Rage Drums #2 – Test Recordings

The drum sound on Bombtrack relies on the aggression of the playing to drive the track. The tempo is fairly slow at 77bpm which requires the mix to really knock to pull the power through.

I aimed to achieve the drum sound by combining tried and tested techniques that produce consistent results, as well as theory and research to attempt to achieve the target sound through experimentation.

Kick:

 The track, although inherently metal, employs a kick sound that could be suited to Hip-Hop, paired with the rap vocals.

To attempt to create the kick sound I decided a two mic setup would allow me to get a clear click and thud from the kick. Abiding by the 3 to 1 rule I could also avoid phase issues. Initially, I placed an RE20 as the ‘click’ mic, inside the kick roughly 6″ off the beater and slightly off centre, directly on axis. The ‘thud’ mic was a D112 located a couple of inch outside of the resonant head’s cutout.

The click I captured from the RE20 didn’t sound tight enough, even with the skin tuned higher. The sound had a papery quality to it which didn’t sound natural for the beater. The D112 captured a large amount of bass, but was a little resonant around 100Hz.

To address the unnatural sounding RE20, I placed an AEA Nuvo N22 above the kick drum, peeping over at the beater (N22a) (sE Electronics, 2015). A second N22 was placed at about 2 O’clock on the kick drum, between then kick pedal and underside of snare (N22b) (Royer Labs, n.d.).

The figure of eight polar pattern effectively rejected the snare on N22a and allowed me to experiment with capturing both the kick pedal and snare with N22b. The ribbon mics slowly rolled off the high end, and smoothed out the transients of the kick, producing a natural sound and a solid centre to the kit. Especially the N22a, captured click and low end from the pedal, and air from the cymbals and room.

(The mics were not intended to be use in conjunction with each other.)


Snare:

I positioned two microphones on the snare, the first being a 57 for reference and the second a Royer 121. I attempted top phase align the mics to blend them together (as commonly used on guitar cabs) but the transient nature of the drum, angled position and small space meant the mics weren’t perfectly aligned. Both mics were 2” off the drum, and roughly 35º.

Overheads:

I positioned two Coles 4030, in a low Blumelein configuration directly over the kick. The intention was to capture very wide cymbals. The ribbon mics would also roll off any harsh highs, as well as capture a clear room ambience from behind, even positioned low. (Albini, 2010)

Room:

Recording in Basement 3’s drum booth didn’t offer much distance for a room mic. I positioned the Royer 121 about 1m away and 50cm high, producing a pleasant and rounded image of the whole kit. This mic would be ideal for heavy compression to pull room energy out of the recording.

The Soundcloud playlist containing audio examples of all the mic positions can be found below. The examples demonstrate the source on its own and how it works as part of a mix:


Albini, S. (2010). Blumelein overheads in a tight room?. Electrical Audio. [Online]. Available at: http://www.electricalaudio.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=47525 [Accessed: 15 April 2015].
Royer Labs. (n.d.). Royer Microphones- Recording Tips Drums. Royerlabs.com. [Online]. Available at: http://www.royerlabs.com/rectips_drums.html [Accessed: 13 April 2015].
sE Electronics. (2015). The RNR1. sE Electronics. [Online]. Available at: http://www.seelectronics.com/se-rnr1-rupert-neve-mic [Accessed: 16 April 2015].

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