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Recording Drums with Blumlein Microphone Configurations [Excerpt]

Alright, so this is another X/Y technique using the Blumlein configuration, but this time, instead of having it in front of the kit, we actually have it directly above the kit in parallel to the center line that we’ve drawn between the snare and the kick.

So the idea here is we’re going to get a very balanced and natural image of the kick. Unlike the front of kit, where you’re going to get a slightly roomier snare and kick, you’re going to get the same balance of room and tone directly into each microphone.

So the other thing that’s really cool about this kit is that because it is directly over the center line, and you get the transient energy straight up from the kick and the snare, you actually end up getting a pretty solid mono center, even when you end up having a slightly wider image. So there’s definitely some advantages to doing this.

Of course, this advantage is that it becomes harder to place some of the other mics around this particular setup, and that’s something that you need to consider depending on how complex the kit setup is.

Alright, Matt, take it away.


So just to demonstrate the point of selecting your pickup patterns in a thoughtful way, what I’ve done here is switched the microphones into omni. So what that’s going to do is it’s going to change the directionality of the pickup. Instead of getting the very direct sound from in front of the mic, and the very direct sound from the back, we’re actually going to get an even amount of sound from all around the microphone.

What we’re going to hear now that I’ve done this is the actual width of the image playing back from the speakers is going to contract. It’s going to become a bit more central, and we’re also going to hear a little bit more room tone show up.

Alright, Matt.

[drums, omni mics]

Here is the Blumlein in parallel, meaning instead of having it right in front of the kit, we have it over the kit and pointed down.

[drums, Blumlein over the kit]

I happen to be a big fan of this pickup technique. I find that it always gets me something where the center just feels really solid. Things don’t dance around in sort of a crazy way. I’ve got that really anchored sound, but it also gives me a very wide sound at the same time, so I feel like I get a little bit more benefit down the road. I’ve got that wider image if I want it, I can always tuck it in if I need it a little narrower. It’s just something that I find always works in a predictable way.

Alright, now here we switched it into omni, so remember, we had the mics parallel above the kit, they were in X/Y, I switched them into omni. I’m going to go back and forth between the two and you’ll hear that difference.

[drums, omni]

Figure eight.

[drums, figure eight]


[drums, omni]

You hear that image gets really narrow, and the tone gets a lot darker, because the omni pickup is a darker pickup, so you know, pretty dramatically different, and this is why I make a point of bringing up polar patterns. It makes such a difference at the end of the day.

Now, what I do like about this is again, it’s all dependent on what you’re trying to do. If we want something where we have almost a mono capture with just a little stereo spread and a lot of weight to the low end, a lot of weight to the sound, and get some room in there, like maybe we’re doing a cool, vibey, indie rock kind of thing, this is actually a pretty cool pickup with that X/Y setting to omni. I do dig it. It’s just not going to be what we usually go to. We would have to find a pretty good reason to do it.


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Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is a Grammy nominated and Spellemann Award winning audio engineer from Philadelphia. Matthew has mixed songs for Snoop, Sonny Digital, Gorilla Zoe, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development, 9th Wonder, !llmind & more. Get in touch:
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