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Can You Record Drums With Just 1 Mic?

October 31, 2013

Can you really record drums with just one microphone? The answer is – yes! You can record drums with just one mic if that’s all you have, and still get half-reasonable results! The tip is to experiment with mic placement. Trying to get a balanced sound of a whole drum kit is going to be challenging, so getting creative with the mic is a must.

For you bedroom studio artists, you’re most likely going to have a two channel interface with something like an SM57 and a large diaphragm condenser like a Rode NT1-A, or something similar. In the example below, I placed a Sontronics STC-2 large diaphragm condenser microphone just below the ride cymbal and in between the mid tom and floor tom. The mic was angled towards the snare and hi-hat. The mic is cardioid pattern.

The drawback of just using one mic is that you’re left with a mono drum recording; although, this enforces phase coherency, as you’re not battling with two or more microphones. To get some sort of stereo, send the drum recording out to a stereo reverb and blend it in with the dry signal, that way you’re giving the drums a sense of space even though the recording is mono. In the mixed example below, I added some basic EQ, some parallel compression and reverb. That’s it!

*I’m a pretty lousy drummer!

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