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electronic MUSICIAN



Mar 4

Written by: masterblogger
3/4/2011 11:43 AM  RssIcon

In our January issue, we asked you for your favorite kick-drum miking tips, and published our favorite tip (props to winner Ken Lee, below!) in the March issue. But we got so many great submissions, we thought we’d share them all with you! Check out the goodies below, and let us know if you try them! And don’t miss the March Question of the Month: How do you get the best take out of a vocalist? Send your tips to The winning submission wins a rad Zoom Q3 portable recorder!

Now for the tips…

I like capturing not only the impact of a kick drum, but also its tone and character. I noticed that recording engineers often go about positioning the snare and tom mics differently, rarely or never placing the mics inside, so I thought I'd try applying this toward a kick drum. I place a large diaphragm condenser in cardioid in front of the kick drum, but instead of directly in front and perpendicular to the kick drum, I place it so that it is close to the outer rim, with the microphone aiming across the front, much like how someone might position a floor tom mic. I'll aim the mic closer or farther from the side of the kick to try and balance out the woodiness of the kick and the skin tone. If the bleed from the cymbals and other drums is too much, I will sometimes take my wooden dining room chairs and wrap acoustic foam around it to form a sort of tunnel, placing them over the kick mic, and use sound treatment panels to surround the mic to minimize the bleed. You can also minimize bleed by building a tunnel such as the kind used by Bruce Swedien. This microphone technique tends to work for quieter sort of music, such as ballads, jazz, or simply when the drummer is not wailing on the kit. It's not always right for the song, either. There are times in which a dynamic inside the kick drum is indeed the best answer. But when it works, it brings a smile to the drummer's face. Drummers rarely hear the musical note of their kick drum on recordings, so if you can capture this, the note, the woodiness, and the fundamental character of the kick drum, you'll have made a friend for life. And a pretty good recording as a bonus.
Ken Lee, Blueberry Buddha Recording Studios, Los Angeles, CA

Hi folks,Here is my answer to the readers’ poll for micing a kick drum for tracking. I use a combination of overheads (Sml. Dia.Cond.'s) located over the drummer's shoulders aimed straight out (on horizontal plane emulating drummers ears) and a Senn.602 at the hole in the resonator head. i aim the mic directly where the beater strikes the front head, but off to the side so that the air blast doesn't pound the mic. this way, more actual kick drum is gotten rather than a blast of air. if needed, i'll use a pop filter to break up the kick's air blast. also, i just did an album of gongs (up to 60 inches wide & 55lbs). it was a very ambient set of sessions?w/mics/preamps very hot to pick up subtleties.The dogs next door wouldn't stop barking (good dog, bad owner) so i went to the store and got some fresh cow bone. i figured after day 2 that i only needed to give them 1 bone, as the dog w/out the bone would be paying attention to the other dog w/the bone. the more i record professionally, the more i discover it's not about technical knowledge-it's about being better w/people and situations around them. It's about creating a nice place to be, somewhere comfortable that's not like a sterile Petri dish (acoustically "perfect") or a trashy living room ("too" lived in...)  Be well.
Greg Creamer

Here's my tip for miking kick drum.  Ok it's simple, there's a sweet spot on most kicks on the beater side right near where the kick pedal hammer hits the kick drum head. I Place a good dynamic roughly 3-5 inches away from the beater head... a few inches to the right of your foot pedal. The height should be somewhere between 8-12 inches off the ground. If you listen with headphones while looking for the sweet spot, there's a certain distance from the beater where the attack and the "roundness" evens out and you get a nice "B" sound (as in the sound of the letter B). Then once you find it, you can add other mics to taste like maybe your typical "mic in front of or in hole" setup and maybe your ambient mics but you can get the main MEAT of your kick out of just that one mic. It doesn't even have to be a kick drum mic, just a good regular dynamic. But you gotta find the precise distance for it to work... which depends on the kick drum itself and especialy the tuning. The sound you can get sounds like a good sampled and processed kick drum like you would find from a good synth/sound module or plugin. Have fun! Try it! Love it! Now give me my Q3... LOL

Dennis Morton

Often when tracking drums I try to convince bands to go to tape. Keeping this in mind I will usually use the original AKD d12E 4 or 5" down from the center of the kick and about a foot to 18" away. Then I will use a Beyerdynamic M88TG using the band as the guide and lining the band of the windscreen up with the resonant head of the drum inside the mic hole. Depending on what else is being tracked in the room will depend on whether or not I will use sound blankets to build a kick drum fort. The AKG D12E will usually go through the Telefunken V76 and the Beyerdynamic will go through the Neve 3104.
Danielle Depalma

The first thing I've learned about mixing up a kick is one of my principles in recording; make sure the source sounds good to my ear in the space. That may involve tuning the drum as often drummers have tuned for thier last gig. You first take all padding out and listen, then check the outter head is tighter then beater head if you want tight response, or looser if you want woofier sound. Then place padding to dampen to your taste. I place my Shure Beta 52a facing the beater just in front of the hole on outer.
Rudy Talavera

Then about 1' back I place a Yamaha sub-kick which gets a lot of the low resonance. I usually run both mics thru Neve 4 band modules and cut around 400 to 630 hz and find the click of beater mic around 2.2k and boost this 1-3db. I will move the mics if something sounds carved out. Print both tracks and blend in the mix using subkick to fatten lowend rather then eq it... Check out some of my recordings at thanks!
Dave Malekpour

What my drummer calls the Bube and Tox method. Crystal Geyser water bottle case box, taped to a flexible 2 gallon trash can. One end opened completely, the other with a small square hole for U47 cut in. Placed in front of kick head with offset hole. A AKG D12E just inside hole. Amazing low frequency boost in the right freq. Photo @
Christopher Scott Cooper  

Depending upon the drum and the sound that's needed, the effect that's desired would require different methods. What I prefer to do is place the mike as far away in the room as possible to achieve my favorite sound of the late, great Mr. John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. If one desires a punchy/tight sound, place the mike closer with tight heads. If you choose a big boomy sound, loosen your head and place the mike starting at 10 feet away, and watchout!

Greg Hart

Hello there, my favorite way to mike a kick drum: I use 2 mikes, usually an Audix D6 halfway inside the hole in the front head and a Yamaha Subkick outside the front head. The Subkick runs from the preamp through a Radial Phazer and the phase in relation to the D6. While those two mikes mack up the bulk of the kick sound, I also generally place my room mic(s) close to the floor (around a foot high) about 8-10 feet in front of the kick drum. This seems to keep the overall sound of the kit a bit more balanced.
Terry Clark

My favorite way to mic a kick drum is actually a technique that has resided only in my head. Since I can’t afford to actually use this technique, I imagine using the Yamaha SKRM100 Subkick low frequency capture microphone, but augmented with an Audix D6 with a rolloff on the lows – both panned dead center, but perhaps with a bit of experimentation using a bit of echo on the Audix. I can’t help but think that this would be a killer combo.
Roger Cloud

I use a Shure Beta 52A Kick Drum Mic, placed into the hole of my Kick Drum Head. My original Kick Drum head had no hole, so I replaced it with a head that had the hole. The hole is positioned off center, and to the right of the beater. I have placed the mic directly into the hole. (See Picture #1). I place the mic as far into the hole as possible (without touching the sides of the hole), so that I will get less bleed from the other parts of the set, once the entire set is being played. So, the mic is facing the beater head directly but it is off center from the beater itself. I have experimented with different angles for the mic in this position, but to my surprise I found less tone variation than I expected. (However, repositioning the mic, and trying different angles is a great way to experiment, and there will eventually be a change to the tone, good or bad.) This is how I got to this particular mic placement. So, with the mic placed directly into the hole, I get a nice clear Kick tone with a distinct, but not sharp, beater attack. Picture #2 is attached to show the beater side of my Kick Drum. I have a small blanket placed in the drum for dampening. The room that I recorded in is a small bedroom size room. I have also included a small .WAV sample of the recording I got from using this mic placement. The recording is dry and has not been enhanced with any audio efx (EQ, Compression, etc....)

Room and Recording Information: 1. Pearl Drum Set 2. Drum set is set up in a small room 3. Shure Beta 52A Kick Drum Mic 4. Connected to M-Audio 2626 Audio Interface, and then recorded into Cakewalk Sonar 8.53.
Linda Ponte

My favorite way to mike kick drum is the same way I use to mike most of instruments - where they sound good in the room. That's usually cardioid, from a distance equivalent to the instrument size. How can you go wrong? Worried about leakage? Get over it!

Close-miking was invented for particular needs and situations, don't make it your first option, don't copy what others do, that's a path to mediocrity in audio.
Dennis Zasnicoff

Probably will sound insane, but works for me. When I need to get a certain background sound, like a backup vocal or a weird sound effect .when I am doing the recording I put my sm57 mics into the speaker itself. I take off the tweeter cover and with some foam I shove the mic about halfway through the opening ,and with turning down the mic input I record the speaker output to my digital recorder. End up with a distant faded sound that works for me. Crazy, but it's different.
Rick Smith

I basically experiment, depends on room, player, DAW, and specific requests, what mics I have, do A-B-A etc. and if it works don't try to fix it more! even locate-isolate (if possible) EQ helps too, but in a home-hobby studio, $ drives a lot of decisions.
David Kasminsky

Last track I used where live drums were used, I had my brother send me the drum tracks he worked on and we complied them in with the vocal tracks. The singer I collaborated with had her husband do the mix down on all the tracks and then the master. 3000 miles away I might add. I did the Keyboard tracks on my workstation. I sent them a 2-channel mix of the keys. The vocal and drum tracks were all done remotely. We all collaborated long distance on this one. The track is called "Love Forever."
Vic DeMarzo

For live, I throw any ol' shure drum mic on it, run it through a low-pass and then an ART tube comp. and then ride the knob for the sub to keep it in check for the mood of the song. And for studio, I'll spend time getting a good sample of the drummers kick if he likes it and use that, or otherwise hunt down a sample I like and just trigger it.
Halden Gunning

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