Drum Miking Techniques

I’m currently doing some recording with my band, and I was looking for some ideas on how to mic our drums.  We decided to dedicate a recording session to drums alone, so I knew I would have more time and input channels than usual to devote to drums, and I wanted to make the most of that opportunity.  I figured I’d want to close-mic the kick, snare, and toms, and put up some overheads, primarily for capturing cymbals and the overall stereo image of the kit.  I decided to spend some time investigating overhead miking techniques to try to get the best overhead setup possible.

I found useful articles (with audio examples!) on RecordingHacks and on the Shure blog.  The audio examples in both articles are excellent and do a great job illustrating the resulting sound of each technique.  Here are my thoughts after listening to them:

  • X-Y sounds very good, but results in a very narrow stereo image.  I would probably decide against it for most pop/rock-type drums.  It seems like it’d be best for jazz, and for songs that want more of an understated drum sound.
  • Spaced pair results in a really nice, wide stereo image.  It definitely seems like a great choice for rock drums.  The high risk of phase issues suggests that this is a technique that requires a lot of attention to get right, but the results seem worth it.
  • ORTF results in a somewhat narrower stereo image than spaced pair, but sounds very natural.  It seems like a technique that can get very good results without too much setup hassle.

A friend of mine also suggested that I try the Glyn Johns method, but it sounds like an advanced enough technique that I’d probably save it for a later session, once I’ve had more drum recording experience.

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