The Recorderman Drum Mic Technique [Video]

| Audio Example, Tips, Video

Recording drums well is always a challenge. But to be honest, you don’t need a ton of mics and preamps to capture a kit well. In fact you really only need one mic to do it justice! Today, though, I want to show you one of my favorite techniques, the Recorderman method.

Using only two mics to capture the kit you can get a full, punchy, and drum focused sound (as opposed to room focused). In this video I show you how to set up the mics for the best phase accuracy and then you can listen to some raw sounds from the mics. Enjoy!

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38 Responses to “The Recorderman Drum Mic Technique [Video]”

  1. Kelton Gomes

    Graham, that was awesome!
    I’m surprised with the amount of kick drum you’ve got with this method. Gotta use this in my next recording… Your jumpstart series already helped me so much, I’ll be purchasing your Drums bootcamp really soon.

    Reply
  2. Andrei

    Nice to have this explained with a visual, awesome! QQ: the comment about adjusting for more or less cymbals, what’s the method there, higher up = more cymbals?

    Reply
  3. Rob Weber

    The only difference I could tell between the two on the video is the close mics seemed to make everything louder. Wonder how much closer they would be if the two mixes were volume matched.

    Reply
    • Sad Panda

      The low-end on the kick will still be apparent, but otherwise I think they sound pretty similar with and without the close mics. I only have 2 inputs on my interface, so when we record drums, we do strictly Recorderman and then in mixing I boost 60Hz a little bit to try and bring out the low end of the kick.

      Reply
  4. Chelo

    Hey Graham! Gotta say this but I hate drummer’s perspective panning, lol, Matter of taste but I would have panned everything the other way around, that’s how I see it and how I hope to hear it, probably you were using drummers perspective panning for a specific reason? I do it for the drummer’s cue mix, but after tracking that (and after auditioning in audience perspective), I’ll go back to what “I hope to hear”. What do you think about this?

    Reply
  5. bluesforce

    hi everyone,
    great technique, I think I got the best sounding drums of my career using this. Just one thing: it comes tricky when using metronome in hearphones, because the mics are very close to the drummer’s head.
    how do you avoid this leeking? Any advice on that? Thanks for sharing the knowledge. Keep up the good work.
    bF

    Reply
    • Kelton Gomes

      i’m dealing with this issue too. i think i’ll try ipod phones soon, they seem to block bleed pretty well. the plug by koss may also be a good alternative…

      Reply
  6. Jesús Ortega

    Hi Graham,

    I just recorded drums with this technique this morning with a friend. It only was a test session, and drums sounds great. We also recorded a song with a previous guide track. But, when we listen to the complete song, with bass and guitar, the kick drum feels so quiet. Obviously, there’s no mix, but I feel that the kick drum stills quiet even when mixing a little.

    Thanks for this tips and for all this awesome website. It helps a lot!

    Best regards from Colombia,

    Jesús

    Reply
  7. Vinny

    Hi Graham,

    I recently tracked drums for the first time and after weighing out many different methods we decided the Recorderman technique had the sound we were after. I’ve been following your podcast with Joe lately and tried one of your tips of flipping to mono while mixing and the drums suddenly became like half volume. I tried flipping phase on one channel and such and nothing improved it. If I mix the drums nice and present in mono, they are super loud in stereo. Do you run into this problem when you use Recorderman, and what do you do to compensate? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Graham

      Hi Vinny,

      This seems weird. So the drums sound balanced to the rest of the band in mono, but in stereo they take over volume wise?

      Reply
      • Vinny

        Sort of, I can find a balance where they seem a little hot in stereo and a little low in mono but it feels like something weird is going on. My first thought was phase but my meters are telling me the correlation is good and flipping phase has very little effect at all. So far I only have drums tracked and a scratch of the bass but I kept the bass in mono and hard panned the drums (trying LCR to keep things simple) – but even if I put both overheads dead center it has the same quieting effect when I flip to mono, yet no changes are heard in the bass. I didn’t know if maybe you had encountered this before. I uploaded some samples to SoundCloud, for these I found the best balance between mono and stereo but if I put them at a good level in mono they are too loud in stereo and they drown the bass out. The tracks on these are the same, the drums are hard panned L/R recorderman plus a kick and snare mic panned center.

        http://soundcloud.com/vincentlepes/vehicle-drums-mono
        http://soundcloud.com/vincentlepes/vehicle-drums-stereo

        Reply
        • Graham

          It definitely sounds like a phase thing to me. You measured each mic like I show in the video?

          Reply
          • Vinny

            That’s what I thought too, yeah I used a mic cable to get them equidistant to the snare. At this point I wonder if I just need to do a mono mix separately and find some way to get a little life back into the drums. I would retrack but it took us four sessions to get the eight tracks I have done already :p. I wonder why flipping phase has no effect though, or maybe I just don’t understand phase well enough. This was my first time recording drums and I thought I had done a great job until I flipped to mono!

          • Vinny

            I figured it out!!! It was the BX Digital plugin I had on the drum buss causing the trouble in mono. Kinda sad because I really like that plugin, but at least I got my drums back. I had overlooked it because I split the drums for parallel compression and hadn’t expanded the other audio chain in Ableton, so when I thought I had disabled all the plugins it was still running. I think it may be time to read the manual again, the plugin is supposed to help avoid phase issues but in my case it was introducing them. I’m sure it’s a PICNIC error ;). Thanks anyway for your help and all the great stuff you put out!

  8. Daniel

    Hi Graham, been following your youtube channel for a while now and its awesome, quick question: The microphones need to be condensers or I could use a pair of sm57 or sm58? thanks in advanced!.

    Reply
    • Graham

      There are no rules, but I prefer condensers. They pick up the cymbals a bit better and overall are more sensitive than dynamic mics. But use what you have!

      Reply
  9. Michel

    Nothing new !!! This old tip is the begining of the job , in scool or live radio jazz recording … i make the same 40 years ago !!! lesson Led Zeppelin too !!! Is not usefull in all situation ? It’s the decision of the drummer and artistic director !!!

    Reply
  10. Thom

    Love the site!
    Just so tired of all the have-to:s and must-do:s in the average studio forum. This site has really given me allot of self confidence when it comes to recording.

    I´ve got a sm7b and a sm57 on my hands and a interface with only 2 inputs. Do you recommend to try the recorderman or would it be better to just use the sm7b as an overhead and the sm57 to record som kick to blend in?
    I know the theme is “there is no wrongs” but I´m a little bit curious about what you think.

    Reply
    • Graham

      I would try both :-) It’s hard to know for sure which setup will sound best on any given day.

      Reply
  11. Derek

    Hi Graham. Great videos and tips! I am just starting to expirament with home recorded drums. What is a general guidline for panning the overheads with this technique?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Graham

      It all depends on what you like. I tend to pan recorderman drums about halfway (50-50). Too wide sounds weird to me.

      Reply
  12. Mandavel

    Hi Graham, I am using sort of a “Modified” Recorderman method to fit in my drum recording space, and while my gains are perfectly matched, I have a pair of Shure PG27′s, and my mic distances are perfect, nine times out of ten my right (shoulder) mic is picking up much more kick than the left, and most of the time further, my snare is perfectly balanced despite my kick’s imbalance. Are you adjusting your gains, panning or volumes accordingly, or straight from the mics you are in balance?

    Reply
    • Graham Cochrane

      So your mics are the same distance from the snare and the kick?

      I gain match the preamps on kick and snare hits as best as I can. I can pretty much get an almost perfectly centered kick and snare this way.

      Reply
      • Mandavel

        So you mean you -adjust- your gains to level the left/right signal (which is imbalanced) or you have both your gains at the same amount, and yet you get a good balance naturally?

        Needless to say I am quite baffled by this, and I can’t figure out what’s going on. Unless one of my mics is more sensitive than the other.

        Reply

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