Recording drums can be quite daunting for the uninitiated and represent a challenge to both the equipment you have available and the room you have to do it in.
Over the years as desk grew bigger, more and more mics were used to pick up the different elements of a drum kit. This enabled the engineer to have more control over the overall sound of the kit and also the ability to bring out certain elements where needed.
If you do have limited means in terms of equipment then you shouldn’t worry about getting a good recording. Many hit records have been created using only one or two microphones and this guide will show you some of those techniques.
One Mic Drum Recording
Normally, the most important elements of a drum kit are the kick and snare and if you have only one mic, it could be a good to place your mic like this. The pick up end of this cardioid mic is facing the snare.
Another popular way of micing drums with just one mic is to place the microphone just over the right shoulder of the drummer.
Two Mic Drum Recording
One overhead mic and one kick mic. In this instance the overhead is a dynamic mic but could easily be a ribbon or condensor mic. The one mic technique can be great but you will get greater control of the kick drum with this set up.
Three Mic Drum Recording
This 3 mic set up is designed to extend the 2 mic set up into the stereo field which can make the drums sound bigger and more natural. Now we have introduced ‘stereo’ to the situation. We need to make sure our phase alignment is correct.
Four Mic Drum Recording
This is a very commonly used microphone set up for small studios that don’t have lots of microphones and inputs on their interface/mixer. The overhead mics are supposed to be providing all the information from the general sound of the kit as one instrument and the kick and snare mics and there to add punch and control to the important elements of the kick and snare.
This example uses the ‘Glyn Johns’ technique developed by….you guest it, Glyn Johns! The famous engineer that started out in the 60’s with top bands like Led Zeppelin and the Who. The aim here is to have a good balanced kit sound and having one of the overhead mic’s just behind the drummers right shoulder helps to have a good phase balance and also good stereo representation of the ride and floor tom position. Both mics are pointing at the snare and are at equal distance from it. You can measure this by using your drum sticks end to end as a rough guide but its better with a tape measure.