Zone Recording: More Project Drum Goodies

Hello readers. Welcome back to Zone Recording. This month I am back in the studio with Daniel Adair of Nickelback and Martone.

We have started the drums for the next album and I plan on showing you a few little tricks dealing with project drum miking. Oh, and mark this date - the new Martone album "When the Aliens Come" will be released February 23, 2007 on Lion Music. Make sure to pick up a copy.

Now let's get on to Brainworks. One of the problems I had before was that the room we were doing drums in was just too dead. I had carpet on the walls, and on the floor, and then a drum carpet. The sound was very dead and had no life to it. Drums want to breathe, and need some reflective surfaces off which the sound can bounce. So what was I to do?

Step 1: Rip the carpet off the wall and just expose the wood.

Step 2: Build a 8x8 drum floor out of 5/8" plywood for the drums to go on (thanks Dad for the help)


This was placed right on top of the carpet floor. Next was to set the drums up. Daniel forgot how to do that since his tech could not make the session!


OK. After a few drinks and remembering how to do it, The kit was set up and looking good!

Now I had to mike the kit. This is always the fun part. I will give you the input list that I used and mike selection/pre-amp also. There will also be a mp3 tab that you can click to hear the sound of the drums, which were a Pearl Master Custom kit.

First is the kick drum. I used a D112 mike placed quite close to the beater head. This went into a Drawmer 1960.


MP3 - D112 Kick

I also used a Audix D6 mike through the Presonus Digimax 96k for a little different choice of sound. This was just placed on a pillow in the drum around the center of the drum. You will notice the difference in the drum tones from the different mikes. The D112 is more mid, while the D6 has more low end.


MP3 - D6 Kick

Next was the Yamaha Sub Kick. This is a great unit and is now manufactured from Yamaha. It is actually a woofer driver from the NS10 speaker mounted inside of a drum shell. The sound by itself is just low end. Lots of 50 hz. I also used a gate on it so you just get the thump! It is placed about 1" from the head of the kick drum and this went into the Presonus Digimax 96.


MP3 - Yamaha Sub Kick

Next up was the snare drum. I decided to do something different with this.

I found that I had to eq the snare top head quite aggressively to get the high end bite I wanted from the sound when I just used a Shure SM57 on it. I thought why not add a small condenser mike to it also. I taped them both together to make sure that the phase would be correct. The mike of choice was a Rodes NT5 for this. It added a little extra snap to the sound in conjunction with the Shure 57. The Rodes went through the Presonus and the 57 went through the Drawmer.


MP3 - Snare Top 57
MP3 - Snare Top NT5

Next up is the bottom of the snare drum. For this I used a Rodes NT5 through the Presonus. This is placed under the drum to get the rattle of the snares. Make sure you put a high-pass filter on the sound and also reverse the phase. I usually roll off around 175hz.


MP3 - Snare Bottom NT5

Next up were the toms. I used Sennheiser 421 mikes for the job. Make sure you set the rolling switch to "M" for music for a full range capture. All of these went through the Presonus also.

I try not to have them so tight to the head, so that the drum breathes a little. Also, all the toms will have gain automation written in once the track has been recorded. I have them sit around -30db and then when each one hits, I raise it to 0db, then gently but quickly write in automation to head back down to -30db. You will be able to hear this if you listen closely to the example. For ease here, I have just bussed all 3 mikes to a stereo channel.



MP3 - Stereo Toms with Automation

Next up we have the high hats. I used a Rodes NT5 through the Presonus. I like to experiment where these get placed all the time. I do however make a conscious effort to keep it away from the snare drum as to keep it as separate as possible!


MP3 - Hats

Next is the ride cymbal. Again, the mike used was the Rodes NT5 through the Presonus. I have been trying to mike the ride from underneath the cymbal. Sometimes I do it from the top. It just depends on phasing sometimes and the sound I am going for. I usually roll off around 150 hz.


MP3 - Ride

Next up are the overhead cymbals. This time I used a pair of Neuman KM84's for this task. I also used an X pattern over the kit. I used to use a more spread (Left - Right) technique, but was told about the X pattern from a few kick ass engineers. It makes the kit sound tighter and also captures more of the kit and less of the snare so your killer snare sound will not change that much once you bring in the overheads. I usually compress these and also do some multi-band limiting. The 84's went into the Presonus also.


MP3 - Stereo Overheads

Next up is the secret weapon for doing drums - stereo room mikes! I used a pair of Neuman TLM 103 mikes for this job. The farther the better. Sometimes I even turn the mike around so it is not facing the kit but the wall, just for added reflections and bounce in the sound. Since I do not have a pro drum room, I have to place one in the laundry room which is about 15 feet to the left of the kit (good thing I don't have any underwear on the floor).


The other one goes in the den or TV room. I am not miking the speaker, I just placed it here to be around the same distance as the other room mike in the laundry room.


MP3 - Stereo Room

Both of these mikes were run into the Presonus also. Then they were treated heavily with the Waves C4 Stereo plug set to heavy limiting, and I even squished them more.

There is also some eq in this example. Once you bring this in with the close miking done on the kit, it just comes alive. I never was a big fan, but am becoming a huge fan. It just adds depth to your mix and drum sounds!

Here is a shot of the Drawmer and the Presonus Digimax units I keep talking about.


OK, now that we have the whole kit up and running, miked and tweaked, let's have smiling Daniel play a little for us with all the mikes up!


MP3 - Full Kit

Not bad. The carpet off the walls and the drum floor made a huge difference. Also the placement of the kick's D112 helped tons. The new overhead x pattern helped again, and then the stereo room mikes just made it rock.

After all that, it was time to celebrate!

Hope this helps out some of you project drum guys out there. It is such wicked fun!

May the tone be with you.

David Martone is a guitarist from Vancouver, Canada who has released seven solo CDs which showcase his musical diversity and brilliant guitarmanship.

His 2007 CD is entitled "When The Aliens Come", which features a progressive sound incorporating jazz, rock, fusion and metal influences.

David Martone