Miking Drums; where to start...?

Alphalex

Junior Member
Alright, so I've thought about this; I want to start miking my drums. Yes, for recording covers or audio tracks with my band, but also to hear myself playing.
The question is what do I do? Where do I start?
Apparently, I need 1 mike for each head, right?
What about cymbals? I don't need one for each do I?
Plus, I heard I should think of buying a mixer and/or an application?

Yes, noob questions, I know... But, everyone's gotta start somewhere! ^^.
Any help please? :s
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
No.

You'll need a mixer to start with (or a USB audio interface if you're gonna record into your computer), so get a good one. I'd say find a good used Mackie 1604VLZ - the mic pre-amps are adequate for miking drums, and you get 16 inputs to begin with.

But as far as how many mics to start with? I'd get THREE. One in front of (or inside, if you port) the bass drum, one on your snare, and one overhead.

Get two dynamic mics (like Shure SM58s or SM57s) and one good pencil condenser type mic (like an AKG SE300B).

Others will recommend dedicated drum mics, but it isn't necessary. SM58s are fine. The condenser overhead mic will go up over the center of the kit about two-and-half drumtick lengths up on a boom stand.

You will be surprised at how good three mics sound. If you decide to get one of those dedicated cheap-o drum mic packs, I think you will be disappointed over time. Just start with good solid work-a-day microphones and you'll have made an investment to last for all your career.

Do a YouTube search for guys recording drums with two or three mics. That's your proof that it can be done. Hell, Led Zeppelin recorded the drums in a nice room with three mics, and the entire world loves that sound ;)
 

rpt50

Member
I just thought I would chime in here based on some recent observations. My son's band has played 3 times at a place here in Atlanta (Smith's old bar) that is well know for their professionalism and live sound. The first 2 gigs they did they put a mic on everything and it sound great, but last night they went with a set up just like described below, 1 kick, 1 snare, and one overhead, The sound again was spectacular--and maybe even a little "crisper", if that's an appropriate adjective. The 3 mic setup definitely works!!!!
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
No.

You'll need a mixer to start with (or a USB audio interface if you're gonna record into your computer), so get a good one. I'd say find a good used Mackie 1604VLZ - the mic pre-amps are adequate for miking drums, and you get 16 inputs to begin with.

But as far as how many mics to start with? I'd get THREE. One in front of (or inside, if you port) the bass drum, one on your snare, and one overhead.

Get two dynamic mics (like Shure SM58s or SM57s) and one good pencil condenser type mic (like an AKG SE300B).

Others will recommend dedicated drum mics, but it isn't necessary. SM58s are fine. The condenser overhead mic will go up over the center of the kit about two-and-half drumtick lengths up on a boom stand.

You will be surprised at how good three mics sound. If you decide to get one of those dedicated cheap-o drum mic packs, I think you will be disappointed over time. Just start with good solid work-a-day microphones and you'll have made an investment to last for all your career.

Do a YouTube search for guys recording drums with two or three mics. That's your proof that it can be done. Hell, Led Zeppelin recorded the drums in a nice room with three mics, and the entire world loves that sound ;)
that's EXCELLENT advice right there!!!
 

simmsdn

Silver Member
You'll be amazed how good an SM57 or SM58 sounds on a bass drum.

I'd buy 2x SM57s (or SM58s) and a PG81. With stands and cables, that's about $400 new.

The actual capsule in an SM57 is the same as an SM58. The difference is in the windscreen on the SM58 which increases the distance to the capsule (which is why it has a slightly different frequency response at 40-60). Take the ball windscreen off an SM58 and you have an SM57.
 

jspitza

Senior Member
Alright, so I've thought about this; I want to start miking my drums. Yes, for recording covers or audio tracks with my band, but also to hear myself playing.
The question is what do I do? Where do I start?
Apparently, I need 1 mike for each head, right?
What about cymbals? I don't need one for each do I?
Plus, I heard I should think of buying a mixer and/or an application?

Yes, noob questions, I know... But, everyone's gotta start somewhere! ^^.
Any help please? :s
Hello:
This subject is a juicy one. Please read the following link for one of the most popular and economical drum mic method ever. It is really simple and the results are mind boggling! Also, make sure to check out youtube for real time setup demos, equipment information and recording results from engineers who discuss this method. Hope this helps (OK I know it will)
http://therecordingrevolution.com/2011/01/10/the-glyn-johns-drum-recording-method/
 

makinao

Silver Member
You start with 1 mic. Put it just over your head aiming down. This will approximate the drummers perspective. Keep adjusting both the position of the mic and your playing until you get a balance between the drums and the cymbals. Unidirectionals and omnis can be used, the latter includes more of the room sound than the former. I personally prefer a condenser over a dynamic for this because the cymbals sound more transparent. But that's just me.

Continue with 2 mics. Retain the overhead, add the new one to the front of the bass drum. You need this for music that requires a tight, focused kick, and if you already have lots of muffling. Kicks sound different in front than from the driver's seat (which is picked up faintly by the overhead). Most prefer dynamics for this because they can soak up more punch than a condenser, and in the process make a sound of their own which most people have come to associate with a kick drum. But again, that's just me.

Next, 3 mics. Add another one to the snare batter. Again, this will add focus and tightness to the snare, for music that needs it. It's usually at the edge, pointing slightly downward towards the middle. If you're really obsessed with the snare sound, add another one on the snare side. I do this all the time in the studio because it allows me and the engineer to add snap if the shell or head sounds lifeless.

After that, the sky's the limit. A small diaphram condenser to the high hat, mics to each tom, stereo overheads, etc.
 

MrLeadFoot

Silver Member
I, personally, hate the sound that only a couple of mics generate. You know, an overhead, snare and kick mic, a la Led Zeppelin. Yuck! It makes drums sound hollow and less full, which is not at all like what drums really sound like. I MUCH prefer individual mics on each drum, and either one or two overheads, or one overhead and a hi-hat mic. That said, I use in-ear monitors which allow me to hear every nuance of everything. Even if you're listening through a regular floor wedge which really doesn't provide that great of a sound quality, there's a difference with full mic'ing and "sparse" mic'ing or whatever you want to call it.

On the subject, price does not always tell the story. Because I was on a budget at the time, and needed something quick, I took a chance on some inexpensive mics from a little known company, named Kam Instruments, whose advertising and sound clips boast them as sounding better than some Shures. Of course, I didn't believe any of that, but took a chance anyway, thinking if they sounded halfway decent, they would serve me well until I could later afford to upgrade Audix, Sennheisers or Shures. This was 3 years ago, and I still have not "upgraded". Their frequency response range just seems right to me, and they sound great.

I started them on my Tama Royalstars, and was surprised at how good they sounded. In fact, I had someone tell me how much they liked the "thick" sound of my drums, and they wanted to know how I EQ'd them. They were surprised when I told them no EQ change at all. I then put some on my Mapex Saturns with the same great results. I later got another set for a church I played at that has a Ludwig kit, and then yet another set for another church with a Gretsch Stage Custom kit, after the worship leader and I A/B'd them with the Audix F series they already had. I think that says something when they already had the Audix set and had me get them a set of these.

I had direct discussions with Kam, the owner, in regards to their original plastic mic clamps, which were a bit lacking, and was pleasantly surprised that he listened. They later began to include some very nice mic clamps, which have given me no trouble whatsoever. I think they now have a plastic/metal combo clamp and an all metal clamp. Since I've developed a good rapport with Kam, he sent me some of the plastic/metal ones to try out, but I like the all metal clamps better, myself.

No, I do not represent the company in any way, nor am I recommending you buy them over everything else. But, I do recommend that you at least check them out before you make a decision, because both churches that got them, and I, still use them today, and are not looking at any others, any time soon.
 

gr82bagn

Pioneer Member
Just a few months ago I was in your exact same spot. I took the plunge with the following set up. My observations as follows:

1. I enjoy being able to play to quality drumless tracks more than I do recording for covers.
2. With the right digital interface, I purchased the Focusrite 18i20, and some decent mic's and headphone I may never leave my room again. lol
3. I've learned from recording my practices how to better play to the song.
4. I learn something new each time I record myself. Lots of fun.

My cover recording of Knocking on Heavens Door

ScalboriousMonkStudios.jpg

DSCN4266.JPG
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I, personally, hate the sound that only a couple of mics generate. You know, an overhead, snare and kick mic, a la Led Zeppelin. Yuck! It makes drums sound hollow and less full, which is not at all like what drums really sound like. I MUCH prefer individual mics on each drum, and either one or two overheads, or one overhead and a hi-hat mic. That said, I use in-ear monitors which allow me to hear every nuance of everything. Even if you're listening through a regular floor wedge which really doesn't provide that great of a sound quality, there's a difference with full mic'ing and "sparse" mic'ing or whatever you want to call it.

On the subject, price does not always tell the story. Because I was on a budget at the time, and needed something quick, I took a chance on some inexpensive mics from a little known company, named Kam Instruments, whose advertising and sound clips boast them as sounding better than some Shures. Of course, I didn't believe any of that, but took a chance anyway, thinking if they sounded halfway decent, they would serve me well until I could later afford to upgrade Audix, Sennheisers or Shures. This was 3 years ago, and I still have not "upgraded". Their frequency response range just seems right to me, and they sound great.

I started them on my Tama Royalstars, and was surprised at how good they sounded. In fact, I had someone tell me how much they liked the "thick" sound of my drums, and they wanted to know how I EQ'd them. They were surprised when I told them no EQ change at all. I then put some on my Mapex Saturns with the same great results. I later got another set for a church I played at that has a Ludwig kit, and then yet another set for another church with a Gretsch Stage Custom kit, after the worship leader and I A/B'd them with the Audix F series they already had. I think that says something when they already had the Audix set and had me get them a set of these.

I had direct discussions with Kam, the owner, in regards to their original plastic mic clamps, which were a bit lacking, and was pleasantly surprised that he listened. They later began to include some very nice mic clamps, which have given me no trouble whatsoever. I think they now have a plastic/metal combo clamp and an all metal clamp. Since I've developed a good rapport with Kam, he sent me some of the plastic/metal ones to try out, but I like the all metal clamps better, myself.

No, I do not represent the company in any way, nor am I recommending you buy them over everything else. But, I do recommend that you at least check them out before you make a decision, because both churches that got them, and I, still use them today, and are not looking at any others, any time soon.
This is cool. The only reason I recommend less mics to begin with (for beginners) is just to reduce variables. In a theoretical sense, you can get good drum sounds without EQ by careful mic placement, I've done that before, and it's been done in the past by the pros. Also, starting with less mics I think gives you more of a representation of what the kit actually sounds like. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to play somewhere and they have mics for everything, then they also come at me with rolls of gaf tape to tone things down - take the mics away and the kit sounds like cardboard boxes! But reduction in variables and confusion is why I mainly start at two or three mics. If after experimentation you're not happy, then by all means, add mics. By then you would know what you're going after and can get what you want sound-wise.
 

JasperGTR

Senior Member
...Hell, Led Zeppelin recorded the drums in a nice room with three mics, and the entire world loves that sound ;)
I had no idea. I think I've figured out why I can't listen to Zeppelin; their music is well arranged, but their sound keeps me from listening to it. I hate the hollow - garage band - sound.

Regarding the OP, I agree with your premise. But for professional recording, I would not offer this same advice.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I had no idea. I think I've figured out why I can't listen to Zeppelin; their music is well arranged, but their sound keeps me from listening to it. I hate the hollow - garage band - sound.

Regarding the OP, I agree with your premise. But for professional recording, I would not offer this same advice.
So does this mean you're not listening to any music made before, say, 1969? Close miking didn't really start happening until then, and even then, alot of people weren't doing it because technology hadn't caught up for some time. I'm not starting an argument or anything, just that there was alot of good music being made before 1970 that, as students, we should be aware of. Just sayin' ;)
 

JasperGTR

Senior Member
So does this mean you're not listening to any music made before, say, 1969? Close miking didn't really start happening until then, and even then, alot of people weren't doing it because technology hadn't caught up for some time. I'm not starting an argument or anything, just that there was alot of good music being made before 1970 that, as students, we should be aware of. Just sayin' ;)
This is true. I admire older bands, but there is something about the sound that is just ear piercingly horrible.

I could listen to a live big band all day long, and attended quite a few wonderful shows from certain bands, but the recordings from mid-70's and earlier just sound like garbage to me.

I couldn't really get into music like I am today, until the late 70's/early 80's (when the recordings just sounded so much better, to me).

There are modern bands that still have this sound (sometimes it's raw/unfinished, other times it's over-produced). This is why I just listen to the sound guys, and let them do their thing.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I, personally, hate the sound that only a couple of mics generate. You know, an overhead, snare and kick mic, a la Led Zeppelin. Yuck! It makes drums sound hollow and less full, which is not at all like what drums really sound like.
Not necessarily. Ok, close mic'ing brings proximity effect to the party. You may not add EQ, but the mic adds bottom end to the sound because it's close to the source.

That aside, minimal mic'ing is superb at recording drums that already sound good & full, but it takes time to position the mic's correctly, & the resultant sound is very much steered by the room too. The upside is, you get a much more vibrant sonic "picture" & you're hearing the resolved sound of the drums.

Close mic'ing is better for many situations, especially where processing is expected later, & on kits benefitting from the extra control/low end afforded by close mic's.

Even better, a combination of the two approaches, allowing more choice later on. Not all minimal mic recordings with a good sounding kit are "thin" & "garage band".
 

MrLeadFoot

Silver Member
Not necessarily. Ok, close mic'ing brings proximity effect to the party. You may not add EQ, but the mic adds bottom end to the sound because it's close to the source.

That aside, minimal mic'ing is superb at recording drums that already sound good & full, but it takes time to position the mic's correctly, & the resultant sound is very much steered by the room too. The upside is, you get a much more vibrant sonic "picture" & you're hearing the resolved sound of the drums.

Close mic'ing is better for many situations, especially where processing is expected later, & on kits benefitting from the extra control/low end afforded by close mic's.

Even better, a combination of the two approaches, allowing more choice later on. Not all minimal mic recordings with a good sounding kit are "thin" & "garage band".
I guess we agree that close mic'ing typically sounds better.;-)
 

wsabol

Gold Member
I guess we agree that close mic'ing typically sounds better.;-)
No, not sounds better. Recordings that utilize close miking are easier to work with and it gives the producers/engineers more option to work with. The more options you have and the more points in space that you capture the sound, the more control you have over the resultant sound of the drums. That is the benefit; not necessarily sound quality.

I personally can't stand the sound of hot close miking.. it not the way the drums actually sound to me. But if I were a prolific studio musician appealling to the likes of various producers, I'd use as many mics as I can.. close, far, medium, farther, wherever, whatever, everywhere, everything.
 

412drummer

Senior Member
It depends how serious the recordings etc.. are. I would recommend a mic for your snare, a mic for the kick, 1-2 overheard mics depending on your cymbals and set up, and2-4 mics for the toms depending how many and how serious you are about the recordings. You can float one mic over 2 toms on a boom and still get a good sound. This is just my personal way of doing it. Some people prefer less mics some more. it also depends how goo the mics you get are.
 

JasperGTR

Senior Member
...You can float one mic over 2 toms on a boom and still get a good sound. This is just my personal way of doing it. ...
This is what I do at home.

I have 4hi/2lo. Using 3 tom mics. I picked up the cheap Cadd mic set (not the cheapest, but the one above the bottom (around $200 or so)):

Kick, snare, 3 toms, 2 cymbals.

Everything I needed for my home use (which sounds a lot like what the OP is looking for). I would NEVER try to use these things for any type of professional recording or demo of sorts.
 
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