There are a wide variety of Latin percussion instruments with different tonal qualities. Incorporating the right ones on the right tracks will provide tasteful accents that make your song really pop. Audio-Technica is here to help you with mic selection and placement for the most common Latin percussion instruments.
Try a pair of AT4050 multi-pattern condensers set to cardioid on the congas. Position the mics about 9″ above the outside edge of each conga. This position maximizes isolation for the widest possible stereo image.
For timbales, try a pair of ATM450 cardioid condenser microphones with the pads engaged to handle the large dynamic range of the drums. Place the mics about 19″ above the outer edge of each timbale to capture a proper balance of shell, head and cowbell. Again, keeping the mics above the edge of each drum will widen the stereo image.
On the cajon, we are using two mics. The first is an AT4047/SV cardioid condenser positioned about a foot in front of the instrument to pick up the bulk of the sound. Second, we use an AT4080 ribbon microphone about 8″ from the port on the back to capture the low end. Keep the mic from sitting directly in front of the port to protect it from the high SPL there.
For a djembe, we’ll use a similar approach with two mics. Again, we have an AT4047/SV on the front of the drum to capture most of the sound. We have an AT4050 set to figure 8 to capture the extreme low end on the bottom of the drum. Setting it to figure 8 extends the low-frequency response of the mic without making it too roomy.
These techniques with A-T mics can give life to your Latin percussion and your overall track. Enhance your mix with the proper mic positions, and experiment until they suit your particular instruments. Check out the full video below, and keep checking the A-T blog for more pro tips!