Crush Drum Tones with Contact Mics, Tape, and Compression | Experimental Recording Techniques

The pristine clarity of a perfect recording—a great performance captured on vintage mics, run through classic preamps and compressors, faithfully executed with a hint of tube and tape saturation. Today, this is not the goal.

In our first installment of Experimental Recording Techniques, we show you how to get the dirtiest drum sounds possible. Drums that, according to our host Noam Wallenberg, an engineer/producer at Chicago’s Rax Trax Recording, make you “feel like you are inside of a madhouse where drums are being destroyed.”

This is not to say that the great gear at Rax Trax wasn’t employed. You’ll see Noam use a clone of a Neumann U 47, Telefunken and Neve preamps (the studio's classic Neve 1073s were refurbished by BAE), and an 1176 silverface compressor.

But the trick to getting gnarly tones resides in the unorthodox methods, like using a Sennheisser MD421 cardioid dynamic mic as a super-close overhead and putting an AKG C411PP contact mic on the snare, which, as Noam says, “If you put it one place it sounds horrible in one way, and if you put it another place it sounds horrible in a completely different way, and you just try things out.”

Be sure to watch our first Experimental Recording Techniques video above and check back for future installments in the series.

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