Drum Mic types and techniques are extremely important in a live mix. Just remember though that the weakest link with affect your sound. In other words, if your pa sucks for the venue you are at then it doesn’t matter how good your drums, drum heads, tuning, drum skills, mics purchased, etc is because, well, the pa sucks.
Lets talk about some microphones.
Here is a mixed sample of the types of mics mixed and matched to get a solid drum tone – frequency:
- Toms – Sennheiser MD421
- Snare – sm 57
- Hi Hat – Can get away with using 1 Shure sm57 for snare and hi-hat if placed correctly
- Overheads – Shure sm81
- Kick – AKG d112
Click here to view matched sets from the same manufacturer: https://www.sweetwater.com/c982–Drum_Microphone_Bundles
In selecting your specific mic:
- Each Drum sound operates within a specific frequency range
- Each microphone operates in a specific frequency range
- Get the mic that matches the correct frequencies and narrow down to 2 or 3 mics. Then test each one to figure out which one works best for your live shows.
When you are listening to the drums mic’d, you will need to listen to them out in front of your pa, otherwise it is not what the people will be hearing. As a simple trick go ahead and put your phone about 50-75 feet in front of your speakers placed in the middle of the speakers. Record with your phone playing your left rack tom about 15 times with about a 2 second interval between hits. Then go to your right rack tom and hit about 15 times, then next drum, etc. Then go out and listen to your phone recording to hear how they sound. When all your drums sound good then do a full band mix with your sound guy, while recording on your phone, and then listen to your phone to hear what basically your audience will hear. This is really tough to do on a gig as people are generally in the room and hearing what they are perceiving as an annoying drummer repeatedly banging on his noisy drums. It may be best to rent a room for a half day to test your drum setup, mic’ing techniques, mic levels and settings, etc. See if your local music store will let you buy the top 2 mics you think you will use for say your kick drum so you can test them both out in a live scenario. Then return for a refund of the mic that u liked least. Doing this testing in your small practice area will not get you accurate results.
Multi-use Drum mic
There is a new drum mic out there now that will record all your drums fairly accurately for under $ 500.00, which is inexpensive compared to buying multiple mics, one for each drum and cymbals. Remember, each mic has to be installed, wired, mounted, tested for levels, feedback, best frequencies for each room. This takes time to do. With this new style mic it basically takes a minute or 2 to setup. I will probably buy one of these and test it out. I like the idea of a quick setup since drums take so long as is to setup. Reducing sound check time is always a welcomed concept. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqQKWOV7d3k&feature=youtu.be