More drum recording techniques

Recording the drum kit remains the most involving part of the producers life.  Despite automation, sampling, drum machines, quantization etc real drums still have a pull on the ears.  It’s probably because we were biffing hollow objects before we had lit the fist fire or opened a branch of Mammoth King.  What ever, I was experimenting again last week with the help of a talented young drummer called David Shaw.  In his drum studio we cooked up load of grooves using various techniques.


The opportunity to try some offbeam positioning was much appreciated.  In particular mid-side stereo was something I was keen to check out.  The idea is one figure of 8 mic pointing sideways is paired with a cardioid pointing forward.  The side channels is decoded by being cloned and phase reversed so you end up with three channels of audio – you then pan out the two side elements widening or narrowing the stereo as you desire.  I used a ribbon for side and a Schoeps condenser for the mid, as seen here:

Mid Side Drums

What did it sound like – alright but it answered my question as to why I never hear of this configuration being deployed.  I’ve now chalked up most mic setups for drum overheads in action but this one’s appeal was a little elusive.  It sounded tight, focused and control of the width is a bonus but it didn’t have soul somehow, the phasing decoding of the peripheral 8 signal made it seem a bit thin and constricted.  Bolstered with something else around the kit it could be fine and of course there is no end of mic combinations to try, for different flavours.

Dynamics as overhead? Nutty but nice – two Audix i5s in ORTF formation set fairly high and back up.  You don’t need a whole lot of gain really and we both really took to the sound which was meaty and slightly compressed with a springy cymbal sound.  A room mic adds airiness back in but this unconventional setup gives you a hard and muscly sound for rock.

Dynamic ORTF

I got to test out the ATM250 DE, Audio Technica’s dual element kick mic blending clickety-click dynamic and circus drum condenser.  If you have two channels to spare it sounds great as you pick up the character of the shell ring and the batter head.  You can process them independently and a really cool trick is to sidechain the condenser from the snare or toms so the kick sound fluctuates in character.

So much was learnt, samples were taken and fodder for loops and other projects gained.  Plus it was raining most of the day so we didn’t miss being outdoors.  Check David’s site out at  That’s all for now, and remember, it’s time to call time on drummer jokes!



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