Stereo Mic-ing Techniques

Here are the various names of different techniques.

> Spaced omni
> X/Y
> ORTF
> Decca tree
> Blumlein
> Mid-Side

I am not going to go into detail on each one of these techniques but rather talk about the different uses for them. If you want detailed info, enter the name into a search engine.

Spaced omni is good for medium to large ensembles, use them spaced about 15′ apart. Good stereo spaced sound, but lacks a defined center image and depth of field.

X/Y is great on solo instruments such as acoustic guitars, quartets, small vocal groups and over head on drum sets. Gives you good stereo separation with a nice center sound. Does not work well for larger ensembles.

ORTF works very well on medium to large ensembles such as string orchestras, concert band, symphony’s, 30+ choral groups. Great stereo image with very good center and depth of field.

Mid/Side is usually a “STEREO” microphone. Great for video work, not so great for music as the left and right side pickup can be a bit phasey. But it has a very strong center hence great mono compatibility for video/movie work. You can use this technique with non-stereo mics but it’s a bit clunky to set up.

The Blumlein style sounds very nice and gives you a great room sound but is ugly to look at and set-up is troublesome.

The Decca Tree is the primo set up used by just about every symphony orchestra that has recorded out there. Sounds great but is a bit tricky to set-up and is very expensive.

Use the right technique for the job and you’ll get great results.

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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?

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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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Snare Drum Recording Tips

The snare drum is one of the most important elements in contemporary recorded music. It helps anchor the song in so many ways.

The standard mic for snare is the workhorse of all mics, the Shure SM57. Tune the drum right and put a 57 on the batter head and you’re 80% there. Just like that. 🙂
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If you have the room, use a 57 and a pencil condenser together and you’ll get a great sound. If you aim the mic at the center of the drum you will get more pop/snap and if you aim it towards the rim you will get more of the tone of the drum. You can also put a mic aimed at the bottom head of the snare drum. This can be either a dynamic or a condenser.

Two big issues arise with micing a snare. Having enough room to actually place the mic where you want, without getting in the way of the player, and keeping bleed from the high hat from getting into the snare mic. Sometimes you can fashion a piece of cardboard to keep the HH sound from getting into the mic or a piece of foam. All you can do is work with what ya got.

What are YOUR favorite methods for recording the snare drum?

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Overhead Drum Microphones

Recording engineers pick microphones depending on many different reasons, such as: • what you’re recording • where you’re recording • available mic selection •

For overhead mic-ing you can’t go wrong with a good pair of pencil condenser mics. A favorite ‘go-to’ mic that I like to use is the Neumann KM 184. You can purchase a pair of these in a great protective case that allows you to keep all your mic assets together in one place, always a good idea.

A good rule of thumb for mic-ing overhead drums is to place the mic as a spaced pair either approx. 18 inches above the cymbals – or – spaced equal distance away from the snare (use string to measure this to be sure). If you have a hard hitting drummer who favors a certain cymbal you may want to position that mic even a bit further away. 😉 There are many angles to choose from to position the mics, this will depend on which cymbals you are trying to highlight, or if you’re just trying to get a general capture of the whole kit. Don’t be afraid to experiment & play around with positioning your mics to find the places YOU like to record from best!

*An extra option is putting a ribbon mic up in the middle of your spaced pair, with a little tweak on the upper end of the EQ on the track to add excitement to the mix.

Always be sure to test all mic levels individually before you start recording. Different mics are more sensitive than others so settings for one may not work the best for another. Keep in mind… any time you spend checking/setting the best levels… will equal time you save in editing & trying to fix tracks that have peaks in them.

Which are YOUR favorite microphones to use for overhead drum mic-ing, & why…?

. Record . Mix . Master . Music .
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