What is the goal of this book? This is not a buyer’s guide. I may put out price points for different microphones or other things, but I am not doing this as a reviewer, salesman, or in anyway suggesting what to buy. I will be open about my opinion about microphones, placement, and the number of microphones needed to get a good, full drum sound in a to . I will suggest microphones I like for different elements of a drum kit, but these are just that — suggestions and recommendations.
Part of being a good Audio Engineer is listening to the music, feeling the music, allowing the music to have a conversation with you about what the different elements of the song want, and where they all fit together. Some elements like to stand out front and center (the snare in many heavier rock music is an excellent example), and some elements like to take a back seat and keep everyone on the same page (the ride in some jazzy music). Knowing how your band’s elements like to jive together is paramount to properly mixing a band. Listening to the music and hearing how it wants to be mixed is the only way to get this right (and that is something every engineer practices throughout their life).
I am not able to duplicate every single possible version of a drum set, and every possible cohesive sound that set might make. Parish and I talked a lot about what we were going to use for the 4-bar set for this book. We chose two different ones. On the 4-piece set we chose a jazz 4-bar set leaning on the ride. For the 5-piece set we chose a rock 4-bar set based off the 4-on-the-floor of classic rock. These are not exhaustive. We could have done 10 different 4-bar sets for the both kits and still have missed a genre or feel that these two kits could create. So I am not guaranteeing this book will cover your exact scenario, in fact it is very likely that your specific scenario will not be covered in this or any other book.
“OK. You have told me what this book isn’t, so what IS this!?”
That is a fair point. This is designed to help you think about drum sets and micing them in a small to medium sized venue. I am trying to give you the general idea about the Return on Investment each extra microphone gives you for both a standard 4- and 5-piece drum set. I have made “packages” of microphones that breakdown some of the choice that I made for when to add each microphone with these two drum sets with these two 4-bar samples.
That is a lot of qualifiers. It is incredibly likely that you will get similar performance to what we got, but I refuse to say that you will. The premise of this is to help you make your first decisions — what microphones, and how many are needed to get a drum kit to sound decent in this sized .
I have also geared this book toward the newcomer to the audio realm. Most people who have been around the block once or twice know what they want and the microphones they want. If you are a newcomer, welcome! As , we rarely are the most welcoming group of people, so this book is designed to help you make your decisions in a venue size that you would likely be working with. This advice does not carry over to , or , or any .
With all that out of the way, and an understanding of who I am targeting, and what information I am getting across, let’s get going shall we?
I define this as any venue that fits less than 100 audience members at normal maximum capacity.
I define this as any venue between 100-1,000 people at normal maximum capacity.
Any place where live music is created for a live audience. This could be a permanent live music venue, a church, an arena, anywhere that live music happens
Someone who engineers audio for music for a living. In the live context often either an FOH Engineer or a Monitor Engineer.
This is a venue of indeterminate size that is defined by it having a stage often facing a hill or field of some kind. This is an incredibly open venue.
I define this as pretty much any indoor venue that is more than 7,000 audience members at normal maximum capacity. This is not a perfect definition, often arenas are used for some sporting event at other times.
I define this as anything that is between 1,000 and 7,000 audience members at normal maximum capacity.