Hailing from the land down under, Aussie drummer Mike Avenaim is quickly making a name for himself here in the states. Although he’s relocated to Los Angeles his long time friend, and prolific songwriter, Jordan Millar commissioned Mike to lay down the foundation for his new record “Cold Lights On Curious Minds“. Mike called on engineer Charlie Waymire at Ultimate Rhythm Studios to capture his sound in an organic and truly unique way.

In this episode we recorded two songs and Mike is playing a combination kit of Rogers and Ludwig drums. Here are the setups for each song.

High horse:
60’s era Ludwig Toms – 13″ and 16″
Rogers holiday badge kick – 24×14
Ludwig Birdseye maple snare – 14×8
17″ Traditional crash (Hi hat top)
17″ Rude crash (Hi hat bottom)
20″ 602 thin crash
21″ Dark energy light ride
22″ Traditional light ride

All at once:
60’s era Ludwig Toms – 13″ and 16″
Rogers holiday badge kick – 24×14
70’s era Ludwig Acrolite snare – 14×5
14″ Dark Energy light Hi-Hats
20″ 602 thin crash
21″ Dark energy light ride
22″ Traditional light ride

Remo Heads:
Toms – Black Suede Emperor/Clear Ambassador bottoms
Snares – Black Suede Emperor and Coated P3/Clear Ambassador snare bottoms
Kick – Coated Ambassador with felt strips

The goal of this recording was to capture Mike’s sound as organically as possible. Our approach was a bit unorthodox but it produced an wonderfully organic and rich sound. Here’s the run down.

Kick: 2 microphones. Both on the outside of the kick (the kick had no hole).
Mic 1: MXL V89 running through an Overstayer Channel Amp. We boosted some bottom end and scooped some mids with the Pultec style eq.
Mic 2: SM57 running through a Golden Age Project Pre73. The goal with the 57 was to get some bite and attack. It worked rather well!

Snare Top: SM57 running through an Overstayer Channel Amp. We used a Crash Guard to help isolate the snare from the hats.

Snare bottom: SM57 running through and MXL MPAC

Hats: AKG 451b running through an MXL MPAC

Toms: Heil PR30’s through Golden Age Project Pre73’s.

Overheads: MXL V67i’s in a Massenberg configuration going into Golden Age Project Pre73’s. These have a great sound all on their own.

Overhead Mid: Cascade Knuckle Head into a Chandler Germanium about 10 feet above the kit.

Mid Kit: Audio Technica 4047 running through a Golden Age Project Pre73. It’s positioned sideways and pointing towards the snare. Because of the cardioid pattern of the 4047 there is very little ride bleed.

The room mics were in an M/S setup.

Room Mid: Audio Technica 4050 into a Chandler Limited TG Channel.
Mid Mic: Cascade Fathead II also into a Chandler Limited TG Channel.

Not all of the mics are on at the same time. They were all recorded throughout the tracking of the album to give the Jordan and the mixer more than one option at mix time. For instance for a very natural, simple sound they could use just the kick, snare and overheads with a touch of room for ambience. Another option would be to use the Cascade Knuckle Head high above the kit as well as the kick, Mid Kit (AT 4047) and tom mics for a more narrow almost mono sound. Since the overheads are in a variation of the Massenburg technique the majority of the sound is in the overheads. With some kick and possibly some snare you have a very open natural and organic sound. Ultimately it was about giving them options for each song within one setup.

Download Mike Avenaim Session Files

Here are some photos from the session.

FOD MA - Full Kit Front

Front view of Mike's custom Rogers/Ludwig setup.

FOD MA - Hat:Snare:Tom

AKG 451b on the hats, SM57 w/Crash Guard on the snare and a Heil PR30 on the rack tom.

FOD MA - Kick Shot

SM 57 & MXL V89 on the kick.

FOD MA - Kick Shot 2

SM57 and MXL V89 on the kick.

FOD MA - Snare

SM57 w/Crash Guard ont the snare.

FOD MA - Hi-hat

AKG 451b on the hi-hat.

FOD MA - Floor Tom

Heil PR30 on the floor tom.

FOD MA - Overhead Shot

Overhead view of Mike's kit.

FOD MA - Knuckle Head

Cascade Knuckle Head about 10' above the kit.

FOD MA - 4047 1

AT 4047 under the ride pointed at the snare.

FOD MA - 4047 2

AT 4047 under the ride pointed at the snare top view.

FOD MA - 4047 3

AT 4047 under the ride pointed at the snare front view.