Snare drum mic

Let's talk about kits and mics, new and old. What are you using? What do you want? What's the difference?

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Snare drum mic

Postby andygriffiths » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:48 pm

Hey, just wondering what other mics you are using on a snare drum? I have a sm57, 421,906e & a 604. What do you use.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Wiz » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:56 pm

well I use a SM57 , rarely sometimes, an audix i5

i did try my KM84 ... once.. I loved it. But I am too scared to use it there... 8) its just too good a mic to destroy with a wayward hit.

scaredy pants Wiz 8)
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Lee » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:54 pm

If you're after a snare drum sound with more "body" 414's work well for that. I also liked the beyer m201 and km84. that's about as adventurous as I have been outside of a 57.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby jasound » Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:42 pm

At the moment I'm loving the AKG 451.
Found by accident really.
I was working with a kit that didn't have much space to
get a snare mic in. We have a 451 with the right angle
Swivel adaptor between the amplifier and capsule, that enabled me to come up from underneath
the snare and fit in the tight space.
Its full sounding and doesn't need much eq, normally with the -10pad in.
As Wiz mentioned you have to trust the prayer. I've had to pull out the old beaten up sm58
a few times when Animal has shown up.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Chris H » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:50 pm

I often use an old sm 56 or AKG 451EB for close mic. Because I mostly use the "overheads" as a major part of the snare sound I have been using these whether I want a brighter or darker sound; Neumann U 87 fig 8, ACM 4 dual ribbon fig 8, AKG 451 EB, or a pair of sony ECM 23 mics.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Kurt » Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:25 am

It didn't take long to get sick of drummers breaking the plastic basket off 57s so I've been using a cheap Audio-Technica artist series mic I picked up for $20 secondhand. The AT has a metal head and has survived several direct hits and sounds pretty damn good!
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Drumstruck » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:58 am

Heil PR-40 - awesomely good on snare - bright and crisp.

For a warmer sound an MD441n.

Sometimes an SM57 underneath too.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby GlennS » Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:01 pm

A studio assistant recently turned me onto using a Rode K2 on snare, sounded great! I generally like condensers on snare, especially LDC, sometimes with a 57 underneath.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Enginearing » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:37 pm

Sennheiser MD-441
Beyer Dynamic M201
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Yanto » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:44 pm

I'm a big fan of the Beyer M201.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Ender » Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:49 pm

Beyer M201 is my favorite, and a cheap ATM650 isn't too bad sometimes.

Out of interest, has anyone had any experience with an ATM450 for snare? I always thought that looked interesting for snare (small size, side address condenser with pad and HPF) but haven't taken the plunge yet.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Lee Cardan » Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:54 pm

I'm finding myself using less and less top mic at the moment
But it's pretty much always a T'Funk M80, M201, or SM57 - through a vintage LA2A for some magic PoP! :ymparty:

Under snare, Neumann TLM102 all day
The sweet spot is so wide, put it anywhere under there and it sounds great - not snarly and harsh like a 57 or 441 can sound. It's always smooth, really smooth and in the mix it doesn't need a thing (well, maybe transient designer usually for sustain). It really picks up the air under there, and adds a real nice and unique top-end component to not only the snare but the kick too. Position for a nice balance of snares / kick beater and I swear you'll love it. I've tried many other mics for the same purpose and none has the same smooth, almost compressed behaviour of the TLM102 (KM74 comes close though)
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Phoenix » Thu May 09, 2013 12:21 am

Beyer Dynamic M201 into an API mic amp (especially) is pretty magic. Albini once referred to the 201 as like a 57 if it were a "real" mic..... God that guy is harsh!
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby The Tasmanian » Thu May 09, 2013 8:54 am

I think the Preamp is almost as important as the snare mic.
Every different mic and pre combination will alter the sound.
So in effect, EQing when we combine the 2 elements.(and compressing when driven)

Recording a snare with a Neve (no EQ) and a API (no EQ) - really different sound.

Pre's also load up different - most great mic pre's have a sweet spot where the preamp goes into overload, compression etc. They change sound at this point due to how they interact with the mic/sound coming in.

I'm with Albini - 57's are over rated average mics (about $10 worth of parts - if that).
A 201 kills it every time.(and many others)
Everytime I think I'll throw up a 57 on something, i stop myself and say - surely you can do better than that ?.. and I always do.
Same on guitar amps - there are so many great mic's to chose from, and the sheep follow the 57 path, again most people ignore the chain after as if its not all that important.
Having read somewhere that some famous dude put a 57 on guit amp - so they do it, never considering there was an important relationship with the chain after, and how it really effects the sound/detail of the mic.

I find snare drum interaction with a preamp very important..
When planning a drum recording session, I think about the Snare/Pre combo almost first, then kick, etc etc.
After all - the snare is usually the most often heard & hit drum in a recording - so it deserves closer attention to detail. (which there is not a lot of on a $10 SM57)
Intimately getting to know your preamp's interactions with various mic's - especially on snare
Same as we have to do with a vocal mic and preamp combo - there is a sweet spot where the magic is.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Phoenix » Thu May 09, 2013 9:14 am

The Tasmanian wrote:I think the Preamp is almost as important as the snare mic.
Every different mic and pre combination will alter the sound.
So in effect, EQing when we combine the 2 elements.(and compressing when driven)

Recording a snare with a Neve (no EQ) and a API (no EQ) - really different sound.

Pre's also load up different - most great mic pre's have a sweet spot where the preamp goes into overload, compression etc. They change sound at this point due to how they interact with the mic/sound coming in.

I'm with Albini - 57's are over rated average mics (about $10 worth of parts - if that).
A 201 kills it every time.(and many others)
Everytime I think I'll throw up a 57 on something, i stop myself and say - surely you can do better than that ?.. and I always do.
Same on guitar amps - there are so many great mic's to chose from, and the sheep follow the 57 path, again most people ignore the chain after as if its not all that important.
Having read somewhere that some famous dude put a 57 on guit amp - so they do it, never considering there was an important relationship with the chain after, and how it really effects the sound/detail of the mic.

I find snare drum interaction with a preamp very important..
When planning a drum recording session, I think about the Snare/Pre combo almost first, then kick, etc etc.
After all - the snare is usually the most often heard & hit drum in a recording - so it deserves closer attention to detail. (which there is not a lot of on a $10 SM57)
Intimately getting to know your preamp's interactions with various mic's - especially on snare
Same as we have to do with a vocal mic and preamp combo - there is a sweet spot where the magic is.


Great post Chris! I agree with you in principle but nevertheless I think that the 57 does have its place. I treat the thing as a radical band pass filter so I don't have to EQ when in fact I would need to with another mic... For instance they're a good top end compliment to a 421 or R121 on guitars....

Has anyone mentioned the snare mic choice in relation to how hard the drummer is twating (sic?) the thing? ..... another important consideration.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Drumstruck » Thu May 09, 2013 9:40 am

For an experiment I tried a Little Blondie (omni condensor) under snare the other day - I was really testing some pres with various mics but it turned out to be a really effective way to control the amount and brightness of the snare buzz (15" Ludwig snare fyi).
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby The Tasmanian » Thu May 09, 2013 9:58 am

Nat - that combo of 121 and almost any mic is really great,
When I approach tracking an amp with 2 or more mic's, I make sure that each mic sonically holds its own.

Can be used on its own, plus the combo, and all works together and is in phase.
So I can use just the 121, or a combo etc - giving me many variations of sound.

So in this case, listening to a 57 on its own to use in a guitar track, I rarely like it.

In the context of tracking an whole albums guitar parts, variation in the guitar sound can be made by going back to one mic in songs/sections, combo's in other sections/ chorus' etc.
But for me, each mic must hold its own, then my choices are huge.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Paul Maybury » Thu May 09, 2013 12:29 pm

Hi I agree, the 57 doesn't do it for me on snare (or guitar).
I prefer any of the EV Re range, or an EV DS35 ( this has a big proximity boost at around 200hz, great for fat 70's snare sounds), AKG D1200 and about once in a blue moon, an MD441 or an old Sony Ecm electret..I like the Beyer 201 as well for girth and "class".
Under snare I like Coles ball and Biscuit, Re 20 if it fits, Ev 674. Sometimes a wide cardioid LDC like a Sony C38b.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby ChrisW » Thu May 09, 2013 1:57 pm

It's all about your own ear and taste i think.
I just spent 8 days recording snares in 5 different acoustic spaces with a bunch of mics and different consoles/pre's.
The old 57 certainly didn't lack anything for me, or for my producer partner.
We were introduced to the Beyer 201 for the first time at Studio 301.
Neither of us had used it before. I quite liked it, my partner thought it was ok, nothing special. In the end, we both still preferred the 57.
Everyone loves the Beyer 201 here. So everywhere we went, the local engineer recommended it.
I'm just listening back to our recordings now. Often a Beyer, a 57, and a km84, D19 or 414 all on snare. The 57 is right up there with all the rest. The Beyer and D19 sound crisper, brighter, which neither me or my partner really go for in a snare.
They are all great though, it has to be said. No wrong choice. I guess it's just governed by the drum you are recording and the sound you are trying to achieve.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Chinagraf » Thu May 09, 2013 11:34 pm

I like a 57 it has a punch to it, I stick a Gefell M300 together with it and it adds the detail the 57 lacks. I also reckon your choice of overheads plays a big part in the equation as well.
I got a great sound with an Audix i5 recently, but really it was the snare itself rather than the mic. It was an old 60's one a Star brand, it sounded kinda compressed straight off the drum. I think the drummer I work with paid 50 bucks for it on evilbay but it beat out a bunch of more expensive ones we had.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Linear » Fri May 10, 2013 8:31 pm

I'd take ChrisT up one and say that I reckon pre matters more than mic choice - on drums it's all about slew rate.

Give me a 57 with a great pre (neve/QE) over a great mic with a crap pre ANY day.

I like 201's - mainly because the body of the mic goes all the way to the end. So essentially it's a tube of metal with nothing that can be broken/dented. Oh an I love C42's on snare bottom.

Conversely you can knock the end of a 57 off almost completely with not too much effort.

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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby The Tasmanian » Sat May 11, 2013 9:54 am

So true.
Slew rate is everything, but some of the slightly slower class A pre's can sound great because they are a little bit slow!... (meaning now there is a compressor in the chain..ADSR..synthesis even...)
Tranformer's being the other major flavour. One in the mic, and a couple in a pre, all interacting together between the player and the recorder. All level dependent and independent of each other.
If a modern 57 was all I had to use, I would definitely change the transformer.

Another thing about a 57 is - its not a great mic on a lot of preamps, on a nice fat Neve/Q8/API they do sound good, on other cleaner /pre's they sound nasty. (but almost anything sounds good on the above)
I remember the really early model 57's sounding good.

Which indicates to me that the pre is colouring and loading the sound of a 57 very much - making a cheap mic sound great. It just happens to work for some.
I prefer to capture a lot more of the open top end with other mics (201) - as I can easily roll it off, but cant be added as easily to a 57 because its already lacking in detail, so in a mix when I need to brighten the snare, all I'm doing is bringing up cymbal spill in the snare mic.
That's the fundamental reason why I dont like 57's, they dont handle EQ as well as more open sounding mic's.
I went through a period for many years where I used them day in and day out on snares, and getting to the mix stage needing more brightness in the snare, I found had too many negative side affects with h/h cymb spill.

The most shitty mic in the world can sound great on a killer mic pre.(+ EQ = even better)
but not the other way around..

In Chris W's recent tracking situation, Chris you may like it as a basis for best choice in tracking, but with a full mix you may need a more open mic for detail/brightness once placed around vocals, guitars, cymbals etc etc.
..that's what Ive learned through the process of recording snare and mixing it over and over for years....(decades..)

detail is your friend...(and even more is preamp character)
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby ChrisW » Sat May 11, 2013 10:08 am

True.
We definitely aren't working with dense mixes, and my style of drumming doesn't work with hard rock/metal music for example, with walls of guitars.
But the 57 is still a standard snare mic, used by thousands of great engineers and producers.
Also, much of our snare sound is being captured by secondary mics like overheads. We mostly used Coles 4038, but also km84's and U77's. Also an RCA ribbon about 4ft from the drum, at snare height.
Probably the brightest mic we placed right on the snare was a vintage D19.
Mic pres were Neve, Q8, Api and Harrison.
I probably like KM84 best on snare, but it prefers medium volume playing, rather than loud rimshots.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Wiz » Sat May 11, 2013 10:55 am

I am recovering from shoulder surgery , so not much doing, plenty of thinkin'


Snare mics, and snare sound.

I guess its all about transients, and artificial sustain, artificial enhancement of the source (EQ)

If you have a mic, pre or compressor in the way, you are messing with the transient.

If you have a compressor, your release time, impacts sustain.

Let alone, EQ and the artificial body it can bring, and removing of ring etc.

Proximity effect and off axis response (hi hat bleed and your subsequent EQ limitations caused thereby)

Preamp type, Compressor type, EQ type and.... Microphone type all play their part.

Baffling how we get anything recorded in the first place eh?

8)
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby ChrisW » Sat May 11, 2013 5:48 pm

Right drum, right mic, right room for me.
Very little or no EQ. never any compression - at least on recording input.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Wiz » Sat May 11, 2013 6:44 pm

ChrisW wrote:Right drum, right mic, right room for me.
Very little or no EQ. never any compression - at least on recording input.



Is the choice of no compression at recording time Chris, one of it interfering with your playing? Or one of not wanting to commit to something at that point that may not work out?
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby ChrisW » Sat May 11, 2013 10:05 pm

Both.
But the ultimate goal is to achieve the best drum sound with as little intervention at the time of tracking as possible.
Once great raw sounds are on your HD, you can mess with them as much as you want.

Why do you need to compress a snare at the time of recording? To level out the performance, or to create a particular sound?
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Wiz » Sat May 11, 2013 10:27 pm

ChrisW wrote:Both.
But the ultimate goal is to achieve the best drum sound with as little intervention at the time of tracking as possible.
Once great raw sounds are on your HD, you can mess with them as much as you want.

Why do you need to compress a snare at the time of recording? To level out the performance, or to create a particular sound?



In my case it's both, but I ain't a drummers left earlobe 8)

I guess, I am trying to get as close to a finished sound as early as possible. I find eq and compression part of that.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby Wiz » Sun May 12, 2013 11:57 am

Heres what I did yesterday...

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/13120658/snare.aif


Image
Image
Image

Here is my black beauty 6.5 snare, mic'd with a SM57

I had recorded it through 5 different preamps, and this example uses the BAE 1073 DMP.

The drum has no dampening on it at all, its tuned, how it was tuned (remember I have had shoulder surgery and I aint functioning real well just yet).

The order in the audio example is as follows.

4 hits, always the same 4 hits

1. Snare as mic'd

2. Snare gated

3. Snare gated and 550B Api EQ (note how it sounds a little compressed even though it isn't)

4. gate/EQ/ FC 500 fet comp

5. gate/EQ/ LA 500 opto comp

6. gate/EQ FMR RNC

7. gate/EQ FMR RNLA

8. gate/EQ Drip LA2A


all the compressors are adjusted for around 4dB gain reduction with att and release controls set to sound best for each unit, those units that have att and release controls.

I find it interesting, how different everything sounds, and how the API 550 seems to give some comp, and this is the same four hits, same mic same EQ, just different compressors...



Oh, the EQ settings on the API 550B are

all peak, no shelf

+2dB @ 7Khz

+2dB @ 3Khz

-12dB @ 500Hz

+9dB @ 200Hz


So, you could if you were inclined use the first 4 snare hits and run it through something yourself... for instance I would love to hear the first 4 snare hits, through a 1073,1081 for example.
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Re: Snare drum mic

Postby audioio » Sun May 12, 2013 11:27 pm

That's really neat. How did you do the timestamping on a raw AIF?
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