I spent last weekend experimenting with some different mic positioning. A little gem that came from the session was on the drum kit where i ditched the overheads and went for a 'Mid-Side' technique! It's the first time i'd ever tried this on drums before and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. For those who haven't heard of Mid-Side before, it's a technique used to capture a sound source in stereo using 2 mics, the catch being that the stereo image you end up with isn't really true stereo....i'll try to explain.
In this case i took a large diaphragm condenser mic with a cardioid polar pattern and placed this facing the front of the kit and then took a ribbon mic with a figure of 8 pattern so that the figure of 8 was capturing sound coming from left and right. Heres a good diagram of the setups polar patterns.
In your recording software you need to set up 3 tracks. #1 is for the cardioid which i had facing the drum kit (you'll pan this down the centre) #2 is for the figure of 8 mic which you will want to pan hard left and #3 is a duplicate of track 2 panned hard right with it's phase revesed. This creates what i call a 'false' stereo image which in the right situation can sound great. The best thing about this technique is that you can adjust the level of track #2 and #3 to get a more or less vivid stereo effect. You can also try different compressions/EQ's and revebs etc on the cardioid and fig 8 mics. For example on the recordings i did on the kit i ended up using the forward facing large diaphragm to articulate all of the highs of the cymbals and punch of the kick drum. The figure of 8 ribbon mic is naturally very warm so just tried to complement this with EQ and compression. The result (i think) was two very different sounding mics working together to capture the drum kit as a whole.
I did back this up with close micing on the snare, hi hats and kick drum, but i found that most of the work was done with the mid-side mics.
You might also notice the home made 'sub kick' mic on the bass drum. A great little project which i'll try to cover in another blog.