Record a Drumkit with 4 Microphones

Ever been short of input channels or microphones? Here is a tip that can save you and still get the job done. Try using only 4 microphones on the drumkit; one kick, one snare and two overheads. My favorite kick mic of course is the AKG D12, but other good mics are the Electrovoice RE-20 or Sennheiser MD421. Place the microphone inside the kick drum or outside, but try to refrain from placing a mic in the drum head hole as there is a good deal of air passing in and out. The Shure SM-57 pointed at 45 degrees to the top rim of the snare and in close is a good place to start for your snare sound. Condenser mics are best for overheads, especially a pair of large diaphragm condensers like Neumann U87 or Rode NT1. Adjust the height and depth into the kit to get the right balance between the toms and the cymbals. Even if you have many microphones around the kit in the studio, try turning them off and go for a minimalist approach. You’ll be surprised how full and open the drums will sound and without the phasing problems of close miking. In fact, many classic recording were done with only 3 or 4 microphones on a kit. Led Zeppelin recordings of John Bonham’s drums were typically recorded this way, getting a full room sound and the natural sound of the drums.

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