Tips for Headphone Monitoring in the Studio

Headphone TipsFirst off, the quality of sound in the headphones will not be even close to what you will hear in the control room. Headphone use is designed for you to hear the other players so that you will all play in time together. Do not be concerned about how the tones sound in the phones. If you hear any weirdness in the control room at playback, then mention it to the engineer. You do need to hear yourself and others.

Make sure you have the mix that you want. It can help you perform better and maybe even inspire you to greater creativity. For guitarists, if you are in the same room as your amp try an open ear phone. This will let you hear more of you amp acoustically.

Bass players, use a closed phone with good bass response so you can hear the bass better. Drummers, the same as bass. Closed headphones will help you hear the bass and drums better and will keep the click from bleeding into the mics.

Vocalists, the use of headphones is very tricky for you. Singers usually sing sharp or flat when using both ear pads. To help remedy this situation take one side of the ear pads off. But be careful, you don’t want the sound from the headphones going into the vocal mic. So, watch your levels.

One last item of note, most studios today only have 2 to 3 mixes for headphones so you may need to share a mix another player.  Drums and bass go together well, keys and guitars go together well also. If you are doing vocals live, try to keep them on their own mix.

What is your favorite headphone monitoring tip?

. Record . Mix . Master . Music .

Microphone Selections for Recording Cymbals

There are several schools of thought here. 1. The standard stereo overhead using either a stereo mic or a x-y configuration. 2. Two mics in cardioid, over the left and right crash cymbals. 3. One mic per cymbal with a no holds barred use as many mics as you want kinda thing. These mics would be small capsule condensers.

Here are some suggestions – Neumann KM 184, Shure SM 81, KSM 137, KSM 141, KSM 32. A note about the High Hat. Same type of microphone aimed away from the snare drum (if possible) but towards the area between the center and the edge of the cymbal. You may need to play with the orientation depending on cymbals and style of playing.

What are YOUR favorite microphones to use for recording the cymbals?

. Record . Mix . Master . Music .

Mic-ing the Toms

Micing the tom toms are pretty straight forward provided you have enough room to place them, while keeping out of the drummers way.

I like to use the Sennheiser MD421 mics. They give you a nice warm mellow sound. And if you tweek the EQ around 4 to 6k you can get the attack of the tom to come thru nicely. SM 57’s work fairly well too. The new special tom mics from Sennheiser (e604 & e904) and Shure (Beta 56) do pretty well also. When micing a floor tom or larger drums try using a large diaphragm mic like the Shure Beta 52 or the AKG D112 or the Sennheiser e602 this will help to capture the lower tones of the drum.

What are YOUR favorite methods for recording the toms?

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More Drum Mic-ing Tips

When tracking drums it’s a good idea to take pics of the kit throughout the process so you’ll have a visual reference later on. Sometimes things can get moved & switched around, & if that happens be sure to list that info on your track sheet. These small details can be easy to forget when you move on to the mixing process however,
it will help you to pin point any trouble mic’s if issues arise. 😉

Send in pics of your recording setups & I will post a gallery of them at some point.

. Record . Mix . Master . Music .

Mic-ing up the DrumSet

I thought as long as I was discussing drum sets I would continue with various mic-ing techniques. I will preclude this with indicating that this pretty much pertains to the genre of pop, rock and most country.

Lets start with the kick drum. There is a plethora of good mics for kick drum. Some of my favorites are the EV RE20, AKG D112, Shure Beta 52, 91, Beyer M88, Neumann U47fet, U87 and the Sennheiser 421. I do want to say that the use of a speaker woofer as a microphone is very cool. You can buy a manufactured one or make one yourself. I’ll tell you how later on. Anyhow, use a dynamic mic inside the shell pretty close to the batter head aimed at the beater for more of a click/snap or halfway between the center and the edge of the head for more tone. I also have found that the Shure 91 placed on the “pillow” works extremely well. If you have a speaker/mic place that as close as possible to the resonance head, like 1 inch. (Hint, you may need to change the phase in mix to match the other mics when mixing.) I also like to put a mic about 2 feet in front of the kick drum. Use a nice large diaphragm condenser for this. Something else I like to do is create a tunnel from the kick drum towards the room. I take a heavy packing blanket or heavy comforter and place it over a couple of mic boom stands. This does a few things. It directs the sound of the drum towards the outside mic and it also helps keep the sound from the toms and cymbals from getting into the kick mics.

Feel free to comment & let me know if you have any questions or tips of your own.

Drum Kit Mic-ing

. Record . Mix . Master . Music .
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