The foundation of a strong drum sound lies in the kick drum. And since drums are the backbone of your instrumentation, the first step to creating a great song is setting up your kick drum microphones properly.
We have a few tips to get you started on the right foot…
Kick Drum Mic
1. The basis of a good kick sound is a large dynamic microphone like the ATM250. We recommend that you position the mic inside the bass drum. This will capture the snap of the beat around the batter head while isolating the rest of the kit. Position the microphone off-center to strengthen the low-end. A dead center approach will yield a weak sound.
2. You can move the drum microphone back and forth between the batter head and the front head. This will adjust the relative amounts of the attack and the low-end in this microphone’s sound.
3. The second microphone is usually placed in front of the resonant head. Your best bet is a large diaphragm condenser microphone like an AT4047/SV. Since every drum is different, it will take a little trial and error to find the sweet spot on your drum for the mic to sound best. Avoid positioning this second mic in front of the hole to keep the mic from picking up too much of the batter head.
*When using the two-mic setup, the interior dynamic mic can be positioned for maximum attack and mid-range punch while the exterior mic provides most of the low-end. The two mics can be combined to create an ideal balance.
4. If you’d rather just use a single mic in the studio, another option is to place the mic just outside the hole. This captures the attack of the batter head through the hole while getting the low-end from the front head. Don’t put the mic right inside the hole, however, because the SPL at this point is very high, and can overload even the most robust pre-amp.
5. Finally, you can go for the 2-in-1 solution, the AE2500. This mic offers both a dynamic and a condenser element in a single, perfectly phase-aligned housing. The dynamic element captures the attack and the mid-range punch while the condenser element, with its 10 dB pad and 80 Hz roll-off, captures the low-end. Together, the elements provide a full-range sound in a single compact package.
With these five tips for recording kick drums, you’re well on your way to producing that ideal sound. As with all recording, and with drums in particular, you’ll need to do lots of testing on your own to find the sweet spots for each mic. When you find it, it’s a beautiful thing, and your kick drum canprovide the basis for the rest of your mix.
How are you setting up mics on your kick drum? Tell us about it in the comments section below, and keep reading the blog for more tips!