Drum Miking

2 mics mono recording on drums

my equipment is limited and i record drums using two mics overhead & kick going to a mic mixer (ordinary mic mixer radio shack) then to a mono preamp, i know its primitive but can anyone give suggestions to optimize the drum sound with this kind of set up. really cant afford equipment right now so i’m stuck to this setup. thanks


Is two tracks (“stereo” line in) out of question? If it’s not out of question I would mic the kick and route it into another channel and route a sound of a well positioned overhead into another.

You’d be able to balance the kick with the rest of the kit quite nicely that way during the mixdown.

Assuming you actually have two tracks to work with (that is, you should be able to scare up another preamp cheap - how about a berry 802 mixer for 60 bucks or whatever they are?):

You have several options, and the one that will work best is really a matter of the room, the kit, the player, the mics, and what you want it to sound like. You can do a single OH mic, or a single OH mic plus a kick, or two OH mics, or an OH and a room mic, or snare and kick, where the snare is placed to pick up the right balance of cymbals and such. For quick recordings when I’m writing and want drums I have been using a snare and a kick mic, with the snare mic pretty much on top of the snare so I don’t get a lot of HH. Then balance the two mics and compress the whole thing a bit, and it sounds like 1971. A sound I like. :) Cymbals sort of expand in the background, snare is clearly defined, the whole kit sounds like a whole kit. Anyway, if you really have only one track to work with, it’s just a matter of getting the sound right as you record it, and that’s just a matter of experimentation. In that case it would also be helpful if you had a couple of hardware compressors, to tighten up things going in.

So: what kind of room are you in? If it’s a basement like me, then you are pretty much stuck with close micing techniques, IMO. If it’s a nice sounding room then the room mic may be the way to go. What kinds of mics do you have? Any outboard equip? What kind of sound are you looking for?

Also - the most important things are actually the sound of the drums themselves and the skill of the player.

Anyway, this is what I’ve concluded after messing around with drums on my own for the last year or so.

For kick i use nady dm 80 and a local dynamic mic for OH (600ohms). my preamp is just mono so i cant split them in two. any way i just record on our living room with the furnitures removed. i like the 70’s sound too but i want it to add just a little fullness. currently what i do is what you last suggested toms, but am having problem with the balance of snare & hi-hat. HH sound is too mid rangey. anyway i guess i should invest on a new stereo preamp. does the stereo preamp sold on electronic stores ok? or maybe you can help me find a schematic … thanks to you & varakeef for your time & suggestions.


The mid rangey sound is probably the mic - is it something like a radio shack dynamic? It also might be palcement to some extent. Where do you place the mic in relation to the snare and HH?

You should be able to get decent low end from the DM-80, not quite as much as from their DM-90 (larger diaphram size), but it should be pretty good for kick - I use a superlux that is pretty close to the DM-80 in design and response.

If mcmelectronics still has the AT bite mics for 9 bucks, I’d think about getting one of those for snare - they sound a bit brighter than an sm57, and it’s the cheapest decent snare mic I’ve found - and then something like the little berry mixer. That would improve your sound a bit, enough to make good demos, I’d think.

Living rooms can often sound really good - our living room has plastered walls and ceilings, and where the wall and ceiling meets it is curved, which breaks up some of the standing waves, so when we move the furniture (and use the sofa cushions as sound treatment) we can get a pretty decent, fairly lively sound. Of course, the kids have to be away for the day, at school or at their grandparent’s house…so usually it’s the basement for me…and it sounds like a basement… :( One thing I have really learned: the sound the drums and drummer actually make is by far the most important thing, then the room acoustics, then mics, then preamps, compression and Eq and reverb ans such…

why are you going from a mixer to a preamp- most mixers ARE preamps. what model of mixer and preamp are you using, we may be able to give you a stereo channel if set correctly depending on what you have.

Yeah. What RadioShack mixer are you using? this RS one is stereo and line level output (that means it is a preamp) and 40 bucks.

[edit] BTW, I mean that as an example saying “is it something like this?” not as a product recommendation. [/edit]


my preamp and mixer are two diff. units. my mixer is just a mic mixer w/o preamp not like what you’ve shown savingedmund.

really? hmm. odd. why would you make a mixer with mic level output only? that’s weird.


One mic for the kick & one overhead but closer to the snare/highhat (high enough so it gets the cymbals) - same as others have suggested.

Actually, Mr. Soul, I was suggesting just kick and close snare - let the cymbals bleed through the snare mic, but have it right on top of the snare. I hate recordings where all you can hear is the click click clack of the high hat…

Moral of story - it’s really hard to effectively mic drums with 2 mic’s!

Quote (Mr Soul @ Dec. 16 2004,12:30)
Moral of story - it's really hard to effectively mic drums with 2 mic's!

On the contrary. The most efective way to get a good drum sound is to use two mics, one overhead for the complete picture and additional mic for kick.

The efectivenes comes in many forms:
1. Cost - it's cheaper to buy just two mics than 10, multiple preamps etc.
2. Time - it's a lot faster to get the balance right with a well positioned overhead and kick drum mics.
3. Ease - it's very hard to make really stupid mistakes in balancing different drums with each other. It's more less likely to get swallowed into phase problems with fewer mics

The only downside is the lack of ultimate control and the lack of stereo image. Using stereo oh is a solution for the latter problem, however.

Grain of salt alert: I'm old school, less is more.

I have to say that as a beginner in recording drums it has proven to be much easier to get useful results using two or three mics, rather than 8. I figure in a couple of years I’ll have it figured out. :)

Soul, if you just left out “with 2 mics” in your statement, I think it would be absolutely correct:


Moral of story - it’s really hard to effectively mic drums!


Less mics is almost always easier, and will get better results (more realistic) as long as the room is semi-good. Multi-micing introduces a host of problems that are always compensated for in some way or other, usually through gating, phase flipping, slight delays, and mostly EQ.

As some have suggested - kick, snare, and somewhere else.

I suggest kick, snare, and over the floor tom. This is an old an long standing way to get a good spread of the drums. Back the snare and floor tom mic away from the normal close micing technique so that they are equidistant from the kick, and when panned far left and right the sound of the kit as a whole is still centered.

During mixdown pan them both to the center, then slowly pan them out, with the snare mic staying a little more centered. There will be a panning that will still have the snare centered sounding, because of pickup in the floor tom mic (yes you DO want all the bleed) but will sound like a nice stereo spread. It won’t be extremely wide, but it will sound natural. Then bring up the kick mic as a support of what’s there.

This is a slight variation of a four mic technique that adds another overhead mic that is centered above the drums and over the kick. It’s measured the same distance away from the kick as the floor tom mic. You can see the pattern. Place the mics around the drums near what needs most low end support, but keep them the same distance away from the kick. That will make the kick in phase in all the mics. That is VERY important.

Another three mic variation is to move the snare mic up to the overhead location - like the four mic technique, but the snare mic is gone. This is what George Martin used on Ringo in the earlier recordings, but he added the snare mic in later recordings. (I base this in pictures I’ve seen where you can see the drums mics). One mic over the mounted tom facing down a few feet up, one over by the floor tom facing in, and one out in front of the kick facing the front head. All mics, including the kick mic are the same distance from the kick, so the kick mic is a few feet out in from but facing right at the center of the head. (though later the mics were moved closer so they did end up mostly close micing in the last stuff, like the rooftop recordings).

The drums must be tuned well in the first place because what you hear is what you get when recording this way.

I went looking for an old Any Johns interview her he detailed a lot off the way he miced drums in the past and couldn’t find it. I think it was an excert from the Tape Op interview. Anyway…



Check out the Andy Johns interview is Issue #39
(January/February 2004) of TapeOp magazine. He gives a detailed overview of recording techniques he used.


On the contrary. The most efective way to get a good drum sound is to use two mics, one overhead for the complete picture and additional mic for kick.

If it's so easy, how come every "home" recording of drums I've made or heard, sounded like it was recorded by a amateur (like myself :-)? How come the pro's can make drums sound good? Because they use only 2 mic's - I seriously doubt it.

On my band's recent live CD, we used 3 mic's on the drums and got a reasonable sound, but no where's close to what I would consider a "pro" drum sound.

Soul toker, my sense is that the difference has to do with the room, the player, the drums, the technique, the preamps, and then perhaps the mics. :)

Really, the room is it, I think, although I have come to believe that a really good drummer is just about the rarest thing on earth - that is, soemone who knows what not to play, how to play, and how to tune a kit. Not many folks out there like that.

Soul toker, my sense is that the difference has to do with the room, the player, the drums, the technique, the preamps, and then perhaps the mics.
Sure - I agree that all these things are extremely important, but I've used good mic's and worked with good drummers, and my drums don't come out sounding like pro drums. Does anyone else's here on this forum?