3 Basic Techniques for Overhead Drum Mic Setup

Recording drums is not an exact science because no two sessions are the same. Drums, studio rooms, and microphones vary so much that there’s no single right answer.

Today, we’ll look at three simple techniques that can be applied to most setups, regardless of style.

drum miking
3 Tips for Recording Overhead Drums

1.         Spaced Condensers    

Here we have a pair of AT4050 microphones set to cardioid positioned above the kit. The spaced pair configuration offers a great deal of flexibility in placement. Position the mics low above the cymbals to remove emphasis from the rest of the kit. Position them at a higher elevation for a more balanced sound. The farther apart you position the microphones, the wider your stereo image will become. Wherever you place them, make sure the overhead mics are equidistant from the snare drum.

2.         X-Y Configuration

The second technique is the X-Y configuration. Use two cardioid condenser mics arranged with the elements as close together as possible at a 90-degree angle. This coincident arrangement offers a focused, phase-coherent stereo image. We recommend a pair of AE5100 microphones mounted on a stereo bar. Place them directly over the snare to keep it centered in the stereo field, and keep them high enough above the cymbals that they never physically pass through the element.

3.         ORTF Technique

The third and final technique we’ll cover today is ORTF. This is another coincident pair of cardioid condenser mics positioned 17 cm apart, angled 110 degrees from each other. For this technique we recommend AT4040 mics. This method offers a phase coherent stereo image similar to the X-Y configuration, but with more width and cymbals relative to the rest of the drum kit.

With these three basic drum mic setup techniques, you can experiment to find the perfect stereo image. Widen your image by widening the gap between your microphones and make it narrow by bringing them together.

How are you setting up your overhead mics? Tell us about your setup in the comments section below! And keep checking the blog for more info.


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