Drum Microphones

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About Drum Microphones

Drum Microphones are an integral part of any live setting or studio, and microphone knowledge can be useful for any drummer as well. With various polar patterns, and types of mics it's easy to get overwhelmed but it can be simple, and you'll find most drum microphones are designed for specific jobs. First off you have dynamic and condenser drum microphones. Dynamic microphones are generally more rugged, can handle higher sound pressure levels (volumes) and are not as focused on the high frequencies. Condenser microphones require more care, they generally don't handle pressure levels (volumes) as high as dynamic microphones and they also require phantom power from an interface. Condenser microphones do a very good job at representing the high end and thus they are usually used for detail orientated jobs such as cymbals, and ambient mics.

Drum Microphones like all other microphones also have polar patterns which can also be very simple. Starting off would be an omnidirectional mic, this will pick up sound in all directions, good for ambient or overhead use. Bi-directional or figure 8 patterns pick up sound in front and behind the mic, again this can be good for ambient, or overhead use. Cardioid mics pick up sound in front of the microphone, these types of mics are good for close micing specific drums.There are also Super Cardioid and HyperCardioid which pick up sound in front and slightly behind, with Hyper Cardioid being closest to a Bi-directional mic, these can find varying uses when micing a drum kit.

Why Do I Need a Drum Microphone?

  • To reproduce the sound of your drums in high quality
  • You may need more than 1 drum microphone for different purposes
  • They are great for live or studio use
  • You can learn what microphones work best for your kit/playing style

Frequently Asked Questions about Drum Microphones

Question: I want to record my drums but only have a 2 channel audio interface, what can I do?
If you are looking for a roomy open drum sound, you could experiment with a multipolar pattern microphone such as the Sontronics Orpheus or Rode NT2000 to get a sound you are happy with. Alternatively, you could expand on your interface. Some audio interfaces feature an ADAT input which allows you to easily add extra microphone inputs. We believe it's worth confirming if your audio interface supports this approach because expanders such as the Audient ASP800 or Presonus' Digimax D8 both feature high-quality preamps and will allow you to record the individual tracks to your DAW. Finally, you could use a mixing desk and run the outputs to the two input channels on your audio interface but you will only be able to record a stereo mix of your drums. This approach was the norm until the early 70s.
Question: How many mics does my drum kit need?
It's all personal preference. Some situations may call for close mics on as many drums as possible, some situations may be great for a raw single ambient mic approach. A standard kit can be mic'd for maximum flexibility with a kick mic, snare mic, tom mics, hat mic, and 1 or 2 overhead mics.
Question: What type of mic is best for drums?
Just like there are lots of different types of drums there are lots of different types of mics. For drums such as Snare, Kick, and Toms usually you usually will want a cardioid mic to minimise bleed between drums. Dynamic mics are also good for these purposes as they can handle higher sound pressure levels and these mics are not focused on producing such a detailed high end. For cymbals usually a condenser mic is used to produce a clear detailed high end. Experimentation with microphones has led to some of the best recorded drum tones throughout history.
Question: What do drum mics do?
Drum mics allow you to capture the sound of your drum or kit in great detail; this could be for recording or live performances.
Question: Do I need a drum microphone?
If you plan on recording your drums, yes it's important to have drum microphones. While some other microphones can do a good job, drum microphones as their name suggests are designed for drums. Not only to capture the best sound but also to withstand the powerful sound of certain drums.