Question: How do you mike musicians in a House of Worship? (Part 3, Drums)
Answer: In this part of our ongoing musician miking series, we will explore a few of the many ways to mike a drum kit for a live sound reinforcement application in a house of worship setting. Microphone count and placement can vary widely, from a couple of different strategically placed models to several different models with a mic on just about every single piece of the kit. So how do you determine which setup you should go with and which mics are right for you? Start by considering the obvious. Setup time – is it a factor? Inputs – how many inputs on the console are available to you? The room – what is the size of the room and what are the acoustic qualities of it? Isolation – are you concerned about the bleed of other instruments or noise into your microphones? And last but certainly not least, budget.
Consideration 1: Setup time. If you do not have the luxury of leaving your kit and/or mics set from one service to the next, and the time it takes to set up and be worship-ready is a concern, you may want to go with a minimalist approach. A 2-to-4 mic setup can enable quick setup and provide good sonic results in many live sound settings. At the very least, place a large-diaphragm model, such as our PRO 25ax or ATM250 Hypercardioid Dynamic Microphones, on the kick drum, then use a boom to position a cardioid pattern mic, such as our popular side-address AT2020 or ATM450 Cardioid Condenser Microphones, overhead and centered over the kit. Time permitting, you can expand on this by adding a good dynamic microphone, such as our PRO 63 Cardioid or ATM650 Hypercardioid Dynamic Microphones, on the snare top to provide more control over the tone and level of the snare. Should you desire to create a stereo image of the kit, add a second overhead mic. The degree to which you pan the left overhead mic to the left and the right overhead mic to the right will determine the width of the stereo image. Note that these two mics should be identical models. A dedicated kick and snare mic allow you to focus in on the tone and level of each to lay the foundation, while the overhead mic(s) capture the toms and cymbals and provide a good overall representation of the kit as a whole. In addition to enabling quick setup times, a minimalist approach can also help reduce or eliminate the possible phase cancellation issues inherent in a multiple mic setup.
Consideration 2: Inputs. Are there enough inputs available? Will you need to add a microphone combiner or sub-mixer between the kit and the main console, or can you simply do the job with fewer mics and still get the results you are after?
Consideration 3: The room. How large is the room and what are the acoustic qualities of it? In a small room you may be able to get away with fewer mics compared to what would be required in a large auditorium. Rooms with feedback issues may require the use of less sensitive microphones and/or microphones with tighter pickup angles.
Consideration 4: Isolation. Concerns over the bleed of other instruments or noise into your microphones should have some bearing on microphone selection. A tighter pickup pattern, such as a hypercardioid versus a cardioid pattern, can help reduce the pickup of unwanted sound arriving at the
front and sides of the microphone. Using microphones with less sensitivity can also help. Generally speaking, dynamic type microphones are less sensitive than condenser types. They also have very high maximum SPL handling capabilities, enabling close-miking of the instrument. Close miking will require less gain at the console and less microphone gain helps minimize the pickup of any nearby unwanted sound.
Consideration 5: Budget. Obviously, the budget that you have to work with has to be considered. If you do not need recording-quality (i.e. very low noise) microphones, you can save yourself a considerable amount of money. Many entry-level to mid-level microphones are durable and capable of producing good sound. Just make certain they have the frequency response needed to faithfully reproduce the instrument and the high SPL handling capability needed to get the job done. Keeping the number of mics used to a minimum will help you stay within your budget; 2 to 4 mics are typically less expensive than 8 to 10, but make certain you at least have enough mics to get the job done.
For more tips, read our previous post on miking drums at a festival and watch our Drum Mic Basics video series. If you have additional questions or would like a recommendation for an Audio-Technica microphone, free to contact the Audio Solutions Team. We are always happy to help.
Read the next installment in this series: Part 4: How to Mike a Piano and Organ in a House of Worship