Electronic Insights: Drum Miking 101, Part 1: Single-Microphone Setups (From the January 2015 Issue)

by John Emrich

In this series of articles we’ll look at how to mike a drumset, starting with a single microphone and adding one each time until we arrive at a complete close-mike configuration. The idea behind the series is to help you fully understand how the placement and distance of the microphones from the drums affects the overall sound.

You may not think a single mic can do that great a job of capturing a full drumset sound, but you’d be surprised. There are no hard-and-fast rules in drum miking. The bottom line is the final outcome. By starting with just one mic, you can really focus on the acoustic balance of your drumset. Are you getting too much hi-hat in the mix? Maybe you’re hitting it too hard. If the tone is dead and lacks sustain, you may need to look at the condition of your drumheads and adjust your tuning. My point is, don’t automatically assume that it’s a bad microphone or bad mic placement that’s preventing you from getting a good sound. It could just be a matter of addressing your touch and dynamics.

There are many options for where to place a single mic to capture an entire drumset, but we’ll focus on three positions. As you’re watching, listen for the sonic differences between the three mic positions and how the changes in distance from the drumset affect the attack, tone, and definition. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I get a clear representation of the drumset and a good overall tone? Do I hear the attack of each instrument? Is the sound clearly defined? And are all of the drums and cymbals evenly balanced? Advertisement

For the complete article, check out the January 2015 issue of Modern Drummer, which is available here.

Special thanks to Omega Recording Studios and Scotty O’Toole for helping us put this series together.