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Q: "How can I record drums with just a two-channel audio interface?"

A Record-Producer.com has a small interface, but he wants to get a big sound. How can he do that?


Question from a Audio Masterclass visitor...

"I am a student of sound production in Glasgow, Scotland. I make music at home with my laptop and Edirol UA-25 soundcard. But I want to go bigger and record drums, but this will need more than the two inputs I have on my interface. Is there a way I can use an extension to increase my number of inputs through the digital output? Or am I just being stupid, and have to buy a bigger soundcard? Please help." Jamie, Scotland.

You need an interface with more inputs, at least eight.

Well, that's the quick answer. There are two alternatives...

One is that you could buy a small mixer and mix the drums into stereo before they go into the interface. This will work absolutely fine, except that you have to get the sound right before you record, and getting drums to sound right is often a tricky business.

The other alternative is a little more adventurous...

How about recording the drums with just one or two microphones, like they did in the old days and seemed to manage quite well?

Something odd happened in recording practice over the years. Back in the 1960s engineers threw away the existing 'rule book' of recording technique. They experimented and found new sounds.

But gradually a new rule book was written that says things like, "The vocal shall always be panned center". "And so should the kick drum and bass guitar."

Also in that book it says that drums should be miked individually, plus one for the hihat and two overheads. That is the way to record drums.

Well, it does seem to work, as it gives very good control at the mixing stage. However it isn't the only way to record drums. You can get an interesting sound with just one mic if you want.

Clearly it may not be a perfect sound, but perfection is BORING. We've heard too much of it. We haven't heard enough of INTERESTING for a while.

So have a go with just one or two mics. Do something different to the crowd.

Oh, while we're here... I'd like to hear some examples of interesting drum recordings.

Please upload your short examples using the 'upload audio' link at the top of the page. You can upload your own recording, or a clip from a commercial record or CD. If it's a commercial track, please include credit details so that we can clear the legal stuff.

By David Mellor Thursday November 30, 2006
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