Drum micing logic and cheapest mics list
I used a laptop with 1GB Ram, 1.73 GHz processor. This is not a very powerful configuration by today’s standards, but was sufficient to record the 10 drum tracks, add more during mixing time, record guitar, bass and vocal tracks. To free up the CPU and RAM resources, mix down the drum tracks to one drum track when recording other elements.
We recorded in practice rooms, meagerly treated rooms and untreated bed rooms. The close mics pick up the individual drum elements well, that during mixing one can work with the individual sounds and engineer them to satisfaction. The Mic positioning i used is detailed in the book.
Setting up computer and sound card
To record 9 or 10 drum elements at a time, have or rent a sound card or mixer with 10 inputs.
I used Motu 828 mkII for the recordings.
MOTU 828 mk II has
• two XLR mic inputs with phantom power and
• 8 TRS inputs (balanced)
The 2 XLR inputs with phantom power input were used for the two overhead condenser mics. The remaining mics were connected to the TRS input ports.
MAudio Delta 1010LT is an economical option for an audio interface which allows 10 mic ins at the same time.
MOTU and Focusrite have very good sound cards with 10 inputs. It is a good investment in pursuing and getting better with your profession or passion.
Cables for drum recording
To connect the mics to the TRS inputs, we need cables with XLR female on one side (for the mic end) and a TRS male jack on the other side (to plug into the soundcard TRS port).
Using cables to connect mic to TRS inputs
If you cannot get cables like that or modify cables as needed, here is an alternative :
- Make some 5 inch long TRS male to XLR female cables.
- Connect the TRS end of this small cable to the sound card.
- Then get a usual long XLR to XLR mic cable. Connect the female XLR end of the long cable to the mic and the male XLR end of the long cable to the female end of the short cable.
XLR – TRS Adaptors
I have tried adaptors – trs male jack for the sound card port and xlr female socket on the other side for the xlr male of the mic cable.
XLR to TRS adaptors have some disadvantages :
- the xlr side of the adaptor can be wide that inserting two adaptors on nearby ports on the sound card can be impossible.
- the adaptor can be heavy. the cables are connected at the end of this long adaptor. these two factors could cause a mechanical stress on the sound card port.
Get the maximum signal in without clipping at the highest levels.
For example, consider the snare mic :
- ask the drummer to play the loudest part, maybe somewhere to the middle or end of the song
- adjust the input at the soundcard or at the software whichever applicable so that there is no clipping
- then leave a head room of 1db or 2 using the preamp trim knob or other volume control (like a fader in the soundcard's software interface) When the drummer starts playing and warms up, the levels can be higher than during the test.
When you have connected a mic to a preamp, look at the clipping and level indicator on the hardware to make sure there is no clipping. When mic is connected to inputs with only software control, you need to adjust it with the software faders.
It is important that you try and get the maximum signal in – the entry point is where the signal to noise ratio of the recording is determined.
Using 24 bit recording and headroom
Many modern sound cards offer 24 bit recording, set 24 as the bit rate of your project when recording. In 24 bit recording, even a 10 db boost to make a soft signal louder, is ok. The noise levels will still be within tolerable limits. This is a very relevant practical advantage 24 bit has over 16 bit recording.
This does not mean that we can be too lax. Keeping the preamp of the sound card to record at as high a level as possible is still relevant. Though 24 bit does allow more headroom, keeping around 12db headroom can result in the same signal to noise ratio as a 16 bit recording at its maximum level.
When you have a 24 bit sound card, keep the signal levels to the highest as possible and make the best recording possible with the better equipment (as compared to 16 bit) and not get complacent because of the headroom allowance.