A great start to the project kicked off on Friday. The first recording session with JasonAudio was held in a hall in Lincolnshire.
With the assistance of Anthony Nash supplying drum kit and drumming skills, the session was primarily a practice run to gauge the overall requirements for this type of recording session.
At 7.00pm we arrived at the hall, cars loaded with instruments and recording equipment. The hall looked good for the job. The main room had a large carpeted area plus a wooden dance floor. The ceilings were low with a suspended covering, plus a separate room to use as the monitoring suite. If it had been hired to me as a recording facility, I wouldn’t have been disappointed.
The drums and cymbals were assembled and microphones placed on each drum. The snare and toms were recorded using Shure SM57 dynamic microphones fixed to the drums with Shure’s drum clips. The clips make microphones stay in place throughout.
For the overheads we used a matched pair of Rode NT-1A large diaphragm condenser microphones with cardioid pickup pattern. These were placed approximately 1 meter above the drums to capture the overall drum kit sound.
The final microphone was a third Rode NT-1A which was placed above the kick drum facing the snare. This micing technique perhaps comes from early recording approach when only one mic was available to capture the whole drum kit sound. It works to provide a coherent mix of the drums and can bring out the sizzle of the snare and attack of the kick drum beater.
The kick drum was recorded using a Shure BETA 52A kick drum microphone placed facing at the beater from the rear sound hole. We also removed all damping from the kick drum allowing its’ sound to fade naturally.
In the adjoining room the multicore cable was run the long way through the building to the recording in/out allowing the doors to be shut between the recording room and live room.
With the microphones in their starting positions, levels checked, we pressed record and captured some sound.
Listening back to what we had recorded there were nods of approval all round. Although we were aware that more time should be spent carefully listening to each mic, especially the overhead placement as later they sounded badly unbalanced. Tone and clarity of sound was good overall.
With only a couple of hours to practice the art of mobile recording for this session, mistakes were made and much was learned.
We’re well on the way to getting some great drum sounds and now we know some more about how to get them.
The next session will concentrate on overhead stereo imaging, by listening more carefully to the overheads’ stereo image and adjusting room microphone positioning, plus investigating drums sound character when adjusting the close microphones.
We look forward to capturing more sound soon. Check back in a couple of weeks for an update and find out what happens next.