Recording live drums can be one of the trickier things to do when in the process of recording music. Unlike other instruments, a drum set cannot simply be plugged in, but rather it much be recorded using a variety of microphones on each individual drum. Before the drummer starts to play, one will want to ensure that they have taken all the necessary steps that will lead to a quality recording. Three areas to focus on involve the set-up of the room, the microphones used to record, and the drums themselves.
Set Up the Room
Ideally, the drums should be recorded in some form of music studio where the room is actually set up to properly record the drums. However, not everyone has the resources or the ability to be able to do this. One of the main things you want to get out of the room is good acoustics. If the room is small, the drummer may experience a high level of feedback. This happens when the sound waves bounce of the walls or other objects into the room. The microphones will pick up this feedback, greatly diminishing the quality of the recording. While it is true that some reflection may be considered a good thing, take care in the placement of objects in the room to try and minimize the more delayed echoes that will occur.
Place the Microphones
Microphone placement is another key factor in getting a quality recording out of a drum set. Not using quality microphones or placing them in the wrong areas can make a nice set sound like a cheap one. If you have never miced a drum set before, there is a wealth of quality information online about how to properly do it. Ideally, each drum should be recorded with a separate microphone in addition to a few overhead mics and a few in front of the set. With noise coming from many different sources, it is important to use many different mics to properly pick up all the sound that is being produced.
Check the Drums
The last tip to recording live drums is to make sure that the drums themselves are in good working order. This involves replacing any worn heads and tuning the drums to the desired sound. It may seem obvious, but not all drummers replace both the batter head and resonant head all that frequently. Doing so will help get the best sound and ultimately the best recording out of the drum. Lastly, find any areas that produce a ringing sound when striking and tape them down. This will also help reduce the amount of echo and feedback that is picked up by the microphones.
Recording live drums involves a lot of experimentation. Trying different things can be a fun experience as you will need to play around with different techniques to figure out what truly works for you. Once you go it though, there is nothing quite like producing a solid sounding drum recording to add to your mix.