thread: Miking toms
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Old 5th July 2009
Gear Maniac
Osse_87's Avatar

Originally Posted by norman_nomad View Post
Some things that have worked for me...


- Position the mic so the diaphragm it's just peaking over the rim of the tom pointed flat across the tom or pointed slightly at an angle towards the center of the head. Flat across the rim will capture more shell tone, angled will capture more stick hit and "thunk".

- Hold your hand in a fist - this is the approximate height the mic should sit above the rim. Adjust by ear and find a place where the proximity effect gives the tom some weight.

- Point the tom mics towards the snare for additional snare reinforcement.


- For kits with multiple toms, tune them in musical intervals. 4ths or 5ths. Use a tuner to tune each lug if you have to. Something like 10"=E, 12"=C#, 13"=A#, 14"=G, 16"=E works well for rock. Heavy genres tend to have lower tuned toms which produce less note and more smack. Tuning your toms musically even with lower pitches is still important.

- Top head + bottom head tuned to the same pitch delivers a sustaining pure tone. Most modern heavy genre's have toms which have the top head tuned slightly lower than the bottom head to achieve that pitch bending 'doo' sound. One technique is to tune both heads to the same pitch so that you get a even pure tone, then drop the top head by a semi-tone or by ear until you get the right amount of pitch bend. You'll lose some sustain, but this is generally preferable in modern music. Lowering the pitch of your top head equally across the toms will still maintain their musical coherence.

- I usually prefer single ply heads for toms in recordings (even heavy genres). They will wear out quickly but they produce more smack/tone. They require more disciplined tuning efforts however.

- Hit them hard.


- For modern stuff: Big bass boost for size, big low-mid cut for clarity, big upper mid boost for smack/stick sound. Be careful with 8k and above as too much will make them sound too 'clicky/flappy'. Compress/Limit to taste. Pan aggressively.

- Modern genres tend to require unnatural separation between instruments so you may end up gating the toms. If you're applying extreme processing the bleed may not work anyways. Don't hesitate to experiment with some bleed however... the toms can often help glue together the kit in a nice and unexpected way, especially if your completely replacing kick/snare. In some cases it may work to your advantage to duplicate the tom tracks and process them specifically for the best 'bleed' sound and then include the the other gate/processed tom tracks for punch.

- Automation + Transient Designer is your friend.

- Don't be afraid of reverb.
I can second all of that.