Recording engineers pick microphones depending on many different reasons, such as: • what you’re recording • where you’re recording • available mic selection •
For overhead mic-ing you can’t go wrong with a good pair of pencil condenser mics. A favorite ‘go-to’ mic that I like to use is the Neumann KM 184. You can purchase a pair of these in a great protective case that allows you to keep all your mic assets together in one place, always a good idea.
A good rule of thumb for mic-ing overhead drums is to place the mic as a spaced pair either approx. 18 inches above the cymbals – or – spaced equal distance away from the snare (use string to measure this to be sure). If you have a hard hitting drummer who favors a certain cymbal you may want to position that mic even a bit further away. 😉 There are many angles to choose from to position the mics, this will depend on which cymbals you are trying to highlight, or if you’re just trying to get a general capture of the whole kit. Don’t be afraid to experiment & play around with positioning your mics to find the places YOU like to record from best!
*An extra option is putting a ribbon mic up in the middle of your spaced pair, with a little tweak on the upper end of the EQ on the track to add excitement to the mix.
Always be sure to test all mic levels individually before you start recording. Different mics are more sensitive than others so settings for one may not work the best for another. Keep in mind… any time you spend checking/setting the best levels… will equal time you save in editing & trying to fix tracks that have peaks in them.
Which are YOUR favorite microphones to use for overhead drum mic-ing, & why…?