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Recording Drums Part I/2

In the Studio with Michael Wagener

Recording is an art and often a matter of experience, and so what better way of gaining some understanding of what's involved than by listening to the prestigious American engineer Michael Wagener talk about his recording tips and secrets. Starting with mic placement for drums ...

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Michael Wagener: If you like rock in general and metal in particular, you probably know his name, because this engineer has worked with some of the most prestigious artists such as: Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Queen, Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Helloween, Testament, Dokken, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, Accept, Extreme, Janet Jackson, King’s X. Quite simply, the list of albums and singles he has recorded or mixed is simply staggering…

So when Royer Labs and Jukebox LTD invited us to meet him while he was in the studio with the band Cockpit, we jumped at the opportunity and decided to film the whole experience, to better show you how he does his thing. And needless to say, we weren’t disappointed. We were even surprised. Not by Michael’s skill (he has little to prove), but by his affable manner and willingness to share his wisdom.

So, we were able to ask him almost anything we wanted about microphone placement, or about the gear he uses. The result is a kind of Masterclass, that we will unveil, episode by episode, in the coming weeks.

Michael Wagener is quite exhaustive on the subject of mic placement, and his views are all the more interesting since he uses ribbon mics quite extensively. He therefore dispelled certain preconceived notions about them: no, ribbon mics are not only for jazz, no, they are not limited in the high frequency range, and no, they are not as fragile as we’re led to believe, you can even record a bass drum with them.

But let’s listen to what he has to say in this first episode:

Next article in this series:
Recording Drums Part 2 →
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