Drum Mic-ing advice

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Member Since: Nov 19, 2006

I am curious as to how to acheive the best possible drum sound using and Sm-57, and two other unidentified microphones. The snare drum also has a built in mic which can be connected by an XLR cable. This is all going into my peavey 7 channel mixer. I have several questions and would appreciate any adivce.

1-Should I use the two other mic's as overheads, and the 57 as a bass drum mic, and using a xlr cable on the snare?

2-Can a 57 handle a bass drum?

3-Should I just use the 57 and another mic as overheads, then use the last mic for bass drum?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated and I know this isn't ideal gear to work with, but upgrading isn't really an option right now.

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Since: Aug 17, 2004

Nov 20, 2006 08:05 pm

Erm, what do the unidentified mics look like?

If they are 2 identical mics I would go with option 1.

And a 57 can handle a bass drum no sweat :-).

Hold 'Em Czar
Since: Dec 30, 2004

Nov 21, 2006 04:48 am

hmmm yeah it depends on what type of mics they are...i'll assume they're cheap dynamics...also your end goal is important here....are you gooin' live through a PA? or are you talkin' about recording drums?

either way, i'd use the snare's built in mic (if it sounds good), schtick one on the kick, and use the other two as overhead/tom mics (spend some time finding the sweet spot here) IF they're the same brand/model....or maybe not, i donno.

them cymbals are gonna be a struggle if you're not usin' any condensers and tryin' to record.

Since: Nov 30, 2006

Dec 01, 2006 09:52 am

If you want stereo overheads (which I assume you do--some live sound is in mono, but anything being recorded should have a stereo field), you need the overheads to be matched. If the only two identical microphones you have are the generic ones, then they need to go on the overheads.

That leaves, by default, the built-in mic on the snare and the 57 on the kick.

When you are ready to buy more microphones (and what engineer doesn't want to buy more microphones?), you'll want a matched pair of condensors (traditionally small diaphragm condensors) for overheads.

The SM57 is really not a bad kick microphone, since it does not have an internal EQ stage. Some of the newer microphones designed for kick, such as the AKG D-112, have an internal EQ stage, which can subtly overload at the loud SPL levels put out by kick drum. Which means I don't really like any of the modern microphones designed for kick drum. If you can afford it, the older AKG D-12 or D-20 are amazingly good kick drum microphones, but unfortunately every engineer and their brother knows that now, and these mics cost a premium. So, probably just stick with SM57 on kick until you find something better.

Of course, I'm not sure what your internal snare mic is or how it sounds--make the judgement whether that's working for you or not. If not, another SM57 for snare wouldn't be a bad idea. The SM57 has a midrange gank sound that works quite nicely on snare--it's used so often for snare that we tend to expect that sound when listening.

For high hat, a very directional small diaphragm condensor would be good. You'll always have bleed between snare drum and high hat, though, so placement of this mic becomes critical.

Toms traditionally use dynamics. I like Sennheiser 421s.


Since: Feb 07, 2005

Dec 01, 2006 11:49 am

you need the overheads to be matched

Personally I wouldn't worry too much about a matched set (unless you are just referring to two of the same make and model mics). I don't think you would notice a difference when using a matched pair as overheads. If the snare mic isn't that great you could always use it to trigger and replace the snare sound. Use the 57 on the kick for now. If the overheads work out for you then my first purchase would be a kick mic. Then you could use the 57 on the snare.

You may want to take a look at this thread as well. It may help you optimise your drum sound with only a few mics.


Since: Nov 28, 2006

Dec 20, 2006 03:39 am

The SM57 is really a very versatile mic. I use it on electronic percussion gear (Simmons-type drums) and it gets the high highs and most of the low lows. You can use it on any part of the drum set-up.

I agree that getting good cymbals without a condenser is tough. Condenser mics seem to catch the particular shimmering quality of a cymbal better than dynamics.

Mic placement is very important. A good recording can be made with cheap mics if the placement is right and if they're mixed properly. Due to my own barriers to acquiring expensive gear, I have had to mix a full drum set using only two mediocre dynamic microphones directly onto digital and have had good results when the mic placement is right.

You should definitely use the snare mic to give punch to the snare since you have the channel, if it sounds good. Otherwise, I suggest finding a good balance of the three other mics across the drum set. It depends a lot on the type of sound you want to get. If you want a prominent and isolated bass drum, experiment with the three mics and put the one you like best on that. The two others you can use as overheads, or you can place them on either side of the kit - one to catch the crash, hi-hat, snare, and hi tom, and the other to catch the low tom and ride, and probably some of the bass drum - assuming you're using a conventional drum arrangement. My cymbals have been clear even in this option.

I have never used such a limited set of mics as overheads, so I can't comment on that. Try every option and choose the one you like best. I have found that even with a limited set-up you can get a good drum sound. Mic placement and mixing often seem to matter more than the mics you have available. That being said, if you can get two small-diapragm condensers as over-heads and use your SM57 and two unidentified mics to get toms and bass drum, you might be much happier with the sound, and the mixing possibilities overall.

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