Way back in the day when I first got started recording bands, I remember feeling very frustrated. I had done all my homework, read a few books that showed a few conventional mic placement options for recording drums, and was all ready for the big day. Of course, that session didn’t go so well and the drums ended up sounding rather embarassing.
I remember posting on a recording forum, “I put all the mics in the right spot, but the drums sound like crap”. Fletcher, from Mercenary Audio, stood up said it bluntly, “If it doesn’t sound good, you DIDN’T put the mic in the right spot”.
This was a hell of a shock for me, but also a tremendous eye opener. It occurred to me that all these little mic placement pictures you see in books, magazines, etc don’t mean a damn thing. In the pursuit of robo audio, anything goes.
I can see how a person just getting started with audio recording may need a little bit of help with ballpark suggestions on where to place the mic…….actually…..SCRATCH THAT! NO, I DONT!
Audio engineering IS the pursuit of mega sound. This “pursuit” business is THE name of the game. PERIOD. If you aren’t in the pursuit business, you aren’t an engineer. You are just a musician with a mic in your hand. PERIOD. Even bothering to show a person a starting place is a bad idea. It implies that you can just follow some diagram and come up with killer tones.
The very first thing a beginner should be shown is that they shouldn’t be shown. If they don’t have a good guess where a mic is supposed to go, they need to go out and figure it out themselves. How? Easy. By listening! By trial! Be error!
I can imagine a few of you are shaking your head, as if we are doing a favor when we tell a beginner that a snare mic should go here, a kick mic should go there, bla bla bla. I guess some people put this engineering thing on a pedestal as if it’s REALLY hard to learn. While engineer is a process, the biggest difference between a beginner and a guy who makes a nice living engineering is the fact that the big engineers accept the fact that there is gonna have to be a pursuit and they don’t give in until they find the magic they are looking for. (There are probably a few other differences, obviously, but I’m positive this is the biggest difference.)
So if you aren’t happy with the sounds you are getting, it may be time to start LOOKING for some better sounds.