If you’ve been doing this recording a mixing thing for at least a little while, then you know that a great mix starts with great recordings. PERIOD!
Of course the instrument and the player are two very important pieces of the puzzle.
Another piece and arguably the most important is mic placement. You can have the best sounding instrument and player, but if you use poor mic placement then you will not capture what you need to capture.
“Well I’m just beginning, how can I know if I am using the right mic technique, Scott?”
First, get some basic knowledge, and second DON’T worry about how your mics look when you are searching for that sound.
Meaning, if you have to position your mic in a way that doesn’t look “right”, but sounds good, then do it! It’s all about the sound your are capturing, not the way the mic looks while doing it.
I hear this all the time, “My mic placement doesn’t look right”. SO! It sounds good so leave it alone and record some awesome music.
No one listening to your song is going to say, “man these drums sound huge, but I can tell they put the mics in weird places”.
Since we are all most likely recording and mixing in our home studios or project studios, each room is different and prob not the best place to record and mix even if we have good acoustic treatment. Our rooms are still flawed because we didn’t spend millions of dollars building them for recording and mixing.
Thats ok! You just have to find that sweet spot.
What you need to do is set up the mics (lets use drums) in a posistion on the drums where you may have seen a tutorial, or read an article on how to mic drums. Start there.
For example, set up your snare mic, record a little short take, and then listen back and analyze.
Then move the snare mic a little, record a small take, listen back and compare that take to the first one and decide which one is better. Repeat as many times as you think necessary. At least 2 times so you know you’re picking the best out of 2 takes.
Thats what I do on EVERY recording I’ve ever done.
A good tip is to listen to a few very good commercially successful mixes in your room and figure out what sounds good to your ears in your room on those songs.
Then use the mic placement technique I mentioned above and try your best to recreate those sounds with just mic placement.
Don’t slap on EQ’s and compressors just yet. Get it right at the Source.
Take it from the legendary engineer himself AL Schmitt, “I don’t use any EQ when I record. I use the mics for EQ”
Al will move his mics around if he needs the sound to be “darker”, “brighter”, less “muddy”, etc etc.
If you approach mic placement this way, your mix will come together a lot quicker and easier.
Also, don’t be afraid to try something different. Some if not most of the mic placement techniques we all use today were discovered by someone early on trying things out.
Take the Glyn Johns drum mic technique. Glyn Johns is known for the Led Zeppelin drum sound as well as recording tons of famous bands.
He said he found this mic placement out on accident. Check out the video below.
You can do it!
Next time you record, Take the time to find the best mic placement for that particular instrument, in your room. The more work you do on the front end will save you hours of mixing headaches and ultimately leave you with better sounding mixes. Remember, get it right at the source.
Leave a comment below and let me know if you have put this into practice. Thanks guys!
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