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Techniques for bringing out a min. mic'd drum kit in a hard rock mix Drum Microphones
Old 31st August 2007
Lives for gear

Techniques for bringing out a min. mic'd drum kit in a hard rock mix

I've recently been sitting down to do a mix for a pretty cool hard rock band that I recorded. After talking with the drummer, we made the decision to mic up the kit in more of a classic-rock fashion after he was proclaiming that (and, yeah, we've all heard this) he would love that "John Bonham" sound. It wasn't a full-on minimal drum micing set up, but there was not much close micing involved. We ended up doing a Glyn Johns type of set up with two LDC overheads, a snare mic, an R84 out in front of the kit, and a couple ambience mics on an opposite corner for a stereo room sound. The kick was pretty sketchy and it really wasn't prudent to spend an hour working on the kick sound, so I just took it for what it was and determined that a D112 on the beater side was the best I could come up with on the fly. mics in all to work with. I don't really do full-blown uber-tracked productions with 18 stacked bg vocals and quintiple layered guitars, but it's a relatively dense mix with some pretty heavy guitars and agressive subsonic bass guitar playing. Just looking for some interesting ideas that folks out there may be able to pass along. I mix OTB, so there won't be any radical plug-in manipulation. Haven't gotten too deep into it yet, but to get started I was tooling around with a couple sansamps, some short room verb, a little phase shifting, even some flanger and a variety of compression and EQ schemes...feel like I need a few ideas.

Any tips/insights/ideas are much appreciated!!!
Old 31st August 2007
Are you now wishing you had individual drum close mic'ed signals to work with?

A 4 way Transient designer unit is always handy to have around..

You could try something wacky like start your mix only listening in mono on one speaker, making THAT work, then see what it sounded like in stereo...??
Old 31st August 2007
Gear Nut
Jesse Miller's Avatar
Try blastin them thru the studio mains and re-micing them. Try it with and without the room mics in the "mix".

Try re-amping the kick mic thru say an SVT bass rig and re track it.

Dont forget to realign the new tracks to correct and in/out latency (im assuming you are tracking digitaly) Line the new kick straight on with the origional kick. Try to leave some "room"on the mains out tracks (tyr leaving the kick out of the mains mix too).

Hell., Try everything. THERE are NO RULES...
Old 31st August 2007
Here for the gear

....trigger, trigger, trigger, shhhhh,'ll be our little secret....shhhh, don't let drummer know.

Old 31st August 2007
Lives for gear

When faced with this kind of situation I ask the drummer if the guitarist is willing to play and sound like Jimmy Page, and is the bassist willing to play and sound like JPJ, and is the whole band willing to sound like Led Zep? No? What do they what to sound like? KORN!?! OK, well then let's break out the close mics "just in case" ().

It is kind of your job to give them what they want, so you were doing the drummer right by obliging him, but it is also kind of your job to know what needs to be done vs. what the individual musician thinks is cool. It would have been better to sit with the band as a whole and evaluate the sound as a whole, or explain this concept to the drummer. Then it becomes a question of how much Bonham you can fit into the big picture, or how many layered guitars they are willing to sacrifice to allow for the drums to sound the way they want. These are production decisions and should have been well calculated way before the fact.

Does this answer your question? No.

I have never used sample replacing software, but that is probably where you will need to go. I personally would go with multi-band compressors, and lots of them! You can also create duplicates of key tracks and manually edit out unwanted sounds, for example, take your OH tracks and edit out everything but the toms, then mix those to make the toms sound as good as you can, then blend them into the unaltered OH tracks, and so on for any sounds you find lacking.

That, or mix the rest of the band to fit with the drums rather than the opposite.
Old 31st August 2007
Lives for gear

Besides the kick drum being a little flakey, he never said it was a bad recording...
Old 31st August 2007
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by Jules View Post
Are you now wishing you had individual drum close mic'ed signals to work with?

A 4 way Transient designer unit is always handy to have around..

You could try something wacky like start your mix only listening in mono on one speaker, making THAT work, then see what it sounded like in stereo...??
Yeah...I keep looking at those TD boxes. I should note that I am thinking about doing the drums mono.

The one thing I did neglect to mention is that the band actually does have more of a classic rock feel. I would say that the core essence of the group would define them as a "modern" rock band, but with a very distinct 70's classic rock feel as a dominant vibe. They definitely don't want to sound like Korn. This is going to be a raw sound, and there aren't a ton of guitar tracks. Double layered lead, a rhythm guitar and some textural guitar fill overdubs.'s fairly heavy. It might have been cool to have some extra close mics to work with, but I honestly think the more naturalistic approachis appropriate to their sound, with the drums more set back than up front, and the whole band does concur with this, so it was kind of a mutual agreement on this. That being said, I'm still looking for ideas...
Old 31st August 2007
Lives for gear

If you want that big room sound thing with the kicks and snares still really present I would go in with some samples to make the kick and snare work. If you choose carefully and mix with subtlety it will be good.

Old 31st August 2007
Lives for gear

I mix drums like this for the same type of genre you describe all the time. Basically most of the tried and true "tricks" apply. I mean the main thing when recording like this is that the drummer played in a balanced manner and you captured a good balance of the kit.

More often than not I'll subgroup the kit to mono and fade in the mono track heavily compressed in parallel with the kit to taste. You can definately make a kit explode like this - I mean this is nothing new, but you don't need close mics to accomplish this.

The only problem I am getting from you is that you may not be happy with the kick mic. Without hearing it, there's no real advice. But I would say that a good portion of a great sounding kick can come from the ambient mics and how you process them.

Besides that, you can add alot of punch or attack on your toms and snares by boosting those freqs on your OH's or drum subgroups (3-4k) but it depends on your cymbal choices and how they're played - I usually plan ahead with this in mind an have a good selection of cymbals that work well. The opposite is true as well if you need some girth in the lower registry.

So I guess I'm not much helpheh It's just that I don't really associate close micing with the sound of rock drums. I mean I always mic everything just to cover my ass, but I don't really need to use them - unless I got myself in trouble.
Old 31st August 2007
Lives for gear
allaccess's Avatar
Samples would completely defeat the purpose of the exercise, and IMHO, it's total laziness for an engineer to replace his own sounds...

start by figuring out if everything is in phase. If the kick is sketchy, that's most likely the issue. Mult the kick mic out and process the tracks to get the constituent parts; ie one track for snap, one for chest, one for sub. Try a sans-amp, try crushing the piss out of it, try a subharmonic generator... Try parallel compression off of an aux or buss. do this for snare as well, tho snare is almost always easier. Transient designer is your friend here.

Add in the front mic and see what it needs. Try the same things mentioned above... this mic should give you depth.

For overheads (and therefor toms) mult them off and crush and blend. try different attack and release times to get things to speak and be the right size for the song. If they were recorded in stereo, make 'em stereo! I've been digging the Chandler TG-1 (hardware and software) on this recently.

For stereo room, again, mult, crush, distort. bring out the midrange, get rid of cymbal wash (3-5k, maybe use a de-esser if necessary), because this is where the meat is, and it won't make things messy... Play with timing and phase by sliding it back and forth by milliseconds...

I have sometimes wound up with 4 kick and 4 snare tracks to accomplish this, but I feel way more gratified having used no samples!


Ryan Hewitt
Old 31st August 2007
Lives for gear

I think it is time to bring our relationship to the next level : post a clip.

Old 31st August 2007
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by Chrisc_o View Post
I think it is time to bring our relationship to the next level : post a clip.

You know...I'm not sure if I'm ready for such a big step. heh

Actually, I don't really have suitable clips at the moment. Perhaps I'll post one of those 'what would you do' threads with a clip later on. This has all given me a good perspective though.
Old 2nd September 2007
Here for the gear

i ran into the same problem before while using just three mics on the drums. mostly my problem was not enough tight and sub kick sound so
i filtered and compressed front of kit mic until i had a heartbeat sound to mix in.
sometimes just a little bit of a multi can go a long way.
Old 15th April 2008
Here for the gear



Why don't you try putting the drums in mono with lots of compression and see if you can track another rythem instrument such as a shacker or hi hat. but separate the full drum kit on the right say and then the other rythem instrument on the right , maybe a side chain compressor or something.Then delay one side. moving the hi hat to the right or left kinda sounds natural until u put on earphones.

hope this helps
Old 15th April 2008
Gear Nut

Depending on your own level of "integrity" or whatever you want to call it when it comes to dealing with samples, if you're not against it try to figure out what the kick is lacking, is it click? is it bottom? Then find a sample or two with the missing attributes, duplicate the kick track and replace it with the sample(s) you like. Then blend only enough of the sound "replaced" kick to fix your problem without really changing the overall tone of the kit. I usually tell drummers I'm going to "sound reinforce" their kit, sounds better than sound replacing. Just be careful, with all the nice room and overhead miking going on it will really stick out like a sore thumb if it's tone doesn't match the kick sound picked up by the ambient mics.

Also, if you don't like the samples route, you can try bouncing the room mics down into a mono track (while keeping the originals), or if you happened to have a single room mic somewhere use that, and then compress the life out of it until it's smashed and then blend that mono signal panned center in with the rest of the kit. Distressors on nuke and 1176s with all buttons in are great for this, and it can help give the kit some cohesion and punch. If you want a super trashy effect on the drums you can turn this fader up as needed.
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