Tips & Techniques

Drum Recording with Dave Pemberton

Dave Pemberton's Drum Recording session walkthrough - Dave shows how he recorded a classic Ludwig kit. The mic's chosen depend on what’s available but in this example Dave chose to use the following:

First off is a Shure SM57 on snare aimed pointing at the centre of the drum. Under the snare is a Sennheiser 424. Toms are each using a a standard 421 on the top of each drum, the mic just far enough from the drum skin so that you can get your fingers under.

Drum recording

Kick drum used a Neumann FET 47 on the outside with an AKG ‘egg’ in the kick facing the beater, an inch from the skin. A pair of U87’s angled at 90 degrees mounted above the kit as overhead mic's, they are reverse panned so it gets a good balance with the snare in the middle and above the middle of the kick drum about 2.5 drum sticks above the snare. With the over head microphones Dave says to move them up for more room or move them down for more cymbals.

There's AKG 451 on cymbals. Placed above the drummers head and just behind where he is sat is an Electrovoice RE20 that’s designed to be the crush microphone with lots of compression to be used but in Dave's view can be the only mic needed to get the drum sound, maybe adding a bit of kick or snare but this mic could easily be swapped out for a Shure SM58 or whatever sound right.

For the room/ambience, in this example Dave is using Coles where in many cases he would choose these as his overhead's, in this room the Coles as room mics and 87’s as overheads worked best. Dave likes to move the drum kit around a room to vary the sound from song to song as having the ‘same old sound’ on each track 'is boring'.

Drum recording

Dave EQ’s on the way in, in this case using Distressors on the kick using SSL mic pre. On most of the kit he is using the desk’s dynamics and EQ, rolling some LF off the overheads. There's just a touch of EQ on the snare, 1178 on overheads and LA4 on snare. The approach is filtering/EQ'ing what’s not needed and making it ‘sound nice’.

The important things are the drummer, the kit, the room. Everything else is secondary, 'if you don’t have those main points covered you’re wasting your time'.

Dave has a long career in the industry having recorded and produced artists including Orbital, The Prodigy, Motorhead, even The Spice Girls.. Having been based at Strongroom for many years Dave has worked at many studios around the World but is now based at his own room near to Manchester, England.

Drum recording

We caught up with Dave at Soundhouse Studios in Liverpool as he likes the (very) big SSL 4k desk, the vast array of outboard and large number of good sounding recording spaces. In this video we don’t see 3 or 4 of the other spaces and hope to record a studio walkthrough in the near future.

Special thanks to everyone at Soundhouse Studios for making this feature possible and for their amazing hospitality. Again, special thanks to Russell Cottier for taking time out of his busy schedule to come and chat with Dave and of course, a huge thank you to Dave Pemberton for letting us catch up with him 22 years since the last feature!!