Spotlight: SDC on Overheads

Our spotlight feature focuses on small diaphragm condenser mics used on capturing the overhead audio picture of a drum kit. The object being to get a full soundscape of the kit – specifically the cymbals – but also the tone of the toms and snare.  There are several tried and true configurations, XY, MID-SIDE, ORTF and AB/Spaced Pair, but just recently I ran across the Recorderman configuration and I have to say, I have not looked back.  Here’s why:  A) Matched pairs are not necessary.  Just two cardioid mics and they can even be different types.  Spoiler Alert, that’s what we did in the sessions below.  B) While a little persnickety to get set up, once you figure it out, it is super easy.  C) The “BISHY-NESS” of my overhead recordings all but disappeared with this technique!  One of the most difficult issues to overcome in a home studio is the lack of height and the resulting early reflections off the ceiling, especially in drum overheads.  The Recorderman solved this for me.  D) Lastly, it just sounds like the kit.  I don’t know any better way to describe it.  All the other methods sound ok but I always struggled with setting the overheads, bringing in the snare only to fall back to gating and to fall back further to triggering once the gating got on my nerves.

The following sessions are all created using the Recorderman technique with a Neumann TLM103, as the front or over the snare mic and 8 others, including the Shure KMS137 and SM81, Neumann KM184, Peluso CEMC06, Rodes and Lewitt mics. The mics range in price from $100 to  about $1,500 for a pair. If you are not familiar with the technique, there is an image included with each session giving an overview.

TIP: Launch a session below and click the “A/B” button on any two channels to easily audition between two mic signals.  When in the A/B mode, clicking the red “X” removes that mic and brings up a list of the other mics in the session. This allows you to stay in A/B mode while you compare more mics.

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