Miking Drums

whatsam

Member
I want to start miking my kit so i kinda of need some help right through from the begging. I'm trying to decide between overheads and bass or close miking everything but the point is what happens after that. Where do the cables go mixer/pre-amps? And then what? I'm sorry if i'm asking anything stupid but also is this process the same for recording as in live.
 

Pete Stoltman

Silver Member
Try to locate a copy of the June 2009 issue of Modern Drummer. John Emrich wrote a very nice article on some of the basics of building a "small monitor system". The beauty of this is that you can set up the sound the way you want through a small mixer and send the signal to the main board.
Of course there are many different ways to do this but my suggestion is to keep it simple in the beginning stages. There are also some good You Tube videos on mic selection, placement, etc. You don't necessarily have to break the bank to get a good sound.
 

Brundlefly

Senior Member
I want to start miking my kit so i kinda of need some help right through from the begging. I'm trying to decide between overheads and bass or close miking everything but the point is what happens after that. Where do the cables go mixer/pre-amps? And then what? I'm sorry if i'm asking anything stupid but also is this process the same for recording as in live.
You aren't asking anything stupid, but you are asking for what normally appears in an entire article if not an entire book's worth of information. But here's a way too brief run down assuming a simple 4 mike set up for recording.


Two over heads. These should be condenser mikes. Condenser mikes make great overheads but have a very low output signal. So, they need to be amped before the signal will be loud enough for recording. As such, you need a (good quality) mic cable to run from each mike to a pre-amp of some sort. Some mixers and audio interfaces have channels with pre-amps on their inputs. Most times, these pre-amps kind of suck rocks for quality, so if you are shooting for high quality recording, plan on investing in a good high quality pre-amp for each channel.

Condenser mikes also need power to operate. Any mixer/audio interface with pre-amps should also provide what is called phantom power to the mic through the mic cable (would be pretty useless without that). All external pre-amps do this.

If you go with the separate pre-amp stage, then you need another cable to run from the pre-amp to the mixer/audio interface. Which kind of cable will depend on variables that your equipment supports. Honestly, this is where things start to get complicated so I recommend sticking with traditional analog pathways for simplicity.

The final step to get the audio signal into a computer will be an audio interface. Just like mixers, these come in different form factors that support various numbers of audio channels. For our 4 mic drum setup, we ideally want each mic to have its own audio channel. But if you only have a 2 channel audio interface, then you need to mix multiple signals down to two, which is where mixers start to become necessary. If all you want to do is record practice sessions, I would avoid introducing a separate mixer and shoot for an all-in-one audio interface that supports enough channels to handle all the sources you want to record.

Now, going all the way back to the beginning... snare and bass mikes tend to not be condensers. At least there is no real reason why they have to be, and most mikes that are built for these purposes are what are called dynamic mikes. They have a higher output signal. They also don't need phantom power. That's about where the meaningful distinctions end, so the rest of the pathway into the recording should be the same for dynamic mikes as for condensers.

There are many more details that can creep into this process (like monitoring, phase, blah-blah...). And if you feel like you need more, then I would suggest planning on spending a lot more time researching the recording process through books, magazines and other on-line resources. It is an entire art form unto itself. The trick for most drummers is to know how to keep that process simple enough for their needs.
 
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