05/01/17

EXPERT’S GUIDE TO MIKING DRUM A KIT

How to mic a drum kit

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A drum kit is a focus piece in many musical performances. Unfortunately it can be difficult to mic optimally because of its size and complexity.
Each individual element of the kit has its own unique sound to capture, yet at the same time the proximity of the instruments creates a lot of bleed. If you want to get the most out of your drum kit you need to pick the right mics – ones that dampen off-axis sound and handle high-SPL – and position them correctly.

Move further into the world of close-miking drums kits with our Mic University articles and videos.

 

HOW TO MIC A SNARE DRUM

The snare drum consists of several large sound sources.

The batter (top) head produces the main tone and overtones. The rim, which is often played by itself (e.g. cross stick) or together with the batter head, produces a so called rim shot. And if the drummer is using brushes, the entire surface of the drumhead is played. The snare (bottom) head with the snares strained over.

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HOW TO MIC A BASS DRUM

The bass (kick) drum is the largest sound source of the entire drum kit and also the one with the lowest frequencies.

The sound of the bass drums differs a lot with the drummer’s choice of size, heads, tuning, muffling and whether or not there is a hole in the front head. Typically, a more jazz-oriented drummer will choose a smaller size (down to 18" or smaller), thin heads and high-pitch tuning.

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HOW TO MIC A HI-HAT & CYMBALS

 The hi-hat is a combination of two cymbals and is played either with the left foot or with the sticks, brushes or mallets. Originally the hi-hat (also called sock cymbal) was positioned very low (30 cm above the ground) and only played with the foot, playing the role of the orchestral or marching band style cymbals.

The two cymbals are rarely of the same sort – their thickness and weight is usually different.

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HOW TO MIC TOM-TOMS

The toms can be miked in the same way as the snare, but toms can have different roles in different music styles and some considerations and genre aesthetics are appropriate.

For jazz it is common not to use toms at all and only get the drum sound balance with accurately placed overhead mics and maybe a bass drum and snare drum mic, whereas as pop and rock drum sound requires a closer miking technique to achieve very isolated tom signals to process individually.

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HOW TO MIC A DRUM KIT

For a quick overview with som great advice, read this article on miking drums.

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EXPLORE FURTHER

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