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Author Topic: Suggestions for mic'ing drums  (Read 1705 times)

Mark Norgren

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Suggestions for mic'ing drums
« on: January 15, 2019, 08:53:22 am »

I run sound for our band and am wondering about better/easier ways of mic'ing drums.  Our drummer insists on running mics each drum (8) and I'm thinking this is way over kill.  We usually play small rooms, theaters for 100-200 people.  I run a Midas M32R, DL32 stage box, QSC KW181 (4) when needed and QSC KW 153 (2) tops.  We are your average cover band, at times we add horns and more singers, up to about 12 max in the band total.

Just wondering what people suggest.  How many, placement and other thoughts would be great!  I have done drums with three mics before, maybe four, but eight seems like a waste of time.  We have space on the board, just don't want to mess with the setups.  I appreciate any suggestions.
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Will Knight

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Re: Suggestions for mic'ing drums
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2019, 09:52:09 am »

Please go to your profile and change your name to your real name as required by the rules when you first registered. Otherwise your post will be locked by the moderators.


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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: Suggestions for mic'ing drums
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2019, 10:11:56 am »

Please go to your profile and change your name to your real name as required by the rules when you first registered. Otherwise your post will be locked by the moderators.


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+1.
You have to click through a lot of pages to join this forum, and they all tell you what you need to do.

FWIW, if you ask 10 different sound engineers, you'll probably get 10 different answers on how to mic the drum kit. More info would be useful. How loud is the drummer? How extensive is the kit? Why does the drummer want eight channels?

Chris
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Suggestions for mic'ing drums
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2019, 12:05:35 pm »

Travis, Chris, Helge, Steve... we don't reply to posts that violate the real name requirement.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Dave Pluke

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Re: Suggestions for mic'ing drums
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2019, 06:22:17 pm »

I have done drums with three mics before, maybe four, but eight seems like a waste of time.  We have space on the board, just don't want to mess with the setups.  I appreciate any suggestions.

First question, do you ever find you use all 8 mics on the kit in question?  If not, perhaps you can consolidate to kick, snare and a couple of overheads.  If your stages are smaller, the vocal mics are probably picking up the cymbals and you could close mic the toms instead of overheads.

If you do use all 8 mics, the best compromise is to run a subsnake and let the drummer patch all the mics with shorter cables near the riser and keep things cleaner at the stage box.

You've got multitrack capability on the M32.  Why not record a gig and find out what's coming through each mic?

Dave
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Luke Geis

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Re: Suggestions for mic'ing drums
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2019, 08:47:42 pm »

I once had a band that I worked with that was adamant about micing the whole kit. For recording of live events and documenting performances, this is a way to get the overall best outcome. From a live reproduction standpoint for small venues, less is more. Less setup time, less equipment to worry about losing or damaging, and less work to soundcheck and mess with the channels during the show. For small shows, I cut things back to the smallest number of open channels that allows everything to have the potential to be in the PA. This means that kick snare and a single overhead is often more than enough for drums. If I feel like stereo, then I will do 4 channels for the drums.

If they want you for your technical prowess and ability, then I would tell them that you feel heavily that going over the top at all shows, while good practice, will cost them time and energy that may take away from the core of the objective. Setup, soundcheck, breakdown, cost, damage, theft all lead up to attrition that takes the focus away from the core objective.

I don't particularly like to spend an extra 20min total setting up, sound checking, and striking gear I don't need. If you double the number of mics from 4 to 8, that is another 10min roughly of setup. Which leads to another roughly 5 min sound checking ( assuming you spend only 1 min or so on each channel ) and then another 5 min or more breaking down. To do that you also have the cost of an extra 4 mic cables, and if you're like me and have a $1,300 drum mic kit, you have at least half the value of the mic kit out and able to be stolen or damaged. Then your time to consider. 20min longer is a half hour more of billable time, and if going on flat rate, it is literally going against your $ per hour. The best choice is to do what is the most prudent given the circumstances and objective goals.

While it may not win you any jobs, the cold hard truth is that the show isn't about them, it's about the people in the crowd. Going overkill doesn't guarantee better results and from a production standpoint less often adds up to more. Your skill and talent is every bit as important as the band members and you are just as judged and critiqued as they are. So they need to trust that you will make the best decision not only for them but yourself. Cost is a factor, your time is a factor, and the total sum of all the productions is certainly a factor.

The hardest part is telling someone who is essentially an employer that they need to relinquish control. It is easier, after all, to simply just say yes and do what they want, but that is entirely up to you. It is pretty hard to sell a case to someones that less is more when they know you can simply turn them on and off as needed regardless of what the event is. Arguing the $ per hour can sometimes help them see, but often they don't care because you agreed to X anyway. So the long and short of it is you have to decide how heavy you want to put your foot down.

As to mic technique, I use the Glyn Johns method when I use a 4 mic drum kit. Used to do far and away, close and direct, and even XY, but have settled on the Glyn John's trick as being the best compromise. It isn't stereo per se, but it gives an open feel and you get a good balance between drums and cymbals. The snare tends to live on one side of the mix more, but the snare is typically to one side more anyway.
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Eric Snodgrass

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Re: Suggestions for mic'ing drums
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2019, 09:04:13 pm »

As to mic technique, I use the Glyn Johns method when I use a 4 mic drum kit.

For anyone that doesn't know the Glyn Johns drum kit mic technique, watch on YouTube as the man himself sets it up and explains it - Glyn Johns Shows His Mic Technique
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Dave Scarlett

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Re: Suggestions for mic'ing drums
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2019, 09:32:05 pm »

You probably enjoy running sound per your post, not setting up 8 mics, clips/stands, and running all the cables too. Then tearing down and properly putting everything away, maybe even having to pay for all of it.

You've got a digital board so set up a drum sub group and leave it at that. I'll bet his need for 8 mics on the kit will diminish pretty quickly if he has to do all the work.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2019, 06:24:05 am by Dave Scarlett »
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Suggestions for mic'ing drums
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2019, 10:54:48 pm »

I run sound for our band and am wondering about better/easier ways of mic'ing drums.  Our drummer insists on running mics each drum (8) and I'm thinking this is way over kill.  We usually play small rooms, theaters for 100-200 people.  I run a Midas M32R, DL32 stage box, QSC KW181 (4) when needed and QSC KW 153 (2) tops.  We are your average cover band, at times we add horns and more singers, up to about 12 max in the band total.

Just wondering what people suggest.  How many, placement and other thoughts would be great!  I have done drums with three mics before, maybe four, but eight seems like a waste of time.  We have space on the board, just don't want to mess with the setups.  I appreciate any suggestions.

So is there another consideration for fully micing his kit?  Recording the shows, IEM transition, or is this his ego?  It almost doesn't matter because long term, he will "win".  Remember that just because it has a mic, doesn't mean you use the mic in the PA.

I agree this is a potential PITA with damage/loss exposure and a commitment of resources that might be used elsewhere but considering this is a client request, how do you monetize it to reduce your dissatisfaction with having to do it?  If you can't get more $, then see if you can make this part of the drummer's set up.  He has to place and wire the mics on his kit.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Geert Friedhof

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Re: Suggestions for mic'ing drums
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2019, 11:48:03 pm »

Just run with it. 8 mics is not a big deal. I usually run 5 mics if i can get away with it: Kick, snare, hihat and 2 overheads, but on larger stages i always close mic everything, sometimes up to 14 mics for drums alone. You can always turn them off.
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Suggestions for mic'ing drums
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2019, 11:48:03 pm »


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