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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Drum Mics

2. The Drum Kit

Before making your first recording with your newly purchased mics, first take a look at the drum kit itself - a poorly maintained, bad sounding kit will sound just like that, however good your recording of it! Before putting mics anywhere near the kit, check for unwanted noises, rattles or buzzes from loose harware and ill fitting drum heads, and oil any moving parts. Much to the chagrin of the drummer, an engineer will often go around adjusting each drum to get the sound as good as possible at source, checking for what a drummer might miss, but that a microphone won’t. Does the kick drum need dampening with a spare pillow or blanket inside the shell? Do you need to adjust the snare and tom tunings, or dampen any excess ringing with gaffa tape? Inexperienced drummers may not be very good at tuning their kit – it may well pay you to take a lesson with a good teacher just to do this – a well tuned kit can make more difference than all the processing your computer is able to provide after the event.

A standard "5 piece" drum kit is usually consists of a kick drum, snare and three toms, plus a hi-hat, ride and crash cymbals. Each are very different in sound and function, which is why as a rule, engineers will use a different mic for each part of the kit. Another important factor when miking drum kits is the stands - accurate microphone positioning is critical both in terms of how the source will sound, and whether the drummer ends up whacking your precious purchase! So don’t go for the cheapest stands for this type of application as they will often be more difficult to make small adjustments to, and their booms may be prone to slipping under the weight of the mic.

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