How Do You Mike Your Drum Kit for Recording?

Obtaining great drum quality for your recordings is not a great mystery.  You can develop the skill to get the full sound that you are looking for.  Cheap audix at musicians friend is a good place for your mic search for your whole kit.

The room is key because it has an influence over the sound.  If you have a room with good reflection – a live room, you’ll get that big sound that you are looking for.  However, if you have a room with carpeting, one of the ways around that is to buy three or four 4-x-8-foot sheets of plywood and lean them up against the walls of your room. Also place one on the floor just in front of the kick drum. This adds some reflective surfaces to the room.

You can also play behind a shield.  A good plexiglass drum shield keeps the sound from bouncing everywhere, let’s the drummer play more freely (because he’s not concerned about drowning everyone else out) and keeps the overall volume a little better under control.

buddyFor the kick drum, you can reduce the amount of boominess that you get from the drum by placing a pillow or blanket inside the drum. Some people choose to let the pillow or blanket touch the inside head.

Because the snare drum is located so close to the other drums, especially the hi-hats, a cardioid pattern mic is a must. The mic is generally placed between the hi-hats and the small tom-tom about 1 or 2 inches from the snare drum head. Point the diaphragm directly at the head. You may need to make some minor adjustments to eliminate any bleed from the hi-hats.

The tom-toms sound best when using a dynamic mic. For the mounted toms (the ones above the kick drum), you can use one or two mics. If you use one mic, place it between the two drums about 4 to 6 inches away from the heads. If you use two mics, place one above each drum about 1 to 3 inches above the head.

Place the mic about 3 to 4 inches above the hi-hats and point it down. The exact placement of the mic is less important than the placement of the other instrument mics because of the hi-hats’ tone. Just make sure your mic isn’t so close that you hit it.

Most of the time, you want to have at least one (but preferably two) ambient mics on the drums if for no other reason than to pick up the cymbals. These – assuming you use two –  should be placed above the drumset.

To mic the drumset with overhead mics, you can use either the X-Y coincident technique or spaced stereo pairs. Place them 1 to 2 feet above the cymbals, just forward of the drummer’s head. Place X-Y mics in the center and set up spaced stereo pairs so that they follow the 3:1 rule (the mics should be set up 3 to 6 feet apart if they are 1 to 2 feet above the cymbals). This counters any phase problems. Point the mic down toward the drums and you’re ready to record.