Recording Drums With Just Two Mics

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by 3-Chord-Genius, Feb 16, 2020.

  1. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have an interface that only has two XLR inputs. The most common way of making a drum kit with only two microphones is probably the kick overhead/technique. I'm thinking that putting some stereo Reverb on the overhead mic would give the recording some depth.

    Any of y'all have any suggestions or creative alternate techniques for recording a drum kit with just two microphones?
     
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  2. scelestus

    scelestus Tele-Meister

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    Try one right by the drummer's knee. It should sit right above the edge of the bass drum, maybe a few inches above it, pointing at the snare. You can Google "drum knee mic" or "drum crotch mic" for pictures of the placement.

    I've also been impressed with a mic about four feet off the floor and four to six feet away in front of the kit.

    What kind of music are you trying to record? This may make a difference!
     
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  3. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    Standard rock music.
     
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  4. scelestus

    scelestus Tele-Meister

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    OK. The crotch mic (here's a good picture) might work for you. The reason I asked is about the toms. I find that a lot of the minimal mic techniques can be lighter than we expect on toms and it's because of the super overproduced stuff we're used to.

    Depending on the room you might be able to get away with a stereo mic techniques (no dedicated kick mic) but for rock you'd probably have to do some heavy EQing.

    Another way to think about it might be a low frequency mic and a high frequency mic. One down by the kick and floor Tom or in front of the kit but a little farther away than just a kick mic. The other would be placed where it grabs the attack of the snare and toms without too much cymbal stuff. You'd low pass the low mic and high pass the high mic. I can post a link to an example of that tomorrow if I get a chance.
     
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  5. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    You could essentially use one mic
    stomach high, 0ne or two feet in front of the drum kit.
    If it's a ribbon mic or any such omni directional mic could work for you.

    To capture a full fidelity drum sound, you should be able to acquire
    a condenser mic and one of those dynamics for the kick.
    Then I would run them through a multiband compressor
    in your DAW and separate the frequencies to give you more
    flexibility in the mix.

    There's plenty of ways to record with just two mics.
     
  6. EspyHop

    EspyHop Tele-Meister

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    Close to 30 years ago, some friends of mine were able to record live in stereo with two Radio Shack mics, a Fostex mixer, and a stereo cassette recorder. It was just drums, bass, and two guitars, and it sounded amazing. I thought they should have done an album like that with a 4-track cassette recorder, overdubbing vocals and guitar solos.
     
  7. Biffasmum

    Biffasmum TDPRI Member

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    You need to mic the kick drum, with a dynamic mic (or condenser with -10db pad applied) so your only choice is for the other to be overhead. Condenser cardioid with -10db pad applied, positioned above and behind drummer’s head angled towards the kit. Shame you can’t manage stereo overhead though.
     
  8. WireLine

    WireLine Tele-Afflicted

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    Zeppelins “When the Levee Breaks” drum tracks was just 2 Beyer M160 mics and limited to near oblivion...Of course the magic was John Bonham and an ancient castle stairway...
     
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  9. RyCo1983

    RyCo1983 Tele-Afflicted

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    Do you have access to a mixer?

    Look into the "recorderman" technique, and of course Glyn Johns.
     
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  10. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted

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    There are all kinds of great recordings with one or two mics. For me, the snare is the most important piece and if the room does not have a great snare sound then I am dedicating a mic to it. You could always beef up the bass drum later on a pad if needed or record another track.
     
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  11. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've had an idea going through my head, that I have not ruled out trying: Recording the songs with two overheads, panned left and right, in stereo. Then, I mic the kick and snare, have the drummer give me one good kick and snare hit, and use those samples to supplement the kick and snare that was picked up by the overhead throughout the song. Lots of manual pasting in the DAW, but I've done this. I could probably do the entire song in less than an hour, and it would give me the stereo ambiance of the overheads, plus a close-miked kick and snare.
     
  12. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    With 2 mics, the key is to move them around until it sounds good.

    I'd work some sort of variation of one overhead pointing at the snare, and one mic 3'-4' in front of the kit off to the floor tom side to pick up the body of the toms and kick. Bus them together and compress to taste, I usually run a parallel buss smashed all to hell with an 1176 emulator, then mixed back in to give the tracks some air/body/ambiance.
     
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  13. AlbertoMilanese

    AlbertoMilanese Tele-Meister

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    Use your ears and have somebody move the mics around while you listen. That's the easiest way - don't move and listen simultaneously
     
  14. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Afflicted

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    A former band and I got pretty good results from a two-mic drums approach on two different occasions. The one I have a recording of used an inexpensive CAD C400 large-diaphragm condenser as an overhead. It was on a four-piece kit and as I recall we had to swing the boom left and right a bit to find the sweet spot where the snare had punch and ambience, and the high tom and ride cymbal didn’t seem too distant. It wasn’t hard to find though. Seems like the mic ended up a little over towards the high tom instead of dead centered over the snare. Maybe 3-1/2’ or 4’ up.

    The kick mic was a Neumann TLM103 large diaphragm condenser, pad and roll off engaged, maybe a foot out of the kick drum. A dynamic mic shoved into the drum probably would’ve worked but we had access to the TLM that day, so...

    ...anyway, here’s what it sounded like on our demo:

    https://alonetone.com/benniven/tracks/bleach-bald-snow-tires

    On another song we also tried a pair of small-diaphragm condensers one XY formation in front of the kit and got a pretty accurate representation of what the drums sounded like in the room. You could try that if you have a matching pair of mics.

    Another time I tried a pair of AKG C3000 mics in XY formation as a stereo drum overhead (along with kick, snare and tom close mics). When I solo-ed the overheads I was tempted to try using only those, or those and the kick. With the right compression and mic placement, overheads sound great to me.
     
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  15. Jerry_Mountains

    Jerry_Mountains Tele-Meister

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    Maybe you can use the Glyn Johns method sans kick, that way you have a pretty stereo image and somehow manage to add a sample of a bass drum. Or you can even record the bass drum in another take and mix it.
     
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  16. teletail

    teletail Tele-Meister

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    It’s the drums, nobody is listening anyway! :D
     
  17. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good luck on getting a good sound. I'd highly recommend using a cheap mixer that will allow you to run more mics. I have a little one of these that only costs like $25:

    http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338148343&icep_item=293405227759

    I used to use two condenser overheads and individual mics for the bass and the snare. Still was never completely happy with the way they came out. There's a reason they mic all of them in a pro recording studio.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
  18. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Maybe you can record it with just 2 microphones, then get a separate kick by eq'ing the bass drum out of the stereo tracks, and making a separate track by duplicating one of the tracks and putting a lowpass filter that removes the other drums.

    Or just two tracks and eq.
     
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  19. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    That's a line mixer, you can't run balanced mic signals into it.

    However, you can find low end mixers with four mic inputs for about $100 online. if you scour your local CL or eBay you can probably pick up an old PA mixer even cheaper.

    Or you can upgrade to a Focusrite 18i8 interface with four mic inputs (which allows recording the four mics as individual tracks instead of submixing them) for under $200 used if you're patient (no affiliation)-


    https://reverb.com/item/21394476-focusrite-scarlett-18i8-2nd-gen
     
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  20. mikestearns

    mikestearns Tele-Meister

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    Another thing you can do once you have good placement is once its recorded you can duplicate the tracks in your DAW and use different EQ/Compression and blending to bring out different things in each track. One can serve as a "kick" and one as a "snare" with some crafty EQ to bring out the best in each track.
     
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