Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

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oblis
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Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by oblis » Fri May 08, 2020 10:53 am

I've spent way more than I should on synths, but I've always been cheap about gear for recording my percussion instruments for some reason. Partly because I'm not very knowledgeable in this area. I want to invest around $500-700 into getting "better" recordings of my frame drums and handpan-type drums. I know you get what you pay for and all, but looking to start there.. .Below is a pic of my current setup :oops: I'm just using the Tascam H5 condensers into a Mackie Mix8 into a Focusrite 2i4 into my mac, so seems like lots of room for improvement.

Any suggestions? After some reading here and there I was considering trying a stereo pair of the Rode NT5s...$429 at Sweetwater.
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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by JES » Fri May 08, 2020 11:00 am

Also check out ribbon mics—very good for “photorealistic” sound if that’s what you’re after. No hyped high end. Beyerdynamic is not “sexy” like AEA or Royer but they are great mics and a studio staple. Ribbon output is low so you might also need a little extra gain (cloudlifter or similar).

You’ll get more bang for your buck in your price range than with a large diaphragm condenser. But there are perfectly good condensers in that range.

If it’s a solo recording, stereo could be important for percussion. In a mix, less so.
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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by Durdee » Fri May 08, 2020 11:04 am

Honestly, you could also try one or two Zeppelin Design Cortado mics. They only have kits in stock at the moment if you can deal with pretty simple soldering and drilling a couple of holes. If you can isolate the hand drums from too much impact besides actual drumming, contact mics will really pick up the natural vibration of the materials they’re made of and the Cortados are phantom powered and balanced so they actually sound good. I’m sure other suggestions will pop up here, but i always like to try one on resonant objects just to see how it sounds.

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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by Michael O. » Fri May 08, 2020 1:39 pm

I likely wouldn’t stereo mic something like a hand drum, but I would go the sdc direction you’re thinking. In your price range I’d look for one or two, given availability and price on eBay, used km184’s. It would be a night and day difference to the Rodes in terms of quality, and it’s the sort of microphone you’ll never outgrow and need to replace.

Personally I tend to reach for a km84 when micing hand percussion, which is similar, but about twice the price of the 184’s. I would not use a ribbon mic for that application, especially without an exceptionally good mic pre.

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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by Buyakasoundman » Fri May 08, 2020 2:01 pm

Don’t forget room treatment. A well treated room will make all your recordings sound better regardless of recording chain.

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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by oblis » Fri May 08, 2020 4:34 pm

Thanks all for the suggestions so far!

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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by XXXEsq » Sat May 09, 2020 4:28 pm

In my humble opinion, the best mic for a higher frequency (Bongo, Doumbec framedrum, etc) hand drum is a vintage Neuman KM84. Probably out of your price range. Warm Audio makes a knockoff that isn't bad and sounds better to me than a KM184.
For a lower frequency drum, (Tumba, large Djembe, etc.) an EV RE20 is a great choice.
In a budget solution - if you are recording into a DAW, take a look at the Slate ML2 SDC. Using plugins, it emulates a number of nice mics. A pair would be great for hand drums and numerous other uses and would be well within your price range,
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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by oblis » Sat May 09, 2020 4:49 pm

XXXEsq wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 4:28 pm
...For a lower frequency drum, (Tumba, large Djembe, etc.) an EV RE20 is a great choice...
Thanks for the advice...would you also suggest the EV RE20 for larger frame drums? I have the 18" and 22" that's first shown in this video for reference...can't tell what mics are being used here.

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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by Ears » Sun May 10, 2020 8:05 am

I’m fond of omnis for close mic-ing of drums. My fave in that department come from Earthworks https://earthworksaudio.com/drum-kits/ but they’ve gotten more expensive since when I started doing drum recording 20 years ago. I like them because you get a very flat response across a crazy wide frequency spectrum. Then you can then eq or otherwise alter when mixing. And you really can’t overdrive them which is easy to do with dynamic program material (you still will need to watch gain staging in the rest of your chain of course).

If you have a really good sounding room, you might also want to look at a large diaphragm condenser mic to capture the natural reverberation and emphasis of the room. If you multi mic drums be very careful about phase.

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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by Soy Sos » Sun May 10, 2020 8:31 am

Advanced Audio make a wonderful and affordable SDC KM84 like package. It comes with a pair of mic bodies, 3 sets of capsules, shock mounts, stereo bar and case for around $650. They're a well respected and legit company based in Canada. I also have their U67 type and it's excellent.
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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by Soy Sos » Sun May 10, 2020 12:38 pm

Looking at your set up again, it occurs to me you should get noticeable improvement by upgrading the mics, bypassing the Mackie pre-amps and going directly into the Focusrite pre-amps. I suggest trying that first.
+1 on experimenting as to how your room is imprinting on your drum sound. Some simple free and cheap stratagies of room treatments and mic placement can be used to great effect.

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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by oblis » Sun May 10, 2020 3:41 pm

Soy Sos wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 12:38 pm
Looking at your set up again, it occurs to me you should get noticeable improvement by upgrading the mics, bypassing the Mackie pre-amps and going directly into the Focusrite pre-amps. I suggest trying that first.
+1 on experimenting as to how your room is imprinting on your drum sound. Some simple free and cheap stratagies of room treatments and mic placement can be used to great effect.
It didn’t occur to me to go straight into the focusrite...thanks for the suggestion.

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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by Soy Sos » Sun May 10, 2020 3:49 pm

Yeah, the way you're doing it now, it looks like you're essentially going thru 3 pre-amp stages. The ones in your Tascam, into the Mackies then the Focusrite. That's 2 extra points of potential, overdrive, clipping, noise and other unwanted artifacts. Try another mic or pair direct into the Focusrite and watch out for clipping.

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Re: Decent Recording Setup for Hand Drums?

Post by clusterchord » Thu May 14, 2020 8:56 pm

i'd like to add that, what sort of acoustics treatment you have will radically influence what microphone will work best.

for example, in a naked room full of high/mid flutter from parallel walls, and not enough absorption and no difussion, a cardioid SDC or pair of them in x-y might pickup too much. with classic fig8 ribbons even worse, as rear lobe will gather all the reflections and give you nasty comb filtered response.

in such case, i'd suggest single hypercardioid mic as it has much more narrow pickup. depending of sound character you desire, or arragement context, a few suggestions in your budget:

Beyerdynamic M160 - ribbon, warmish, tilted hi mids, silky top

Neumann KM150 (used) - condenser. not schoeps but with coloured top in a flattering way. cuts thru but not harsh. no deep bottom tho.

Sennheiser 441 dynamic (used) - warm bottom, top end almost like condenser but softer. id use this on bigger stuff with more low end content. alternatively, a multi pattern LDC like older 414 etc.

with all of them, watch the proximity effect. pop filter if needed.


PS in nice room tho id go with pair of fig8 ribbons in blumlein pair. M130 for example. or if you really like mono presentation, go with Mid-Side. this allows apparently mono sound, yet with ability to sneak in just a tad bit of side stereo information at mix time, to avoid that unnatural narrowness with your solo instrument.
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