Basic recording gear (mostly microphone) recommendations?

Jankowske

Senior Member
So...I've got four toms that I'd like to close-mic, a snare where two mics would be preferable, a kick, and two overheads would be nice. Not too worried about my hats since I spank 'em loud, and room mic is a maybe. Also I'm cheap.

New computer will hopefully be procured in the next 24 hours. A good friend is giving me a good deal, so I don't need help picking that out.

Apparently the Tascam US-1800 that I've been ogling for too many years can be had at Sweetwater for $200. Did a bit of research on it and it sounds like it's a nice clean, quiet unit. Also the 2-year warranty and Cubase LE5 sound neat. I'm open to suggestions here, as long as said suggestions are 12+ tracks and sub-$200. Simultaneous multitracking is what I'm after, so ye-olde-analog-board won't suffice.

Mics I need help with. I have an SM57, an MXL 990, some old audiotechnica PRO 5 dynamic, a subkick speaker-mic that I made, a couple shure VP64s, and then a half-dozen odd cheap/karaoke/toy mics. My current scheme revolves around getting some cheap drum mic pack and replacing as needed with time.

For example: CAD has a decently-reviewed 7-piece for $200. Consensus trends towards overheads being really nice, the four dynamics being decent to good, and the kick being mediocre but serviceable (good for floor tom, though). So...the 57 on top of the snare, maybe my AT on bottom, the four dynamics on my toms, and the kick and the overheads where they belong. Later on, get a beta 52 for my kick, put the CAD kick on the floor tom, replace dirty old AT with the spare dynamic, and voila! a very workable setup. Maybe a little room flavor from my MXL. Do I seem to be on the right track?

I'm kind of mainly looking for cheap microphone/mic set recommendations, but any outlandish suggestions and ideas are welcome too. Any half-baked plots that can help me make some dirty over-produced basement metal that add up to $4-600 for mics and an interface. Does anyone think I should slave-n-save till I can afford a bucket of 421s, some kind of neumann, a tape deck and some Neve pres? Too bad. Read the sig.

Thanks!
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
There are a couple threads on this topic, and the consensus seems to be that fewer high-quality mics seems to win out over a larger quantity of cheap-mics. The more mics you have, the more issues and expense you have to deal with. The more stands/cables/pre-amps/phase/bullshit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bct-5YbKGlU

I set up a 4-mic core like they have in the video. It typically covers 99% of what I do. I have two room mics that I blend in, then realize I don't like, then remove entirely. On occasion, when I am featuring a particular instrument (A tom based rhythm, or a song with fancy-schmancy hat work) I'll throw a mic on the feature instrument.

Aside from that, get a nice simple core set up. 52-ish mic on the kick. 57-ish mic on the snare. 2 sensitive overheads positioned to taste.
 

Captain Bash

Silver Member
I agree, fewer quality mics give a way better end result (truer to want you hear with your ears) than a bunch of cheap close mics. I would concentrate on getting the best quality kick mic first and then overheads then if really needed cover specifics ie. sm57s sound good on both toms and snare.

You would be surprised how many times simple overheads, kick and sm57 covers it. The trick is good quality overheads and decent kick. This is some distance from what you are suggesting. Save yourself the pain of buying twice and go with a few good mics.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
For a decent sounding, inexpensive bass drum mic, I can recommend this one:
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/drum-microphones/gear-one-mk1000-kick-drum-mic

Keep your eye out for it as a 'stupid deal of the day'.
I got it for super cheap a couple years, and like it so much that I picked up another one when it was part of a 'sdotd' package.

Don't laugh till you've tried it - ha ha.

I can't speak about the CAD stuff. Don't have it, never tried it.
But ya - I agree with the other posts. Use your SM57, use your XML till you get a pair of overheads,
get a kick mic, and in my book, you're good to go.
.
 
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Bonzo_CR

Silver Member
Use your SM57, use your XML till you get a pair of overheads,
get a kick mic, and in my book, you're good to go.
.
+1 to that! Kick + snare + 1 or 2 overheads is enough.

To use the MXL as a single overhead, try positioning it just over your shoulder (your right shoulder if you're right handed). Surprisingly good results!
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Well, there are some benefits to isolating everything and having it on separate tracks. But there are some drawbacks too.
And when stuff is processed separately, you can lose the cohesive sound of the kit.
 

weeschwee

Junior Member
I just recently got into recording my drums. I picked the Audix DP7 drum mics. They aren't the cheapest mics, but they are significantly cheaper than buying 421's and other mics separately. Also, they sound great. My church has been using them for years, but I never really understood their potential. Now that I'm learning to record I find myself very impressed with the mics. Not only do my drums sound good through them, they sound very accurate and natural too. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to mixing and EQing drums, but I believe the Audix mics give me great quality to work with. Search around about the DP7 kit. When I researched them I always heard good things about them. They aren't as popular as Sure sm57's and other mics, but I have yet to hear people complain about them.

That's my recommendation since I've used them. When I was researching I also heard good things about a Sennheiser kit with the 602's I think.

Also, check out Reaper as far as software goes. I've been using their demo as my DAW and I plan to buy it when the trial is up. It's fairly simple to learn and it seems very capable. The best part is that it's only $60 for a personal license and that is good for two main version upgrades.
 

dtrushr30dw

Senior Member
If you're going for the metal sound, get decent mics. Don't break the bank on them. The audix DP7 will do the job, no doubt. Search ebay for deals on great mics. Rode nt-5s are great on overheads and don't kill your wallet.

i5 or sm57 on snare

d2/d4 or sennheiser e604 on toms

Will say that 421s sound smooth like butter and I absolutely love mine.
(Note that the e604 uses the same capsule as the 421, just colored differently.)

Interface - don't go cheap. Get the Focusrite saffire or usb series, they ARE the best and cleanest for the money.

Lastly, get steven slate trigger to beef up your natural drum sounds or completely replace them. Trust me, that's a purchase that you cannot go wrong with.

Lastly, get some good waves plug ins. If you can eventually get them, I strongly recommend the API 2500 comp and API 500 EQ (I think that's the one). Use those with the CLA drums plug in and you'll get KILLER drum sounds every time. I swear by those. I use them all the time and they make things sound huge.

Hope that's of some help :)
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Ya - a lot depends on where you want to go with it.

The 4 mic (or less) solution is good if you want to capture a whole cohesive sounding acoustic kit.

If you want to close mic everything, and use hit points within a DAW in order to substitute sounds, you might be better off going directly to triggers.
 

dtrushr30dw

Senior Member
Call me crazy, but after more thought, I would do this..

If you're doing metal production, either buy triggers for the toms or cheaper mics, like the audix d2 or even the audix fusion series (actually great value). Trigger the drum sounds with superior or Steven Slate trigger. If you get the cheaper audix, you'll still get some decent tones (I used to have the f2 mics on my racks, not bad).

On the kick, just get a trigger. You need at least two mics to a professional kick sound. That would be one inside the kick for the "click/attack" and one outside the head for the "sub". Or, get an audix D6 and mix it in with a triggered sample so that you have some of the natural kick sound, but thickened up with the quality of the professional sample.

Now, with the money you've saved on close mics, you can buy some quality overheads, such as akg c214s or rode nt2's.

I should also say that if you're doing metal or any type of modern production, you are going to want close mics, without question. Get them. You'll regret it later if you don't. Sound replacement is not a bad thing if you're a "basement studio", so go for it and make sure you have a way to capture the close tom sound with a close mic or a trigger. Good luck on your purchases :)
 

Jankowske

Senior Member
Thank you all kindly for your suggestions. Here is what I bought instead:

new Tascam US-1800 interface w/ Cubase le5 - $180 (black friday!)

used CAD drum mics; 2 GXL1200 condensers, 3 TSM411 dynamics, and 1 KBM412 condenser - $130

First, the Tascam is the coolest thing ever and no one's gonna tell me anything bad about it because it's awesome. Also the Cubase is super easy to use and it likes most of my favorite VSTs.

Second, those CAD mics are actually pretty awesome. The 411s came very highly recommended from multiple shady sources, and they ARE in fact very nice and 57-ish. The clips are neat but pretty heavy. The kick mic is meh; lots of lows but no highs. The overheads are most of the reason why I got the set, and it's a long, boring story. Originally I had been looking to get some MXL 603s since they were well-reviewed and had some weird underground mod-following. Something about the grill and a capacitor and then it sounds like some $1000 mic. Upon further investigation, apparently the MXL 603, 603S, 991, Cascade M39, Apex 180, Nady CM-90, and CAD GXL1200 all have the exact same capsule and wiring, and the only difference in their sound is due to the mic bodies' shapes. The design is based off of the Neumann KM-84 and the mod that I kept reading about makes them sound just about exactly like them. I'm not too worried about modifying them anytime soon, though, since I'm very happy with their sound. But someday I might be pickier with my OH sound and more confident in my soldering ability.

Practical application:

As I only have one boom stand at the moment, my condensers are in an ORTF configuration. I tried both the SM57 I already had and a 411 on top of the snare, but they didn't seem to be doing much that the overheads couldn't manage already. I moved the 411 to the bottom and put a little plate reverb on it, and it sounded sweet. The kick mic is on my fancy internal mount thing that I made and forgot to tell anyone about, but the attack is still lacking. I plan to get a new kick mic ASAP and I was very recently outbid on a nice e602 on ebay.

My plan now is to secure a couple new mic stands and cables along with a new kick drum mic. I wanna do spaced pair overheads to get a little more width and cymbal isolation. If there's less snare in the overheads after that, then the 57 will probably go on top. As the overheads are only effectively picking up the attack of the toms, I'll put the three 411s and the KBM412 on my toms so that I can add some body. My old audiotechnica or the 57 will go to the bottom of the snare.

I've already made some pretty tasty little knockaround drum mixes; WAY better than anything I was ever able to do with three mics into my old Panjo into my 12-year-old computer into Audacity into LMMS. The old setup was pretty punk, though...
 
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