Microphone Techniques to Get Better Sounds

microphone positioningThere is literally hundreds of different ways to microphone a drum kit. There are certain rules that should usually be followed when adding microphones to drums.

I’ll be explaining how you will be able to effectively mic up a drum kit, make your kit sound better, and what techniques to use in the studio.

Microphone Positioning

There are a few things that you should always be aware of when positioning a microphone. Firstly you should always make sure that the mic is at an angle.

This will prevent air from travelling up the microphone when you hit the drums. Generally you should use clip on microphones. This is because they are much easier to manage, and they don’t require extra boom stands that could get in the way.

The Three Mic Techniques

It is possible to get a decent sound out of your drum kit, even if you only have three microphones. If you are using a standard five or four piece drum kit, with three to four cymbals then this technique works great.

Place one microphone inside the bass drum. Make sure that the mic is facing the shaft of the drum at an angle. It’s important to do this so that you don’t get the sound of air travelling up the microphone. If you get excess air in the microphone then the sound of the bass drum will distort.

Place the other two microphones at and angle so they are facing between the snare drum and toms. The right microphone should pick up the snare, hi-hat and small tom, whilst the left microphone should pick up the snare, medium tom and large tom. The overhead cymbals are very loud and will be picked up by both microphones.

Microphones And Cymbals

Not everybody likes to mic up cymbals as they are already very loud and penetrating. If you do decide to mic up the cymbals then I’d recommend placing two cross over microphones above the drum kit. Again, they should face downwards at an angle.

Each microphone should cross over each other at a 90 degree angle. This will prevent the cymbals from going out of phase. If you don’t perform this action then the cymbals will sound very odd.

When micing a hi-hat make sure that the microphone isn’t facing the opening. The hi-hat will project a lot of air, and if it faces the opening it will distort the sound. Some people like to face the microphone at the top of the hi-hat so that it faces the bell of the cymbal.

Snare Drums

Snare drums usually require two microphones. One of them should be placed on the top to pick up the impact of the drums and another for the bottom to pick up the reverberation of the snare. Again, the microphones should be placed at an angle to prevent unnecessary distortion.

Using this technique will cause the sound to go out of phase. To correct this you need to press the phase shifter button on the mixing desk that the microphones are feeding in to.

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