Posted on 08-07-2011
Filed Under (recording) by Jon Stinson

The one that is the most minimalist, basic, and straightforward… the one that you have seen work well for someone more experienced than you.

You don’t need a ton of mics to properly record a drum kit and make it sound huge. Glyn Johns didn’t when he recorded John Bonham’s kit.

You would be surprised how much you can do with even just two or three 57′s, no matter what genre of music you’re working in. I’ve recorded folk-rock/americana records, post-punk records, and even prog-rock records, all only using four or five mics to record the drums.

To be honest, I’d even go so far to say that the less mics you have on the drums, the bigger they will sound. When you place a lot of mics on an instrument, you introduce a more complex phase relationship. And when microphones are out of phase, that’s the number one reason for a recording sounding small. So the less mics, the less phase discrepancy, the bigger the sound.

Two take-away’s here:

  • The notion that you need a ton of mics to get a good drum sound is unfounded
  • The notion that you need expensive mics to get a good drum sound is also unfounded

Next time you record drums, start with just three or four mics at first, and only introduce more mics into the equation if you feel like something is truly lacking. But make sure every time you add a mic, you reevaluate the phase relationship of everything.

Twitter: @stsn

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