I am always interested in experimenting with different recording techniques, especially ones that are creative or inventive. One technique I know of is adding a strange ‘reflection’ microphone into your drum mix. When recording drums, place an extra microphone inside any kind of container or jar and capture the sound of the drum kit resonating and reflecting off the walls of the container. When it comes to mixing you can blend this signal with the original drum kit mics for an interesting effect.
I am certainly not trying to suggest that this is a technique you should use ever time you record drums but if you are fortunate enough to have the time to experiment then this is a great way to create a slightly ‘alternative’ drum sound. A great thing about this technique is that you don’t have to buy anything new.
When implementing this technique you really aren’t changing much about your drum set up. Just set up things as you normally would and then add on the extra ‘tube’ mic somewhere in the room. In this example we used a standard drum mic setup:
An AKG D112 on the Kick drum; a Shure SM57 on the Snare drum; an AKG C451B on the Hi-Hat, Sennheiser E904s on the Hi-Tom and Lo-Tom and Ride cymbal and AKG C1000s Left and Right Overheads.
We used a Beyer-Dynamic M201TG dynamic inside the containers as the ‘effect mic’. For comparison, in the examples you first hear all the overall final mix, then without the extra ‘effect’ microphone’, then back to all the mics, then just the ‘effect’ microphone and then the final mix again. Listen to the examples below.
1. Kitchen Roll Tissue Tube
The first example is with the ‘effect’ microphone inside a kitchen roll tissue tube.
2. Plastic Bottle
The second example is with the microphone inside a plastic bottle.
3. Plastic Bucket
For the third example we placed the microphone inside a small plastic bucket.
It was interesting to see which type of materials and shapes worked well and which didn’t and how the each effect the sound differently. I think the third example definitely helps the drums to sound more live and energetic. In the future I would like to try this technique using a condenser microphone and larger containers, one of which being made out of glass. A big thanks to Blane Chalmers for helping out set up the experiment and playing the drums for the examples.