Drums are at the core of many tracks, be that dance, rock or jazz, but often bands struggle to get a great drum sound. Here are 5 tips for getting a better drum sound that won’t cost you a penny.
Find The Right Space
Some of the most iconic drum sounds were reflections of the space they sat in, be that the drums on Whole Lotta Love, Smells Like Teen Spirit or the Funky Drummer drum break. So get out there and find spaces you can record the drums in - even if it’s a simple stereo recording, it may sound better than a sterile multi tracked drum kit. Use a school hall, church, factory, shed, in fact whatever works.
Use The Space
Take time to move the drums around the space you sit them in, you’ll be amazed how taking a drum kit and sitting it in a different part of the room can change the sound entirely.
Try Different Mics
We spend a lot of time talking about different types of mics, we regard some as vocal mics, guitar mics and drum mics. However, there are no rules, so take some risks and try using the mics in different ways, after all the best mic for the job is the one you have, so stop wishing about owning mics and use the ones you have in new and creative ways.
Move Your Mics And Listen
Take time to move the mics around the kit and around the room (remember if you’ve taken the time to find a cool room then capture it). Get the drummer to play in the room and then get outside and either use some monitors or headphones to hear what the mics are sounding like.
Performance Is Everything
As we discussed in Podcast 197, performance is everything. Spend time working with the drummer on trying different tempos, feel, and intensity - capture every version of those performances. Some drummers like working with a click and other drummers don’t - clicks can help later, but sometimes kill the performance, don’t just use a click because you can. It might also help to track the drums with the band, you might get some spillage through the mics, but if you get the performance then it’s worth it.
As you can see, all of these tips cost nothing, they just require some imagination and some risks - but try them and you’ll be smiling when you listen back to your drum tracks. Stuff sterile, in my book performance and sound win every time.