When is it right?

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When is it right?

On a couple of recent Octave Records recordings I have been experimenting a bit with the drum kit.

On a typical session where there are drums, my preferred microphone setup is a minimal one: two overheads (above the cymbals and to the far right and left of the drum kit). Two dynamic mikes on the snare, one one top, one on the bottom (where the actual snares are), a pair of bass drum microphones (one is a cool type of microphone that is actually a 5" loudspeaker in reverse), and that's it. The toms are plenty apparent as picked up by the overheads.

Contrast this minimal setup to the traditional microphone placement of one microphone for every single drum in the kit, to be mixed later.

To me, the minimalist approach sounds far more natural and less processed/sterilized into that dreaded commercial sounding recording sound.

Because the overheads are relatively high above the cymbals and toms I always experiment with their phase relation with the other microphones. Typically, when we place microphones, we decide by ear which phase to use. If the sound is fuller, bigger, with more body with one phase then that's almost always the correct phase.

But, sometimes the phase choice has a different sound—that of more or less depth. This happens when the microphones are far enough apart and away from the others.

Which is correct? The more or the less depth configuration?

When I listen in Music Room 3, the choice of more depth is extraordinary—depth and you are there is unlike anything I have yet heard on that system.

On Jessica's system, pretty much the same as the one in Music Room 3, it sounds like the drums are "down the hall—detached from the group". 

Detached is definitely not what we want, so I go with that but it always leaves me wondering.

Which setup is correct?

Always learning. Always fascinating.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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