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Djembe recording
Old 19th August 2005
  #1
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🎧 15 years
Djembe recording

Anyone have experience recording djembe? Any thoughts on mic selection/placement? Should I approach it like a conga? The musician will be in in a 317sq ft. drum booth with an 18ft ceiling (he's accompanying a singer/guitarist and they will be tracking live).

I may just go with a pair of close-miced 57's... but also may try to work in my Royer SF12 instead (at some distance, of course... ala overheads). Or a pair of mkh40s as "overheads"; I like the exagerrated response of those mics on drums.

We have a nice mic cabinet - please fire away with suggestions.
Old 19th August 2005
  #2
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7 Hz's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
You can almost mic a djembie like a kit, with one close mic on the skin (dynamic), and overheads / room / ambience mics, as well as you can mic up the 'opening' at the bottom (if used on the floor and tilted i.e. the player is seated) - like a kick drum :-) may be too fierce though...

One nice well placed mic about 1 foot away will do just as well possably better depending on the room / song / drum / player.

fingers crossed they can play... a lot of djembie players just flap about
Old 19th August 2005
  #3
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I like either a top and bottom miking approach, ideally starting with a FET47 on the bottom and any number of mics with a drum-flattering transient response on top. I've has good luck with KM84s, 4050s, 421s, KM86s, etc. I've also gotten cool sounds by miking the side of the shell with an AT 4050. Something about it seems to get the natural sound of the drum without any extended hype. Of course, I've also done lots of weird things like ambient miking and stacking lots of tracks of djembe, too, and an MS setup in front of the player can also sound great.

Hope this helps.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
Old 19th August 2005 | Show parent
  #4
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Hz
fingers crossed they can play... a lot of djembie players just flap about
I'm with you... fingers have been crossed!
Old 19th August 2005
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robobo1
Anyone have experience recording djembe? Any thoughts on mic selection/placement? Should I approach it like a conga? The musician will be in in a 317sq ft. drum booth with an 18ft ceiling (he's accompanying a singer/guitarist and they will be tracking live).

I may just go with a pair of close-miced 57's... but also may try to work in my Royer SF12 instead (at some distance, of course... ala overheads). Or a pair of mkh40s as "overheads"; I like the exagerrated response of those mics on drums.

We have a nice mic cabinet - please fire away with suggestions.
You can't really approach it like a conga, because it's hit way harder (if the player is happening), and it's usually a bigger drum (unless you got one of those counter-espionage djembe playas!!)

Any combination with at least the option of a 421/ or 441 for lower frequencies (bigger djembes) on any skin drum should give you some magic.

The 421 almost always makes me happy on skins in almost any room, with any player!! JMHO, but definitely worth a try.

Also, the newer higher end Audix tom mics might be worth a try, as well. My drummer Art Bernstein, who has an endorsement from them through his drum guru, Dom Famularo, is currently in the process of trying all these new Audix mics out. Could be interesting

RE20's or any kick drum mic might be happening, as well, if you have the right room, pres, and compression. Surprisingly, the presonus and oram multi channel pres might give you a clean articulated percussion recording - if that's what you're going for, without breaking the bank.

Might be good to blend in mono or stereo ohs (or ambient mics) with the small diaphragm 84's or any serious large diaphragm condensor (and obviously watch the phase - duh!) flown high to higher for articulation, air, and ambience.

Just some thoughts, good luck!!!
Old 19th August 2005 | Show parent
  #6
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Berolzheimer's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Hz

fingers crossed they can play... a lot of djembie players just flap about
Drum circle dudes....I call'em Barney Rubbles. You kow, Budabudabudabudabudabudabudabudabudabudabudabudabudabudabuda etc etc etc.
Old 19th August 2005 | Show parent
  #7
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De chromium cob's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Last djembe recording- DPA 4011 on top, Shure KSM32 on bottom...
Old 20th August 2005 | Show parent
  #8
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🎧 15 years
Thanks for all the replies everyone!

Some good points here, I'll let you all know what I end up using.

(De chromium... have you experienced the fuse issue with those Furman units?..... if you unplug one while the head unit is powered on, the fuse blows every time!)
Old 20th August 2005 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
Cool

I definitely get best results with a kick drum mike on the bottom and a sdcondenser on the top. When djembe players sit and play they often move the drum around, so we usually get a chair they can angle the drum under, and put a tape marker on the floor where the part of the base of the drum resting on the floor is.
Most djembes have a very pronounced pitch - a low tone in the 75Hz range - I always need to deal with this also.

cheers
Old 20th August 2005 | Show parent
  #10
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
It depends on what you want from the drum. If you want all the bottom end you'll need to put a mic on or near the bottom of the drum. I've put them inside and to me, it never sounds as full as having a mic just slightly outside and looking at or just into the bottom rim. It can get huge and out of control really quickly so you might want to either compress it slightly, use a high pass filter or other EQ or both.

All your attack, slap and finger noise comes from the top head so putting a mic there is a must. I'll always check polarity and then sum them to a single track. Sometimes I've managed to get the right sound for the track from a single mic, usually a small diaphragm condensor.
Old 20th August 2005 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by De chromium cob
Last djembe recording- DPA 4011 on top, Shure KSM32 on bottom...
Sayyyyyyyyyyy, what's that big white boxy looking mic in the corner - some new off axis ambient miking technique you tryinna sneak by us??

Hit me back with the 411 on that mic, yo.

Nice photos - comin' wit duh deepness, yo.
Old 20th August 2005 | Show parent
  #12
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'd only mic the bottom if going for a specific effect - it can't possibly be a realistic impression of the instrument to shove a mic underneath it as the 'boom' will be massively over-emphasised. I never saw anyone listening to a Djembe with their head down there!

I like to record percussion in stereo so I'd probably use an XY SDC pair (M300) out in front of the instrument, although I've had good success with a single M930 in this position as this mic has excellent clarity and bass response.

Haven't had the chance to try my Avenson STO-2's out yet for this application but I will certainly be checking them out.

And when my Brauner Phantom C arrives...

I hope to post some clips of all of this.
Old 20th August 2005 | Show parent
  #13
Here for the gear
 
Lazymits's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I record many african artists at my studio and they sqeeze many tones out from their djembes, dunduns.... They also play really loud!.
Had ok recordings with a 4050 top and At 2500 bottom ( the room is so important, as usual).
But as some said the bottom mic is usually too much.
Then arrived my last gearslut aquisition? heh GR ME1NV and AEA R84 heh . Placed it on top not to close and suddenly the transients are there along with all the 'meat ' from the drum.
Ribbons are good for drums, perc , and u can eq later for some top end to cut thru the mix. I'm happy with this sound now and so are them.
Old 20th August 2005 | Show parent
  #14
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🎧 15 years
Would it be bad to mic a djembe in a dead room (carpeted/etc)?
Old 20th August 2005 | Show parent
  #15
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Berolzheimer's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterapi
Would it be bad to mic a djembe in a dead room (carpeted/etc)?
Not hard, just use some combo of the techniques described here, but the drum will behave differently and it can be frustrating for the player.
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #16
AB3
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Personally I do not like the mic on the bottom idea (unless it is a third mic to a stereo pair) Afterall, no one reasonably listens to one of these instruments from the bottom. There should be plenty of bass in front of it and from the top.
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AB3
Personally I do not like the mic on the bottom idea (unless it is a third mic to a stereo pair) Afterall, no one reasonably listens to one of these instruments from the bottom. There should be plenty of bass in front of it and from the top.
Nobody listens to a kick drum with their head inside it, either. Doesn't mean it isn't a good way to record it.

Normally when you hear a djembe or Dumbek or darbuka you hear the bass part of it coming back from the room- but sometimes the room doesn't support it well enough. and sometimes the music might call for that part of the sound t be exaggerated, anyways. As always in recording you have to decide on a case by case basis. Put up both mics, use the bottom one or not depending on how things are going. If nothing else record it on a seperate track & leave yourself (or whoever is mixing) the option.
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #18
AB3
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Putting a mic in a kick drum also accomplishes picking up the beater sound better. Nevertheless, you make a good point. I would think the room is factor, the particular drum (i.e. there are so many sizes, types and sounds of djembes, skin tightness,humidity and tone, and definitely the player. Some players are better at bringing out the bass sound (dum in a doumkek, etc.) I have been recording handrums for about 25 years and I would say the best recordings DID NOT have the mic in the back of the drum but a stereo pair (or single mic) in front of the drum with a good player. I can even get great bass from a riq (tambourine with a goat/fish skin) with a mic in front of it. Depending on the players style may have a bearing on mic location and pointing.
Obvious phase problems to deal with as well.
Nevertherless, I know at least one dumbek player that insists on having a mic in the back of the drum and that is all there is to it with him.
But by all means, try it all different ways!
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AB3
Putting a mic in a kick drum also accomplishes picking up the beater sound better. Nevertheless, you make a good point. I would think the room is factor, the particular drum (i.e. there are so many sizes, types and sounds of djembes, skin tightness,humidity and tone, and definitely the player. Some players are better at bringing out the bass sound (dum in a doumkek, etc.) I have been recording handrums for about 25 years and I would say the best recordings DID NOT have the mic in the back of the drum but a stereo pair (or single mic) in front of the drum with a good player. I can even get great bass from a riq (tambourine with a goat/fish skin) with a mic in front of it. Depending on the players style may have a bearing on mic location and pointing.
Obvious phase problems to deal with as well.
Nevertherless, I know at least one dumbek player that insists on having a mic in the back of the drum and that is all there is to it with him.
But by all means, try it all different ways!
DAMMMN, goatfish????? JEEEEZ - Talk about comin' wit duh deepness!!

Just kidding, I've recorded lots of hand percussion, as well, and I've found, similarly, a stereo pair - ld condensors - in front in a really nice wooden room or hall can be killer
Definitely not a rule, though. No rules. Well, ok, some rules. Like no swimming after eating a 7 course meal.
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #20
AB3
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On behalf of any goats and fish, I wish I had not said that part! Let's say a nice synthetic skin that is not prone to changes with humidity and termperature!
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AB3
On behalf of any goats and fish, I wish I had not said that part! Let's say a nice synthetic skin that is not prone to changes with humidity and termperature!
You don't have to APOLOGIZE - Goats and Fish are my MAIN instruments, these days!!!!!
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #22
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Well I've been playing hand drums for oh, 35 years or so & recording for around 25 and I have to say, goatfish skin is the best on riqs!
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #23
AB3
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🎧 15 years
A riq is one of the most underestimated instruments. It is the glue - the motor, etc. And quite frankly, I never found a synthetic that sounded as good as a goat skin or fish skin. I think the djembe uses a cow skin or water buffalo, or something like that. But anyway, it really does all relate to the tone and the recording.
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AB3
A riq is one of the most underestimated instruments. It is the glue - the motor, etc. And quite frankly, I never found a synthetic that sounded as good as a goat skin or fish skin. I think the djembe uses a cow skin or water buffalo, or something like that. But anyway, it really does all relate to the tone and the recording.
I once tracked this amazing NY wind player, Matt Darriau. And he had a wind instrument - I believe from Bulgaria, made out of the ENTIRE body of a goat - you would BLOW THROUGH the entire body from head to ass - THAT is the single most intense instrument I've seen in my life. Matt's a fantastic player - all the klezmer stuff, tons of winds including Eastern European, Arabic and Chinese winds, etc. - Amazing. Super guy to work with, too.
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #25
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Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by peterapi
Would it be bad to mic a djembe in a dead room (carpeted/etc)?
Get a piece of plywood to put under thre Djembe. Also us it when you record congas.
Old 21st August 2005
  #26
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olli's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
for bottom, place a shure beta91 on the floor. for top, look replys above. take care of phase.
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #27
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye
I once tracked this amazing NY wind player, Matt Darriau. And he had a wind instrument - I believe from Bulgaria, made out of the ENTIRE body of a goat - you would BLOW THROUGH the entire body from head to ass
OK - that's funny! heh

Is the goat alive or dead, and do different breeds give different timbres?

Any pics?
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #28
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye
I once tracked this amazing NY wind player, Matt Darriau. And he had a wind instrument - I believe from Bulgaria, made out of the ENTIRE body of a goat - you would BLOW THROUGH the entire body from head to ass - THAT is the single most intense instrument I've seen in my life.h
Dare I ask which end you blow into?
Old 21st August 2005 | Show parent
  #29
urumita
 
7rojo7's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Depends on the style of music and even on the individual songs.
Close mic the top (like a snare, try a 421 but a 57 or a 604 will do, I use a Stedman N90, a ribbon might be nice) and bottom (on the hole at an angle, be careful because obstruction in the hole can change the pitch, if the player doesn't use a stand [I don't] you can use a small clip on type of mic like an SM98 or AKG reinforced with some gaffer's tape) and you're essentially getting the instrument "dry". You can change the pitch of the resonance of a djembe or similar floor standing drums by lifting it from the floor with your legs, it really helps to mute the bass and keep your rhythms tight when they need too be or really slam the bass too. If the player uses a stand you have a greater choice of mics to use.
Mic from a foot away (or even2) like the 4011 in the picture and you'll already have some ambience and bass from the room if the room allows it, you could even put a mic on the floor the same distance from the drum and pointed at the same angle as the top mic (this work well with floor standing congas). Your room sounds pretty big, if it's not rectangular it's almost a cube too, I would get some gobos or a bunch of tube traps near the instrument to actually stop the bass from running rampant, diffuse whatever early reflections aren't necessary and contain what bass there is for the main pickup
Since it's a duo, they're isolated and there are no other percussion instruments being played you can optimally position room mics. This is where stereo comes into play because without the varied response from the room there's not much stereo goin on with a djembe. I'm not a big m-s fan because when you hear it in mono the s goes away and you're left with only the m, which had better be good, leave it for film and broadcast sound guys where stereo fidelity is not as important as in recording music for people to listen to. AB or spaced omnis, or some 8s with the instrument in their null.
If you put up 5 or 6 mics for djembe somebodiy's going to complain about it, so make sure that each mic can be used on its own and could be useful in the mix.
You can make a lot of sounds with a djembe, it's my preferred instrument to play. I can play ago-gos and melodies with mine by using harmonics, the ocean with brushes, put a cloth over the top to mute the highs, slap it with a hickory switch etc... I go out now with a cajon, a djembe, a ride cymbal and various hand held doodads with great success, thinking of making a 13x13 kik and adding a HH someday, when the need be.
With the ears and an instrument you have a whole other thing going than with the ears and speakers. The close up sound is very important to have (dont record it too hot or compressed, save it for later), the 2 feet away sound is very natural to the ear (brain) and also important but may lack in sheer power that what it has in elegance, it's bottom compnent (the close bottom mic can't substitute this mic) may be necessary or not depending on the immediate surroundings of the instrument (this sound you may have to spank a little), if the room is nice use it, if not don't bother, reverbs are pretty cool sounding these days.
I would get them all up on stands or whatever and into various channels and screamed into before any one gets there, check out the room through the smallest monitors you have, if it has character use it if not scratch.. Make sure you have a quiet stool or chair, get a rug under the chair but have some wood under the drum if he plays without a stand, if he has a stand don't worry about it.
There's a guy in Germany who makes tunable natural skin drums (whatever animal traditionally gets used for the drum, the djembe's a goat, I mount my own all the time, hard to find) riqs, defs, bendirs and others, I saw them used by Jarrod Cagwin, they're awesome. Maybe Edelman is his name.
In Italy that instrument is called a Zampogna and you shouldn't ask because it's ugly, it's basically the Bagpipes.
Have fun
Old 22nd August 2005 | Show parent
  #30
AB3
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🎧 15 years
By the way, I wonder if anyone can share any experiences with the Josephsen E22s on hand drums?
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