2 Ways to Record Drums with Spire Studio

July 9, 2018 | by Matt Hines, Audio Multimedia Professional, iZotope

2 Ways to Record Drums with Spire Studio (1)

Recording a great drum sound can be annoyingly obtuse—it requires a decent amount of equipment (mics, cables, interface) in addition to technical know-how.

Beyond that, there are several different mic techniques to record drums, such as multi/close mic’ing (whereby each drum has an independent, somewhat isolated mic channel), and more classic drum sounds with fewer mics like the famed Glyn Johns method.

Spire Studio makes recording drums incredibly simple, while still ensuring a good sound. Here’s we’ll cover two different ways to record drums.

1. Record drums using Spire Studio’s microphone

Spire Studio’s omni-directional condenser microphone, in tandem with iZotope’s secret DSP (digital signal processing) sauce, can capture a full drum kit with a well rounded sound. It might be all you need! The easiest, cable-free way to record drums is using Spire Studio by itself.

Here are the steps:

1. Position Spire Studio so that the microphone is facing the drum kit, approximately 2 feet in front of the kick drum, and about 1 foot above the ground. Angle the Spire Studio microphone so that it’s pointing between the kick drum “hole” and the snare drum.

2. Press the SoundCheck button on Spire Studio, and then play your loudest drum solo for a few seconds so Spire Studio can calibrate. This sets optimal input gain staging (for a powerful drum sound, with low background noise) and also sound shaping (by changing the frequency response—much like a tone knob on a guitar amp).

3. Once you’ve recorded a drum track, on the Spire app’s visual mixer, you may wish to toggle between the Stereo and Mono settings for a wide sound or a more intimate, narrow sound. You may find turning this setting off gives you the most powerful low end for the kick drum, but either can sound good.

2. Record drums using Spire Studio’s microphone and Grace Design preamps (Glyn Johns method)

As mentioned in the link above, this method has resulted in some of the most iconic drum sounds in music history. Spire Studio makes obtaining this sound simple, without sacrificing quality. This technique typically uses four microphones, but can be closely emulated with two mics.

Here are the steps:

1. Position Spire Studio as mentioned above in the first example.

2. Plug a microphone into Spire Studio’s Input 2.

This microphone is intended to capture more of the snare / cymbal ambience of the kit. There are two positions you might try with this microphone. You could try it 2.5 dB directly above and pointing down at the snare. Or you could try it slight behind the drummer’s left shoulder pointing at the snare / hi-hat. The best type of microphone to use here would be something bi-directional such as the Coles 4038, a ribbon mic, or a bi-directional large diaphragm condenser mic, the latter of which you can power using Spire Studio’s phantom power.

Experiment with moving Spire Studio closer to the drum kit for a punchier, tighter sound. Move it back and forth and find what sounds most appealing to you (it’s all variations on a theme of good).

If you happen to own a kick drum mic (such as the AKG D112), try plugging this into Spire Studio’s Input 1, and putting it right at the kick drum sound hole. You’ll lose a more direct snare sound, and have to rely on the second mic for that, but you’ll get a very focussed, isolated kick sound.

Whether you used Spire Studio’s mic, or a separate mic in Input 1 to capture the kick drum, select Mono in Spire’s visual mixer, and Stereo for the microphone using Input 2.

You’ll now have a wider snare / hi-hat / tom-tom spread, and a narrow punchy kick.

Conclusion

While Spire Studio’s Grace Design preamps sound fantastic, and can be used as described above with all kinds of microphones, you may find Spire Studio itself is all you need, getting you that great sound without needing to spend a ton on gear.