1) Set up a drum kit in a recording studio. 2) Set up the microphones for the drum kit. 3) Take the drum kit away. Viola - the picture you see here.
he photograph is an actual set-up for one of our recording sessions. The band before us was packing up and asked, "do you want us to pull down all the drum-kit mics and stands?" Our reply was a unanimous, "Noooooo!"
Ok, anecdotes aside you may be wondering what's the best way to set up microphones for recording your drum kit. First up, trust your engineer. If it looks like they know what they are doing and sounds like they know what they are doing they probably do. Ask them questions, "why are you putting a microphone inside the kick-drum and also outside?", "why are you using two microphones on the snare?" The should be able to give a good explanation.
What if you are setting up microphones yourself though? A few factors such as what microphones you actually have, how many and how much time you have come into play. Use the following tips as a guideline for setting up microphones for your drums.
If you have two condenser microphones one option is to place them at about your drummer's head height to the left and the right of the kit. That way you get a basic stereo sound. You could try them on the drummers side of the kit (to his left and right) or in front of the kit to the left and right.
1 mic Overhead position above the kit (move a little to achieve desired sound). 2 mics as with one microphone and use the second microphone on the bass drum. 3 mics same as two mics and add your third microphone near the hats directed at the snare or snare aimed at the hats. 4 mics use microphones three and four in similar concept to the first tip of two condenser mics - use 3 in a good snare/hat configuration, use 4 near your floor tom. 5 mics add a microphone between the toms. 6 microphones give the snare and high-hats individual microphones. Any more microphones? Build on the previous steps.
As to what types of microphones to use? We'll save that for another lesson.