Mike Avenaim

Mike Avenaim relies on AKG microphones

Capturing great drum sounds

Hailing from Sydney, Australia and now residing in Los Angeles, Mike Avenaim quickly made a name for himself through his ability to perform in any musical situation. Whether in the studio or on stage, his experience as a drummer, producer, musical director and multi-instrumentalist has taken him around the world with artists such as Scott Weiland, Emblem3, Zella Day, M-Phazes, The McClymonts, Troy Harley and many others. In the studio, Mike relies on AKG microphones to capture his drums—we sat down with him for a chat to learn more.

How would you describe your style of drumming?

I think of myself as a versatile musician. I started with jazz, and there’s still a lot of that in what I do. But I’ve played with so many different artists now, that I play a lot of different types of music, which I love because I’m always trying to create something new—find some new sounds. Anything that’s got some kind of musical challenge is good, whether it’s what’s happening with the drums or the music. It’s what catches my ear.

How do you find the right sound when miking drums?

I’ve had a lot of help with this. With all of the sessions I’ve done, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of talented producers and engineers, and they all have their own ideas about things. I’ve always paid attention to what they did. In my own studio I try what I’ve seen and see what works. It comes down to which drum I’m miking and then I experiment. For example, when miking a kick drum, which mic I use and where I place it is often determined by which kick drum I’m using.

What’s the biggest challenge in miking drums?

There are so many ways to mike drums, but for me everything has to have a purpose. The biggest challenge is when you have a studio setup using a lot of mics. In those situations, it’s easy to not realize that they’re not all in phase, so you’re not hearing what’s happening. So in those situations, you have to be careful. 

I like to take my time and fine-tune mic placement. You can’t just whack seven or eight mics up and say, let’s go! I spend a good hour or so measuring distances and deciding what’s best for the type of music we’re recording. Sometimes you can place a kick drum mic, and then move it three inches, and it’s a completely different-sounding kick drum!

So you prefer a simple setup?

I’ve found that old school minimal miking can be great. When I made the video for AKG, we used just five microphones. After recording it, I listened on the monitors and it sounded so good! The AKG mics are just really good at capturing exactly how I want each piece to sound.

What do you look for in drum microphones?

I look for mics that capture the sonic quality of what I’m playing, and the AKG mics I’m using are really great at that. I tune my drums before miking them, and expect the mics to deliver that sound. The AKG mics I use are on another level compared to mics I’ve used in the past. The D12 VR is great—it allows you to get sounds out of a kick drum that you usually can only get with a lot of EQ. The three filter settings are very effective and it’s great to be able to change up the sound. If the drum sounds a bit dead, you flip the setting and get a big thunk out of it.  It’s like having four different kick drums!

The C314 makes a great overhead mic. What I like is that it accurately captures what I’m playing. Used overhead, they allow me to place the sound of the cymbals so that listeners feel like they’re standing right in front of them.

So what’s next for you?
I’m off on a US tour with Zella Day, which I’m pretty excited about. She’s a super original artist—it’s a really great drum gig!

Learn more about Mike Avenaim at www.mikeavenaim.com

Mike Avenaim

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Worked With

Scott Weiland, Emblem3, Zella Day, M-Phazes, The McClymonts, Troy Harley

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