Audio Interface for Drum Recording

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Glocke
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Audio Interface for Drum Recording

Post by Glocke »

Hi, my band and I discussed whether we could record live drums during our next production. So I started searching for suitable audio interfaces (of course with linux compat.^^). I found the Presonus AudioBox 1818VSL (8x input) which has linux support (citing a ubuntu-related hardware list, since I'm using ubuntu).

So I've got two major questions:
  • Which audio interfaces do you recomment for that task?
  • How many input channels do you prefer for drumrecording?
For the sake of giving complete information: We're playing death metal. The initial idea is to use at least 8 channels like this:
  • 1: Kick
  • 2: Snare Top
  • 3: Snare Bottom
  • 4: Overhead Left
  • 5: Overhead Right
  • 6: Ride
  • 7: Room Left
  • 8: Room Right
Atm, we assume the hihat and toms to be loud enough to be captured by the overhead mics... do you have any experience with such a setup?

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Glocke
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sadko4u
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Re: Audio Interface for Drum Recording

Post by sadko4u »

Which audio interfaces do you recomment for that task?
I would recommend you to purchase Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 OR Focusrite Scarlett 18i20.
Also, additionally you can purchase Focusrite OcroPre MK II and connect it via ADAT to main audio card. You'll get 16 inputs instead of 8. That will be enough.
How many input channels do you prefer for drumrecording?
I prefer so many channels that allow to set up 1-2 mics per instrument.

For example, 8-mic configuration would look like this:
1 - kick
2 - floor tom
3 - middle tom
4 - high tom
5 - snare top
6 - Hi-hat
7 - overhead left
8 - overhead right

For this case kick and snare probably should be triggered. Kick shall be triggered to make it more flat and pump-in attack. Snare - to add sound of spring.

The 16-mic configuration:
1 - kick plastic
2 - kick port
3 - kick (subkick)
4 - floor tom
5 - middle tom
6 - high tom
7 - snare top
8 - snare bottom
9 - hi-hat
10 - ride
11-12 - additional overheads or yet another toms
13 - overhead left
14 - overhead right
15 - room left
16 - room right

For this case, if you have good instruments, nothing should be triggered.
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emarsk
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Re: Audio Interface for Drum Recording

Post by emarsk »

I own a Presonus 1818VSL, it's quite good and works perfectly with Linux (any distro). I'm not sure how it compares with the Focusrite, it's a bit cheaper though.
If you stick with 8 channels, I wouldn't bother with two room mics, especially for death metal. Maybe one, if you really like that kind of sound, but definitely not two. I'd use those channels for the toms, maybe ditch the ride too and go with sadko4u's setup.
It's largely a matter of taste, drummer, style… For example, I always found the hi-hat mic almost useless, because the hi-hat tends to be loud enough for my taste in the OH and snare channels, and I ended up almost muting its dedicated track.

The less mics you have, the more careful you need to find the best placement (but you have less stuff to place) and the less you'll be able to carve the sound in the mix, but you can record excellent drums with just two mics (or even one - OK maybe not for modern death metal).
On the other hand, the more mics you have, the more time you'll spend cursing at the cables, realigning phases and mixing, but the more possibilities you'll have.
Please, avoid some common spelling errors:
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling

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sadko4u
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Re: Audio Interface for Drum Recording

Post by sadko4u »

emarsk wrote:It's largely a matter of taste, drummer, style… For example, I always found the hi-hat mic almost useless, because the hi-hat tends to be loud enough for my taste in the OH and snare channels, and I ended up almost muting its dedicated track.
Hi-hat mic is only used to add body (low-end) to hihat that is not enough in OH microphones. That's the only use case of this mic. If you decide not to use individual microphone for HiHat, than better way is to place it at the bottom of the snare, near the spring.
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sadko4u
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Re: Audio Interface for Drum Recording

Post by sadko4u »

emarsk wrote:I wouldn't bother with two room mics, especially for death metal.
Sure, room may be always added in post-processing. Better place these mics over toms, one per tom.
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j_e_f_f_g
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Re: Audio Interface for Drum Recording

Post by j_e_f_f_g »

I concur 100% with sadko, on both his recommendations for interface (it's likely you'll want more inputs when you can afford it, and hardware synced addons such as the 8pre are the least troublesome way to do that), and mic setup (he's right about hihat, and his 8 mic setup is what I use when I have only 8 drum mics).

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Glocke
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Re: Audio Interface for Drum Recording

Post by Glocke »

Thanks for your replies! :)

I've got a question on micing up the hihat in the 8 channel setup... is that really necessary? I assume the hihat to bleed over multiple channels. So using the channel as a mono room mic instead could give some additional "roomyness" (+ a portion of hihat). Any thoughts on that?
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sadko4u
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Re: Audio Interface for Drum Recording

Post by sadko4u »

Glocke wrote:I've got a question on micing up the hihat in the 8 channel setup... is that really necessary? I assume the hihat to bleed over multiple channels. So using the channel as a mono room mic instead could give some additional "roomyness" (+ a portion of hihat). Any thoughts on that?
You may ask your drummer to record short track by applying different microphone set-ups. I think that for 8 microphone setup there is no need of room.
The room should be large enough to put room microphones. Otherwise your drums will sound like from bathroom, and finally you will throw away these room mics because of their negative effect on the overall sound. I've already explained the most useful 8-mic setup. If you don't want to record hihat then put this mic to the bottom of the snare.
Also remember that in the drum setup main microphones are overheads, all other microphones are used to add low-end of drums ('body'). Without body your drums will be thin, flat and will sink in the mix. Death metal is not that kind of music where the drum setup sinks in the mix.
Also, you always may draw the room by applying reverberation, especially by using impulse responses and convolver.
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Glocke
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Re: Audio Interface for Drum Recording

Post by Glocke »

sadko4u wrote:You may ask your drummer to record short track by applying different microphone set-ups.
For sure! :)
sadko4u wrote:Also, you always may draw the room by applying reverberation, especially by using impulse responses and convolver.
I'll keep that in mind! :)
sadko4u wrote:Also remember that in the drum setup main microphones are overheads, all other microphones are used to add low-end of drums ('body').
I thought in metal productions, overheads are mainly used for cymbals - not to represent the kit as a whole (like in other genres). Or did I misunderstood your statement?
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sadko4u
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Re: Audio Interface for Drum Recording

Post by sadko4u »

Glocke wrote:I thought in metal productions, overheads are mainly used for cymbals - not to represent the kit as a whole (like in other genres). Or did I misunderstood your statement?
Beginners often do unbalanced mix of the entire drum kit because don't know how loud each instrument must be and where it should be located in the stereo image.
Overheads take the sound of all instruments in drum kit, so for mixing drums you should first turn all instrument faders off (except overheads) and start to add silently each instrument. You will hear the moment when (for example) the snare track becomes a bit louder than the snare in the overhead's track. That's the point where you should stop adding the loudness to snare's track because you've found the balance between snare's track and overhead's track. The same balancing tehnique should be applied to all other instruments like Kick, Toms, Hihat, etc.
When you've completed with the loudness, you should apply panning then by moving pan control of the instrument's track left or right. You'll notice the point on the pan's scale where the instrument has good and defined position in the stereo image. So, this is the real panning point of this instrument.
So overheads are very important, much more important than room microphones, that's why I've called them main microphones
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