Getting a great kick drum sound can be difficult, and how you choose to mic and mix your drums depends on the genre of music. For popular music styles, such as rock, pop, or dance it is essential that the drums become the backbone and power behind your music; particularly when it comes to the kick drum. Tonal preferences vary, but most will try to capture either the weight (low end thud) or the attack (click of the beater), and in many cases it’s preferable to capture a blend of both.
This can be difficult to achieve… Placing your mic inside the kick drum and pointed towards the beater will capture the attack. Alternately, positioning a mic just inside the drum or at the air hole, will give you more weight and less attack. So how do you capture the best of both worlds?
Great Sounding Kick Drum with the Beta 52 & Beta 91 (Get the ‘thud’ & the ‘attack’)
Shure make 2 different kick drum mics, both with their own distinct advantages. The Beta 52A is optimised for low-frequency bass punch and is the best Shure microphone for capturing the weight of your kick. The Beta 91A, on the other hand, is also optimised for kick drums but performs particularly well when placed inside the kick drum to capture the attack.
A popular microphone technique is to use a combination of the beta52 and beta91 to capture the best of both. This double microphone technique is sometimes referred to as ‘in & out’ – here’s how it works: position the beta91 inside the kick drum and the beta 52 near the sound hole as previously described. The concept is to play each microphone to its strength and blend them together. In any situation where a multiple microphones are used to capture one instrument there is the potential for phase cancellation. For the best results, be sure to experiment with inverting the phase on one channel to ensure the most coherent sound.
Shure Drum Mastery – Learn from the Pros
The technique described in this post is one method for capturing the ideal kick drum sound. There are many other techniques used by professional engineers using a wide variety of mics. The important factor is to read up new techniques, listen to others, and experiment to find what works for you. In the following video taken from our Shure Drum Mastery Series, Application engineer Tom Colman talks to professional drummer Darren Ashford about mic technique for drums, including the method described in this blog post.