Friday, August 28, 2020

Drums - Kick Drum - External Front and Rear Microphones

Video Created by JOEL CAMERON - Transcribed by TOM BOWSER

NOTE: This tutorial discusses a method of recording and mixing a bass/kick drum that has 2 solid heads front and back. It DOES NOT have a hole in the front head that can be used to insert a microphone used to record the attack of the bass/kick drum beater as it strikes the back kick drum head.

LISTEN: If the threshold is set to high you may hear distortion audible as clicking on each drum strike.

The goal is to isolate the snare bleed from the attack mic of the kick drum. Isolating the snare bleed allows us to limit how processing the kick and snare bleed present in the track will influence the final sound of the snare itself.

Using 2 mics:

  1. An "attack mic" to capture the attack of the kick drum beater striking the rear head of the kick drum. The attack mic is often an internal mic inserted through a hole in the front head of the kick drum. Instead, the "attack mic" was positioned at the rear of the kick toward where the beater strikes the rear kick head.
  2. A "resonance mic" captures the sound of the kick drum from the front of the kick externally from the front kick head.

Issue: The mic used on the rear kick drum head also picks up a lot of bleed from the bottom of the snare drum including the snare drum "snares". We are going to minimize the amount of snare present in the kick drum mic.

  1. Create a PRE fade send on the top snare track/channel. Send it to an unused bus. A good starting level for the pre fader send is -6dB.
  2. Insert a Compressor/Limiter on the "attack mic" track/channel of the kick.
  3. Enable the SIDE-CHAIN of the compressor by clicking on/enabling the little key in the SIDE-CHAIN area of the compressor interface.
  4. Select the KEY INPUT to the compressor. The KEY INPUT should be the same bus used to route the top snare track send. The compressor/limiter will be compressing the "attack mic" of the bass/kick drum each time the snare drum hits.
  5. Set the RATIO fairly high of around 4 to 1.
  6. Set the fastest ATTACK possible (turn attack knob full counter clockwise) The fast attack time will allow the full transient of the beater striking the head to pass.
  7. Set a RELEASE TIME of about 80ms. Adjust the RELEASE time by listening to the sound and feel of the release relative to the music. Use the meters to give a visual feel of the release time relative to the beat of the music.

NOTE: We're looking for around -18 to -30 db of compression. The attack of the snare bleed into the kick attack mic will be reduced. However, there will still be a highly processed sounding, low level snare sound present in the attack mic track of the kick drum. You can also hear the RELEASE of the compressor after each snare strike. We will remove the remaining mic bleed with a noise gate on the attack mic of the kick drum.

  1. Insert an Expander/Gate on the attack mic of the kick. Why did we not exclusively use an Expander/Gate on the kick? The combination of the Compressor/Limiter and the Expander/Gate eliminated the snare bleed more effectively than using only an Expander/Gate.
  2. Set the Expander/Gate for the sound you are looking for given the type of music the drums accompany.