Academy Dashboard Forum Studio Gear Talk Recording Drums Reply To: Recording Drums

John Solomon


    Hey Brad,

    I know my post is a little late but figured I'd share my experience since I was in a similar, albeit, different position this past year. Luckily I already had an interface (Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt) with 8 inputs (8 preamps) and added an Apogee AD16x  via ADAT for an additional 16 inputs. As much as I hate saying it... by far the most important factor is going to be your room. I'm assuming you've already utilized your space/room and have heard drums in that space before.

    When I initially started tracking drums in my home studio, I was recording drums in my den (which is similar in size to your space). One thing that I immediately noticed was how dead the room sounded, no matter where I had the kit setup. Even when utilizing room mics the space sounded much smaller than I thought it should. I did some experimenting over several weeks and moved my kit/drums to another room (living room) and it made such a massive difference (even before throwing mics up). The living room at my place is a much "livelier" sounding room w/little to no treatment. Just setting up my drums in that room and playing was sooo much more inspiring/vibey than the other room I had been using initially. Dead rooms can be very problematic for drums... unless you're specifically going for that kind of sound/vibe (or plan on augmenting or replacing your drums w/samples in your DAW). You can always add treatment/gobos to "livelier" rooms and lean more on your close mics and OH's if you're going for a tighter/controlled drum sound. Anyways, the point I'm trying to make is... your room will play a big part in the sounds you're able to get. Be prepared to move your drums/mics around the room and see where it sounds best. If at all possible, see how the kit sounds in other rooms. This might not be possible for a lot of folks but it's definitely worth the effort if you can.

    My suggestion would be to pick up an interface with 16 inputs (or at least something that can be easily expanded i.e. ADAT). Yes, you can record drums with fewer channels, however, having the extra inputs/channels to play and experiment with can't be understated. Once you start recording drums you'll quickly find yourself running out of channels... at least that's what happened to me.

    Console's can be fun... however, I wouldn't invest in any outdated tech like the Digi Control 24. I have a friend who still has one (w/focusrite preamps) and I don't believe it's compatible with any current version of PT past 9 or 10. I setup Neyrinck on his studio workstation so it can still be used as a "control surface", however, he can't use any of the preamps/inputs or outputs. Not to mention the PSU's in those things will fail and need to be replaced (especially if you pick up a used one). I was able to get my friends PSU replaced on his Control24, however, it wasn't easy. I had to scour the corners of the internet and found some random guys info from an old avid/digidesign forum post and emailed him about it. It was a little sketchy (he spoke very broken english) but they rebuilt the PSU and shipped it back to me a few weeks later.

    I would advise against getting a mixer like the Mackie 32 8 simply bc I think most interfaces today offer better quality preamps not to mention availability of spare parts and having to deal with repairs. I think your money would be better spent on quality mics and a decent interface.

    If I was in your position I would concentrate on picking up an interface with at least 8 (preferably 16) channels. You could pick up something like an Apollo x8 or Focusrite Clarett 8pre and add an Audient ASP880 which would give you 16 channels and 12-16 preamps to start recording with from the get go. Also be thinking about mics. Your mics and placement are going to be the most important thing next to your room. I'd suggest picking up some dynamic mics like the Shure sm57's for snare and a beta52a or Sennheiser e602 for kick. OH mics are something else you'll want to do some research on. OH's are going to give you the overall picture of your kit which can then be filled in with your close mics (i.e. kick/snare). SDC's are usually the way to go for OH's, however, there aren't any rules... lots of folks use LDC's and ribbons for OH's, just depends on budget and taste. I would encourage you to splurge just a little bit when picking OH mics if you're able. The Beyerdynamic mc 930 is an excellent SDC that will serve many purposes besides OH's and grow with you over time (and can be picked up relatively cheap second hand). There’s lots of other lower cost alternatives, it just comes down to your budget.

    Room mics are another thing that can add a lot to your drum sound. Adding even just a single room mic can make a big difference and add overall space and depth to the drums. I'm currently using an AEA r88 as my stereo room mic, however, there are lots of affordable alternatives that will get the job done. You'll likely want to use a multi-pattern FET condenser (ribbons can work as well). Experiment with placement and polar patterns (mainly omni, and figure-8). You can still use cardioid if your mic doesn’t have multiple polar patterns, however, you won't get as much of the room sound as you will with omni or figure-8.

    I totally get that you wanna be "good from the start" regarding gear, however, unless you have a good amount of expendable income, it's not feasible, at least for most people these days. You'll likely end up piecing stuff together as you go.  There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s exactly what I’ve done and how I’ve acquired all of my gear.  Don't let gear get in the way of recording and achieving the sounds you’re after.

    Here's a couple different ideas/budget options for gear. Hope this helps.


    Focusrite 18i20 (8 channels, 8 preamps) - Good

    Focusrite Clarett 8Pre (8 channels, 8 preamps) - Better

    Presonus Studio 192 (8 channels, 8 preamps) - Better

    Apollo x8 (8 channels, 4 preamps) - Best


    8 Channel Preamp expander - ADAT

    Focusrite Scarlett OctoPre (8 preamps) - Good

    Focusrite Clarett OctoPre (8 preamps) - Better

    Presonus DigiMax DP88 (8 preamps) - Better

    Audient ASP880 (8 preamps) - Best

    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by John Solomon.