Solving Audio Mysteries: 2 – Who Killed the Drums?

famous investigator photo
Part 2 of 4 in the series Solving Audio Mysteries

It’s time for the second audio mystery.  It involves a drum set, two audio techs, and a lot of head scratching.  It started on a Wednesday night…

The drums sounded dead.  I’m talking “He’s dead, Jim” dead.   Steve and I were at front-of-house trying to dial in a good drum mix.  There wasn’t much we could do with each kit piece, be they toms or kick or snare.  They sounded horrible.  Two hours later, without any mix changes, they sounded better.

Not the first time

This wasn’t the first time we’d encountered this problem.  It happened a month or two earlier.  In the words of my 4th grade elementary school teacher, it was “time to put our thinking caps on.”  Did I mention I hate that phrase? …keep reading »

How Many Drum Microphones Do You Really Need?


Drum mic’ing is an art form you might be missing.  How many drum mic’s do you really need?  Do you have that many mixer channels to spare?  Are you feeding your drummer the right mix?  Four microphones might be all you need.

My current stage setup includes an acoustic drum kit with eight microphones.  Eight?  Mmmm, that sounds about right.  The larger the room, the more control you want over the drums.  What I mean by that statement is that in small rooms, you can get a lot of stage volume out of your drums without microphones.  I occasionally work in a small venue with ZERO drum mic’s…and it works because the room is small enough. …keep reading »

Dealing with the Devil’s Crash Ride Cymbal | Volume Control [Gurus13]

Drummer cymbal volume control

“If there is a devil, then he created the crash ride,” joked Robert Scovill during a Gurus of Tech 2013 breakout session.  By the laughter from the audience, it was obvious that many of us have problems with crash ride cymbal volume control.  The minute our drummers put on their headphones they start filling the room with a ton of extra cymbal sound.

Robert Scovill is a 30+ year veteran of live sound and 6-time TEC Award winner for Sound Reinforcement Engineer.
Crash Ride Cymbal Volume Control

Scovill told us his quick-and-easy solution to the crash ride problem was taking it away from the drummer right before practice. …keep reading »

The Foundation of the Perfect Mix

[Guest Post from Derek Sexsmith] The title on this post is a little misleading.  The “perfect mix” could mean different things to different people.  But, I think most would agree the foundation for the perfect mix, when mixing a typical “rock” band (drums, bass, guitars, keys, vocals) would be the kick drum and the bass guitar.  

Robert Scovill, a very experienced and very talented engineer said, at the Gurus of Tech conference in Chicago in February, that “no one goes home humming the kick drum.”   Very true.  But, that kick drum, mixed properly with the bass guitar, is what gets people into the music.  Next time you’re doing sound, try turning down the bass guitar for a chorus in a driving song, then bring it up for the next chorus and I would bet there is a noticeable change in the way the audience/congregation reacts. …keep reading »

The Six Types of Kick Drum Microphones

[Guest Post from Matthew McglynnI often get asked to recommend kick-drum microphones, and in the process of helping drummers and engineers decide what might work for them, I’ve realized that it is useful to classify the available microphones by type.

[Note from Chris: While some types of microphones may be better for recording studio's, this article shows you what's available on the market for live and studio work]

  • Tailored Dynamics – dynamic mics pre-EQ’d with aggressively scooped mids. The most popular and best-known bassdrum mics belong to this category.


  • Speaker Transducers – a small group of purpose-built dynamic bass instrument mics created from speaker or headphone drivers. …keep reading »

Dealing with Kick Drums without a Sound Hole

The sound of the kick drum is critical to the overall sound of the drums.  Today, you'll learn how you can get a great sound from a kick drum without a hole in the resonance head.

Kick drums usually have two heads; the beater head and the resonance head.  The beater head is the drum head that's whacked by the foot pedal beater.  The resonance head is the head on the opposite side of the drum (and it might have the name of the band in huge letters).

The problem with using a microphone to capture the sound of the kick drum with a resonance head is when a sound hole is not present. …keep reading »

Can I Get a Rim Shot? Working with Electronic Drums

Alone on the stage sits your new electronic drum set.  No cage around it.  No elaborate microphone setup.  It's perfect for your church.  It might be an easier setup than an acoustic drum kit but electronic drum kits have their own challenges…

Why electric drums sets are frustrating

Electronic drums are frustration for a few reasons;

  • One audio send to rule them all.  Many of the lower-priced models only send one audio signal out so you've got an entire drum kit in one mixer channel strip.
  • One hit to rule them all. The lower priced (and many of the older kits) are not touch sensitive so it doesn't matter if the drummer slams the sticks or just barely touches them, you get the same volume. …keep reading »