Great drum recordings start with a great sounding drum kit. In this module we will look at recording a standard 5pc drum kit with a combination of 4 microphones.
Mic’ing a kick drum can be achieved in multiple ways, depending on the sound you’re looking to achieve and the number of microphones you have at your disposal. For the purpose of keeping our mic count to a minimum, we will consider inside kick placement. The most popular kick drum microphone found inside the kick drum is the Shure Beta52A or the AKG D112. If your kick drum has a small cut out on the skin, you can place the microphone inside the kick, making sure that it is pointing toward where the beater of the kick pedal makes contact with the skin. Using this method, you will get the best isolation of cymbals and other drums, as well as a tight, focused kick drum sound.
Snare drums are most commonly mic’d with a dynamic microphone like the Shure SM57 hovering about 1-2 inches above the drum head and pointed directly at the centre of the snare drum. Pointing your microphone closer to the rim will produce more ‘ringy’ type sounds while closer to the centre will produce a more even sound.
For overhead microphones the most common approach is to use two matching large or small diaphragm condenser microphones placed over the drum kit. Placing your condenser microphones at equal distance from the snare, is most preferred in studio applications. The further away from the drum kit you place your microphones, the more roomy your drums will sound. Getting the right balance in your overheads is one of the key components in this 4 mic technique. Placed correctly, they will give a true representation of the stereo image of the drum kit, as well as pick up the natural tones of the toms. Experiment with your overhead technique and develop a signature tone that fits your sound.