How to best record a drum set is a slightly complicated subject. Most of the difficulty lies with how many sounds you have to capture at once. A basic drum kit consists of:
One snare drum
Two toms (possibly three if there's a floor tom)
One bass drum
Two overhead cymbals
One hi-hat cymbal
For those of you who weren't keeping score, that's up to
How to Mike a Drum Set
For miking a drum set, there are a few different schools of thought on the subject. The first school says “more is more”: Place a microphone on as many separate parts of the drum set as you can so you can control the level and balance as you mix. Here is an example of a fairly extensive microphone setup for a basic drum set:
One dynamic microphone for the snare drum
Two dynamic microphones for the two toms
One dynamic microphone for the bass drum
Two overhead condenser microphones to pick up the two overhead cymbals and ambience of the drum set
One dynamic microphone for the hi-hat cymbal
That's a total of
The other school of thought says “less is more”: Use fewer microphones for a more ambient sound. The thought behind this is that a good drummer takes care of his or her own balance, so there
Two overhead condenser microphones
One dynamic microphone on the bass drum
One dynamic microphone on the snare drum
Using that setup will give you a more open sound that you won't have to spend days mixing together. Putting the separate microphone on the snare drum allows you to tweak its sound and add reverb if necessary. Putting the separate microphone on the bass drum allows you to set the EQ on that drum if it gets too much bass and sounds “muddy.” You can get a great drum sound this way.
Drum-set microphone placement
Bass drums, also commonly known as “kick” drums, are the lowest frequency in the drum set. Because the drum shell is so large, it's really easy to get an overly “thumpy” bass drum sound, no matter how hard you try to reposition the microphone to get rid of it. You can easily solve this by placing a muffle inside the bass drum to get rid of some the excess ring and thump. Towels, pillows and blankets work well in this regard. Experiment with the sound to see what you like. Some bass drums sound fine without any help, so only when you test the microphones, will you hear what needs to be done.
Tune your drumheads. Better yet, replace them with new ones, and then tune them before a recording. New drum heads sound great and record well. There are many books available on this subject, just check out your local bookstore or music shop for information on proper drum tuning. Having a properly tuned drum set can make all the difference in the world.