Trying to Record Drums, not sounding too good, any ideas?

Hi all,
I have the beta version. I have been playing drums for years along with guitar and bass. I use Gear box for bass. Gear box is a usb/software interface unit that you plug into your computer with a USB port then has software you run with it. You plug your guitar in and it has different amp sounds.
It works great with Audacity. Now what I’m trying to do it record my drums with this uni-drectional mic I have. I run it through the Gear box/software. Sounds like crud. The drums sound like they are a cheap drum set being played in a bathroom or something, terrible recording sound.
I am not good at this recording drums stuff. Anybody have any ideas or have recorded drum tracks with Audacity? Do I need a better/different mic?
Any help/advice would be appreciated…dano

I don’t suppose there is any way for you to post a little of what you have? You can’t do it here on the forum.


Oh, and which mic do you have? Part numbers? Drums are rough, but not impossible.


Yea well the mic is very old, but works fine. I believe I got it years ago at Radio Schack and
that is mostly a vocal type mic? I don’t know anything about mics and I looked it over and there
is no name nor serial number etc…sorry about that…but thanks still if anyone can help out…
If I can get this figured out I have the guitar tracks sounding really nice, just the drums are sounding
really crudy, I know they aren’t the best quality but it sounds exactly like what I’m doing, which is
recording them in the front room as that is where my computer is…thanks, Dano

Drum kits are very loud - close mic’ing drums requires microphones that can handle the very high sound levels.
Recording at a distance will pick up lots of sound that is bouncing around the room.

It is important to cut down the echoes and reverberation in the room a lot.
Get lots of soft furnishings in the room - mattresses, carpets, coats, bedding… hang them around the place - try to break up parallel walls to stop sounds from bouncing directly from one to the other.

It is not easy to get a good drum sound from just one microphone - the minimum that is usually used is a bass drum microphone, and an overhead mic (preferably a pair of overheads). The bass drum mic needs to be able to handle high sound pressure levels (SPL). In the absence of a specialist kick drum mic, you may be able to get away with a dynamic mic such as a Shure SM58. Overhead mics should be able to pick up the high frequencies of the snare and cymbals - small diaphragm condenser mics are often used, such as the AKG C1000S.

Pay attention to tuning and damping your kit - what sounds good at “live” levels will not necessarily stand up well to critical listening at levels much below the pain threshold.

If you are limited to just one microphone, try positioning it on a stand so that it is close to your head while you play, and facing the same direction as you. Move it a little lower to pick up more kick drum - higher for more toms and cymbals.

Do not try to record too loud - keep the recording level low so as to avoid clipping, then use a fast limiter *there is a “fast lookahead limiter” plug in available for Audacity that works well for this sort of thing) to tame the high peaks and allow you to bring the volume level up. As you do this, you will notice a big increase i the amount of reverb and ringing of the drums, which is why it important to keep these low during recording.

Thanks for the great information, that gives me somewhere to start and things to consider/think about.
Now I wish I still have my Roland electric, I could of just plugged that in. Dano

Drums are a challenge for everybody, see: two microphones, above.

Here in Hollywood, this is right up there with capturing a theatrical explosion. “What do you mean you can’t just set one off so I can adjust sound levels…”

Drum impacts exploit every known shortcoming of microphones. They will cause condenser microphone elements to “touch” causing all sorts of damage–physical and electrical. Ribbons do fairly well and people like using them for bass, although one good explosive bass drum beat and no more ribbon. Dynamic (moving coil) microphones are bulletproof (sometimes literally) and will cheerfully try to follow the pressure gradient of a drumbeat, but they will also generate unrestrained voltages and will rip the guts out of the average MicPre. You’ll be into the performance and look over to see little wisps of smoke coming out of your preamp (not really, but this kind of distortion will not be kind to your show).

Most sound meters will not follow a drumbeat. VU meters can’t even see them at all and digital peak meters miss them because of sampling errors. Even the BBC-PPM can have troubles because their specification has certain distortions intentionally built in to the design.

And then there’s the problem of room noise and echo.

Sell the drum set and get that Roland you mentioned.

I know. I wouldn’t get rid of my keyboard, either, but that’s the only convenient way out.


I downloaded the fast lookahead limiter to help record my drums via my laptop, but am still having trouble with 0 db “fuzzy” recording issues. I figured it was a utility that you turn on before you push record. Any ideas?

The Fast Lookahead Limiter is a post-recording effect (as with all other effects in Audacity). When you record, keep the recording level low, but record in 32 bit - avoid clipping during recording - you will then be able to apply the limiter and boost the level without incurring bad distortion.




That has two stereo outputs. How do you have it connected to your computer? Through a mixer? Sound Card Line-In?


I found that running the drum recording through the high and low pass filter really improved it. :stuck_out_tongue: