Selecting and maintaining your cymbals as discussed in the previous sections of this guide are essential parts of developing a professional drum sound and attitude. Making sure that you, your band and your audience can hear your cymbals is equally important. Any acoustic instrument has physical limitations and forcing it to compete with amplified instruments on stage puts it at an often overwhelming disadvantage. Today more than ever, it is the drummer’s responsibility to ensure that their cymbals, as well as the drums and other percussion effects, are properly heard.
In studio applications, a drummer will work with the producer and sound engineer to find the right mic’s and recording techniques to capture the full range of drum and cymbal sounds. In live rehearsal and performance situations, it is in a drummer’s best interests to understand how to mic, mix and monitor his or her own drumset—and possess the necessary equipment.
Beyond the obvious benefit of amplifying the drums in live situations and recording them in the studio, there are other reasons to mic the drums.
- Even in low volume conditions, drum miking can add a higher level of comfort to your playing and presence to your sound.
- Miking gives you control of your sound— letting you balance the volume and equalization of your kit separately and with the band.
- With your own mic’s you won’t be at the mercy of a sound person who may not have the right quality or quantity of mic’s to cover your set-up.
Purchasing your own mic’s, a mixer and monitors may not seem high on your priority list at first but it’s an investment that will pay off quickly by saving you money on replacing sticks, heads and cymbals. More than that, it may ultimately save your hearing and your hands while advancing your knowledge and your career.
Optimum live cymbal miking is accomplished through the use of a dedicated mic on the hi-hat and two overheads. These mic’s are then mixed with the rest of the drum mic’s and sent to the drummer’s inear or external monitor speakers and the house PA system.
Use a separate mic with a tight frequency range, sensitivity and pattern for the hi-hat (). Position the mic 3-4˝ above the open, top hi-hat cymbal at 10 o’clock and pointing straight down.
To capture the sound of the other cymbals, position two mic’s with a wider range, response and pick-up pattern on boom stands over the drums and 12 to 18˝ above the highest cymbals (). Place one at 10- 11 o’clock and the other at 1-2 o’clock. For the best overall coverage pattern, angle the mic’s downward at around 45° and pointing towards the middle of the kit.