Most home studios these days come equipped with a standard 8 channel input audio interface. This could be a Digidesign 002 or 003, a Focusrite Saffire, an Apogee Ensemble, a UA Apollo, a Motu 8pre – or countless other interfaces that are now on the market. My goal isn’t to tell you which one to buy, it’s to help you get the most out of the one you already have or plan to purchase. Side Note: I think product reviews are extremely helpful and I reference them all of the time, but as for me, I don’t feel to comment on products I’ve never used before, so I’ll just leave that to the guys on YouTube.

What I’d like to do is give you a quick snap shot into how you can take that 8 channel home studio and utilize it into a multi-track live session recording console. A lot of home grown engineers get excited when they buy their first 8 channel interface, simply because now, they can record a full drum kit. Yea!!!!  They do what almost everyone else does and mic up a kit with 8 microphones which then use up every last input one their interface. This is totally fine and I do recommend experimenting with this option BUT a lot of the time it’s overkill to have eight 8 microphones on one drum kit. You can actually capture a big natural sound with just 2 or 3 mics AND you’ll be amazed at what you hear.

So now that you’re only using 3 microphones on your kit, you now have 5 available inputs to use for the rest of the band. Most other instruments only need 1 input, so to capture the “live off the floor” vibe, should be fairly straight forward from here …. unless you’re tracking your cousins’s 16 piece brass “ska band” and in that case …. best of luck!

So here’s what your input list is going to look like:

1. Drum Overhead Left
2. Drum Overhead Right
3. Kick
4. Snare
4. Bass Guitar
5. Guitar One
6. Guitar Two
7. Keys
8. Vocals

In this scenario I choose to put an extra mic on the drums by using a snare spot mic. In other set ups, you can eliminate that snare mic and then have an extra channel for an acoustic guitar, a stereo keyboard (instead of just mono), a second vocal, a banjo, cello, kazoo or basically anything you’re needing to input, so that the newest member of the band doesn’t feel left out. You can even free up more channels by taking advantage of some great Virtual Instruments which are usually being triggered by a USB controller of some sort and therefor aren’t using up any of your inputs, but that’s another blog all together.

At this point, it all seems fairly straight forward, but most of you are likely asking – “How Do I Mic the drums with only 4 microphones?” That’s a great question that I plan on answering next week with a more in depth look on “How To Record Drums With Only 2 (or 4) Microphones.”

Comment below if you have any questions or for those of you who have already been using this method, leave us your “go to” input list for others to try out.


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