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Old 01-16-2018, 02:23 PM   #1
SGMusic
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Default Live Sound - mic’ing drums

Hey! So my band has our first gig with our full lineup in a few weeks and I’m starting to plan for how we’re gonna set up. I’ve never done sound for a full band before, usually just acoustic stuff with 2-3 players, so I want to make sure I have it all covered.

The room we’re playing is 3500 sq ft and there’s going to be 120 people in attendance (they sold tickets). My question is.... how much mic’ing do I need to do for the drums? I asked my drummer what her preference was and she said all she wanted was a kick mic - but she didn’t know what the room was like at the time. Will that be enough or should I mic the snare too? We have keys, two guitars, bass, and vocals as well. It’s an indie rock sort of thing.

Thanks in advance for the advice!
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Old 01-16-2018, 03:43 PM   #2
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In order of priority...

Mic the kic
Mic the snare
Mic overhead with a single SDC (cigar mic will often do)
Mic the individual components.

In small rooms, rock bands can usually make do with just a BD mic. Medium rooms get a snare mic. 3500sq' is a dance hall, and you will likely need kick/snare/overhead. For Jazz, latin, or other non-back-beat-bands, the overhead takes priority over the snare mic.
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Old 01-16-2018, 04:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KamaK View Post
In order of priority...

Mic the kic
Mic the snare
Mic overhead with a single SDC (cigar mic will often do)
Mic the individual components.

In small rooms, rock bands can usually make do with just a BD mic. Medium rooms get a snare mic. 3500sq' is a dance hall, and you will likely need kick/snare/overhead. For Jazz, latin, or other non-back-beat-bands, the overhead takes priority over the snare mic.
Thanks!

Now to figure out how to fit everything on my mixer 😂

For the record I attached a picture of the room in case that helps.
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Old 01-16-2018, 05:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by SGMusic View Post
For the record I attached a picture of the room in case that helps.
You should be able to make do with three mics in that room. Kick, Snare, Overhead.

Tips...

Light gate on K/S
Isolate the overhead (don't point amps at the drums, no drum monitor pointing at the mic, keep the drums away from other sound sources)
The acoustic sound of the drums will do 90% of the work. What you add to the mix will be entirely supplemental, and mostly kick. Don't be surprised if you don't use the snare/overhead at all.
Notch the kick on the board to save your PA, and so that it doesn't compete with the bass for sonic space.
Notch the snare on the board so it doesn't compete with the guitars/vocals.

Last edited by KamaK; 01-16-2018 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 01-16-2018, 10:39 PM   #5
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I don't think you have to mic anything. Acoustic drums are loud. Inside a room the sound bounces off the walls, it won't take much volume to fill that room with sound.
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Old 01-17-2018, 12:09 AM   #6
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I've miked drums for recording only and its an all or nothing situation. If you use one mike for the Kick Drum, (45 degrees up) you'll hear most everything except the cymbals. If you use one overhead mike, you'll hear everything but the Kick Drum will be a little bit weak. That damn Snare Drum is going to be your enemy because it will dominate the Hi Hat and the Ride Cymbal. The Crash and Splash Cymbals usually make it through OK. If you have plenty of inputs and plenty of mikes, you'll need about 5 mikes to cover everything and you'll have to fine tune your levels to keep the snare from dominating.
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Old 01-17-2018, 12:39 AM   #7
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I've miked drums for recording only and its an all or nothing situation. If you use one mike for the Kick Drum, (45 degrees up) you'll hear most everything except the cymbals. If you use one overhead mike, you'll hear everything but the Kick Drum will be a little bit weak. That damn Snare Drum is going to be your enemy because it will dominate the Hi Hat and the Ride Cymbal. The Crash and Splash Cymbals usually make it through OK. If you have plenty of inputs and plenty of mikes, you'll need about 5 mikes to cover everything and you'll have to fine tune your levels to keep the snare from dominating.
My recording experience has differed. Overbearing snare has typically been the result of a drummer that is unable to self balance, like a guitarist that's unable to hit the low E string with a dynamic that matches the rest of the strings.

When I noodle down song ideas or even commit to developing a song, I typically use 4 mics. Two LDC's overhead for a stereo ambient image, kick, and the bottom of the snare (flipped polarity) to catch the snare wires. If I need to feature another instrument (hat or floor tom), I might bring in another dynamic or SDC.

Here's a loop that I solo the drum tracks in (FF to 3:20) , so you can hear what's what....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQFnguUGc2Q

Here's a loop where I just wanted to capture a guitar hook.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iivdvJNl0WQ

Here's a preproduction song draft:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsaSY8DBNAo

Take a listen and see if it changes your opinion on 4-mic recording.

Yeah, I know. I'm a horrible drummer.

Late edit:
The downside of sparse-mic setups is that you cannot apply individual treatment to each instrument. I can't put a compressor or gate a single tom for example. This makes it essential that you have a well tuned, good sounding kit and a drummer capable of self-balancing volume. It's also far less forgiving in terms of mic-positioning.

Last edited by KamaK; 01-17-2018 at 02:39 AM.
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Old 02-16-2018, 12:20 PM   #8
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Consider the Glyn Johns 4-mic method. It's pretty much the standard for minimal mic'ing. While it relates to recording, it works equally well for live situations.

https://www.recordingrevolution.com/...ording-method/

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Old 02-16-2018, 01:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SGMusic View Post
So my band has our first gig with our full lineup in a few weeks and I’m starting to plan for how we’re gonna set up. I’ve never done sound for a full band before, usually just acoustic stuff with 2-3 players, so I want to make sure I have it all covered.

The room we’re playing is 3500 sq ft and there’s going to be 120 people in attendance (they sold tickets).

Thanks in advance for the advice!
Assuming that you are also performing in the band, hire someone to run sound. Seriously. Setting up, debugging, operating the sound system for a full band WHILE also performing can be pretty physically/emotionally stressful...especially the first time.
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Old 02-16-2018, 02:04 PM   #10
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If you don't have the inputs and the skills DON'T mic the drums at all! You are better off than as others have noted getting too much of bass or snare, etc... Most bands I see playing out in rooms that size don't mic the drums or even the amps very often, keep in mind the crowd wants to hear the VOCALS.. make sure no one drowns out the singer and the rest can be worked out via stage volume with the amps and drums...
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