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How many mics on a drum kit? Condenser Microphones
Old 11th September 2007
  #1
Gear Addict
 

How many mics on a drum kit?

I'm going to recording a blues band next month. I always use sampled drums in the music I do but an artist has asked me to record his band and so live drums. What is the normal mic setup for drums? I'm figuring kick, snare, 2 overheads and then I start wondering. Does the high hat get a seperate mic and how about the toms? Thanks in advance.
Old 11th September 2007
  #2
Gear Guru
 
Glenn Kuras's Avatar
Robert,

Please don't take this as a put down, but if you are that green on micing a drum set then you may want to bring in someone (who really knows how) to help you mic it up. If this was just some friends then you could try all kind of set ups, but if someone is paying you then you may want to give up that portion of the money to a pro and learn from it.
There really is no answer to your question, but MAYBE!

Glenn
Old 11th September 2007
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
Jon Harter's Avatar
I'd say mic'ing kick, snare, hihat, toms and overheads seperately is a pretty standard thing these days.
Old 11th September 2007
  #4
kick, snare & 2 overheads is a popular configuration around here. run a search, there are many schools of thought on this topic.

i started out close micing everything & am reducing mic count as i progress. hihat & toms tend to bleed into everything else so if yer overheads are good those should do the trick. some tracks it's nice to have em seperated to play with. depends on the budget & level of production. might want to play with yer mics & a kit before show time.
Old 11th September 2007
  #5
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I have had good results with a 4 mic set up like you described. Kick, snare, and 2 over. That would be a great place to start. My advise is to get the best, most natural sound with the overheads first. Once you get a nice balance of the entire drum kit then move on to the kick and snare. Good luck!
Old 11th September 2007
  #6
Gear Addict
 
Zarathustra's Avatar
 

Cover all the bases so you can solve more problems while mixing, and consider getting some assistance on the session.

1 Kick (inside or beater side)
2 Kick (outside)
3 Snare (top)
4 Snare (bottom)
5 Hi Hat
6 Rack Tom 1
7 Rack Tom 2
8 Floor Tom
9 OH Left
10 OH Right
11 Room Left
12 Room Right
Old 11th September 2007
  #7
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Sands View Post
blues band...normal mic setup for drums? I'm figuring kick, snare, 2 overheads and then I start wondering. Does the high hat get a seperate mic and how about the toms? Thanks in advance.
Kick, snare & 2 overheads is a great place to start. For blues stuff, close mic'ing toms and hi-hat should really be optional unless this is more of a ROCK project. Position the overheads higher or lower to taste, and if you're not familiar with stereo mic'ing and phase issues to watch out for, you may want to stick with coincident or near coincident positions (rather than spaced pair). ORTF maybe 6 feet in the air, depending on the room, will likely capture enough space as well as the kit.

It's all to taste, but this is likely a good place to start.

Best of luck!

War
Old 11th September 2007
  #8
Gear Guru
 
henryrobinett's Avatar
I never mic the Hi-Hat. But I do put spots on the toms. Kick, snare, 2 overheads, toms. It also depends on how dynamic the drummer is.
Old 11th September 2007
  #9
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gsilbers's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
Cover all the bases so you can solve more problems while mixing, and consider getting some assistance on the session.

1 Kick (inside or beater side)
2 Kick (outside)
3 Snare (top)
4 Snare (bottom)
5 Hi Hat
6 Rack Tom 1
7 Rack Tom 2
8 Floor Tom
9 OH Left
10 OH Right
11 Room Left
12 Room Right

yep. thats it. remember that that setup goes in the studio time and takes about an hour or so to setup. maybe less or more depending on problems etc.


(and watch out for phase issues with the kick mics and snare mics.
also the drums itself should sound good also. so tell the drummer to tune them.
Old 11th September 2007
  #10
Gear Addict
 

Thanks to all. I have thought about bringing someone in to assist so that is totally cool that you suggested that mifipie.
Old 11th September 2007
  #11
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T_R_S's Avatar
3 Kick Two inside one dynamic one condenser, one outside
3 Snare top, bottom and side
2 on each tom one dynamic one condenser
1 Hat
1 Ride (OR one top and one bottom)
1 Mic for every cymbal
1 stereo overhead
1 mono room
1 stereo room
Old 11th September 2007
  #12
If in doubt, mic everything separately and when mixing start with the OH and kick mics. Then add whatever else you feel is needed...
Old 11th September 2007
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
Cover all the bases so you can solve more problems while mixing, and consider getting some assistance on the session.

1 Kick (inside or beater side)
2 Kick (outside)
3 Snare (top)
4 Snare (bottom)
5 Hi Hat
6 Rack Tom 1
7 Rack Tom 2
8 Floor Tom
9 OH Left
10 OH Right
11 Room Left
12 Room Right
I'd add a smash mic (pointing somewhere between kick and snare, dynamic, and distort the mic pre).

But I'd agree with the previous poster - get the kit in the overheads, reinforce the kick with inside and outside mics, and go from there. The OH mics are NOT just for the cymbals!
Old 12th September 2007
  #14
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jmikeperkins's Avatar
How many mics to use on drums just depends on the room, the drum kit, the drummer and the style of music you are recording. If you are in a fairly small room, have decent drummer, and a kit that sounds good, then I think 12 mics is way overkill (but some people use that many and more). Too many drum mics, especially in a small and reflective room, can easily create phase problems and make the kit sound smaller rather than larger. A lot of the really classic drum tracks that people worship, such as Bonham/Led Zeppelin, used only 3-4 mics and not something like 12.

J. Mike Perkins
jmikeperkins.com myspace.com/jmikeperkins
Old 12th September 2007
  #15
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PhilE's Avatar
Ive got great results with 3 mics for some stuff but I've had over 30 up on kits before now - obviously different kits and different desired results. I have to agree with Glenn that an experienced pro in this area might be a very good call for your project.
Old 12th September 2007
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
SixAndChange's Avatar
 

Start with an amazing drums set, above all else, get the greatest drum sound before you even think about where a mic is going to go. Then make sure your in a good room, or a good part of the room that compliments the drum sound. IE: Are you on carpet, hard floor, in the corner (where bass response is often times accentuated) WHERE IS THIS KIT?

Then maybe you can mic it or something haha.

U-67 3 feet back, mid-top of the kick pointing forewards. That would be some fun.
Old 12th September 2007
  #17
IF he is a good drummer and you don't have enough mics the do the recorder man method.
Old 12th September 2007
  #18
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johnwayne's Avatar
 

With not much experience, you should try to use as few mics as possible. Blues is all about the feel. You want to convey that with the overheads and a room mic. I would also use a FOK mic.

Here's my suggestion.

Kick in
Kick out
Snare top
OH R
OH L
Room Stereo
FOK

To me Blues songs these days sound like complete crap.
Everything I've heard is so close miced and compressed it has no dynamics and feeling.

Don't be that guy who produces blues that is way overcompressed.
A blues set should sound natural and big. Lots of overhead picking up the full kit.

To me the blues sounded great in the 60's and 70's. SRV had a nice sound, but everybody else went the other way in the 80's.

Listen to old BB king, Buddy Guy, Otish Rush, Cream, Allman Brothers, Freddie King, Derek and the Dominoes. Now you will have an idea of what a blues kit should sound like.

Make it sound good in the room, then hit record. Don't process the hell out of it. You should be able to get something decent if you know what you're listening for.

Only my opinion, so take it for what its worth.
Old 12th September 2007
  #19
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lowfreq33's Avatar
 

Last kit I mic'ed was a 4 piece. 15 mics.
On kick: 421 inside, fet 47 outside, subkick outside.
Snare: 57 top, ksm137 bottom.
KM84 hat, ksm137 ride.
Ksm44's OH
C414XLII's on toms
Tube 251's for rooms, plus a R121 and a Blue Kiwi as mono kit mics about 6 feet out.

I don't plan on using every mic on mixdown, the royer and the blue are sort of "just in case" effect mics.

Everything went to API's except the overheads, Neve 1066's, and the Kiwi hit a Daking. I know there was an La2a and a couple Distressors in there somewhere, as well as an spl transient designer, plus 2 1176's. Also a dbx 160 and a 160 vu.

Crap, I forgot I had a Telefunken M269 in one of the iso booths with the door open squashed through the ssl channel strip.

I think there's something wrong with me.
Old 12th September 2007
  #20
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
For a simple traditional blues vibe and a good/kit/room/player:
Simple is better.
One overhead
Kick out front
Snare
maybe toms,but if the drummer is good.he'll play to the room and balance himself.
..maybe a room mic, if the music needs it.
Old 12th September 2007
  #21
Lives for gear
 
FossilTooth's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
Cover all the bases so you can solve more problems while mixing, and consider getting some assistance on the session.

1 Kick (inside or beater side)
2 Kick (outside)
3 Snare (top)
4 Snare (bottom)
5 Hi Hat
6 Rack Tom 1
7 Rack Tom 2
8 Floor Tom
9 OH Left
10 OH Right
11 Room Left
12 Room Right
This is pretty much the basic, standard, all-purpose drum mic setup for recording any 'modern' style of music. It's also the standard order in which you'll find them plugged in. It's fairly forgiving, and leaves the mixer with options. Many good mixers are likely to throw away one two, or even a handful of these mics in the mix.

In small rooms or less flexible rooms, I might replace the stereo rooms with a mono room, or replace the rooms and out-kick with a FOK mic. If I was going to go crazy, I might add a smash mic, a snare shell mic, a clicky-kick mic, and even an alternate mono overhead.

To those of you who say that fewer mics sound better.... well, my answer is "yes", with an "if".

The best sonic productions start with a clear mental picture. If you know exactly what kind of drum vibe you want for a particular song, you should definitely, definitely, definitely take the time to get the drums sounding right in the room. If done correctly, this may take a while. Get those suckers sounding the way they should. Then, you should spend time making 3 or 4 mics really work for the sound you're going after. Again, if done correctly, this should take some time. With any luck, and depending on what you started with, you should be tracking sometime soon after lunch. Then, you've got to work with drummer to hammer out arrangement and feel issues when applicable.

When it comes to basic everyday sessions, 12 mics setup in an hour or less in more or or less tried-and-true positions starts to sound like a pretty cool deal. AND, you get to bill more during mixdown. ....unless of course you do flat rates for mixes. The other method mixes itself if done well.
Old 12th September 2007
  #22
Gear Guru
If you're inexperienced, I'd definitely go with the 12 track list. "Kick , snare and a pair" is probably the optimum choice for a raw blues sound, but if you're recording to a DAW, tracks are free. It's better to have tracks you don't need than to get to the mix and wish you had something you didn't record.
Old 12th September 2007
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
CommunityMart's Avatar
 

I tryed to post the following about 16 minutes ago...

This is your first time micing? Just use one overhead mic!
You have to crawl before you can walk!

Just put the microphone about 1 foot above the drummer's head to his right about 3 inches, pointed about at the snare,toms&ride (the middle)...

or use this thread.

or watch the Recorderman method on YouTube.
__________________________
Listen to me here (sometimes):
Just throw up the overhead mic like you know exactly what you're doing, but if they ask of you what they want to do, become humble and modest. Most of the time, when you act like you know what your doing, you can learn and get payed.


Good luck
Old 23rd March 2017
  #24
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
Cover all the bases so you can solve more problems while mixing, and consider getting some assistance on the session.

1 Kick (inside or beater side)
2 Kick (outside)
3 Snare (top)
4 Snare (bottom)
5 Hi Hat
6 Rack Tom 1
7 Rack Tom 2
8 Floor Tom
9 OH Left
10 OH Right
11 Room Left
12 Room Right
Thanks, I just passed my Recording Techniques Midterm with that list.
Old 23rd March 2017
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
Cover all the bases so you can solve more problems while mixing, and consider getting some assistance on the session.

1 Kick (inside or beater side)
2 Kick (outside)
3 Snare (top)
4 Snare (bottom)
5 Hi Hat
6 Rack Tom 1
7 Rack Tom 2
8 Floor Tom
9 OH Left
10 OH Right
11 Room Left
12 Room Right
this is what I often do as well. If im trying to slim things down, i end up using only one room mic and no hi hat mic for a total of 10 mics(5 piece kit assuming).

Never less than 10 unless it has less toms than 3.

Start reading today about proper phase relationships between mics and how to take it a step further and correct phase issues within your daw(not just flipping the phase button, but moving things into phase. plenty of good tutorials on the net).
Old 23rd March 2017
  #26
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Sands View Post
What is the normal mic setup for drums?
In my opinion, there is really no such thing as a normal mic setup for drums. When I record drum sessions, I mainly consider 4 things

- The drummer
- The room / recording environment
- The mics / equipment available for the sessions
- The desired end result (reference records, production aesthetics...)

don't let your limitations be an issue: work with what you have and make the best of it.

Having said that, If the band likes some gritty, old-fashioned blues tone, you can make great recordings with minimal micing! Search "glyn Johns" drum technique on youtube or have a look at the, Blumlein technique, which could allow you to treat the kit as a single instrument (rather than micing individual drums) and get a really nice old fashioned sound!
Old 23rd March 2017
  #27
Lives for gear
 

I know it is not your question but you already received enough answers, I must warn you that it is almost impossible to record a good drum sound in a small room (i.e bedroom, 2 car garage...) especially if it is square, low ceiling and untreated surfaces. The loud sound bounces back and it always sound horribly boxy whatever you do with the mics. FYI

In my experience the drummer and the room are much more important than how many and what type of mics you use
Old 23rd March 2017
  #28
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by numero6 View Post
I know it is not your question but you already received enough answers, I must warn you that it is almost impossible to record a good drum sound in a small room (i.e bedroom, 2 car garage...) especially if it is square, low ceiling and untreated surfaces. The loud sound bounces back and it always sound horribly boxy whatever you do with the mics. FYI

In my experience the drummer and the room are much more important than how many and what type of mics you use
I basically agree with you here, but I've recently had a bit of a revelation on this subject. I'm not saying I get good drum sounds in bad rooms now, but I have just made a dramatic increase in quality.

Most of my drum recording work has been good drummers playing jazz in decent rooms, and almost always at live performances where room mics would be useless. As such, I almost exclusively record kick, stereo overheads, and occasionally snare, and it usually sounds exactly how I want.

However, when I try to record my own drums in my free time at home, it's always in a basement room with low ceilings, and it always sounds boxy and weird. Better drums and a better drummer would certainly help, but the room is clearly a big part of the problem.

The revelation came when I got a new pair of mics to use as an M/S pair. I started trying them all over the place and found that 3-4 feet in front of the kit, between waist and chest height, sounds pretty surprisingly good (still not like my sounds from great rooms, but good for a basement at least.) At first I credited my new awesome mics, but then I tried them as overheads and got the ultimate boxy sound. I think maybe the problem is that they're too close to ceiling when used as overheads, and that they work much better at mid heights, father away from all reflective surfaces.

Again, I'm not claiming to get a great sound out of a small room, but the improvement was stunning when I went from overheads to mics out front.
Old 23rd March 2017
  #29
Lives for gear
 

The way pros go around the bad room problem is to use drum replacement.
Old 23rd March 2017
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by numero6 View Post
The way pros go around the bad room problem is to use drum replacement.
Not all pros. Some will do whatever it takes to produce good authentic recordings without the use of samples.
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