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Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 20 of 29

Snare Drum Microphone Selection & Placement Part II

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

20. Snare Drum Microphone Selection & Placement Part II

Lesson Info

Snare Drum Microphone Selection & Placement Part II

So let's hear this back with no u q sennheiser four forty one nd four forty one well here with q well, compare that to the s and fifty seven back to the that's with you q on who's back to the sennheiser one thing I like about this microphone is that the bleed is actually really pleasant sounding and I'm assuming that's because it costs about eight times as much is innocent fifty seven that it's eight times the quality I I don't know if that's true that doesn't usually go for most things, but I feel like the bleed sounds a lot better regardless here's just the bleed on the seventy four forty one here's the bleed on the s and fifty seven no went too far here's the bleed on the ice and fifty seven back to the enemy for twenty one because I messed that up sounds a little more like a nice um small condenser microphone or something it's it's a lot more pleasant one more time without a key. The last thing I'd like to do after I have printed all my test mikes to see which mike I want to use on...

the session is I like to just add a little bit of compression because this will make a really big difference in the sound of the microphone and it's going to get compressed in the end on I know that I can get quick easy compression that I like from an eleven, seventy six plugin I use the u eighty one when I'm testing stuff out this is um he's a re eleven seventy six when I'm mixing but this is a good way to mark it up except that my delay compensation should be at maximum you're using pro tools and should generally have that going on I'm just gonna get kind of drastic with the compression, the really fast release and this medium attack basically I'm locking up a worst case scenario with the compression here because the way the mic reacts to the compressor is really important unless you're not going to compress the snare than it's not important at all but for me I'm going to compress the snare so here we can hear it without the compression on then with the compression see how much it brings up the high hats that's what I've been talking about this whole time with with worrying about high hat bleed so it's a little weird stuff but it's very very important this is back to the fifty seven with same compression and we'll listen to the snare sound like I like to listen to the envelope of the snare as well as the booth back to the four forty one which after you put on the compression I think it's a lot easier to hear the difference in how the high hats are sounding through the snare microphone and real quick I'll just go through the other ones that we recorded here's the pr thirty with the compression on that's a pretty nasty and that's pure oh that's the p r thirty angle here's the pr thirty with same angle is all the other minds a little raunchy on the high hats but doable but that's a decision you would have to make that you would you'd have to decide if you can live with that or not here's the pr twenty now that's just for me on this session that's way too boxy it just sounds a little weird ends a little loud so it's probably getting more compression one more time in a lower volume hats are just way too president that's not really the sound that I would want based on this drum set and this drummer my ears just getting drawn to the high hats almost more than the snare and that bugs me here's the tab modified fifty seven with compression it's all right but it kind of bores me for a lack of better words um so I'm not going to use it and there's a fifty seven again it's kind of the control mike um so even though I'm saying that the tab fifty seven boards means sometimes it's a really great mike just in this current setting it's not what I want to use on I think I'm leaning towards the sennheiser md for forty one theo lohan's focused where I wanted it's really clean the top and is nice and not piercing, and the high hats honestly sound really good to me, and the compression reacts really well with that mike, I'm no listen with fifty seven one more time because it's kind of a toss up, but it's a little weird sounding for me. The four forty one in this session is really just the right mike again, I'm showing you all this stuff because it changes. I mean, the last session I did, I used the p r twenty because it sounded awesome, which is my least favorite in this session. Um, the session before that, the my favorite was the s and fifty seven on the session before that. Actually, the tab fifty seven was the best mike for the session, so it just changes all the time. It's good to have options, but I'm giving you these things to listen to so you can hear the characteristics and no, um, what makes you may be wanted by first, or go out and grab if you already own some of these or which mikes here like I never want to hear that again, you know, and there's a lot of other options out there and snare these air, just my favorites and the ones I like to use so one thing I want to do real quick before we get to the snare bottom is, I think, the snare sounding cool, it's sounding good, we tune it yesterday, he's been playing it, um and I we're going to record a bunch more drums, and I don't want to snare to go out of tune, so I'm going to use these lug locks toe hold the tuning in place, little plastic guys to go on the lugs and there's two different sizes if you can see of the side there's a short side on alongside and all snare drum rooms, all different brands have a little bit different length between the lug and the rim, so you want to pick the side that butts up against the rim like that could see the short side wouldn't touch and wouldn't do anything and ideas that the hard plastic kind of stretches and goes around the lug and holds it in place, and then the plastic part is held in place by being butted up against this, and this is like if you're doing three, four days of drums, this is a life saver onda harder the hitter, the more you're gonna want these because there's nothing more frustrating than getting halfway through a take and losing your scenario, tuning and having to start over because a really important part of recording any instrument on dh having a good session is having a good flow of the session and the less interruptions the more the artist can be artistic and the quicker you get to go home after your fourteen hour day so I put the zone so I don't have to return the snare over and over and you can get these for the tom's as well um I only brought one pack with me today but they're great to have on all the drums and if you really want to go crazy you can put him on the top and the bottom they'll stay and you can pick these up that anywhere that sells drums usually a pack is about four bucks they're cheap you can probably reuse a month two or three sessions but once they get to the point where this part doesn't lock onto the lug or the tension rod um you want to stop using using them because they're not really doing any good because the tension rockin still just spin inside that if it's worn out so now that set up and locked in um and we're going to just keep that mike on top we're going to go with a snare bottom mike and the other thing I'm going to need to do is measure that little mark I made I'm probably gonna need to move this to the side because we're going to end up with a tom right here and I want to start putting things where they're going to stay, so I know that this mark is exactly an inch and a half from the rim, since the snare is a circle it's really not a big deal where we put this as long as it's the same distance and height and angle I'm just going to get this close is the hats is possible without they're hitting it, knowing that there will be room for the tom over here, so I'm just going to measure this an inch and a half that's an inch and a half in quite there, well, too far, that should be good if we have to move that a little bit later, once everything is set up, at least we know what distance from the rim it needs to be. So my second favorite, mike, was the sure s and fifty seven, just the stock version, so I'm just going to go on a whim and put that on the bottom of the snare because that's, the next step for me and I am going to assume that it's going to be the second best mike for the snare drum on don't put on there. If it sounds good, I'll keep it. If it sounds terrible, then I will explore my options, but as much as I would love to go through every mike on every instrument you do have to get on with your session so pick and choose my battles um and since I know that my snare top is going to be mixed probably about ten to twelve d be louder than my snare bottom um that it's more important for me to dial in these snare taught microphone and when I'm doing this near bottom, I'm basically just trying to mere the snare top and that's my method because I want the snare top and bottom to be perfectly in sae's in the easiest way to get close to that as to start with the same angle in the same distance, so I'm going to grab my tape measure to measure how far off this is office near it's an inch and a quarter then I'm gonna measure for this is and it is an engine three quarters it's a little deceiving because of the angle you're looking at it and it and the rim, so I'm gonna check it one more time and I'm still not quite there very deceiving stan is nice and tight then there's an inch and a quarter and I want to be an inch and a half in not quite nominee and so that's the basic starting point for my snare bottom now all we need is a cable wired up along if you want to wire that up um now with snare bottom mike something that you need to keep in mind it's a little less about the high hat bleed and a little more about the kick bleed now just by nature in order to match the top in the bottom um well where the top mike ends up because of the high hats and where the bottom mike ends up because you're matching it usually ends up with the kick drum still a little bit in the polar pattern where we're at right now um is about as good as it can get but just something that you need to keep in mind is that if you end up with your snare mike over here you're taught mike on this side and your bottoms over here you're you're definitely going to get a lot of kick trump front head which is going to cause some face problems because we have another mic pointed almost right at it on the inside of the drone so you don't really want to mike's pointing at each other so like I moved this one as long as you have the top distance and the distance from the rim the same you khun just swivel this mike around a cz long as it's in the same place so you kind of want to get it as far from the kick as possible right now I'm pretty okay with where this is it um if I'm getting too much kick I will move it but that's something to keep in mind because it could be really frustrating when you get files to mix or if you go to mix your own files and you realize that you can't really use the bottom stair mike because there's so much kick drum in it and you can't just e q it out because it's not really even the low kick drum frequencies it's the snapping frequencies from the beater on going to get a lot of face problems and be really upset because even though I don't makes a snare bottom like really loud that's where all the brightness and the cool scary sustained comes from a cz you've heard the top sound like a snare but it is borderline tom sounding there's not a lot of snow very sound to it so um we have to make sure to get a little bit of that bottom sneer in there bottom stair is also really important for players who are playing ghost notes and delicate things because you can automate those parts up on get a really dynamic sound because you've ever listen to a snare and listen to ghost notes when you're just hearing the top on ghost notes you're it's not activating the snare wires themselves quite as much so they're not coming up through the top might quite as much and they kind of sound thirty so when you're listening to ghost notes or mixing ghost notes or recording goes notes really want that bottom snare to be available and you really want to bring those up because that's where that cool sound comes from on but also will come through in my side snare mike and I'll show you that stuff later I'm gonna make a snare bottom track here and making new track and pro tools is shift command and again knowing your key commands is really important because it keeps your session moving faster their bottom bottom and along what input thank you very much always helps to have a helping hand when you're plugging things in again keep this session going quicker so here's the um md for forty one snare top um sm fifty seven bottom I don't think I'll be able to write out the whole world will give this listen thanks monitors first let's get a level I mean that's that's way too I have to take this plug in off cool and another thing I like to do when I am recording the snare bottom is that I like to bring in and this kind of goes for any mike that's not the kick and stare in toms and this is because of editing purposes a track the snare bottom and the kick out and the overheads and especially the rooms just a little bit quieter and if you want mike pre distortion you couldjust attenuate the mic pre on the output and that's because when you're going through and editing you really don't want to get your mouse like uh you don't want a bunch of distraction and like when you're editing and pro tools or hitting tab to go through the different edits and I'll explain that later and if you have your room like super loud by nature room mike's have a really short delay to him your cursor is going to jump to the room mike um after every snare head so I don't want to go uh you know, I'll show you right here when I'm tapping like this on just this mike it's actually picking up every hit what you can adjust, but if I had a room mike, that was right after it right there with a little bit of delay it would be jumping to that too, so it would make my work flow more like this pretend these little cuts of the room mike and I can show you later when we have the room like set up so I have to hit tab twice as much because of that, but if you bring those in quiet, you can set your threshold on your tab to transit toe on lee hit the taller notes so that's just something to keep in mind when you're when you're looking at your tracking levels is so my kick in my tom tops and my snare top are the only ones that I want super loud personally and you'll see as we record this year that I've got this near bottom like quite a bit quieter wanna play that beat again for us? Cool let's do that one more time. I got a little ahead of myself and got on the wrong market, so is he noticed the snare bottom like is coming in a lot quieter? I'm gonna take the compression off of the snare top now something I'm hearing because you do essentially have two more mikes pointed at each other. In this scenario, you need to make sure that the bottom mike is in phase and since these air two different brands there's a chance that one is wired out of phase in the first place phase is very important and you can check in on your w really easily, which is awesome because before there were dpw's, you have to do this by a year, which is still not hard to do, but it's a lot. You should do it this way so you can see the way form on the snare top this pointing down on the first hit and pointing up on the first hit on the snare bottom, which means they're out of phase so we want those wave forms pointing the same direction, otherwise any common frequencies or just going to cancel each other out and you're gonna get really weird sounds so just to show you real quick without having track again I'm just going to invert the phase with the invert plug in you can hear the difference and then when it was out of phase sounded like this it's really paper and thin sounding and downright obnoxious so let's flip this again this is in phase comptel pretty clear the low incomes back in its you know it's uh it's to mike's working together properly instead of two mikes fighting each other so that's really important now I'm going to undo well I'm gonna leave that for now but instead of inverting the phase with a plug and every time I'm just going to go to my mic pre and most mike priests have a phase selection on them and it's the little circle with a line through it usually if that's if it doesn't say phase and if it doesn't most a lot of q plug ins or trim plug ins in any d w will have a phase button on them so you can flip that as well put the face wherever you want you just need to watch out for it and basically at this point we need to check phase on everything from here on out um and I used I use the snare top as the basic um the benchmark for the face for whatever it's going to go which usually ends up down on the first tip for me um and so the overheads are going to have to make sure they're in phase with snare rooms. Will have to be in phase with the, with the overheads and the snare as well. And then we'll have to make sure the kicks and phase with the rooms and the overheads, which could get a little tricky. But I can explain that stuff when we get to it. So there you have it with kick back in here, I'm gonna bring this near bottom down a little bit, because I really don't like it that loud little bit louder, just to kind of peek through the top, mike and that's, the bulk of the kick and snare sound. Now, obviously, the overheads and the rooms are going to make a big difference, too. But this is where I start, um, and this is kind of the backbone of the drum sound at this point.

Class Description

Drums are one of the hardest instruments to record, because in reality, a drum kit can be upwards of 20 or 30 instruments being played by a performer at one consistent time. Each drum head plays a huge role in determining the overall tone. The range of frequencies is broader than any other recorded instrument, with sub-kicks extending down below 60 Hz and hihats and cymbals with presence and ring above 16kHz. The dynamic range can include subtle ghost hits and flutters to pounding snares that fill a room, and yet somehow all of this is supposed to fit inside a mix without getting lost in a sea of guitars.

Kris Crummett has over a decade and a half of experience recording bands like Sleeping with Sirens, Issues, Alesana, Further Seems Forever and Emarosa. Kris will walk you through every step of the process to capturing killer drum sounds.

Which Drums to Use?

  • The size and type of the kick drum is a good place to start, and will largely dictate what kind of tone you end up with when you get the final mix. Do you want a modern sounding kit with a big low end and a bright punch or a more vintage tone with a rounder, softer low end punch?
  • Snare sounds can often define the tone of an entire record with a range of sizes, head choices and tuning options. How much ring is left in the resonant head can be deceiving when listening to an drum kit on its own, but can often be lost when blended in with the rest of the band. From maple and birch full bodied and nuanced tones to aluminum or even brass bodies, the snare drum can have one of the biggest impacts on your final track.
  • Drum heads can also have a huge impact on the transients that you capture when recording. Coated heads can offer a punchier, thicker sound while clear heads are a bit brighter. Tuning the top head and the bottom head to resonant together is an essential art that takes practice and expertise.

Which mics to Use?

  • There’s no right or wrong way to mic a drum kit, from the famous ‘When the Levee Breaks” 2 microphone room tone to modern metal drum production with 30+ mics in place.
  • Deciding when to use a condenser and when to use a dynamic mic is dependent upon the style, the drummer’s playing style and even the room in which you’re tracking. What sort of room mic techniques can give you that big open kit sound? What about a tight, small room trap kit sound?
  • Kris is prepared to walk you through all of these choices, with examples from his storied career and tips and tricks that only years in the studio can earn you. With legendary guest drummer KJ Sawka, you’ll have an experienced team to guide you through how to overcome the biggest challenge for a home studio engineer, the drum kit.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Kris Crummett - Syllabus.pdf

Kris Crummett - Pro Tools

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Kevin Howard

Kris is methodical and goes over everything related to drum recording in great detail. He covers heads and even how much moon gel he uses for damping the heads, Mic placement, shell choice( size, wood etc ). Listen to Dance Gavin Dance to hear some of his work. I found this class to be super informative and very practical in it's approach. Thank you Kris !


this is a great class! i play drums personally, and i love percussion! he also teaches well


This is an amazing class! Kris is a very scientific instructor. This really opened my eyes to the drum recording process. Take Notes!!!! There are about a thousand unique facts and techniques that you should know. This will help you to record drums correctly at the source so that you can minimize the amount of digital destruction you will do later and thus get a "Professional" sound.