Recording and editing drums

One question that has puzzled many, many people is "how do I get a good live drum recording?"  I myself have recorded a lot of drums for different projects and have been searching to try and make them sound GOOD.  In general, if you have a few good mics and preamps, you can make most things sound nice (vocals, acoustic guitars, keys, electric guitars, etc.).  BUT recording drums is a whole new ball game.

Think about it.  Most times when you go into a studio engineers can use up to nineteen mics on a drumkit.  NINETEEN MICS.  Prices range from $100-$10,000.  And that's just mics (not including preamps, compressors, limiters, mixing board, etc.).  It's all really overwhelming when you sit down to think about it.  Check out this video to see how famous mixer/engineer Chris Lord Alge records drums.

Over the course of my adventures in recording I've learned a lot and believe that I've come to a place where I can record drums and make them sound relatively good.  In this blog I want to show you what I've done on a recent drum recording I did.  I've bounced each mic on the recording and separated them into different Soundcloud sets.  You can listen through them and see how they sound with each mic/preamp, and then see how they sound after I started putting plug-ins on them.

Each mic will be listed with a number next to it.  Each one of these represents a certain point in the chain while editing.  I start from nothing and then add on top (each number indicates how many plug-ins are going; they are not just showing what each plug-in itself sounds like alone).  Here is a list of what the numbers represent:

0 = no plug-ins on the mic (essentially a dry signal from the mic and preamp) 

1 = Steven Slate Virtual Tape Machine

2 = EQ

3 = PSP Oldtimer (compressor)

4 = Soundtoys Decapitator

After showing you what each mic sounds like by themselves, there will be a sound file of the whole thing mixed together. 


6.5"x14" Pearl Brass Free-floating, mic'd with a Sennheiser 906 through a Brent Averill 312 preamp



14"x22" vintage Rogers kick drum,  mic'd with a Shure Beta52 in the hole of the resonant side of the drum

Kick - Out

Mic'd with a Telefunken M16 mk2 in the super-cardioid pattern, placed on the outside of the resonant side of the drum (above Beta52) 


Two 17" crashes were used as hi-hats for this recording.  Mic'd with a Rode NT1


Mic'd with a matched pair of Neumann KM184s placed on the left and right side of the kit about 10 feet back (the distance was to capture a more roomy effect on the kit)


Mic'd with a Royer 122 ribbon, placed about 40 feet back from the kit.  Used to capture a big room sound and to achieve a natural grittiness that ribbon mics provide.

Finally here is a clip of the drums fully mixed with all microphones