going to play with this one right now is the hall mike and I'm just going to play the beat and slowly bring up the volume and the cool thing about that is it sounds like you're playing in a gymnasium or something but that's space out there is probably five feet by three feet is a very small space the ceilings are pretty tall but really the reason it sounds like a huge space is the distance between the mike and the drums and the fact that there's no direct reflection or no direct source on going zoom in on this too so when you're looking at the pro tools set session you can see that these air the room mike's um these were the m s room mike's that I have back here and they have a very hard transient because they can see the drum set, they can hear the drum set directly. But if you look down here, there's really no hard, transient, you know, this is the peak of the source, but the hit is actually probably more like there. And the reason for that is that the mic can't see the drums that it's really just picking up the sound. That's traveled and bounced around all over in there and that's, what makes a super cool room? Mike sounds so we got that, so I'll have my hallway, mike, and then I have my a little bit closer room mike's, which is still not close, probably about ten, fifteen feet back, usually in these aaron, m, s and it's, the combination of those two things that really creates a big drum sound for me personally, um, when I can and I'm in a session that allows it, I definitely like to have two sets of room mikes up at different distances, and usually one of the distances is a hallway type mike and it's, for the reason that I just showed you that blending two different different distances actually creates a bigger sound because you're hearing the reflections at two at three different points, three three different basic distances, creating longer decay and a bigger sound in the room and that's pretty much everything for room mike's. The only other thing I wanted to show you guys is the ways to supplement. So now that we have the basic drum set set up, I really want to show you ways to supplement. Um, the ride cymbal, the hi hat, and I still want a little bit more out of the snare so real quick. I'm just going to set up a ride, mike high hat mike, and I'm going to set up what I call the side snare mike, that I mentioned earlier and that's going to basically complete the mikes on the drum set.

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.