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How to Record Drums With Only Two Microphones

The miking of a drum kit often turns out to be very complex and offers a large number of approaches from a purely technical point of view.

But of course there are minimalist ways that can be used for various reasons.

Not everyone has a large number of inputs on the audio interface they use or enough suitable mics for multitrack miking. Sometimes you just need a quick setup to capture an idea, a rough take or to create a drum loop.

Here are four suggestions for such a “quick setup”, for which only two microphones are needed:

2-mic setup 1:

A pair of condenser mics is used here for “Glyn Johns” inspired miking. The mic above the kit should aim vertically at the snare, the other from the position behind the floor tom should do the same horizontally. The distances must be measured out and be identical, otherwise phase problems can occur. The drums will sound quite natural but will make it impossible to emphasize individual elements of the kit.

@hofa_audio_engineering Recording drums with 2 mics can sound great if you consider the right technique. It’s about the right position and respect for a simple rule. (Listen with headphones) Try this out and follow us for more recording hacks. #drumrecording #audioengineering ♬ Originalton - HOFA
2-mic setup 2:
The latter does not apply to the second version, which, with a dynamic mic at the “kick out” position, allows for largely separate signal processing of the bass drum. The second mic, a large diaphragm condenser, in turn picks up the drum set from above and is aimed at the snare. A creative exaggeration of the kick track, e.g. with a compressor in a sidechain or a simple boost of the low end, are two conceivable approaches.
@hofa_audio_engineering Another technique to record drums with 2 mics that makes your day! (Listen with headphones) #drumrecording #recordinghacks #miking ♬ Originalton - HOFA

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2-mic setup 3:
Here, the positioning of the first condenser mic, which looks over the drummer’s shoulder and is directed downwards towards the skins, captures some of the attack, while the position of the second condenser from the front, at the height between bass drum and snare, picks up the warmer punch. These two characteristics complement each other very well and bring a balanced image to the whole kit.
@hofa_audio_engineering Who needs 14 mics on a drum set when you can bring things down to these basic techniques? (Listen with headphones) Try this out and follow us for more recording hacks. #recording #audionengineering #drumrecording ♬ Originalton - HOFA
2-mic setup 4:
A variation of the first and third option offers this possibility, which requires re-aligning with the snare at exactly the same distance from the point of impact. In this case, the condenser mic is in front of the drum kit at a distance of about one metre and at the same height to the snare, while the condenser mic on the right behind the drummer at the same distance assumes a compromise position between examples 1 and 3, and in this way reproduces a hybrid in terms of sound.
@hofa_audio_engineering 2 Mic Drums Part 4 🥁 Drum recording fun with drum mics as for nailing your ideas quick and easy. (Listen with headphones) #miking #recording #audionengineer #drumrecording #recordinghacks #audioengineeringlove ♬ Originalton - HOFA

In the end, the application area and personal taste as well as the creative use of these techniques are decisive for the final result and can also be used as a starting point for further experiments in drum miking.
Have fun!

Learn more about drum recording and miking with the HOFA-College online courses in audio engineering.
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Author

Hilton Theissen
Hilton Theissen
Hilton has been a professional musician and composer for 30 years and a music producer for 20 years. His band projects have allowed him to gain extensive experience in the metal, trance, indie and pop scenes. As a songwriter and producer for labels, companies and renowned publishers such as BMG, Universal Music Group, Imagem and Bosworth, he developed themes for Paco Rabanne, ARAL, Ratiopharm and Luxembourg’s Next Popstar. He also worked with artists such as Sash, Joachim Witt, Jan Koemmet (Accept), La Honda (feat. Eko Fresh, Azad and Xatar) Mark Gemini Twaithe (The Mission, Tricky, Peter Murphy) and Paul Raven (Killing Joke, Ministry, Prong).

One Response

  1. Hi, great and very useful tips.
    I would also recommend a slightly more expensive but “better sounding” option.
    1 stereo AKG C-30 condenser mic (stereo width according to taste) placed above drummer´s head, orientated towards the snare.
    1 dynamic (decent quality AKG or, in my case, Electrovoice RE20.
    I have recorded a couple of jazz/fusion jazz records with this combination.
    Best regards.
    I have been us8ing HOFA-staff for years (all plugins and mastering software).
    Andrzej Poniatowski
    Sweden

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