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Placement of kick mics (inside and outside) Dynamic Microphones
Old 8th September 2011
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Placement of kick mics (inside and outside)

Hi forum. I'm new to engineering and have been reading this forum a lot, but have some questions as I run my first session. I would like to experiment with 2 mics on kick drum, but want to clarify about placement. I am trying a 421 for inside and an AKG D12e for outside.

How far into the hole should I put the inside mic? I will experiment for sounds, but does inside mean anywhere from poking into the hole, to extended all the way, inches from the beater head?

If there is a mic inside, the outside mic can't also fit in front of the hole. Do I therefore place it just on the skin next to the hole, and experiment with placement from a few inches off the head, to a few feet back?

Or does it make more sense to put the 421 on the beater side of the drum, so I can keep the D12E in the hole? Not sure how to get a mic inside, and a mic on the hole outside.
Old 8th September 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Ben B's Avatar
 

How far in to place the inner mic depends on the type of sound you want, and the amount of damping in the drum. Generally, the farther in you place the mic, the more attack you will pick up. Just inside the hole, you'll get more tone. I generally prefer considerable damping in my kick drums, and rarely need to get more attack, therefore I place my inner kick mic just inside the hole. In a boomier kick (i.e. undamped), you may need to get the mic further inside to balance the attack against the increased amount of tone.

As for the outer mic, I like to get it as much as two feet out in front of the kick, depending on how much leakage I can tolerate. This gives realism to the kick sound, and fills out the low end. A kick tunnel/tent can help with the leakage here. Sometimes I end up low passing this signal to reduce the cymbal wash.

A "close" outer mic will sound less dissimilar to the inner mic, but can still be useful. Since a "close" outer mic doesn't really pick up the full sound of the kick, I usually agressively low pass it, and use it almost like a subkick type of signal to bump the low end.

Always, however, the techniques I use depend on the sound of the drum in the room, the style of music, the player, amount of damping in the drum, etc. You'll need to develop the right instincts through experimentation and experience.

-Ben B
Old 8th September 2011
  #3
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decocco's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by quailman View Post
...does inside mean anywhere from poking into the hole, to extended all the way, inches from the beater head?
Yes. Whatever works. When I use an inside and outside mic together, I usually get the inside mic pretty far inside, to get an exaggerated beater attack.

Quote:
Originally Posted by quailman View Post
If there is a mic inside, the outside mic can't also fit in front of the hole. Do I therefore place it just on the skin next to the hole, and experiment with placement from a few inches off the head, to a few feet back?
I usually place the outside mic halfway between the center of the head and the hoop, to pick up some resonant head tone. Putting the mic closer to the center will result in less ringing tone and more punch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by quailman View Post
Or does it make more sense to put the 421 on the beater side of the drum, so I can keep the D12E in the hole? Not sure how to get a mic inside, and a mic on the hole outside.
I would put the D12E on the outside and get the 421 inside, that's just my personal preference.

I only mic from the batter side if there is no hole in the reso head. It sounds very different from the inside mic'ing. A variation of that is to use an omni placed to pick up the snares and bass drum batter head. This is useful if you want an under snare mic AND a batter head mic, but want to avoid the potential phase issues of using multiple mics close together.
Old 8th September 2011
  #4
For outside mic, I usually have the drummer kick the bass drum and put my hand out, and when I can no longer feel the movement of air on my palm that's where I put the microphone, distance wise. This prevents overloads, and damaging a capsule. With a FET47 I will occasionally use a pop filter.

The outside microphone is not in front of the hole, if there is one. Place the microphone on the opposite side of the hole.

Inside the kick drum, I usually put a RE20 about halfway inside the drum, pointed at the beater. If I want less "attack" I'll move the microphone to the left or the right of where the beater strikes.

I hope that's at all helpful!
Old 13th September 2011
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Thanks for the tips. I experimented with a bunch of placements yesterday and have some followup questions.

I really liked an RE-20 poking just inside the hole a bit, pointed at the beater. It gave a nice attack, and had the fullest sound poling right inside the hole, rather than halfway into the drum. I liked the RE-20 better than the 421. It seemed to be a bit more controlled in it's sound in this particular room, which is extremely live and loud.

The D12e I tried anywhere from inches to 3 feet in front of the kit. It sounded really good about 2-3 feet in front of the kit, giving a realistic, airy sound to the drum. However I can't say it had much low end, which concerned me. So I tried a technique I read that Tony Visconti used with Bowie, which is to put the D12e laying on a towel inside the kick along with an RE-20 facing the beater.

It sounded good about halfway in, pointed at the beater. I felt this placement was giving me more low end, and a stronger kick sound than keeping the mic 3 feet away. The overheads, which are in "recorderman" setup seemed to provide enough of a "realistic" sound of the drumset, but lacked the low thump from the kick.

My first question is about the phase of the 2 inside mics. The RE-20 is a bit further back from the D12e as its just poking in the hole, while the D12e is halfway in. I like the sound I'm getting, when they are combined, but should I be worried about phase? Should the capsules be the same distance from the beater? I can probably compromise the placement, moving the D12e back and RE-20 forward a bit, if this will give me a better phase relationship.

I also have a snare mic. Should I be worried about the phase of the snare mic, being that the right shoulder overhead is facing the snare from behind the drummer, and the top snare mic is facing the snare from the front of the drummer; they are almost looking at each other, though they are both pointed toward the center of the snare. I tried flipping the phase switch on the snare and didn't notice any difference really, but wondering if there should be any concern. Thanks!
Old 13th September 2011
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Generally as long as the overheads are equidistant from the snare you wont have any snare phasing issues. If you flipped the phase on one OH already and didn't hear any changes, you're in good shape. You might on the kick drum...try flipping the phase on one of the kick mics and see if it changes the sound. Listen carefully because it might be difficult to detect since its such a low-frequency source.

I too prefer two mics on the kick. Lately it has been no reso on the kick, sm7b as far in as I can reach (about 6-8 inches from the batter head) pointed right at the beater, and a Kel HM7U out front about 16". Big, fat, punchy, natural kick drum sound.

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Old 13th September 2011
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by hossman777 View Post
If you flipped the phase on one OH already and didn't hear any changes, you're in good shape.
With all due respect, I disagree very strongly. If he reversed the polarity on one of the OHs, and the snare sound didn't change, his OHs are 90 degrees out-of-phase. He'd get a much punchier sound, with better tone and better imaging, if he can bring the two OHs more in-phase.

This is particularly important, IME, when he brings in a close mic. The close mic should reinforce the OHs when in-phase, and thus should cancel out as much as possible when out-of-phase.

My advice to the OP would be to try to reposition the OHs to find a placement where the mics are all reinforcing one another as much as possible. You might start with a single mono OH (in the recorderman setup, I'd use the one placed directly above the snare, for ease of operation) and the snare close mic.

Get a good tone happening on the snare close mic, then adjust the single OH until you get the best phase relationship (ie - reversing the polarity one way yields maximum cancellation, and reversing it the other way yields maximum goodness). Once you've nailed that relationship, measure from the snare to the OH, and place the second OH mic the exact same distance.

Finally, give a listen to the other elements of the kit, while changing the polarity on all the mics you have up so far. Make sure that there aren't any parts of the kit that are out-of-phase between the two OHs. For example, you might find that the kick, snare, and rack tom sound great with both OHs in-phase, but the floor tom sounds better with one OH's polarity reversed. In this circumstance, you'd want to experiment with a different placement for the drum, mic, or both. Possibly use a different mic technique (eg - spaced pair, or XY).

Hope that helps a bit. Good luck
Old 13th September 2011
  #8
Regarding phase between the two kick mics, I hate to lay the all-purpose GS answer on you, but, here goes...just listen!

Seriously, though, the phase relationship between the in and out mic are your most powerful EQ. Got an ugly resonance in the mid-100s? Try adjusting the phase relationship between the mics; see if you can't get it to go away. When you zoom in on the waveforms in your DAW, it may "look" all wrong, but it could give you exactly what you're looking for sonically, especially when you combine it with the room mics and OHs.

These relationships are especially useful (and really fascinating) when you add in compression or EQ on one of the mics. If you prefer the sound you're getting with the two kick mics out-of-phase, then you start EQing one mic, you can bring out some radical changes. Or, compress one signal and hear its phase relationship to the other change as the levels (and thus, phase relationship) of the compressed sound work against the uncompressed. Really cool stuff can start to happen, and it's worth taking the time to experiment. I use these techniques to voice the kick drum relative to the bass guitar sound. Between tuning the kick itself, and playing with the phase a bit, you can dial in the part of the kick you want to separate from the bass guitar for groovy low end.

For whatever reason, I find that you can do the most interesting and most useful "phase trickery" on a kick drum. Other drums (and other instruments in general, for that matter) don't seem to take as kindly to these techniques. But for some reason, the kick drum can handle (and often benefit) from it.
Old 13th September 2011
  #9
Last week I recorded an outside show. The drummer used a 1965 Ludwig kit, completely stock and restored. The kick drum had 2 heads, just like the Beatles and many others of that time. I used an RE-20 on the outside head, just like the pics from 1967 pop festivals.

Guess what? It sounds like 1967 too. I loved it. Yes, it's not a tight 80's kick sound, more like those live Hendrix shows with Mitch Mitchell.

Funny part is it doesn't really need EQ like inside the shell, maybe a little compression.

I always use the RE-20 on kick because of no proximity effect. Low end won't shift as you move it around, unlike other dynamic mics.
Old 13th September 2011
  #10
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgrotto View Post
With all due respect, I disagree very strongly. If he reversed the polarity on one of the OHs, and the snare sound didn't change, his OHs are 90 degrees out-of-phase. He'd get a much punchier sound, with better tone and better imaging, if he can bring the two OHs more in-phase.
You know, not that I think about it, you're absolutely correct. Sorry for my ignorance. I suppose that's what I get for Gearsluttin' on my phone while on the toilet 5 minutes after I wake up. (Come on, like you guys haven't checked what's happening on GS while on the can....)

The whole point of Recorderman overheads is to have the mics equidistant from the snare; which should indeed cause the snare to sound horrible in the OH's when you reverse the polarity of one.

Bgrotto, thanks for correcting me and making me stop and think. Lately, I've gotten VERY comfortable with setting up mics on drums a certain way, and while it works and sounds good, I'm now thinking I need to bust outta my laziness and take some time to really experiment with mic placement on the kit. Much appreciation, bro!
Old 13th September 2011
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
portishead's Avatar
 

Don't rule out putting an SDC or LDC on the beater side of the kick along with the LD Dynamic inside the front. Reverse the phase of the beater side mic. You can side chain the front mic into the gate of the beater side mic.

BOOM BOOM!
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