The MP3 audio examples below accompany my feature on minimal drum miking in SOS February 2021. Hi-res 24-bit WAV files are available in the downloadable ZIP file.
In the article, I explain five techniques I tried for capturing a drum kit with just two microphones. For each audio example I've provided a 'raw' version, which is a balance of the two microphones used with panning if appropriate. Additionally, I've included a 'mixed' example for each technique which shows what is possible with a little experimentation at the mixing stage. You could go a lot further than I have of course, depending on what sort of material you're working on, and it's just to give you a quick taste of what is possible.
All the recordings were captured in the same spot in a small — 3m x 5m — room and the microphones varied depending on what I thought worked best from my collection. For all the examples I used the preamps on my Audient ASP2024 console with no additional processing at the recording stage.
I demonstrated in the article how to do the well-known Glyn Johns technique and I used a pair of AKG 414ULS large diaphragm capacitor mics. In this example, the mics are panned 45 degrees to the right and 65 to the left.
I used a transient designer plug-in to reduce the ring of the mic pointing across the floor tom along with an EQ cut at around 700Hz. Across both mics, I applied a touch of compression along with an EQ dip at around 350Hz to get rid of some boxy frequencies.
I used a Beyerdynamic M160 pointed in front of the kit and a FLEA fet47 microphone positioned across the room to capture some low end. This is the RAW sound of both mics combined.
This is the technique that required the most processing by far to work. The M160 mic is heavily compressed with a sharp EQ boost at 180Hz to bring out the body of the snare. I've also applied a little tape echo to give it a 'vintage' sound. The low-end mic is heavily gated so that it's predominantly the kick drum coming through and then steeply low-pass filtered at 100Hz. This mic is just for adding bottom end. There's also a little more overall compression on both mics.
I used a pair of AKG 414ULS mics for this technique and this is how they sounded in their RAW form. Each mic is panned 45 degrees left and right.
This technique didn't need much to bring into focus with some gentle EQ cuts around 83 and 750Hz helping to reduce some low and mid build-ups. I also used the Oeksound Soothe plug-in to smooth the cymbal sound out slightly along with a touch of compression across both mics.
For this technique I used an Earthworks SR25 as the overhead, with a Sontronics Sigma 2 positioned between the toms. This is how they sounded when balanced together.
For the tom mic, I used a transient designer to reduce the ring from the drum shells along with an EQ cut at 750Hz to bring some focus. The overhead mic had a little boost at 180Hz to add some weight to the snare. Both mics had a touch of compression along with an instance of the Soothe plug-in to remove some cymbal harshness.
As I explained in the article, this technique uses two mics close-positioned towards the snare and kick drum. I used a Sontronics Sigma 2 and a Shure SM7 balanced slightly in favour of the Sigma 2.
I played around with cutting some lower mid-range frequencies on the ribbon mic to try and balance the body of the kick against the snare drum. Across both mics, I then used a tape emulation plug-in — driven hard — and some spring reverb to try and give it a certain feel.