Let’s face it, recording drums isn’t always the easiest instrument to record. Sure, you could slap some microphones around the kit and see what happens, but to get a great sounding drums, there some things to consider.
In a perfect world, recording drums in a great big open space with high ceilings is ideal. But we don’t live in a perfect world and not all of us have this luxury. So, what then?
Whether or not you’re about to build a home recording studio or you just want to record drums in your bedroom, here are five things that should be considered:
1. Choose the Best Position for the Drum Kit
Before setting up those drums, think about the space that is available to you. For example, if you’re able to build a studio either from the ground up or from an existing space, where would the highest ceiling peak be located? If your ceiling is the same level throughout, think about the shape of your room.
Choose a spot that has the least amount of reflection points, especially in front of the drum kit. For instance, if your room is skinny and long — set up the drums shooting down the length of the room.
2. Consider Your Audience
What I mean by “audience” is: Do you have neighbors close by that might file a noise complaint? How about your family or roommates? Will pounding on drums during a session cause problems? If so, isolation still may not be the answer. In this case, you’ll want to think about sound proofing.
In short, to correctly sound proof your studio or drum booth alone, you need mass. My point here is that you still don’t necessarily need isolation. Rather, you need to keep sounds from coming IN or OUT. Once that’s accomplished, then you’re ready to start picking out the drum kit position in your studio.
3. Define How You Will Record
Again, everyone’s situation is a bit different. What you want to really consider before investing a lot of time or money in your studio is what will the majority of your recording sessions entail? If you think you’ll record a lot of bands playing and recording all at once, then a separate drum room isn’t always necessary.
You may want to simply use the biggest part of your room for the drum kit, then isolate amps and such as needed. This way, the band can really play off of each other, resulting in a better performance.
4. Consider Spot Isolation
OK… so let’s say you’ve got a great spot picked in your studio for your drums. You’ve decided not to isolate the entire drum kit in a booth but there is still some bleed issues happening when recording the drums alone. In this case, I would suggest spot isolation. There are a handful of products and tricks that can help you in this situation.
For example, Primacoustic makes a fantastic product called the “Crash Guard”. It’s basically an isolation shield for individual microphones, such as a snare mic that’s getting too much hi-hat bleed. It also serves as a microphone protector for those unwanted stick hits.
5. Invest in Portable Acoustic Treatment
Last but not least, portable acoustic treatment may actually be your best studio investment ever. What I’m referring to is solid acoustic treatment panels that either have wheels or can be moved around easily. (Primacoustic and RealTraps both make fantastic solutions).
The great thing about these type of products in a word is: flexibility. Let’s say you’re recording guitar one day, drums the next or just need some separation in your studio, portable acoustic panels is your answer.
One last thing:
At the end of the day, perhaps recording drums at home isn’t even the answer. Just because we can do something ourselves doesn’t mean we always should.
If that’s the case, consider booking a studio session or hiring a drummer to record via online collaboration. This is often a great way to lay that solid foundation while allowing you more time to finish the project at home.
Either way, determine the best solution for your situation and get to it!