How to Mic Your Drum Kit for the Best Results

How to Mic Your Drum Kit for the Best Results

How to Mic Your Drum Kit For The Best Results

Setting up a drum kit can be a challenging task. Especially when it comes to selecting and positioning the right microphones for recording. Proper drum mic placement is crucial for capturing a clear and balanced sound from each drum on the kit. In this article, we'll go over how to mic your drum kit. We will also provide information on what mics are best for recording each drum.

 A mic'd up drum kit on a live stage

Understand the Drum Kit

Before setting up the drum mics, it's important to understand the drum kit and the role each drum plays in the overall sound. A typical drum kit consists of a kick drum, snare drum, toms, hi-hats and cymbals. Each drum has a distinct sound and requires a specific microphone to capture its unique tone.

 

Choose the Right Microphones

Choosing the right microphones for recording drums is essential to achieve a clear and balanced sound. Here are some of the best microphones for each drum on the kit:

 

  • Kick Drum: A dynamic microphone such as the Shure Beta 52A is ideal for capturing the low-end thump of the kick drum.
  • Snare Drum: A dynamic microphone such as the Shure SM57 is the most popular choice for recording the snare drum. Its high SPL handling and ability to capture fast transients make it perfect for this application.
  • Toms: Dynamic microphones such as the Sennheiser MD421 and the Audix D4 are ideal for recording toms. These mics can handle high SPLs and capture their mid-range and low-end frequencies.
  • Hi-Hats: A small diaphragm condenser microphone such as the Audio-Technica AT4053b is ideal for recording hi-hats. This mic can capture the high-end frequencies of the cymbals without picking up too much spill from the other drums.
  • Cymbals: Small diaphragm condenser microphones such as the AKG C451B and the Shure SM81 are ideal for recording cymbals. These mics can capture the shimmering high-end frequencies of the cymbals without picking up too much spill from the other pieces of your kit.
  • Overhead Mics: Large diaphragm condenser microphones such as the AKG C414 and the Neumann U87 are ideal for recording the entire drum kit. These mics can capture the overall sound of the kit and provide a sense of space and depth to the recording.

Click here for more information on how sound is created within each drum and how tuning effects them.

 

Positioning your Microphones

Once you have selected the right microphones for each drum, it's time to position them correctly. Here are some tips for positioning the microphones on an acoustic drum kit:

 

  • Kick Drum: Place the microphone inside the kick drum, pointing towards the beater. This will capture the low-end thump of the drum.
  • Snare Drum: Place the microphone above the snare drum, pointing towards the center of the drumhead. This will capture the crisp attack and snappy tone of the snare.
  • Toms: Place the microphones above each tom, pointing towards the center of the drumhead. This will capture the mid-range and low-end frequencies of the toms.
  • Hi-Hats: Place the microphone above the hi-hats, pointing towards the center of the cymbals. This will capture the high-end frequencies of the cymbals without picking up too much spill from the other drums.
  • Cymbals: Place the microphones above each cymbal, pointing towards the center of the cymbals. This will capture the shimmering high-end frequencies of the cymbals without picking up too much spill from the other drums.
  • Overhead Mics: Place the microphones above the drum kit, pointing towards the center of the kit. This will capture the overall sound of the kit and provide a sense of space and depth to the recording.

 

Mixing your drums

Once you have recorded the drums, it's time to mix them. Mixing is the process of balancing the levels of each drum and adding EQ, compression, and other effects to enhance the sound. Here are some tips for mixing drums:

 

  • Start with the kick drum: The kick drum is the foundation of the drum sound, so start by setting its level and adding EQ and compression to enhance its tone.
  • Balance the snare drum: The snare drum is the focal point of the drum sound, so make sure it cuts through the mix without overpowering the other drums.
  • Mix the toms: The toms add depth and texture to the drum sound, so make sure they are balanced and add the desired amount of impact to the overall mix.
  • Add hi-hat and cymbals: The hi-hat and cymbals add brightness and sparkle to the drum sound, so make sure they are balanced and add the desired amount of shimmer to the overall mix.
  • Use parallel compression: Parallel compression is a technique where you blend a heavily compressed signal with the original signal to add sustain and impact to the drums.

 

In conclusion

setting up the best drum mics on an acoustic drum kit requires careful selection and placement of microphones. By choosing the right microphones for each drum and positioning them correctly, you can capture a clear and balanced sound from the entire drum kit. Additionally, properly mixing the drums is essential for achieving a professional-sounding drum sound. With these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to recording and mixing great-sounding drums.

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