First Things First
Let’s face it, tuning, seating, adjusting and tweaking the drum kit aren’t very glamorous OR fun. We drummers like to play! When it’s time to record – we just want to set everything up, quickly throw microphones around the kit and hit record. Not so fast, my friend. Before we get ahead of ourselves, mic placement around the drum kit requires patience and a little trial and error.
There are a pile of resources on the inter-webs explaining how to place mics around the drum set. For example, there are overhead placement techniques out there that can result in a very different sound. There are snare drum mic’ing techniques claiming to give you the best snare drum sound.
Here’s the thing: at some point, ALL of these techniques were discovered by someone experimenting! Yes, there have been plenty of great mic placement choices in use for a very long time. There is a reason that the Recorder Man and ―Glyn Johns methods are so popular – they work! But do they work for you?
Consider coming up with the insert your name here method.
Use Your Ears, Listen Back
Before setting up the mics around the kit and going to town, think about why you’re placing the mic there. Eq’ing drum tracks in your favorite DAW can actually be fun. However, mic placement is EQ! For example, think about the very first thing you always do when you EQ your toms. Perhaps there’s too much low end? If this sounds like you, consider adjusting the tom mics further away from the head.
Once you do, hit record again and listen back. The absolute best mic placement for the drum kit is one that sounds great to your ears. There is a reason why the "big boys" in the recording business prefer the drummer to arrive at the session early (or the day before) to get good drum sounds.
Take your time. Adjust the mics. Hit Record. Listen Back. Repeat.