This is a classic 1960s two-mic setup with one mic in front of the kit and one overhead. Both mics are sited quite a way away to get depth and ambience (having a nice sounding room is key). A third spot mic on the snare supplies additional signal that can be optionally mixed in for more snare punch if required. Here we have a ’60s Telefunken U47 in front of the kit, a 1969 U87 over the top and an SM57 on the snare.
We kept changing the setup during the session to generate as many sound combinations as we could. Here the 1969 U87 is over the kit again, while the snare spot mic is swapped to a KM84, for the more ’70s-sounding ‘pafffff’ sound you hear on tracks like Al Green’s ‘Let’s stay together‘ and Ann Peebles’ ‘I can’t stand the rain‘.
The unique ‘classic breaks’ kit was custom-made for this sample library. It features a first super-long kick drum feeding a second super large kick drum. This monster kick is paired up with a miniature snare that delivers a short, high sound – a bit like a snare sample that has been pitched up.
A wide-angle shot of the same setup. The Telefunken U47 is the same one used on many of the Beatles sessions.
The Federal AM-864/U from the 1940s has an amazingly crunchy sound that evokes vintage jazz recordings. It was originally a US military piece built to enable a compressed signal to remain audible further from its point of transmission. Its manual prominently features a 10-point guide on how to destroy it if it ever ‘falls into the hands of the Germans’!
An assortment of vintage compressors, EQs and pre-amps help generate the characterful sounds of decades past.
For the more recent ’80s style breaks, we made heavy use of the SSL 4000e desk. Combine the on-board compression with the 1981 Lexicon 480 Digital Reverb with Gold Card option (sitting on the right of the desk looking like a calculator) and you have instant Phil Collins!