Tips & Techniques

Austen Kilburn talks with Mike Exeter about Drum Recording

The Floor Mic Technique discussed and demonstrated at Gospel Oak Studios

Austen Kilburn met with Mike Exeter to talk about getting the best possible drum sound on a tight budget and in a room not designed for recording.

Austen Kilburn and Mike Exeter place a door in front of the drum kit

Gospel Oak Studios (Birmingham, UK) kindly let us shoot a drum recording workshop feature with two excellent producer / engineers.

Austen Kilburn and Mike Exeter both hail many moons ago from the sadly bulldozed DEP International Studios, better known as UB40's Studio. On a sunny early evening a bunch of engineers who have worked there gathered on an unofficial meetup to talk recording and production at Gospel Oak. This video was shot in between chatting about everything from guitar cabs to favourite mics and we are planning further features with Mike and Austen in the near future.

placing microphones on the drums

This feature is in two sections; In the first eight minutes Mike and Austen chat about room mic placement and adaptation of the now famous 'floor mic technique' championed by Clint Murphy here on RP. The second two minute segment contains a few audio samples using SM57's.

The studio, in this room, has a carpet on the floor. We liked this as it enabled us to demonstrate how someone on a zero budget can have a good stab at recording drums in a domestic environment. Naturally, a posh studio with excellent acoustics are highly desirable and listening to Clint Murphy's examples you can see what is possible but sometimes we have to make the most of what we have, which is usually not much. For that reason we show that a standard room with carpet can be used as a fairly decent drum room. It's pretty easy to lay your hands on a few Sure SM57's so why not unscrew a door and lay that in front of the kit or maybe not even bother doing that, just point the mics as shown here right at the carpeted floor? The audio examples show the kind of sound that you can expect - please remember that these samples are of just the room / floor mics and there are no other mics on the kit.

deciding where to put the shure sm57's on the floor

Ideally, you'd have at least a mic on the snare and on the kick and the floor mics would be compressed to oblivion and back, then fed in to the mix but some may just be happy with the room mics if push came to shove!

Austen mentions in the first section of the video that it can be worth, assuming you have close mics on the kit too, adding a bit of delay to the floor mics. This can help extend the illusion of space and size to the room and kit. Anyway, please check out our other drum recording tips and feel free to get in contact with your tips, send your video in or have us come to you.

Special thanks to Barry Bayliss at Gospel Oak Studios for the time and location.

Austen Kilburn is on Facebook, contact him there

Mike Exeter is on Facebook so contact him there

Mike Exeter, Dan Sprig and Austen Kilburn at Gospel Oak Studios

L-R Mike Exeter, Dan Sprig and Austen Kilburn at Gospel Oak Studios