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Drum overheads. Make sure it all sounds like you want it to!

January 29, 2018

When recording drums, more than any other part of the kit, make sure it sounds right in the overheads. While there are many great ways of mixing drums, starting with the overheads and bringing in the close mics for support is a fantastic technique to use.


However, it's all too easy to say things like "the toms don't sound right, so I'll just use them as cymbal mic's and focus on the close mic's". This is a risk you don't want to take! There's no guaranteeing that approach will work. You might cut all the bottom end out, only to find an irritating high frequency left over in the snare or toms that spoils the cymbals. You just didn't hear it while all the lower range frequencies were present.


Take plenty of time to tune those drums, and ask the drummer to try to balance his volume in his playing, rather than hitting that crash-ride as hard as he can throughout the chorus! Remember, the tuning that works for live won't necessarily work in the studio!


In my experience, you'll usually find the cymbals are a little loud in comparison to the rest of the kit, but you should really hear each drum hitting the way you want, with the desired pitch and decay (use MoonGel!), before you move on to setting up close mic's.


When it comes to blending, you should only need just a little of the close mic's to support the sound, and you'll have a wonderfully balanced, punchy and musical sounding result! (That will give you an easy time in the mix.)



One final thought. Unless the song is very slow or sparse, you'll want to make your toms much dryer than you might in a live situation. There's not much space in a mix and ringing toms cause challenging work for you later!




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