Best Drum Mics
Proper mic placement is critical for getting the most sound out of your drum set, whether on a live stage or recording in a studio. Using the wrong mic setup can distort your drum set’s natural tones and provide poor quality sound. This blog will detail how to mic a drum set properly and how Heil offers the best drum mics.
How To Mic a Kick Drum
A kick drum’s size, wood, and heads all play a role in the sound provided. Listen carefully to how your kick drum sounds unmic’d to figure out what needs to be emphasized. Before micing any drum, ensure that your drums are properly tuned.
The mic placement for a kick drum depends largely on the type of front head. Each configuration produces different sounds and challenges.
Solid Front Head
A microphone with a bi-directional pattern, or figure-eight pattern, captures sound from both the front and back of the mic. It simultaneously captures the performer and the audience in live settings, making it a poor choice for live events.
Front Heads With Holes or No Front Head
Front heads with holes allow you to place the mic directly in the kick drum with a short boom stand. Placing the mic directly inside the drum minimizes bleed from other parts of the kit. It also allows you greater control over microphone depth so you can adjust between a sound with sharp attack closer to the beater or a boomier sound further away.
Heil’s Best Kick Drum Mic
We recommend using the PR 48 or PR 40 as your kick drum microphone. Optimized for kick drums, the PR 48 features a custom frequency response that enhances subsonic frequencies while preserving attack and nuances. The PR 40 provides a wide frequency response that is suitable for a range of different kick drum types.
How To Mic a Snare Drum
How you mic your snare drum depends on the application. For example, popular music typically requires a forward and powerful snare sound, while jazz prefers a smoother sound. Because of this, it’s important to find the right microphone for the drum, drummer, and style.
Placement is key for snare drum mics. It maximizes the sound of your snare while minimizing bleed from the rest of the kit. Generally place the mic near the rim of the drum. Moving the mic more inward creates a warmer sound, while moving the mic more outward creates a crisper sound. Angling the mic up toward the center of the drum provides a more open sound, whereas angling the mic down toward the drum provides more attack. Experiment with mic placement to find the sound you want.
Some engineers recommend using two mics for your snare drum, placing one above to capture the attack and overall drum sound and one below to capture the buzz and nuance of the snare. It is important in a top/bottom snare mic setup to have the two mics be out of phase.
Heil’s Best Snare Drum Mic
We recommend using the PR 22 UT for micing your snare drum. It features a wide frequency response, reduced proximity effect, excellent off-access rejection, and a specially designed internal mount that reduces handling noise. The PR 22 UT is an ideal snare drum mic because it properly picks up the blend of the stick, head, snare wire, and shell sound to provide a high-quality, well-rounded sound.
For more details on how these concepts sound in practice please see our video on How to Mic Kick and Snare.
How To Mic Toms
Microphone positioning and angle for toms is generally similar to that for the top of a snare drum. With toms, however, there is the option to attach the mic to a boom stand or directly to the rim of the tom itself. While attaching a mic directly to the tom rim can maximize space in a crowded kit, keep in mind that the mic could pick up unwanted vibration from the drum.
Heil’s Best Tom Mics
The Heil PR 28 was specially designed to be used with rack toms. It features excellent sound isolation, and a special internal design to reduce vibration noise. And the PR 28’s small footprint makes it easy to use in tight spaces. The PR 28 perfectly pairs with our HH-1 mount that can be clipped to any metal-rimmed drum. For floor toms, the PR 40 is a great option to capture the full frequency spectrum of lower-tuned drums.
How To Mic Cymbals
When micing cymbals, it is important to consider the balance between capturing the overall cymbal sound, which could capture bleed from other sound sources, and isolated cymbal sound.
Using the overhead mic technique typically involves placing two mics a few feet above the cymbals to capture multiple crash and ride cymbals simultaneously. This placement strategy adds a sense of stereo spread to your drum kit sound. Spacing is important with overhead mics because they can pick up other drum sound, and phasing issues can arise if the mics are positioned improperly.
Heil’s Best Overhead Drum Mic
Live engineers love our PR 30 microphone for their overhead drum setup because it provides condenser-quality sound while minimizing mic bleed. With a smooth frequency response, the PR 30 can be placed close to the cymbals to de-emphasize the rest of the kit or higher to capture a more balanced sound.
Drummers also have the option to close-mic their cymbals, which offers a more isolated sound for live stages and studio recording. This is typically done to capture the nuances of certain cymbals such as rides and hi-hats. Mics can be positioned from above the cymbal at a distance and angle similar to other drum micing. Cymbals like rides and crashes can also be miced from underneath the cymbal, which can help reduce bleed and maximize space with a crowded kit. Experimenting with placement, mic choice, and technique will help you find the best cymbal mic setup.
Heil’s Best Cymbal Mics
Our PR 31 BW was co-developed with legendary front-of-house engineer Bob Workman. It features a high-frequency response characterized by a prominent mid-range focus. The shorter body makes it ideal for small access areas, such as under the cymbals, and the excellent rear noise rejections deliver professional sound isolation while eliminating bleed. Our PR 22 UT is also an excellent choice for close-micing a hi-hat, providing crisp and clear sound.
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Heil Sound: Providing High-Quality Dynamic Mics for Drums
Heil Sound provides some of the best drum mics available. Our industry-leading dynamic mics for drums provide professional sound quality in both live performance and studio settings. Discover more today and see how our drum mics enhance your sound.