Mike Nehra Brings Together His Favorite Mics For Recording Drums
Before Vintage King sold its first piece of gear, our co-founders Mike and Andrew Nehra owned a recording studio in Detroit and spent their time tracking artists like Kid Rock and their own band, Robert Bradley's Blackwater Suprise. To celebrate our Microphone Mission, we asked Mike to talk about his process for miking up drums, one of his favorite parts of recording and live sound. We've packaged Mike's picks together to pass on the savings to you and let him explain how he used these microphones in both settings.
During the early days of Vintage King, Andy and I were touring in our band, Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise. While we were out on the H.O.R.D.E Festival and playing large arenas with Dave Mathews Band, we had Ross Hogarth acting as our FOH engineer and we'd blow away most live sound engineers with our simple drum miking. We used a modified Glyn Johns arrangement, but with mics a little less sensitive and better tailored for live use. There would be a AKG D12 on kick, 4" away from the front head and a pair of Beyer M 160s placed equidistant from the snare. One as a mono overhead and one to the side of the floor tom. Then we'd put a Shure 57 on snare for some direct signal mixed in, which would help make the snare cut. The other engineers couldn't belive how big and natural our drums sounded live without traditional direct mixing. It works in the studio amazingly as well, especially in rooms that don't sound the best where a little more isolation is needed.
While recording/producing Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, my brother Andy and I would often use the Glyn Johns mic technique. We'd place a 47 FET perfectly positioned a few inches outside of a double-headed kick drum. The 47 FET takes very high SPL and doesn't close up, so it creates this big, punchy and booming kick sound. One Coles 4038s is placed as a mono overhead and one to the side of the floor tom. The Coles are dark as a ribbon mic goes, which makes the kit sound full and the cymbals never thin or splashy. We'd always use the Shure 57 (the Granelli G5790 is a Shure 57 w/ a modified right angle), on the snare for some direct signal, just to make it pop a bit more in the mix. It's amazing how large and natural the drums sounded. Focus on creating the perfect sound with just the 47 FET and Coles while mixing in a tiny bit of direct snare. We'd add subtle creative compression to the Coles and get some mind blowing sounds!
Check out the results of Mike's drum recording techniques with some tracks from Robert Bradley's Blackwater Suprise below.