A Studio Engineer's 'How to set up and record drums'


I came across this while looking on the producer, Andy Sneap's forum (he's produced for a heck lot of metal bands)

http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/production-tips/217656-acoustic-drums-metal-guide-2.html - while this is not Andy Sneap himself it is another studio owner/producer's guide to recording drums (which has received a lot of kudos from the users)

Just looking through it some of it seems pretty out of place to me, sitting ridiculously high? Playing as loudly as possible? Playing with the toms as flat as possible? (note that the toms aren't even flat at all in the photo)

Personally I don't believe it is in your engineer's role to tell you how to play.


Profanity warning for all of those of a sensitive disposition...


Platinum Member
I've read this before. This man thinks very highly of himself.

Oh, this is the guy who recommends Falam Slam pads for recording. I think he's the only person I've ever heard suggest that.

Oh yeah, flat toms man! Flat toms are the key to a good sound! I bet Dave Lombardo plays with his toms flat!

There is a lot of nonsense here about trying to solve recording problems by moving stuff around radically. If you can't record a drummer playing the way they play, you are not a good engineer, in my opinion.
Bad drummers will always sound like bad drummers on record.

Just noticed a comment from someone else on the same thread:

Razorjack said:
I once cut a guitarsists strings for not tuning before a take. I asked if he had and he said "Yeah, sure" we got about three bars into the take and I heard the most out of tune chord ever, stopped the take went into the live room with a pair of plyers and snipped his top three strings off. He listened to everything I said after that.
That's pathetic. I can think of very little that would justify such stupid behaviour.


Silver Member
Wow, what's worse? An engineer who has no clue or a drove of morons who cling to his every word as gospel?

His stuff is horrible. His recordings have to be terrible or he just ends up using a sound replacer in the mix and doesn't use the drums he records.


Platinum Member
Perhaps he always wanted to be a drummer but can't do it.

He claims not to do any sound replacement, and the recordings seem to be ok...but he's found a very odd way of doing it. He has a very strange approach to overhead micing.


Staff member
He's clearly a self proclaimed expert at recording shitty drummers. As for his house kit, it looks like something I'd expect to find at the back of a social club. Ok, he's going for a certain sound, & taking the tried & tested "build the sound up from a dead thud" approach. That's cool when working with crap kits, but in no way can be passed of as a real attempt to reproduce a good acoustic sound. I suppose he's comparing his methods to the total sound replacement way of doing things. He is operating in an exclusively metal environment, so we need to take his sound goals in context.

As soon as I see the suggested pillow & no front head arrangement, I pretty much know what level of engineer I'm looking at. He might just have got aspects of a very limited sound palate nailed, but his wizedom ends there for me.


Silver Member
This is why guitarists are never allowed to touch drums, to include placing microphones near drums.


Platinum Member
As soon as an engineer is telling me how to sit or position my toms to make his life easier, my guard hairs go up. I can appreciate some suggestions from that side of the board about tuning, about muffling, etc. (i.e. things to do with sound) - and I've happily taken the suggestion to raise my hats a bit so a guy could get better seperation with the snare, but in the end my job is to play the drums the best way I know how and yours, Mr. Engineer, is to capture what I'm doing. In fact, I can't think of anything more counter-productive in the studio than an engineer forcing an inexperienced - or even experienced - player into new, unfamiliar and potentially uncomfortable physical positions in order to get a "better" performance. Seriously, you're going to tell me I have to change the entire way I move my body today? Now, when I'm sweating about what/how I'm going to play what I've got to play using my usual movements? Let alone feeling like I'm playing someone else's drums? I'm glad he's happy, but we'd have "artistic differences" if he pulled that on me.

Oh, and the first knob twiddler who damages a piece of my equipment to teach me a lesson about tuning better be capable of doing the 40 in about 4-seconds flat, because I'm gunning for that guy. That's just not on, under any circumstance.


Junior Member
The set up of your drums is major important. Consider where you place them and what you place them near. They will be large, so you don't want to be setting them up and taking them down all the time. And search around for the best software to record your drums. There are good ones out there, but then again are are no so good ones out there too.