Audiofanzine Interview with Mixerman
Mixerman, author of Zen and the Art of Recording, Zen and the Art of Mixing, and Zen and the Art of Producing, had a great discussion with Mike Levine of Audiofanzine. Read the rest of the interview here!
Audiofanzine: You talked a lot about recording drums in the book, including the concept of “top down” drum recording. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Well, for a lot of people, the first thing they’ll go for is the kick drum and then the snare drum, and they’ll make those sound fantastic on their own, without any thought about how the entire thing works. Even I used to do that. And then I realized, “Why do I do that when 90% of the information is on the overheads and the rooms [room mics]. I probably accidentally had my overheads in some fabulous spot when I had that “ah ha” moment. I then I realized that. The top down method keeps you from getting in trouble, because your close mics work in relation to the overheads.
Audiofanzine: So when you’re tracking drums, you start by listening through the overheads and getting a good blend without listening to the other mics at first?
It’s the difference between getting all your drum tones and then miking your cymbals, rather than trying to mic the entire kit. Sometimes you do want to just mic the cymbals, like if you want a very, “in your face” kind of sound. Let’s say it’s a metal album, I know I’ll have an “in your face” kick and snare and the cymbals. I don’t necessarily want the whole aggregate of the kit, rather I’m just going to mic the cymbals. Which means I’ll have the mics lower to the cymbals, and try to put the kit together that way. With the aggregate method, however, I’m capturing the image of the kit, and then I’m filling in the missing information. I’m going to actually spend time getting those overheads so that my aggregate balance is the best it can be. If I have the mics up here, and I’m getting a ton of room information and I’m really not getting a good balance, I’m going to bring the mics down a little bit so that everything comes into focus to the point where if I had to live with just those two mics, I could do it.
Audiofanzine: So you just spend a lot of time trying to get the overhead sounding great, and then the other mics are icing on the cake.
Or the room mics — depending on the room. Sometimes the rooms give you the aggregate picture.
Audiofanzine: For people who have a limited amount of gear. What would you say is a good minimal kind of setup? I’ve had some luck with 4-mic setups, two overheads, kick and snare.
I would never use 3 or 4 mics on anyone but a great drummer. That only works if the drummer really has great balance. The greater the balance of the drummer, the less mics you need.
Audiofanzine: Because the drummer has good dynamics?
Yeah. Because their dynamics are good, but more importantly because they play the instrument in balance. If I put two microphones over JR [studio drummer John Robinson] or over Matt Chamberlain — they’re perfectly in balance – you listen to them and you go, “Wow, that sounds really good like that.” You put it over a band drummer and you go, “I’ve got a big problem on the kick drum,” or “I’ve got a big problem on the snare drum.” And you start adding microphones and compressors and you’ve got to create a balance that he’s not capable of creating on his own at this point in his career.
Posted on December 26, 2014, in Music Fans, Music Industry and tagged Art of Mixing, Art of Producing, Art of Recording, Audiofanzine, Hal Leonard Books, mixerman, QandA, Zen. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.