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Recording acoustic drums through Helix


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Hi Guys,

My son has Garage band on his Mac book , He wants to record his drums onto it and to do so was going to blow all his savings on an 8 channel interface Until...

I said I think you could use my Helix for that.

Having spent most of today trying I am now thinking its not possible.

I have utilised the following....

Mic 1 kick drum - Guitar in to USB 1/2 out, select audio track 1 in GB input 1 and that's good

Mic 2 snare drum - Aux in to USB 3/4 out, select audio track 2 in GB input 3 and that's good

Mic 3 tom 1- Mic in to USB 5/6 out, select audio track 3 in GB input 5 and that's good.


So up to now these 3 tracks are all independent but I need to add at least another mic and thats when this start to fall down because the next track I add has to share a USB out and then it becomes a mix.

the only USB outs showing up in helix for me are 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, How do I get access to 7/8?

I have no experience with Garage band and have only owned my Helix for 6 months so any help or guidance would be very very much appreciated.

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The three mic technique as pictured above works really well - and can be enhanced by adding extra close mics for Toms / Snare to help bring up those drums where necessary due to playing dynamics etc..


You normally would use mic inputs to connect microphones (obviously) - and Helix has just one mic input.

However - in the past (back in cassette 4 track days) I've had success plugging drum close mics into 1/4in jacks as you are doing.


You can also use the Return 1/2, 3/4 as well (So 1/2 could be Tom close mics for example) - you need XLR to mono 1/4in jack cables to do this.


So I would recommend..

1) Mic in - connect a good capacitor mic (48v phantom) and use it as an overhead to capture all the crisp high frequencies from the kit especially the cymbals.  (USB 8)

2) Guitar in - a battery powered capacitor mic - like an AKG C1000 to go on the Floor Tom side (USB7) 


3) Return 1 - Kick drum, dynamic close mic  (USB3)

4) Return 2 - Snare drum - dynamic close mic (USB4)


(if you have the mics available)

5) Return 3 - Tom 1 - dynamic close mic  (USB5)

6) Return 4 - Tom 2 - dynamic close mic  (USB6)


This would work pretty well I think...  You could probably buy quite few decent budget mics for the price of an 8 channel interface.  The cheaper drum mic sets like Samson work really well and are pretty cheap - I recently got a Samson 3 tom set for just £40 on eBay and a pair of tiny capacitor mics for overheads for about £40 as well to take out to gigs.  Whilst these won't quite give you the Abbey Road studio sound they will work very well for demos and for live sound.


EDIT - routing - you will need to set up two separate stereo paths for Return 1/2 and 3/4.   Just assign them with stereo inputs (Return 1/2 and 3/4) and then set the outputs to USB 3/4 and USB 5/6.  The Guitar in and Mic in should automatically come out of USB 7 and 8 unless you've changed default settings.


I can explain the routing better if you need help  :)

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