Tips on recording a kick drum
There are a lot of important things to keep in mind when you're recording a kick drum. It seems like it'd be as simple as putting a mic in front of the drum, but there is so much more! Here are some quick tips on recording and mixing a good kick drum.
- Microphone – a good mic will make a difference in the recording no matter what. I personally like the BLUE "kick ball":
I like it because the tone of this mic is very warm in a kick drum, but it also allows for a lot of definition. However, I've recorded kick drums with any range of Mics. As always, the Shure SM58 is a great mic for just about anything!
You can make any mic work, as long as you place it well. Place the mic inside the kick drum, but a little bit outside of the mic hole, and point the mic a bit off center from the kick drum beater. This will keep you from recording too much of the click of the beater. Experiment with moving the mic around and listening to the mix. If there isn't a mic port on the kick drum's front skin, place the mic around 2-4 inches away from the kick drum, near the center of the skin. Experiment with distance to get a sound that's powerful, but defined. You could even try a couple different mics at once on the drum, whether there is a kick port or not.
- Mix – When recording the mic, don't add too many effects to the channel. Keep it simple for recording, as you don't want to record an overly processed sound. The drier, the better, to start off with. Roll off a little low end if you have to, and bring the mid up a little for definition. Too much bass won't mix well; too much mid will sound too "clicky". Experiment! Then, record away! Tell your drummer to take his/her time, and relax.
- Post-recording – add a little gate, compression, and EQ to the mix. Try a gate setting on your gate plugin of around -15dB and a release of around 70 – most gate plugins have these simple settings. This will create a dry sound, and also cut out some of the surrounding noise from the other drums. On compression, try a setting of around 3:1 on the ratio, with a very fast attack and release. For EQ, there are three major points for a kick drum:
- 40-80Hz – this is the most bass-heavy part of the kick drum.
- 350-500Hz – This is the body of the kick drum, the overall space inside of it.
- 2-5KHz – the highest frequencies, where you'll hear the beater clicking, and the reaction of the drum skin.
EQ-ing these frequencies can tune the drum to sound more how you want to hear it. Spend some time experimenting, especially with EQing.
These are just some simple tips on recording a Kick drum. Remember, take your time, relax, and have fun! You'll find the sound you want with some time.