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Llisten closely to the sound of the band, you're in a recording studio and not on stage which is much different. Make sure that you focus on being solid and keeping time. If you can hit the snare drum at a consistent level , then that would not only sound better but save time during mixing. For example, if the loudness of the snare is changing each 4th beat then it's more difficult for a sound engineer to get a good solid snare drum sound.
We say the fewer the microphones used the better the sound. If the drummer isn't going to play all the toms or cymbals then don't set them up. I've always tried to convince the drummer to position their cymbals up several inches. Many don't like this idea but by doing this it helps reduce the cymbals leaking into the tom mics. Some drummers are set in their ways and just can't do it.
Placement of the mic is major. The drums are so tightly positioned, that it becomes much more difficult to maintain isolation between them. Try and get as close to the sound as possible by using the correct mic and mic placement and maybe some EQ. Some people record with no EQ at all, and then apply EQ afterwards. I find it sounds better and is a lot easier to Capture The Sound while it's happening as opposed to fixing it in the mix.
If using the correct mic and mic placement you can really clear things up. For example the snare and hihat mics have always been a problem area. By using a mic that has a figure eight polar pattern on the hi-hat can really be a time saver. Start by positioning the mic so it's figure eight null is pointing at the snare drum. You'll end up with more hi-hat and less snare drum in the hi-hat mic which is definitly what you want. If it sounds thin and phasey or if it sounds hollow then you need to reposition the microphones.
When using more than two microphones there is a rule of thumb, called the 3 to 1 rule. It is meant to reduce the amount of comb filtering and phase cancellations that occur when microphones are placed closely together. It states, The distance between microphones should be three times the distance between each microphone and the source of the sound to which it is being applied.
So if i'm miking a guitar and had a mic at one foot away from the sound hole I would place the next microphone 4 feet away to avoid comb filtering that would be produced by adding the direct sound and the delayed direct sound together.
You can add more warmth to a recording by placing microphones in a reverberant sound field. To minimize the effects of comb filtering you should use the 3 to 1 rule. Comb filtering occurs when you add together the direct sound source and a delayed version of the same sound source. You can also break all the rules and use it to create comb filtering as well.
Find what works for you by using your ears! A good set of ears is vital to a great recording. If you can have someone else move the mics while you monitor them, then that's much better. When you think you've found the sound, have the drummer play the song and listen to the drum sound as one big microphone to assure you have the sound you want..
The fewer mics used the better. I put a mic about 3 feet in front of the drum and about four feet above the ground. If the drummer plays his cymbals a lot I move down to about three feet. Sometimes I put another mic out in studio at about 8 feet up. It gets a real clean sound.
The best way to record drums is by using a tuned drum kit. It's difficult to make a poorly tuned drum set sound good. Tuning the drums is simple to do. You tune each head to the same tension. You can check the tension by tapping the head near the tuning lug.
We record using mainly shure SM57's on the snare. We angle it down and away from the hi hat cymbals. An angle of about 30 or so degrees is best. The sound of the snare drum at the edge is full of harmonics while most of the actual drum tone is between the sides and center. The dead spot on the drum is the center. Most good drummers don't really try to hit the drum in the center unless it's intentional. The interaction of the hi hat with the snare drum is very important.
For snare and hi hats I would use a directional mic. You should then point the null points (back of the mic) towards whatever you don't want to hear. In this case, point the back of the hi hat mic to towards the snare drum and vice versa for the snare. The off axis noise rejection takes care of most of it. I agree that you should place the mic element anywhere from a 1/4 to 1/3 the way across the drum head. This goes for all drums even the kick.
If your in the control room and are listening to a set you may notice rattling noises and other sounds the drummer may not be aware of. This can be caused by drum lugs that are rattling.
If it's the drum lugs then you should fix the lugs by replacing them or if that's not an option you can cut small pieces of foam rubber and place it in the lug itself. This stops most lugs from rattling. Also if the drums don't sound that good to begin with it becomes more difficult to get a quality recording.
Embrace the human element. Let the tones interact. if the drums are of sufficient quality and in tune, and the drummer has taken all the proper precautions to eliminate the non-musical sounds, the best thing to do is Let Go And Let The Drums Sing!
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