Realistically speaking, how many microphones minimum to record a 5-piece acoustic drum kit ?

Eric V

Inquiring mind wants to know
I am seriously considering buying some drums, instead of using my drum machine. If I bought say a 5-piece kit, how many mikes should I have? An overhead condenser, and 5 SM-57s do the trick? One for kick, one for snare, two for riding toms (one each), one for floor tom. Condenser for overhead? Am I anywhere near being close in my guess?
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
That's a matter of preference, the goals and the acoustic space. One could conceivably do it with one mic at a distance, but for most modern music, that's not going to work. I generally have a kick, snare, overheads and close tom mics. I don't generally need a high hat mic, but there are times when I might use one, like for reggae. Some people use a distant pair in addition to the standard setup I described, but you need an acoustic space that allows for that.
 

VomitHatSteve

Hat STYLE. Not contents.
Bare minimum? 1: Stick a 57 maybe 6" above the beater head of the kick and point it more or less straight down (maybe angled a little towards the snare)

A slightly less ridiculous minimum? 2: Condensers placed somewhere in the room perpendicular to each other.

Really tho, I'd recommend 4: Two condensers as ovehead, a dynamic on the kick, and a dynamic on the snare. 57s are good for the snare, but you want something with more bass emphasis (like a d112 or a d6) on the kick
 

Papanate

Active member
Bare minimum is 1 microphone - an LD Condenser - my minimum is a 3 microphone setup following the Glynn Johns diagram.
images
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, the answer to this question is really down to you.
What kind of music do you record, what instruments are part of your equation and how prominent in the construction of your songs are the drums likely to be ? Based on those considerations, the answer could be 1, 2, 3, 4 5 or 7. Or more. Are you up for experimenting ? Do you play drums ? Is the drummer a smasher, a pounder, a tickler, a stroker or a well-balanced crafter ? Are they an orchestral artist that feels the music and constructs as they go ? Are they basic Bill ?
Ha ha, I'm so awkward, but life and music recording are kind of nuanced.
 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
Honestly what you’ve outlined isn’t necessarily bare minimum, but it’s frankly not a bad start to a mic locker. Get a pair of condensers, preferably LDCs. Spend the rest on dynamics. I think there are better cheaper kids than the SM57, but they are industry standards for a reason. If you insist on going that route maybe consider subbing a couple 58s. Sound the same and work the same in many situations, but 58s are better if you end up needing them for vox or something.
 

Eric V

Inquiring mind wants to know
At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, the answer to this question is really down to you.
What kind of music do you record, what instruments are part of your equation and how prominent in the construction of your songs are the drums likely to be ? Based on those considerations, the answer could be 1, 2, 3, 4 5 or 7. Or more. Are you up for experimenting ? Do you play drums ? Is the drummer a smasher, a pounder, a tickler, a stroker or a well-balanced crafter ? Are they an orchestral artist that feels the music and constructs as they go ? Are they basic Bill ?
Ha ha, I'm so awkward, but life and music recording are kind of nuanced.
I am not normally a drummer, but a church has adopted me as their drummer for the time being. That said, I am also recording with a drum machine and was thinking of buying drums to kill two birds as they say. I'm definitely NOT a basher. I'm a string basher usually. So we will see what kind of drummer I become.

Thanks all, for all the quick and very thoughtful responses !
 

PorterhouseMusic

Active member
Not my dept. or specialty - but a drummer friend and I have had good results in the past with one mic on the snare (SM57), one mic on the kick (AKG D112), and two overheads (condensers of your choosing - like maybe a couple of inexpensive AT2035's). Simple and effective. Approx $500 for those 4 mics.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
The thing with drums is that it always depends on circumstance. People are absolutely correct, for some styles, like jazz as an example, one mic might be perfect. I’ve done it. In a perfect space, with just headphones and drums. Add in a guitarist with an amp, and a bass player and mic quantity MUST go up to get separation. The kick drum will be replaced with the bass and the guitar gets in everywhere. You close mic everything and separation returns, apart from in the overhead(s). They still get spill, but it’s lower do you filter it out.

this is why recording drums well is do damn hard! One mic per drum kit component is the simple solution or you get screens, panels and gizmos to try to shut other stuff out.
 

DM60

Well-known member
Not my dept. or specialty - but a drummer friend and I have had good results in the past with one mic on the snare (SM57), one mic on the kick (AKG D112), and two overheads (condensers of your choosing - like maybe a couple of inexpensive AT2035's). Simple and effective. Approx $500 for those 4 mics.
I think everyone is correct, but if you want a pretty decent recording and get good kick and snare control, I think this would get you there in a very good way.
 

Eric V

Inquiring mind wants to know
Well thanks again to all. I have to say, because there are so many different scenarios listed in the various responses, I feel a little bit late in saying how I would plan to record the drums, It would be in my living room which has hardwood floors and paneling walls (old house) so I hope paneling isn't going to be too reflective. I would record the drums, and then add a new track, record bass guitar etc. one track at at time. I have no choice, as there are only two of us, so live is not an option. But all these great replies have allowed me to see all the many different configurations. Very appreciated everyone.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Reflections can be good! Your method is very backwards though.

With two people you first need to decide how to record the timing. Sometimes, you can slap up one mic on the drums and if the other instrument is piano or guitar - just record you two - like a jam - then you go back and replace everything - but you have a track to play to. Or - you set up a click and then play to that, adding drums when the track makes that sensible. I don't think I have ever started with a drum track. It sounds very hard to play, and sync to,
 

Eric V

Inquiring mind wants to know
Reflections can be good! Your method is very backwards though.

With two people you first need to decide how to record the timing. Sometimes, you can slap up one mic on the drums and if the other instrument is piano or guitar - just record you two - like a jam - then you go back and replace everything - but you have a track to play to. Or - you set up a click and then play to that, adding drums when the track makes that sensible. I don't think I have ever started with a drum track. It sounds very hard to play, and sync to,
I was going to use a metronome and the other guy play bass, to record just the drums.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
What DAW do you use? Very few drummers would like to do it this way - they feed off the push and pull, and respond to the music. I've been thinking back. I don;t think in 40+ years I have ever recorded drums first, unless I was going to re-record them once the tracks were added from the others.
 

Eric V

Inquiring mind wants to know
What DAW do you use? Very few drummers would like to do it this way - they feed off the push and pull, and respond to the music. I've been thinking back. I don;t think in 40+ years I have ever recorded drums first, unless I was going to re-record them once the tracks were added from the others.
Reaper - i get your point Rob, thank you. This is why I ask these things.
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
I pretty much always record drums first, but with the rest of the band (or most of it) also playing. I'll run the instruments direct so they don't bleed, and I'll have the singer face away from the kit and sing a bit softly, just for navigating the song. If I can also capture the bass with the drums, great, but I generally end up re-tracking everything over the drums. I don't like click tracks, I like musicians interacting.
 

Eric V

Inquiring mind wants to know
I pretty much always record drums first, but with the rest of the band (or most of it) also playing. I'll run the instruments direct so they don't bleed, and I'll have the singer face away from the kit and sing a bit softly, just for navigating the song. If I can also capture the bass with the drums, great, but I generally end up re-tracking everything over the drums. I don't like click tracks, I like musicians interacting.
That is more in line with how I watched my brother's bands do it....play live, record the drums to that performance, then add bass, etc....which it seems Rob disagrees with. So confusing to know what to do.
 

Tadpui

Well-known member
That is more in line with how I watched my brother's bands do it....play live, record the drums to that performance, then add bass, etc....which it seems Rob disagrees with. So confusing to know what to do.
Just find what works for you. Try it different ways and see what's most convenient and yields the best results. What others do or don't do doesn't matter beyond giving you ideas to try. I'd say just get in there and start trying things.

As for mic setup, I'd recommend starting with a 4-mic setup (if you're doing stereo) or 3-mic setup (if you're doing mono). A pair of the same large or small diaphragm condenser mics to act as overheads, and a couple of dynamics for spot mics on the kick and snare is a great setup to start out with. That gives you enough mics to try all of the popular mic setups like Recorderman, Glyn Johns, spaced pair, X/Y, and you can experiment with the condensers as overheads or room mics. If you start thinking that there's not enough of some kit piece in your drum mixes, then you can always add additional dynamic mics as spot mics and blend those into the drum mix.

Miking drums is challenging, but rewarding. I've been doing it for years and I'm still not particularly good at it :)
 
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