Drum mic phasing is one of the lost arts of sound recording. If all those mics on the kit are feeding ambient spill off the kit randomly out of phase, the consequent cancellation effects give rise to that characteristic ’sucked out’ demo drum sound.
Here’s how to avoid that and create vastly improved drum sounds:
1) Pull up one overhead mic (doesn’t matter which) – this is the reference. Get it levelled with the drummer playing round the kit and mute it.
2) Pull up another mic (any) – get the drummer to play floor tom. Set the level so that the floor tom volume is the same as the OH in 1).
3) Unmute the OH and mono the mix. Keep the drummer playing floor tom. You are now listening to the OH mic and the new mic with similar levels of floor tom in a mono mix.
4) Switch the phase on the ‘new’ mic (not the OH) one way round there will be loads more bass content in the signal. This is ‘in phase’ and correct. Leave the new mic this way.
5) Move on to the next mic comparing to the same overhead.
6) Carry on like this til you get to the floor tom mic, when you will need to get the drummer to hit the kick drum instead.
7) Having got the phasing right – return to the start and get the levels and eq right for all the mics.
8) You are ready to roll tape!
Howard Turner has over 30 years experience in the studio business, and for the last 2 decades, his Studio Wizard Organisation have been at the forefront of the development of effective & affordable designs and solutions for studios. Further information: 07092 123666 web: www.studiowizard.com