Changing your set up for mic position?

cnw60

Senior Member
So - lately I've been setting up my 5 pc as shown in my avatar, with the two mounted toms on a stand because I like having the ride cymbal in tight (I guess I got used to the ride being there from playing a 4 pc for a LONG time).

Anyways - last weekend, our band recorded some songs at the local public access TV studio and this is the first time I've had an outside person do the sound setup. He used a pretty simple and straightforward setup for the kit with one overhead, a kick mic and a snare mic. We've only heard one song so far, which was really just the sound check they played back for us to make sure everything was OK before we started blasting out the set. Everything sounded basically fine - this session wasn't really about trying to get super hi-fi tracks, it was just a 'studio live' session.

The thing is - the position of the snare mic made it really hard to play the tom on the left side of the kit. Basically - as you can see from the avatar pic, there's no gap between that tom and the hats, so I really don't know where you could put the snare mic with this setup where it wouldn't be in the way of something. I'm thinking now that I should reconsider my tom positions at least a little bit to accomodate the mic placement. It's either that or get one of those little tiny clip-on mics for the snare, but I'd rather not go that route.

So my question is how much do you folks adjust your kit to make it easy to mic, or do you mostly set up the way you want it and let the mic position happen as best it can?
 

Yo!

Member
In the past I've been forced to make small adjustments, especially to my snare. Not only that, but I used maple hoops for a while, so the flange clip mics wouldn't work. I'd have to use a different snare. LAME.

In the past I've had to experiment, but in a situation like yours, it may be more beneficial to use a stand instead of a rim clip for snare micing; put the stand up and an angle, and use what space you have to angle down the mic.

Sometimes small configuration changes are all you can do to fit mics in.
 

jer

Silver Member
This particular session put that 57 between the toms, fighting for space with the splash cymbal mounting. While playing this config, I sometimes moved my hats up a little higher than I usually like to fit a stand in that way.



I also had guys clip snare mic's to the bottom rim, I dug this the most as I didn't have to adjust anything.

Non-issue now, I play a much smaller kit, lots of room to get mic's in where you need them.

You mention that this was the first time someone else mic'd you up - how do you approach it when doing it yourself?
 

cnw60

Senior Member
...You mention that this was the first time someone else mic'd you up - how do you approach it when doing it yourself?
I have a CAD mic with an integral clip that mounts directly on the the rim, but it's not a great mic, even if it is nice and compact. I figure it would be good to find a way to use something the size of an SM-57 for the snare. I like the idea of putting the mic between the two upper toms... even if that means separating them a little bit more than they are currently.

Lose that tom on the left side of your kit ;)
I hear ya' man - sometimes the solution is so simple - I mean really, what have I been thinking.... eeeeshhh.
 

Hercules

Senior Member
It's often a compromise micing drums - and the trade off is the drummer's comfort vs the quality of sound recorded.

Being on both sides of the fence I can say that I don't like either compromise...... I mean, could you imagine asking a guitarist to change their grip, or asking a pianist to sit a bit side-on so the mics could be placed better? I know what the answer is.....

So all we can do as drummers is compromise enough so that it doesn't impact our technique - engineers are also professionals and there are a lot of ways to get "that sound" - we just need to work with them a bit.

Personally, I find that using mic stands is a far better option than using clips for studio work.
 

Retrovertigo

Senior Member
just set up and be comfortable. move things a little bit if necessary but dont go crazy. engineers will always find ways to get a mic in. ive mic'ed the shell of a snare on several occasions and it sounds really good actually. very strong. maybe a bit more life-like than mic'ing the just the top. it has a good blend of top and bottom.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Most of the snare sound is coming though the overhead anyway. The spot mic is just for touch up and to let the engineer bring up the snare independently. So it doesn't have to be optimally placed as if you were running a gated individually mic'd kit. Sometimes a bit of distance helps make a nice realistic open sound. The 80's are behind us now.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
For as long as I can remember, my drum set-ups, my leisure of playing and the miking my kits go hand in hand. There is always some style of microphone that will "fit" and work well in any given situation. I do rely on my snare's microphones to pick up the majority of it's sound. If I'm on location, the overheads do play a part in the overall pick up of the kit and this matters on how the rest of the drum set is miked. In the studio the overheads basically do the job of miking the cymbals, where as the "room" mic does in essence of what the overheads do on location. Except for my kits which their layout stays basically the same, plus or minus a couple of drums and cymbals, each individual situation will exhibit tremendous amounts of variables. Sometimes past experiences will help support you, other times it comes down to how well you know your equipment.

Dennis
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
What the OP is talking about is a simple 3 mic set up. Overhead and touch up mics on the kick and snare. In that case, most of the sound of the drums except the kick comes though the overhead mic, which hears a similar balance as the drummer. The beef of the kick sound comes from it's mic, and the snare mic allows for adding a bit of crispness or immediacy to the snare sound. Or a bit of fx if someone so desires, in which case it has to be gated to keep the hat out.

This is vastly different from a fully mic'd up kit where each drum is individually mic'd, gated to keep the other drums out, and eq'd to optimize that drum's sound, or to minimize other things like kick and toms in the cymbal overheads. This is an art where you're fighting comb filtering and all kinds of delay issues from adjacent mics.
 

ccsimms

Senior Member
You're gonna have to play with both but you don't wanna compromise either too much..after all your playing and the quality of recording both play roles into the outcome of the product.
 

cnw60

Senior Member
Most of the snare sound is coming though the overhead anyway. The spot mic is just for touch up and to let the engineer bring up the snare independently. So it doesn't have to be optimally placed as if you were running a gated individually mic'd kit. Sometimes a bit of distance helps make a nice realistic open sound. The 80's are behind us now.
This corresponds to what I've found recording just myself in my practice space. Just one mic overhead and one mic on the kick drum - actually gives me quite decent, well-balanced sound. The same setup has also worked well for recording band practices. The only time I've had to add the mic on the snare has been when we've done more 'sophisticated' recording. Even then - I suspected that the need to add close mics on the snare and tom was more the result of our guitar player not being very good at mastering the mix.

Appreciate the comments folks - I'll be interested to hear the results from Saturday when we finally get the tracks. If it's not too horrible, I may post some cuts here for critique.
 

Jessiah331

Senior Member
Ugh, I always get into it with the sound guys when it comes to my kit. All of my toms, snare, and hats sit so tight its hard to get the snare mic in just right. I'd rather the mic at a funky angle than to adjust my stuff, and they'd rather have it sound good than me to be comfy.

Guess it all boils down to who has the stronger will...

Here's a pic of the tightness:
 
A

audiotech

Guest
Ugh, I always get into it with the sound guys when it comes to my kit. All of my toms, snare, and hats sit so tight its hard to get the snare mic in just right. I'd rather the mic at a funky angle than to adjust my stuff, and they'd rather have it sound good than me to be comfy.

Guess it all boils down to who has the stronger will...

Here's a pic of the tightness:
That would be very easy. Just place the snare microphone to the left side of the drum. If your mic is a cardioid, it should attenuate the high hats very nicely, depending on how close the snare's mic is to the head. If it's a Shure SM57, I usually just place the plastic part of the mic head over the drum's head with the body of the mic pointing towards the center of the head. The same basically goes for an Audix i5, except their entire body is metal. There's a lot of other microphones that are regularly used for snare drums, but these two are probably more well known. With your snare tightly miked, your high tom shouldn't be a problem since your snare would be much louder. There are many, many variables and variations. Look, listen and position. My kits are very tightly condensed also.



Dennis
 

Chonson

Senior Member
Move a tom, raise a cymbal, I generally don't care. I'm not too precious about precise placement, as long as I'm able to sit comfortably and bring the snare above the tops of my legs (but if I can't do that, I'll still be OK).

I've done engineering work on my own kit and learned firsthand how a couple inches - mic or drum moved - can make a massive difference in sound quality. As long as it's not ridiculous, I'm OK. I'd prefer you not use a Sennheiser 421 or 441 as a snare mic, but I'll live if it sounds great. I'm willing to play ball. Likewise I'm fine to raise my ride cymbal up/down/left/right a bit if needed.

I just prefer to be able to throw things up quickly and I think the extensively-memory-locked sets can just get bogged down in fraction-of-an-inch minutia. Just my opinion though.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
For most gigs I prefer a kick mic & pair of overheads. Almost always no snare mic necessary. If I'm going full closed miced everything, I use my own EV PL35's. Ultra compact for a dynamic, hyper cardoid so no gating required. Angled body so great for sneaking under cymbals. Strange to most, I tend to go full closed mic for gigs with a compact stage as I find just overheads pick up the band rear line too much. I never have to adjust my kit for mics.
 

JT1

Silver Member
It's either that or get one of those little tiny clip-on mics for the snare, but I'd rather not go that route.
I agree, I have had much agro related to these clip on mics as they get in the way big style. Clipping to the left of the snare can cause problems between the snare and hi-hat and clipping to the top can create problems between the snare and tom, to the right, snare and floor tom and at the bottom, your hands in general.

However Jer's solution is the best, Clip the mic underneath the snare drum (the bottom side) It certainly won't get in your way there and the sound guy will be able to compensate for anything added or lost.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
However Jer's solution is the best, Clip the mic underneath the snare drum (the bottom side) It certainly won't get in your way there and the sound guy will be able to compensate for anything added or lost.
Have you ever stuck your head underneath a snare drum while someone was playing it? (actually this is the number one pet peave of soundmen, they will be putting a bottom mic on a snare and the drummer will be slamming it, completely oblivious to the guy down there). It sounds pretty ratty and ugly. There isn't much you can do from a mixing board with it.

For that matter, a mic right on top of the snare drum, close in to the batter head, will sound like a tom since it is so close to the head and so far from the snares.

The reason for putting a mic there is to get more attack and a more immediate sound from the snare. Then you put a bottom mic on it (with polarity inverted) to mix in enough rattle for it to sound like a snare.

If there are overheads up over the top of the kit (as opposed to close in to the cymbals) they are picking up a similar snare sound to what the drummer hears. Only it will sound a bit more hollow and distant because of the way mics work. That's where blending in a bit of the close mics comes into play. The overall sound is a combination of all of it.

Personally, in the OPs kit, there is no problem putting a mic in my favorite place. A few inches from the snare, slightly above and pointing at the rim. This picks up the attack of the batter head, the shell and enough from the underside that it sounds like a snare drum.

15 years ago I made a backing track of the Rascal's Good Lovin. I put a single SM57 overhead pointed right at the snare drum. Got a perfect old school balance for that kind of song. This was with a small Ludwig kit with a 20" kick. The ambient sound of the kick and everything was perfect for a song that didn't rely on a chest pounding bottom end.
 
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