Miking the Bass Drum - Why not the toms?

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
At our outside country club gig last weekend, our bass player had a PA that coul handle a mic for the bass drum. Man, it made such a difference, the other band members love it too. It wasn't even an elaborate PA...2 speakers and a monitor, but it was so much better than we we had before. I think it has 8 inputs. 5 inputs for vocals, leaving 3, I think. I was wondering if perhaps the drums could be enhanced with only TWO inputs. In other words, one mic for the bass drum, and somehow consolidating 3 toms into one channel. In theory, is that what an overhead is for? Or is there some way to have a mic on each tom (3 mics) and somehow consolidate those into one channel? Thanks for any replies...
 

sdedge

Senior Member
well take two overheads and your bass drum mic,and your on the way ,the hole kit will sound fine.
Or buy a small 8 or more ch mixer they not expansive put all the drum mics true there and to the main mixer,that way you can mic every tom.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Bass drum mic & two overheads will cover most gigs up to say 300 people, especially if you're only using a small PA. If you want more tom involvement in the overheads, use an "over shoulder" positioning. Works a treat :)
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Bass drum and 2 overheads is simple and valid. Add a snare mic if it's need maybe for separate processing.

If you want to go more elaborate it's probably easiest to have your own mixer with the ability to single out certain things, mainly the bass drum.


Overheads are for everything. Just doesn't work to well on the bass drum when you need a bit more punch and bottom, which you need in most modern situations, and the sound goes in a different direction, too. This is basic for recording, too. Overheads and bass drum. The rest is just for little extra help and the ability to treat things differently. On an average recording you are hearing mostly overheads. It also helps if the drummer isn't too consistent with his/her dynamics.
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
Thanks guys. So if I get a mixer, would I then need TWO channels out of the mixer into the PA input? Or one? Sorry if this is a bonehead question.

And then, it sounds like overheads are the way to go. However, I wonder if it would be easier to have a clip-on mic on each tom and snare, and run that through the mixer, just from a carrying standpoint. Years ago, I did this, but it was with a massive PA.

Also --- regardless --- is it better that the bass drum go directly into the PA in one channel and then the toms/snare through the mixer into another channel (assuming one)?

Or, is it better to run ALL the drums including the bass drum into the mixer and THEN run that into the PA?

Thanks again
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Thanks guys. So if I get a mixer, would I then need TWO channels out of the mixer into the PA input? Or one? Sorry if this is a bonehead question.

And then, it sounds like overheads are the way to go. However, I wonder if it would be easier to have a clip-on mic on each tom and snare, and run that through the mixer, just from a carrying standpoint. Years ago, I did this, but it was with a massive PA.

Also --- regardless --- is it better that the bass drum go directly into the PA in one channel and then the toms/snare through the mixer into another channel (assuming one)?

Or, is it better to run ALL the drums including the bass drum into the mixer and THEN run that into the PA?

Thanks again
Just for simplicity's sake, I'd run all drum mics into a smaller mixer and then go on to the main mixer.

However, be aware in a live situation one bass mic and one overhead is fine. In fact many great recordings were done with just those two mics anyway. I know Andy always likes two overheads for a stereo image of the kit, but in a live situation nobody cares and lots of times it doesn't matter.

So stay simple - add an overhead and stick with going into the main mixer if you have available channels. Experiment with EQ, play your drums louder than your cymbals and you'll be golden!

Adding mics is like photographers adding more lights for a picture - it just gets more complicated for not much gain. I say keep it simple.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I think it depends on the sound you want as well. If I'm playing a large venue I might mic the snare and then have two overheads, because I'm playing jazz and want to keep everything open and dynamic.

The only times I see tom mics are on rock/pop stadium tours, or extremely technical music like metal or fusion, where the tom hits are actual parts of the song, rather than colors used in comping.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Yeah. More overheads would be more about the size of our kit live. Sort of depends, also on your surroundings and placement.

If you would like to go all out you can check out Dave Weckl, who has used his own mixer forever and just sends a stereo pair to the desk, sometimes singling out the bassdrum if the soundguy needs it. It's not worth it for most people and it is a lot of extra work.
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
Part of what I want is to hear and feel my bass drum, and the rest of the band wants that too. We got that last weekend, it was great. I want the same for my toms...to hit my 10/12/14 toms and be able to feel them and hear them as well as the bass drum. Obviously I can hear them without the mic's but if micing the bass drum feels so good, wouldn't micing the toms be the same? Would an overhead accomplish that as well as the clip on mic's?

Thanks again...for all the tips and advice.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Part of what I want is to hear and feel my bass drum, and the rest of the band wants that too. We got that last weekend, it was great. I want the same for my toms...to hit my 10/12/14 toms and be able to feel them and hear them as well as the bass drum. Obviously I can hear them without the mic's but if micing the bass drum feels so good, wouldn't micing the toms be the same? Would an overhead accomplish that as well as the clip on mic's?

Thanks again...for all the tips and advice.

Just get some cheap clip ons and a cheap Behringer(or similar) mixer with amount of channels you need. Might be wise to get one with extra control of the mids. Experiment and go from there. No eed to spend too much and only experience will tell you what you want/need.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Part of what I want is to hear and feel my bass drum, and the rest of the band wants that too. We got that last weekend, it was great. I want the same for my toms...to hit my 10/12/14 toms and be able to feel them and hear them as well as the bass drum. Obviously I can hear them without the mic's but if micing the bass drum feels so good, wouldn't micing the toms be the same? Would an overhead accomplish that as well as the clip on mic's?

Thanks again...for all the tips and advice.
You are embarking on a path of audio control. You'll have to figure out if the extra work if worth it. I've been doing this long enough now where I'd prefer to have the sound guy do that for me. Every time I've thought I'd want to do that for myself, I'm giving myself an additional hour for set-up and tear-down, and then dealing with all that audio-intelligentsia, etc.,....it just gets in the way of playing good music for me.

But its cool. You have to go through it to find out if it works for you. So go pick up a Yamaha MG console with enough inputs for you, and a bunch of mics, plug 'em in and send your output to the main mixer and have fun! Hint: ride the lows a lot lower than you think - those are the first frequencies that will feedback on you because they are not directional and tend to find their way back to the main speakers.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
You are embarking on a path of audio control. You'll have to figure out if the extra work if worth it.
That's a good point that I didn't think of; beyond founding the right sound, you'll have to setup and configure your sound before every show.

The more equipment you have mics on, the more work you'll have to do to EQ and balance the sound. Also, it's adding more complications that could distract you from actually playing. I know singers sometimes spend an entire set messing around with EQ and everything to try and fix the sound.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
You could use mallets instead of sticks too.

Realistically, I think there is something in the harder/sharper attack of toms that is really difficult to reproduce through mediocre PA's, takes too much headroom. Not that PAs couldn't be run at less volume overall, it's just that they are typically mostly primarily just for vocals.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Hint: ride the lows a lot lower than you think - those are the first frequencies that will feedback on you because they are not directional and tend to find their way back to the main speakers.
+1.

The low end on your bass drum is usually kept under control with the muffling inside the drum, but the toms don't usually have this muffling, so their low end frequencies can get out of control in a hurry. Your toms will also resonate sympathetically with other low-end instruments, like bass guitar, which is why sound guys use noise gates on the tom channels.

You could use a four channel gate unit like this one. But this is one more thing to set up and tear down.

Agreed that a kick mic and an overhead is probably enough, but getting that low end from the toms through a PA is pretty satisfying!
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
If you're using one or two overheads to pick up toms, make sure the mic's don't have a natural bass rolloff. i.e. don't use a 57 or similar at a distance of over one foot. Use a condenser, or a mic with a flat bass response like a Beyer 201 or Sennheiser 8 or 9 series. (But not an e835, because they feed back easily in the bass frequencies)
A hypercardioid mic lets you aim at the toms and reject the cymbals a bit. I use a Rode NT3 - picks up the floor tom really well at a distance. I've done hundreds of shows with a bass drum mic and a single overhead NT3.
 

sdedge

Senior Member
If you're using one or two overheads to pick up toms, make sure the mic's don't have a natural bass rolloff. i.e. don't use a 57 or similar at a distance of over one foot. Use a condenser, or a mic with a flat bass response like a Beyer 201 or Sennheiser 8 or 9 series. (But not an e835, because they feed back easily in the bass frequencies)
A hypercardioid mic lets you aim at the toms and reject the cymbals a bit. I use a Rode NT3 - picks up the floor tom really well at a distance. I've done hundreds of shows with a bass drum mic and a single overhead NT3.
Yes the NT3 is super i use 2 off them all the time ,and they let the drum kit sounds super,.
 

Skrivarna

Senior Member
A good sound tech can do a lot with a BD mic and a correctly placed overhead. Both live and recording.

Actually, for some small half-acoustic gigs I have had great results using just one channel (a trick I learned from one of the top Swedish drummers). You need a good quality omnidirectional lavalier microphone (I have an older version pro AKG clip mic). Put this on the batter side bass drum hoop top, adjusting the balance between snare, ride and toms by moving it along the hoop.

Sounds really nice and natural (definitely no phase problems); the only problem is that the hihat may suffer a little (but in smaller rooms this is usually not a problem).
 

Bigdumbdrums

Senior Member
I mic the kick on most of my gigs unless it's a club with a dedicated sound guy and then the entire kit gets mic'd. But just micing the kick drum does make a huge difference in the overall sound. The snare will cut through the mix without being mic'd and the toms will project in most cases if the venue is small. Having the kick run through the PA helps it blend with the bass guitar and balances everything out with some nice punchiness.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
A hypercardioid mic lets you aim at the toms and reject the cymbals a bit. I use a Rode NT3 - picks up the floor tom really well at a distance. I've done hundreds of shows with a bass drum mic and a single overhead NT3.
I use NT5's "over shoulder" style for that very reason.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
A good sound tech can do a lot with a BD mic and a correctly placed overhead. Both live and recording.
This is way simpler and just as effective as a drum mixer IMO. A PA is not in stereo. It's in mono. If you have only 2 inputs, you can use just one overhead mic and a kick mic. One overhead, optimally placed, hears everything except the kick just as good as 2 overheads IMO. The less mics the better too. You just have to "mix" yourself while playing, which you probably do anyway.
 
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