Recording a Drum Kit

The drum kit is one of the loudest, most complicated sound sources to record. Although there are many different recording methods, some common techniques and principles have been outlined below.

A basic drum kit consists of a kick, snare, toms, hi-hat and cymbals - see figure 1 below.

A good drum sound should have a quality live feel to help them cut through the mix. This is usually achieved by keeping the drums in a large open space to allow the sound to fully develop and combine with the room’s acoustics.

yamaha stage custom drum kit
Fig 1 - Basic drum kit

If the drums are being recorded along with other instruments, they should ideally be placed in another room to prevent bleed through to other microphones.

It is important to make sure the drums are properly tuned and that there are no rattles or resonant frequencies present.

Recording Considerations

There are three primary considerations to remember when miking up drums:

1. Sound Pressure Levels (SPL)

Remember that drums produce a high sound pressure level, especially when miked up close. Dynamic microphones can handle higher SPLs than condenser microphones.

2. Leakage

Be aware that leakage between microphones can often be high. Try and avoid this problem by careful choosing microphones with a correct polar response and position.

3. Proximity Effect

Be aware of the proximity effect on the bassier drums, such as the kick and toms.

Recording Individual Drums