Drums, drum set (7 questions and replies)

How would you suggest to mike a drum kit, i.e. type of mic and distance from each instrument?
John Gomez

Reply:  A typical Crown mic setup for a rock drum set is two CM-700s overhead for cymbals, a CM-700 on the snare drum, and another in the kick. If necessary, add more CM-700s close to the toms. Each tom mic is about 2 inches above the head and 2 inches in from the rim. The snare mic is about 2" over the rim, and the cymbal mics are about 2 to 3 feet over the cymbals. To get a tight kick drum sound, put a pillow or blanket inside the drum bottom, pressing against the beater head to tighten the beat. Cut a few dB around 400 Hz to remove the papery sound.

If you don't have Crown CM-700 mics, try cardioid dynamic mics on the drums and cardioid condenser mics on the cymbals. Some people have simply used a PZM-30D or PZM-6D on the drummer's chest, or on the ceiling over the drum set.

Often you can mike a jazz drum set with just one or two cardioid condenser mics (CM-700) overhead, plus another mic of your choice (like a CM-700, PZM-30D or GLM-100) in the kick drum or near the kick drum head.

Here is a link to the Crown Microphone Application Guide for Studio Recording, which has a section on miking a drum set (1.8 MB pdf file).

The following link goes to a Crown Mic Memo that has an article on drum-set miking: Mic Memo


Do you offer a set of mics for drums?

Reply: Crown does not package drum mics in a set because one mic set does not work in all situations. There are many different ways to mike a drum set, depending on the number of mics you need, whether they need to be invisible, and your personal taste about sound quality.

For best overall sound we recommend a group of CM-700 cardioid condenser mics for cymbals, snare, kick, and optionally toms. If the drummer plays especially loud you might want to boost 10 or 12 kHz about 6 to 9 dB on your mixer. This compensates for the loss of highs that occurs when loud drums are reproduced at lower-than-live volume.

If you prefer miniature clip-on mics, a good choice would be the GLM-200 hypercardioid condenser mic on everything. You might prefer the GLM-100 omni or CM-700 on the kick. 

To see an article about drum-set miking with CM-700s, click here to go to the Crown Mic Memo Summer 2002 issue.

As for GLM-200s, tape the cable to the side of each drum so that each mic is looking at the head about 1 inch over the rim. For each overhead mic, tape the cable to a boom arm about 2 inches from the mic capsule. This allows the mic cable to flex and provides some shock mounting.

The soundmixer for the Art Garfunkel tour is using Crown mics exclusively, such as GLM-200 mics over the cymbals.

Some drummers get a great sound simply by taping a PZM-30D or PZM-6D Pressure Zone Microphone to their chest. They put their mic of choice into the kick drum, which is damped internally with a pillow. Use a hard beater on the kick if you want to hear a lot of "click".

The following techniques on miking drums are from Mark Frink, sound reinforcement editor for Mix magazine. Mark suggested some novel ideas in the June 1996 issue of the Crown Mic Memo:

"The most overlooked condensers for miking drums are the smallest. One of my favorites is the Crown GLM-200. Last year, for Tony Bennett's 'Unplugged,' I used a pair of these on Clayton Cameron's 4-piece Ludwig jazz kit - one each just below the hi-hat and the ride cymbals. Using a short piece of coat hanger, these were duct-taped to the cymbal stands using a small piece of foam as a shock mount, so that they were facing each other over the snare drum from each side of the kit."

Mark used other mini mics on the snare and kick.

"Panning the [GLM-200] cymbal 'underhead' mics, a wide drum sound is achieved, with the snare and kick mics adding to make it big and fat. This four-mic technique compares favorably to individually miking kits where dynamics and skill, rather than volume, become the focus. The microphones can't be seen. I've had people come up and ask where the mics are, or why the acoustics are so good in the hall."

"Engineers can take advantage of drum sets that are isolated with Plexiglas and use these large, flat surfaces to mount Crown PZM mics to take advantage of boundary effects. Two PZMs, placed correctly and panned, will often eliminate the need for other mics." 


I recently purchased a pair of CM-700s for overhead cymbal miking. About how far away should they be from the cymbals? Where should I set the switch: flat, low-cut or rolloff? 
Brian Costello - IT Manager, Moore Stephens  

A mic placement about 2 feet above the cymbals works well. If you want to pick up the snare and toms with the overhead mics, leave the switch flat. If you want to pick up mostly the cymbals with the overhead mics, switch in the low-cut.

With loud rock or blues recording, you might want to boost about +6 to +9 at 12 kHz and cut -3dB at 5 kHz. This helps the cymbals be a little brighter for this kind of music.


I am a drummer who sings through a Crown CM-311A (the best). I want to use two overhead mics to pick up the cymbals and toms. What does Crown make that can accommodate me?
Randall Smith

Reply: The Crown CM-700 cardioid condenser mic ($259 each, street) works great. You might want to get a matched pair, model CM-700MP ($515/pair street). Although the mic is mostly flat up to 15 kHz, I usually boost about 6 to 9 dB at 12 kHz for extra crispness on the cymbals. You can even boost a few dB around 100-200 Hz to bring out the toms.


I need to purchase drum mics for PA. I don't need anything insanely professional and my budget is low. What mics do you recommend? What else would I need besides the mics? 
Joshua Weinstein

Reply: There's a low-cost, simple way to mike your drum set that sounds really great. It uses two Crown GLM-100 mics, which are miniature omnidirectional condenser mics. One mic clips onto the snare-drum rim (between the rack tom and hi hat) and the other clips onto a floor-tom rim. Clips are included with the mics. 

Since only two GLM mics are used, and they are close to the drums, their gain-before-feedback is very good. With a little bass and treble boost on your mixer, the sound is studio quality. Each GLM-100 costs about $314 list or $200 street price. They have a basically flat response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. You could also use a single GLM clipped to the drummer's right side of the snare-drum rim, 4 inches above the rim. It picks up all the drums and cymbals around it.

You need a mic cable for each microphone with an XLR connector on each end. Since the GLM's are condenser mics, they need phantom power to operate. Most mixers have phantom power. Plug each mic into a mic cable, and plug the other end of the mic cable into your mixer's mic input. Turn on phantom power at the mixer.

Put another mic on a short stand in the kick drum, with a blanket or pillow pressing against the beater head to tighten the beat. A Crown GLM-100 or CM-700 will work well. Using your mixer EQ for the kick drum mic, cut about 10 dB at 400 Hz and boost the GLM-100 a little at 80 Hz or so.


I'm about to buy my first PZM mic and I'm wondering what mic to start with - I'm going to use it for drums... Can you guys help me choose a mic for this application?
Stefan (Sweden)

Reply: Our budget PZM is the PZM-185 ($177 street), which works on phantom power or a AAA battery. It emphasizes the upper frequencies (cymbals). A step up in quality is the PZM-30D or PZM-6D ($299 street), which work on phantom power. They have a flatter frequency response and can handle very loud sounds without distortion. The PZM-30D accepts a detachable standard mic cable, while the PZM-6D is smaller and has a permanently attached thin cable. They sound the same.

As for miking, you can gaffer-tape the PZM to your chest to pick up the entire set. Or if you are recording the drum set under a low ceiling, you can gaffer-tape the PZM to the ceiling over the set. Some people hang the mic by its cable inside the kick drum. Although the PZM-185 probably will distort inside a kick drum, the PZM-30D and PZM-6D can handle the kick drum without distortion.


I want to try miking drum sets at my club using two GLM-200's glued together, facing away from each other to achieve coincident-pair stereo. I would place this mic combo right on the top kick-drum rim (beater side) centered between all the other drums (floor, toms & snare), one facing towards the snare, the other towards the floor tom. I have been using a mono condenser mic and it has been sounding really good, I just add a little low end. Do you see any problem with this?

Reply: The GLM-200 can handle 131 dB SPL before distorting, so if your drum playing isn't super loud, the GLM-200 should work fine. It will need some bass boost.

When you glue the mics together, be sure not to block the front and rear openings on the mic capsule. Ideally one mic would be upside down on top of the other, with both mics angled apart +/- 45 degrees from center (see the figure below). You might need to angle them apart as much as +/- 80 degrees from center.

If the mics are back to back, they might reject the rack toms too much. Experiment with the angle between mics before gluing them to make sure all the parts of the drum set get picked up equally well. You might use tape or clay to hold the mics together temporarily.